Motherboard Circuit Analysis
The Z97X-UD5H doesn't utilize any PCI-E lane expanders, meaning that the PCI-E lanes aren't shared by more than one device at the same time - this maintains high performance. GIGABYTE does this by routing the last PCI-E 4x slot to the CPU's PCI-E controller, instead of the PCH's PCI-E controller. This provides the ability to run the last 16x slot (actual 4x electrical) at PCI-E 3.0 speeds, which is aimed at multi-GPU configurations or faster PCI-E storage devices.
The fact that the PCH doesn't have four PCI-E lanes tied up by the 4x slot means that the Z97X-UD5H can offer dual NICs, extra SATA 6Gbps, two 1x slots, and two PCI slots, without impacting the performance of the controllers and attached devices. There is some sharing going on with a USB 3.0 hub, and I will cover that further down.
The PCH has a very low TDP of 4.1W, which means you really don't need a big heat sink to cool it down, I think most manufacturers make it big for aesthetic value. If you are interested, there is a block diagram from the manual showing all the connected devices. GIGABYTE is using the FlexibleIO configuration consisting of eight PCI-E ports, four SATA6GBps and six USB 3.0 ports. FlexibleIO allows SATA Express to operate off two PCI-E lanes that could have been used for SATA 6GBps.
SATA Express is basically SATA over PCI-E bandwidth, the PCI-E bandwidth is enough to make it so that you can either use SATA Express or you can instead use the connectors for two SATA 6Gbps drives. The motherboard will detect what is in use and allocate accordingly. GIGABYTE has also added an M.2 slot; they do this by adding the ASM1480 pictured above, which is a 2 lane PCI-E 3.0 switch, so it can switch all the SATA Express bandwidth to the M.2 slot effectively disabling those ports.
The audio section uses the ALC1150 rated at 115dB SNR in this case. GIGABYTE moved their amplifier to the back panel output as opposed to the front panel on the previous generation of boards, and they have given the amplifier an upgrade. The amplifier is a Texas Instruments NE5532 and supports 600ohm output impedance.
The Z97X-UD5H features dual NICs, giving the user the choice between an Intel i217v and a Qualcomm Killer e2201.
GIGABYTE is using an iTE8620E for its SuperIO which does all the hardware monitoring and provides some fan control. It is also responsible for the PS/2 port on the back. To supplement the fan control of the iTE8620E and provide fan control for the fan headers, GIGABYTE chose to employee four Nuvoton 3941S chips, these provide fan control for each header (CPU fan header goes off the iTE8620E).
The Renesas D720210 is a 1:4 USB 3.0 hub. It takes in 1 USB 3.0 port and outputs 4. The four topmost USB 3.0 ports on the back panel go through this hub. The internal header and the USB 3.0 under the bottom NIC go directly to the CPU. Extra SATA 6Gbps is provided by a Marvell SE9172, those are the gray internal SATA ports.
There are two BIOS ROMs, these are each 128Mbit/16MB. They only other manufacturer I have seen use 16MB BIOS ROMs is Supermicro. The BIOS on these GIGABYTE boards is basically double the size as most other boards on the market. The iTE8892E takes one PCI-E port and turns it into two PCI ports you see on the board.
Six ASM1480 are quick switches, they are two lane PCI-E 3.0 switches and they are used to allocate PCI-E lanes allowing 2-way SLI and CrossFireX at 8x/8x and 3-way CrossFireX at 8x/4x/4x. The ASMedia and NXP chips are both level shifters, one is optimized for DVI and the other HDMI, as the digital video output of the IGP needs to be altered to be displayed on those two busses.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon's website.
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon UK's website.
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon Canada's website.
- We at TweakTown openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion of our content. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here.