Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts
At $184.99 we straight away notice the fact that our GIGABYTE Thunderbolt offering comes in $25 cheaper than the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt with its $30 rebate. Without that rebate we've got a $55 difference separating the two boards. And along with that we're dealing with a dual Thunderbolt setup here on our GIGABYTE board verse the single Thunderbolt port on the ASUS board.
Before you get too excited about that, we continue to find ourselves with very mixed feelings when it comes to Thunderbolt. What Thunderbolt can do is really quite awesome - daisy chaining, display support and massive bandwidth on offer are things we absolutely love. The issue continues to be that devices that can really take advantage of the technology are few and far between, especially when running a Windows OS.
If you go to the Thunderbolt technology website and more specifically the area that points us in the direction of storage devices for Windows, you don't actually find a whole lot on offer here, with none of the devices being ones that will take full advance of the bandwidth on offer from Thunderbolt. Unfortunately we've got more options when we change the operating system to Mac OS X. Selecting that we then started to do a bit more research for a device that could really take control of what GIGABYTE is offering us here today.
The Seagate GoFlex while a great device may as well just be USB 3.0 based since a single SSD isn't able to make real use of Thunderbolt bandwidth. The Pegasus devices from Promise we'd avoid after the terrible trouble we had with drivers under Windows. The device that probably grabbed our attention the most, though, was the ARECA ARC-8050. This is a company we've had loads of luck with and over at the product website we see support for Windows 7 and Windows 8. Along with that it also offers dual channel Thunderbolt support and support for a massive eight drives.
As wonderful as that all sounds, though, the $1,499.99 price tag that is associated with it is going to be hard to swallow. Even more so when you consider that this doesn't include any storage at all.
Thunderbolt just simply isn't ready for the masses yet. Devices need to be both promoted and sampled more, hence letting people know how easy they are to setup (with working drivers) along with showing people the true performance difference. Saying that, we can't deny that if you're someone who intends to sit on your motherboard for a while, the decision to go down the path of a Thunderbolt enabled board wouldn't be a bad one.
Moving away from all the Thunderbolt talk for a moment, though, in the end we've just got another really strong offering from GIGABYTE that hits at a really good price point. Across the board performance looks good and features are strong. The inclusion of mSATA is nice, but a bit like Thunderbolt, it's not quite mainstream yet. Of course that's something that could change in time, especially as prices come down.
If you want a good looking board that comes in under $200 and packs a strong feature set, the GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH really is a fantastic option. If Thunderbolt and mSATA isn't something what you're after, the $164.99 GIGABYTE Z77X-UD4H could be a better option, providing something that looks great, performs well and costs less.