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GIGABYTE Z77-HD4 (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE Z77-HD4 (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review

We check out an aggressively priced motherboard from GIGABYTE in the form of the Z77-HD4. It surprised us in a good way during our overclocking tests.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Mar 20 2013 11:25 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 39 IMAGES

Lately we've had a chance to look at a few GIGABYTE motherboards and just Z77 motherboards in general. We saw GIGABYTE finally bring us a great looking mITX offering in the form of the Z77N-WiFi, we also saw BIOSTAR show off a Hi-Fi orientated board in the form of the Hi-Fi Z77X. Along with those two boards we also recently checked out the mid-range GIGABYTE Z77X-UD4H which did a good job of impressing us.

Today we're looking at a board that comes in below the $164.99 price tag that's seen on the Z77X-UD4H. Instead the Z77-HD4 comes in at an aggressively priced $129.99. What does this mean for the overall performance of the board and just the general quality when compared to its big brother the Z77X-UD4H? Well, we're not really sure. But we'll have figured it out by the time we get to the end of this review.

As always there are a few things that we need to do. First we need to start off by looking at the package. We're not expecting a lot due to the price point, but we'll of course see just what's on offer. Once we've done that it's onto the board itself. We'll cover the overall look and the main features that are present before we head into the BIOS. We'll quickly cover our testbed today while also taking the time to overclock the Intel Core i7 3770k before we finally get into the performance side of things to find out just what the GIGABYTE Z77-UD4 is capable of.

Package

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Looking at the box we've got a fairly standard setup. The front gives us the model number and some of the main features including Dual UEFI BIOS, 3D BIOS and Ultra Durable 4 support. The back of the box then goes on to expand what those features offer along with an overall look at the board itself along with some of the highlights.

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Moving inside the package we've got a small bundle which doesn't come as a surprise. We've got some paperwork, driver CD, four SATA cables and the standard I/O panel to round things off.

GIGABYTE Z77-HD4 Motherboard

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Having a look at the GIGABYTE Z77-HD4 you can see straight away we've got a baby blue and white color scheme. We've never been a fan of the color scheme, especially when you compare it to the matte black setup we see on the higher end GIGABYTE options. Considering the lower to mid-range structure of the board, the color scheme doesn't come as a surprise to us.

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Moving in closer you can see we've got two legacy PCI slots at the bottom and two PCIe x1 slots that sit between two PCIe x16 slots. The top most PCIe x16 slot runs at x16, as you'd expect, while the second one is wired for only x4, which can be seen by the pin count and the "PCIEX4" label towards the front of the slot.

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Heading across the bottom of the board you're not greeted with any great surprises. Starting from the left you've got the front panel audio header, COM header, TMP header followed up with a 4-pin fan header. Finishing off we've got two USB 2.0 headers and main front panel header.

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Turning the corner you can see we've got a total of six SATA ports. The four blue ones are SATA II while the two white ones are SATA III. All six SATA ports run of the Intel Z77 chipset.

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Heading towards the top of the board you can see four DIMM slots. We've got support for up to 32GB of DDR3 ranging from 1066MHz DDR to 2800MHz DDR via overclocking. Below them we've got a USB 3.0 header next to another fan header along with the main 24-pin ATX power connector.

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Looking around the CPU area you can see the main 8-pin CPU power connector in the top left corner of the board. Moving back a little to look at the CPU socket on a whole you can see not a whole lot is going on. We've got only a single heatsink at the top of the board and apart from that there's not a whole lot else to be seen here. Like most motherboards these days, we've got a clean setup in this part of the board.

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Heading into the I/O area we've got a standard setup. Starting from the left we've got a combo PS/2 port along with two of the four total USB 2.0 ports. Video connectivity comes in the form of VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort. We've got two USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit networking via the Realtek controller and three auxiliary ports running off the Realtek ALC887.

BIOS

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As always once we update the BIOS we're greeted with the 3D BIOS when we head back in. We say it every time - we're not the biggest fans of the 3D BIOS because for people who know their way around the BIOS, the 3D version feels slower at doing everything. If you're new to the BIOS, though, it's not a bad option as you can just click on the RAM area to overclock the RAM or the CPU area for CPU options.

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Moving away from the 3D BIOS, though, and into the advanced section you're greeted with everything you'd expect to see on a GIGABYTE motherboard. As always if you're in the BIOS the chances are you're going to be overclocking and you'll want to be in the M.I.T. section.

Even though it's a cheaper option, all the overclocking options you'd want are here including the ability to adjust the voltage on all the main components. This is something that was missing on the mITX Z77N-WiFi we looked at recently.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital, MemoRight and Corsair.

Along with the Z77-HD4 running at both stock and overclocked speeds we've also got the ASRock Z77 OC Formula, GIGABYTE Z77X-UD4H, ASUS Maximus V GENE and GIGABYTE X79S-UP5-WiFi.

When it comes to the overclocking side of things we headed straight into the BIOS and made our way to the M.I.T. section. We knew exactly what we wanted to do here - we headed to the multiplier section and moved it to 47x which we know is pretty much the max of our particular i7 3770k chip.

We then headed into the voltage settings and adjusted them as they needed. We then rebooted and got into Windows with no problems. Considering the lower end nature of the board we figured once we started our MediaEspresso encode the program would either crash or we'd be greeted with a BSOD.

Much to our surprise the run completed without a single issue. Surprised with the performance of the board when overclocking we headed back into the BIOS. We went for a 48x multiplier which we knew wouldn't work, but we thought we'd try anyway. Our machine didn't boot.

We headed back into the BIOS and moved back to the 47x multiplier. From here we then took the time to adjust the BCLK. We found ourselves in Windows at 4.75GHz. We started a MediaEspresso encode and got quite far through - all the way to 81% to be accurate before it crashed.

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We then took the time to mess around with the BLCK a little more to see if we could get anything else out of it. In the end we had to go back to 100 which bought our CPU in at 4.7GHz. This is still an extremely strong overclock. Most boards we see go around the 4.6GHz mark. Few go to 4.7GHz and even fewer show any signs of stability above that speed. Much to our shock, though, overclocking performance was really quite amazing when we consider where this model stands on the market. With that overclock found it was time to get into the benchmarking side of things to find out just what kind of performance we were able to get out of the board.

CPU Benchmarks

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Out of the box the aggressively priced Z77-HD4 ultimately performs in line with the other motherboards here as you'd hope and expect. This is good considering most are more expensive higher end options. Thanks to the strong overclock as well from the Z77-HD4 you can see a really nice boost in performance in all test results here.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater™ video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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PCMark 7 performance out the gate looks good compared to the other boards here. The same can be said for MediaEspresso results which sees not too much separate all boards.

With that said we do see the GIGABYTE offerings fall into the 19 minute mark compared to the other two Z77 boards here that come in at 17:54 and 18.39. As you'd hope, though, as soon as we throw overclocking into the mix, we see some strong gains and our MediaEspresso encode comes down to 16 minutes and 6 seconds.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Checking out the performance of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, the numbers lined up just as we expected they would.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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Disk performance was quite surprising with it coming in a decent chunk slower on the Z77-HD4 when compared to the other Z77 offerings.

We tried both SATA III ports, multiple reboots, pause between benchmarks and everything else we could think of. In the end all we had was about 10 - 20 MB/s of fluctuation. Overall SSD performance was still very strong, but you can see, it clearly sits behind the other Z77 offerings including the big brother Z77X-UD4H.

Memory Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Checking out memory performance the numbers sit exactly where expected. Out of the box the Z77 setups all sit quite close to each other while overclocking helps bring a boost in performance across the board.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Looking at gaming performance you can see across the board the numbers are fairly similar. Overclocking helps bring a slightly boost to our Performance Preset under 3DMark 11 and a small change at the lower resolutions under Metro 2033.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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Checking out the power draw numbers you can see at stock they're impressive with the Z77-HD4 having the lowest idle and load numbers. Overclocked you see a slight jump in both those numbers, but overall still very impressive numbers.

Core Temperature

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Checking out the temperature numbers on our CPU you can see the idle numbers at both stock and overclocked are very impressive. At load we see that the Z77-HD4 is putting out the coolest at stock while overclocked we of course see a jump in heat as we're sitting just over 70c at load.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

Coming in at $129.99 the GIGABYTE Z77-HD4 is a really well priced motherboard that hits at an excellent price point. Performance on a whole is extremely strong and the overclocking performance was surprisingly strong. It just goes to show that you don't have to lose overclocking potential when opting for a cheaper motherboard. If it's built well, you'll still see excellent performance.

The only area we ran into a problem was SATA III performance and this was consistent. Multiple reboots, letting the system rest for 10 minutes and rebenching, turning the machine completely off for 10 minutes and then rebenching. It didn't matter what we did, the numbers from both SATA III ports were very consistent, with as we mentioned only a 10 - 20 MB/s fluctuation being seen between tests. SSD performance was still very strong, but you can clearly see when looking at the graphs, it sits behind the other Z77 options including its big brother the Z77X-UD4H.

The baby blue color scheme is also one we continue to dislike. It looks so old fashioned and fills like it's been around for a 100 years. With that said, we don't take too much away from the board. This is the cost of a more aggressive price point. Outside of that the board also ultimately has everything you'd want at this price.

The Z77-HD4 is a really strong all round board that does well in most areas. There's no denying that if you're looking for a board that is capable of performing well while not breaking the bank, this is a good option. Features like Ultra Durable 4, Dual UEFI BIOS, four video outputs and Gigabit networking to name just a few of the main ones help create a well-rounded motherboard at a very reasonable price.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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