GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review

We check out another Thunderbolt supported board in the form of the GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Thu, Mar 28 2013 10:16 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 43 IMAGES

The GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH falls into the same category as the recently looked at ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt. Both were boards we received last year, but due to the fact that one of the major focus points of the board was the inclusion of Thunderbolt, we decided to put it on the back burner.

Many months on, though, it seems we're no closer to Thunderbolt really becoming mainstream due to driver problems under Windows and a general long lead time for approval of devices. It seemed that it was just finally time to blow the dust off some of these boards and see just what we could get out of them, even if we didn't get the chance to focus heavily on the Thunderbolt side of things.

If you want to read a bit more into our thoughts on what's going on with Thunderbolt then I highly recommend that you check out the introduction of the above mentioned ASUS review. Saying that we'll be covering the Thunderbolt and what's going on with it in a bit more detail when we get to the final thoughts at the end of the review.

For now we've got to do a few things. The first is we'll check out the box of our GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH and see what is going on with the bundle here today. Once we've done that we'll move onto the board itself where we'll cover the main features before heading into the BIOS to check out what's going on with the 3D BIOS. We'll then take the chance to cover our test system, the boards you'll see in our graphs today and finally before we get into the benchmarking side of things we'll see how we went with overclocking. For now, though, let's get into the box and bundle.

Package

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Looking at the front and back of the box it's very much a standard affair. We've got some of the main details on the front including mention of Ultra Durable 5 and of course the fact we've got Thunderbolt support. You can also see a push on the 3D Power All Digital Engine and 3D Dual UEFI BIOS.

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The back of the box covers some of the main features in more detail with a big push on the Ultra Durable 5 side of things being covered across the top. You can see we go into a bit more detail on the Thunderbolt support which in this case is the inclusion of dual Thunderbolt ports. The All Digital Power setup is mentioned along with some information on the 3D BIOS.

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Carrying the UP4 name we knew that the bundle wasn't going to be huge. You can see above it's a fairly standard setup with some paperwork, driver CD, four SATA cables, I/O back plate and finally an SLI bridge.

GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH Motherboard

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Checking out the board you can see we've got a matte black setup which we really love. We've got some grey and blue highlights to round off the overall look. It's a pretty good looking board on a whole.

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Checking out the expansion side you can see we've got an older legacy PCI slot along with three PCIe x1 slots. Along with that we've also got three PCIe x16 slots. The first slot is x16 while the second one is x8. If you use both slots then they run at x8 / x8. If you use the third slot, then we move to an x8 / x4 / x4 setup.

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Moving across the bottom of the board we've got the front panel audio header, TPM, three USB 2.0 headers, a pair of system headers and main front panel header.

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Turning the corner you can see a total of six SATA ports. All run off the Z77 chipset with the four black ones being SATA II and the two white ones being SATA III.

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As we start to head towards the top of the board we move to the middle for a moment where you can see the mSATA port. The first picture shows it empty while as you can see in the second one we have our MemoRight MS701 SATA III mSATA 240GB SSD test drive installed. Like other mSATA equipped boards, while we're using a SATA III compatible drive, the slot only offers SATA II speeds.

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Heading towards the top corner of the board you can see a fairly standard setup with four DIMM slots offering support for up to 32GB of DDR3 RAM ranging from 1066MHz DDR to 2800MHz DDR via overclocking. Above that you can see a pair of fan headers while across the bottom you can see another fan header, the main 24-pin ATX power connector along with a USB 3.0 front panel header.

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Moving around to the CPU area side of things you can see the main 8-pin CPU power connector while the socket area itself is fairly clean. You can see the heatsink setup that GIGABYTE has going on. It's not a massive one, but considering we're dealing with a more mid-range board from GIAGBYTE in this case, it comes as no surprise. You also get an idea of where the mSATA port sits in proximity to the CPU socket.

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Finally we finish off with the I/O side of things. Starting from the left we've got a combo PS/2 port and two of the total six USB 3.0 ports that are on offer via a combination of both the Intel Z77 chipset and the VIA VL800 chip. Continuing to move across you can see video out options come in the form of DVI-D, VGA and HDMI while Gigabit networking is offered via the Realtek controller.

Along with five auxiliary ports and an optical out which has the Realtek ALC892 codec behind it, we have dual Thunderbolt ports which is something that GIGABYTE are heavily promoting. Especially since we see everyone else offer us just a single Thunderbolt port.

The inclusion of dual Thunderbolt ports really opens up our options. Along with support for 12 devices and two display monitors via daisy chaining, we've also got a massive bi-direction 10Gbps data pipe line offered which GIGABYTE says can allow 1TB of data to be copied in just five minutes. Of course not only would you need the hard drive setup in your Thunderbolt device to support this, you also would need the device you're copying to also offer support for this kind of speed.

BIOS

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After a BIOS flash we're greeted with the 3D BIOS being the first screen. If you're in the BIOS the chances are that you'll be heading out of here into the advanced section. While quite cool, anyone familiar with messing round in the BIOS will find the advanced area quicker to move around in.

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If you've seen any GIGABYTE UEFI BIOS you'll know exactly what's going on here. If you're doing any overclocking you'll find yourself in the M.I.T. section which offers us all the typical overclocking features. Moving away from that you've got all the standard options which can be clearly seen in the images above.

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.

Looking above you can see our typical testbed setup. Today, though, we've got our 240GB mSATA III MemoRight drive placed neatly in our mSATA II slot that's offered on the GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH. Along with our Z77X-UP4 TH running at both stock and overclocked speeds we've got the GIGABYTE Z77X-UD4H, ASRock Z77 OC Formula, ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt and MAXIMUS V Gene. To round off the collection today we've also got the GIGABYTE X79S UP5-WiFi.

Moving to the overclocking side of things we head into the BIOS and move straight to a 47x multiplier. Getting into Windows with no issue we did run into problems when it came to our MediaEspresso encode where we had it crash.

Moving down to the 46x multiplier our CPU booted up at 4.6GHz. Expecting this to work with no real issue we got into Windows and completed our MediaEspresso encode with no issue. With that all working well we decided to head back into the BIOS and see if we could get anything more out of the board and CPU.

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Messing around for a while we ended up with our BCLK running at 101.49. As you can see above this brings our CPU in at 4668MHz or 4.67GHz as illustrated in our graphs here today. This isn't too bad an overclock and should yield some decent performance over the default clock speeds offered by the 3770k.

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 you can see the Z77X-UP4 TH lines up with the Z7X-UD4H and ASRock Z77 OC Formula in both benchmarks. Overclocked you can see a decent jump in performance with a solid two minutes being shaved off the Hyper Pi time.

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 is pretty strong out the gate while MediaEspresso numbers line up with the Z77X-UD4H which is a little behind the other Z77 offerings. Overclocking helps close any difference, though, and bring the GIGABYTE Z77-UP4 TH ahead of the pack, as you'd expect.

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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Looking at the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 performance you can see under both areas the numbers are just as you'd expect. USB 2.0 falls slightly behind the XFast enabled ASRock offering, while USB 3.0 performance across the board is very similar on all platforms.

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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SSD performance is very strong and you can see under both benchmarks it lines up just as you'd hope following the other boards that perform quite quickly. You can also see the numbers are consistent under both benchmarks, which is something we love to see.

mSATA Benchmarks

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

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The performance of our MemoRight mSATA SATA III drive siting on the boards SATA II port is fairly standard. You can see when it comes to read performance we hit a wall that's imposed by the SATA II connectivity, while write performance lines up with the other boards for the most part, with little separating them.

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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The performance of our Corsair RAM is pretty standard here and you can see it lines up with the other Z77 offerings for the most part. Overclocking brings with it a slight boost with the best jump being seen in the write department as usual.

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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Getting into the performance of our video card on the GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH you can see very typical numbers with that slight boost being seen to the Performance preset and the 1680 x 1050 numbers when overclocked.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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Power draw is really strong with the idle coming in below 80 Watt and the load coming in below 300 Watt. Across the board you can see out of the box it draws the least amount of power. Overclocking of course brings with it more power draw, but the idle continues to be very impressive and the load sits just over 10% higher.

Core Temperature

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Core temperature is also very good with the idle stock and overclocked number being the lowest out of the pack. Load lines up with the ASRock Z77 OC Formula which is the lowest and overclocking brings with it a jump to 78c, which isn't too bad at all.

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.

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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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