GIGABYTE Z87X-OC (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review

We check out the latest OC board from GIGABYTE under the new Z87 chipset and find out what the Z87X-OC can do when put to the test.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Jul 10 2013 8:08 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 46 IMAGES

GIGABYTE are really one of those companies when it comes to the motherboard segment who do a really fantastic job of catering for all audiences. Some are big, some are small, but no matter what you're looking to do with your computer, GIGABYTE always seem to have a model that will suit your needs.

Today we're looking at the Z87X-OC which of course follows the OC Series of boards from the company. I've become quite a fan of these motherboards for a few reasons. The first is the black and orange color scheme that is present. This is really something different and helps the board stand out against others. The other is the price, you'd think that a board designed for overclocking would be expensive, but to the contrary, they are generally priced quite aggressively.

GIGABYTE are also a board that we tend to have very little issues with when it comes to getting them up and running. But we must admit that any time we're greeted by something that is more performance orientated, we do become a little bit more concerned as more and more options are thrown in front of us.

We won't say much more. We've had a chance to look at a couple of GTX 700 series based video cards in the past few days and from there we've jumped into a motherboard based on the new Z87 chipset. Next up we'll be looking at a new kit of RAM. For now, though, it's all about the new GIGABYTE Z87X-OC. Let's take a look at the package and then move from there to find out just what exactly GIGABYTE are offering us with their latest OC based motherboard.

Package

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There's not exactly a ton to the front of the GIGABYTE box and we have to say we really love the new design that we're seeing on the Z87 based motherboards. Turning over, though, we've got a ton of information on offer with a picture of the board and then a number of the main features highlighted.

Some of these we'll be looking at in more detail in just a moment, but some of the key features include the OC-Touch buttons, OC Ignition, OC Connect, All IR Digital Power Design and 15u Gold Plated CPU, Memory and PCIe power connectors.

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Going inside the box you can see there's not a whole lot to the package. We've got the normal line up of paperwork, along with a driver CD and GIGABYTE sticker. Also included are four SATA cables, I/O backplate, along with a CrossFire and SLI cable.

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Added extras in the box include this new "OC Brace" which can be installed for people not using a case. It makes sure that your video card has proper support when outside of a case. Of course if you're using a case you'll have no need for this. We've also got a number of V-Check Point cables. We'll talk about these a little more when we move onto the motherboard itself on the next page.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Motherboard

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Taking our first look at the motherboard you can straight away see the black and orange color scheme that has been present on other OC based models. Again we're a huge fan of it as it's different to what other companies offer and looks great. Let's move in a bit closer, though, and find out just what exactly we're dealing with today.

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You can see we've got two legacy PCI slots along with a single PCIe x1 slot. We've also got a total of four PCIe x16 slots. If you're using one slot, your card will run at x16. Move to two and both will run at x8. If you move to a three or four slot setup then we move to an x8/ x4 / x4 or x8 / x4 / x4 /x4 configuration. Above the top most slot you can see a small 6-pin PCIe power connector. This is what GIGABYTE has labeled as OC PEG. If you're going for intensive three or four GPU setups, it's recommend that you use this power connector to make sure the power continues to be stable throughout the PCIe slots during your benchmarking session.

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Moving across the bottom it's a fairly standard affair. You can see the front panel audio header, along with the COM header. We've got two USB 2.0 headers, along with a single USB 3.0 header. Along with a couple of fan headers, you can see the main front panel header connector on the far right.

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Turning the corner we can see six SATA ports. All six are SATA III and all six run off the Intel Z87 chipset. To the left of them you can see we've got two USB 2.0 ports that GIGABYTE has labeled OC Connect. The idea with these is they're two easy to access USB ports for overclockers. Doing things like saving screenshots, flashing the BIOS or anything that just generally requires a USB port is what they're used for. Also here we've got a Clear Battery button to the left side, again another handy and easy to access feature for overclockers.

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Heading to the top right we've got an absolute ton here. We've of course got the standard bits and pieces including four DIMM slots supporting up to 32GB of DDR ranging from 1333MHz DDR to 3000MHz DDR via overclocking. We've also got the main 24-pin ATX power connector and to the top left of that we've got a second USB 3.0 header. Moving away from those regular items I think the image below from GIGABYTE helps cover the OC Touch features rather well.

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Looking above you can see a good run down of what exactly we're dealing with when it comes to the OC Touch buttons. For a really in-depth look, we highly recommend you check out the YouTube video that resident GIGABYTE OC guru Dino made. It sure beats reading through the manual.

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Heading up to the CPU area you can see we've got the standard 8-pin CPU power connector. Along with that, though, you can see we've also got a 4-pin CPU power connector for people who are going to be doing heavier overclocking. Moving back and looking at the CPU area, you can see it's extremely clean with the heatsink on the left side. The all black caps look great on the motherboard and make them barely visible.

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Finishing up with the I/O side of things you can see we've got two USB 2.0 connectors to start us off. Next to that we have the new OC Ignition switch -it is designed to power up the whole system, except the CPU. This is useful in situations where the CPU may have a "Cold Bug" issue when using LN2 or helpful in the instance that you want to test your water cooling loop.

Continuing across you can see display options come in the form of two HDMI connectors and a single DisplayPort. We've got a total of six USB 3.0 ports along with a combo PS/2 port located in a more unusual spot, the middle of the board. Along with Gigabit networking via the Intel GbE LAN chip, we've got an optical out and six auxiliary ports that run off the Realtek ALC892 audio codec.

BIOS

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Heading into the BIOS you're going to see an almost identical design to what was seen on the Z87X-UD3H, which we also reviewed recently. The main difference is the color scheme. Where the UD3H offered a blue scheme to match that board, the OC offers an orange one that matches it - a nice touch.

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If you're going to do any overclocking, you'll no doubt be bouncing towards the Home and Performance section of the BIOS. The Performance area is the one that offers you a lot more options when it comes to all aspects of overclocking.

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Moving past those two key areas you can see the standard setup of options when it comes to the rest of the BIOS. As always, though, if you're heading into the BIOS, you'll more than likely be looking at the first two areas.

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Finally before we leave the BIOS, it's worth mentioning that by hitting F2 you can go into the more classic UEFI BIOS. While this was always our option over the 3D one, the new default BIOS is really fantastic and easy to use. As always, if you're going to do overclocking you'll be in the M.I.T. section, and apart from that the rest of it is self-explanatory.

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.

As every week goes by we've got the opportunity to grow the number of Z87 boards in our graphs more and more. Today alongside the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC which we'll be running at both stock and overclocked speeds, we'll also have the MSI MPOWER MAX, ASRock Z87 OC FORMULA and GIGABYTE Z87X-UD3H.

Along with these Z87 motherboards, we've got the Z77 based MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming and the GIGABYTE X79S-UP5-Wi-Fi, both of which are the most recent boards we've tested with the associated chipsets. As always, before we get into the performance side of things, we need to cover overclocking.

With everything running at stock it was time to head into the BIOS and see just what we could do with our new i7 4770K. The first thing we did was adjust the voltages to where they needed to be and then pushed our multiplier up to 50x hoping for a 5GHz clock.

While we managed to get into Windows no problem, we ran into problems pretty quickly when we started to run MediaEspresso. With 5GHz not being an option, we headed back into the BIOS to try for 4.9GHz via a 49x multiplier. We got into Windows and this wasn't an issue for us. So with everything looking good at 4.9GHz, it was time to head back into the BIOS one more time to adjust the BCLK and see if we could get anything else out of our CPU.

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Looking above you can see we have our BCLK slightly elevated to 101.18. This gives us an end result of 4957.67MHz or 4.96GHz, as shown in our graphs here today. This is a strong overclock and we're really looking forward to seeing the kind of numbers this clock speed gets us when compared to the out of the box clock.

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 performance on the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC is very strong. You can see it lines up with the MSI MPOWER MAX, which also offered us very strong out of the box performance.

Overclocking yields some awesome gains and a lot of that has to do to this particular new CPU we are using being much stronger than the previous chip we had used for previous reviews.

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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Out of the box we can again see that the GIGABTYE Z87X-OC performs exceptionally well, coming out ahead of our other setups here. Overclocking again yields some excellent performance gains.

You can see the PC Mark comes in at over 7,000 marks and we're able to pull in almost a 14 minute flat encode under MediaEspresso.

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 USB 2.0 and 3.0 performance, the numbers are exactly where you'd expect them to be.

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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Checking out SSD performance, you can see the numbers are fairly standard. The Random speed comes in a little behind the UD3H board we looked at recently, but is ahead of the MSI and ASRock offerings.

HD Tune Pro performance is close between the MSI and GIGABYTE offering. You can see the ASRock offering managed a small lead when it came to the maximum number.

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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Memory performance between all Z87 setups are quite similar with little separating them. As we've seen all along as well, overclocking really does nothing when it comes to increasing overall performance.

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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Gaming performance is very typical, but you can see overclocking does very little to the 3DMark numbers here. Normally we'd see a slight jump in the Performance preset.

Metro 2033 on the other hand manages to squeeze out a little bit of extra FPS.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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Power draw numbers out of the box on the Z87X-OC are really good.

The idle is extremely low coming in at 73 watts and even the load manages to sneak in just a few watt behind the UD3H offering from GIGABYTE.

Overclocking as you'd expect sends it north, but you can see idle is still just under 100 watt.

Core Temperature

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Core temperature on our CPU out of the box is great coming in lower than the other Z87 boards.

Overclocking boosts the idle slightly, but is still fantastic against the other boards being second to only the Z87X-OC when running at stock. At load, though, we see the temperature jump straight up to 100c.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

Coming in at $199.99 at the time of writing, the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC really hits at a much better price point than you'd expect it to. But when you really start to look at the board compared to more expensive ones, you can see why it hasn't got a super high price tag associated with it. As advanced as the Z87X-OC is, it's also quite simple in many ways. It really doesn't move much away from the Z87 chipset itself.

We don't have an extra SATA controller for more SATA ports or eSATA. We don't have dual Gigabit networking. We don't have some huge fancy heatsink around the CPU that has water cooling mounts on it. The Z87X-OC is essentially built with a purpose. It's designed to come in at a strong price point, offer fantastic performance and essentially just do everything you'd expect a board like this to do, and please overclockers at the same time with some features dedicated just for them.

The Z87X-OC is very much about no frills, just performance. We can't say that it lacks "features" too much, though, because while it might be missing some of those features that you're more accustom to seeing, the Z87X-OC offers ones that are designed for this kind of board.

At the same time it's worth noting that a lot of these features are ones that you may not use or may use once or twice to then never worry about them again. Voltage Check Points, OC Ignition and OC Connect to name just a few are some of the ones we're primarily talking about. If the board came in $50 - $100 more expensive, we'd be more worried about that, but at its price point, you don't have to use every single button or switch to really take advantage of what GIGABYTE is offering.

One of the biggest issues I have with this board is the simple fact that it can feel a little scary to someone who isn't an overclocker. The bottom line, though, is that you don't need to be some LN2 touting overclocking extremist to really take advantage of what GIGABYTE is offering in this board. Instead you just need to be someone who wants a quality motherboard that offers some excellent performance out of the box.

Maybe you're not the most comfortable with overclocking, you can go into the BIOS and use one of the preset overclocks if you like. Or maybe when your friend comes over they can give you a free boost in performance. The simple fact is that if you're looking for a quality motherboard at a fantastic price point, this is something that you should be looking at.

The black and orange scheme looks great and the numbers out of the box as you could see in our graphs today are fantastic. I think one of the most important things we can say is don't be turned off from this board due to the heavy emphasis on overclocking. You don't have to be an overclocker to enjoy a quality board like this one.

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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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