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GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review

Shawn spends some time with the dual Thunderbolt wielding Z87X-UD5TH motherboard from GIGABYTE. Is this featured packed board worth buying? Read on.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Jan 28 2014 6:04 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 40 IMAGES

The other day we got a chance to look at one of the highest end GIGABYTE motherboard offerings for the Z87 platform. The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force packs just an absolute bucketload of features and extras; there's no denying that if you're looking for a high-end option, it's something that you should be seriously looking at.

If that's all a bit too much for you though, we might have just what you're looking for with the GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH. Part of the UD5 series, the "TH" addition to the name of course means the addition of Thunderbolt. We'll of course cover that all in a bit more detail later on.

There's really not a whole lot more that needs to be said here. We've already got ourselves a good grasp on the Z87 chipset, and of course we're extremely familiar with GIGABYTE. So, let's just get stuck into the package, and see just what's being offered to us here today.

Package

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Starting off with the box, you can see it has a fairly standard design on the front. You can see the brand and model clearly, along with some of the main features being highlighted. In this case we've got Thunderbolt, Wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 support, USB 3.0, Dual BIOS, Ultra Performance, and Ultra Cool technology brought via Ultra Durable 5 Plus.

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As we turn the box over, we get a lot more detail on just what it is exactly we're dealing with. We won't go into too much detail, as a lot of it will be covered when we look at the boards on the next page. You can see that we do get an expanded look at what Ultra Durable 5 Plus brings, with durable black solid caps, 15u gold-plated CPU socket, all IR digital power design, and new heat sink design, along with a number of other features.

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Diving into the package, you can see the normal paperwork, with a User Manual and Installation Guidebook being offered alongside a pair of CDs. One of the CDs is the standard Intel 8 series one, while the other offers the software for the wireless card. We'll take a closer look at that in a moment. On the cable front, you can see we've got six SATA cables, alongside a single SLI bridge and I/O plate.

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Alongside all of the standard features, you can see that GIGABYTE has included an antenna for the wireless card, which is located on the board. Along with this, we've also got a front case header offering two USB 3.0 ports to round things off.

GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH (Intel Z87) Motherboard

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Moving away from the package, and onto the board, you can see the typical matte black design that we so often see from GIGABYTE. It's a great color, and against the red highlights we really end up with a board that looks great. Let's move in a little closer to see just exactly what's going on today though.

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Checking out the expansion slots, you can see we've got a single legacy PCIe, two PCIe x1 slots, along with a single mini-PCI Express slot for a wireless communication module, and three PCIe x16 slots. As for the setup of these slots, the top one runs at x16, unless the second one is used, in which case they will both run at x8. If the second and third slots are used, the final setup would be x8/x4/x4.

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Before we move to the bottom of the board, we're just going to quickly move above the top most PCIe slot. Here, you can see a Mini PCIe card, which offers us Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, along with Bluetooth 4.0 support.

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Heading to the bottom of the board, you can see a fairly standard array of headers. On the far right, you can see our main front panel header, along with one of three fan headers. We've got a single USB 3.0 header, three USB 3.0 headers, and a front panel audio header to round off the main ones.

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As we turn the corner, you can see we've got a total of eight SATA ports being offered. All are SATA III, although the six black ones run off the Z87 chipset. As for the two grey ones, they run off the Marvell 88SE9172 chip. Next to this, we can also see a SATA power connector. This is used if you're opting to make use of SLI to provide more power to the PCIe slots.

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Heading to the top half of the board, you can see our main 24-Pin ATX power connector, USB 3.0 header, and a LED Debug reader together. In the top corner, you can see a power button along with a reset and BIOS switch. We've got the standard four DIMM slots, which offer us support for up to 32GB of DDR3 ranging from 1333MHz DDR to 3000MHz DDR via overclocking.

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Moving away from the RAM slots, and into the CPU area, you can see we've got a very clean setup going on, as usual. You can also see another look at our mini PCIe Wi-Fi / Bluetooth card, and the heat sink design that uses the red highlights that look really fantastic. In the top corner, you can see we've got our 8-Pin CPU power connector.

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Finally, we finish up with the I/O side of things. Starting from the left, we've got our combo PS/2 port, along with two of the six USB 3.0 ports. You can see our two ports that are used for our Antenna that is included in the package. Below that you can see a single DVI-I port, and next to that a HDMI 1.4a port.

Moving along, you can see we've got a single Gigabit port running off the Intel chipset, and next to that you can see we've got our dual Thunderbolt ports. Finally, we finish up with our five auxiliary ports, along with a single optical port, which all run off the Realtek ALC898 Codec.

BIOS

Heading into the BIOS, we're greeted with the High Definition interface, which is great. You've got a ton of information here, with the CPU and Memory related information on the left side, and the main system information on the right.

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You can see we've got voltage, fan speed, temperature, and some core information across the bottom. If you're heading into the BIOS, chances are you'll want to hang out in the Home or Performances section, which hold all of our overclocking features.

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Heading through the rest of the images, you can see we've got all of the standard options throughout the BIOS. There's not a need to go into a whole lot of detail here, as everything is now shown in a glorious HD resolution.

GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review 24 | TweakTown.com

As always, if you hit F2, you can go into the other mode, which more hardcore overclockers will probably prefer since they're used to it. As we mentioned on in the OC Force review though, the latest UEFI BIOS that GIGABYTE has offered really is fantastic, and it's actually what we use when it comes to overclocking the CPU now.

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 standard testbed setup. Everything is really covered in the above image, so we'll get stuck into what boards you're going to be seeing in our graphs today. Alongside our GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH, which we'll be running at both stock and overclocked, we've got a number of other boards included in our graphs today.

Also on the Z87 side of things, we've got the MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING, the ASRock Z87 OC FORMULA, and the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force to round things off. Also included are the MSI Z77A-GD65 GAMING, and the GIGABYTE X79S-UP5-WIFI to help round off the collection of motherboards that we have on hand.

Before we get into the performance side of things, we need to take the time to quickly look at what happened when it came to the overclocking side of things. With the latest BIOS installed, we head into the BIOS and start messing around with our Multiplier. As always, we moved to a 50x Multiplier, in the hopes that we're able to get 5GHz stable.

Like we often see, the board got into Windows okay, but it didn't do much more than that. We started a Media Espresso encode, but found ourselves with the system quickly getting a BSOD. Not really surprised, we headed back into the BIOS and adjusted our voltages a bit, in the hopes of maybe get 5GHz stable. A bit of time, and a bunch of reboots later, we find ourselves looking at BSOD over BSOD.

With 5GHz not happening, we headed back into the BIOS, and moved to a 49x Multiplier. As we expected, we didn't run into any problems here. With that working fine, we headed into the BIOS again to see if we can do any fine tuning. Maybe bump the BLCK slightly, or change the voltages.

GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

However, the BCLK didn't want to go anywhere, so we instead took the time to drop the voltages to see what we needed to get our CPU stable. In the end, as you can see above, we have our CPU running at 4.9GHz as illustrated in our graphs today, with the core voltage being 1.318v.

As usual, this is a very standard overclock for us. It seems to be the best our CPU is capable of most of the time. Every once and a while, we're able to get maybe an extra few MHz thanks to a slightly adjustment in the BCLK, but 4.9GHz represents the number we most often see when it comes to overclocking.

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, are 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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At stock, you can see the performance out of our GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH is fairly standard. HyperPi sees us sitting towards the middle of the pack when it comes to our Z87 offerings.

AIDA64 on the other hand, sees us coming out ahead of the other GIGABYTE option and the ASRock offering. As always, when we throw overclocking into the mix, we see a strong improvement in both benchmarks.

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 blazing fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos, and music files, and output 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 of the box is fairly standard, as for MediaEspresso, you can see is a bit behind our other Z87 options at stock the performance. The difference is in excess of over a minute when compared to the Z87X-OC Force, which is the fastest Z87 offering here.

Overclocking though, as always, brings with it a great performance boost as you can see almost 3 1/2 minutes are shaved off our encode time, which equates to around 20%.

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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Taking the time to look at USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 performance, you can see the numbers are very standard in both tests. There are little changes between all our motherboard setups.

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, it has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must-have application for storage device testing.

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AIDA64 sees awesome performance for our SSD. The Random is ahead of everything else, and the Begin and End results line up with the best of them.

HD Tune Pro performance sees a minimum that sits behind our other Z87 offerings, but both an average and a maximum that sit a decent chunk ahead of 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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Looking above, you can see Memory Performance sits a little bit behind our other Z87 offerings. Not by a huge margin, but you can see it's clearly around 2,000 MB/s behind in almost all of the tests.

When it comes to overclocking, we see no change in performance. Of course that's nothing new, as the Z87 chipset has never bought with it stronger memory performance when CPU overclocking has been thrown into the mix.

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 on 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 titled "Metro: Last Light" was announced.

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As always, video performance is very standard. At stock, there's little difference between all of our setups, and when overclocking is thrown into the mix we see a bit of positive movement at the lower resolutions when the CPU plays a bigger part, but no change as we climb the resolution table.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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Power draw at idle sits between the middle of the pack. We're higher than the MSI offering, but still sit below the ASRock and GIGABYTE Z87 boards.

As for load power though, you can see we're sitting at the back here, which is where you want to be. As for overclocking, we see both idle and load jump up, but 338 watts under load at 4.9GHz isn't a number that we'd be worried about.

Core Temperature

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At stock, you can see our temperature numbers are pretty standard among the Z87 offerings. With that said though, you can see we're much cooler than the ASRock Z87 OC Formula, which does run quite warm out of the box.

Overclocking sees the idle temperature remain the same, but the load temperature jumps by a decent margin. Thanks to the lower 1.31v core though, the 83c load number is pretty impressive, and much nicer than the 90c+ numbers that we often see.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

At the time of writing, the GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH is going to set you back around $250. Compared to the Z87X-UD5H, this is only around $20 more. Of course, that premium comes due to the inclusion of the dual Thunderbolt ports that are offered on the "TH" version of the board. The main question you need to answer is: Do you feel that the addition of Thunderbolt is worth an extra $20 to you?

We're really in two separate mindsets about it. Thunderbolt continues to be a technology that hasn't taken the world by storm. Personally, the decision to go with the "TH" version of the board over the "H" one should depend on your upgrade cycle. If you're someone who upgrades on a very regular basis, then we'd probably suggest you save your money, and not worry so much about the "TH" offering. It doesn't feel like Thunderbolt is suddenly going to kick off in a big way within the next six to twelve months.

It's probably going to take the technology being standard on all motherboards before that happens. On the other hand, if you're someone that sits on your computer for three or more years, then we'd suggest you spend the extra money. If you find yourself wanting a nice Thunderbolt device two years down the track, it will be nice to not have to purchase a Thunderbolt card or something equivalent.

This is all good reasoning as to why you should spend the extra $20, but the thing that really sells it for me personally is the aesthetics. The "H" version of the UD5 brings with it yellow highlights, while the "TH" one we're looking at today brings with it red ones. The yellow one is nice, and something different, but the red and black combination looks awesome. If you can see your motherboard thanks to a window in your case, you might also prefer to spend that little bit extra to have the red highlights over the yellow. A combination that is better suited when paired with other components.

Moving away from the pricing side of things, and looking at the rest of what's on offer, you can see the bundle is pretty strong. Thanks to the Wireless Integration on the board we've got an included antenna, and the extra USB 3.0 ports are always a nice addition. When it comes to the performance side of things the board sits in a fairly standard spot. It doesn't shoot ahead of anything in a big way. At the same time, it's not really bad anywhere. While the SSD minimum was slightly down under HD Tune Pro, the average and maximum numbers were up on the competition. Overclocking was also pretty strong, with the board falling into that 4.9GHz number we see most quality motherboards offer.

Feature wise though, is probably where the board really stands out. Wireless Networking and Bluetooth combined with Thunderbolt make for a pretty feature packed board that doesn't carry an insane price tag. If you're looking for something that looks good, gives a bit of protection in the future thanks to Thunderbolt, and hits at a good price point: The Z87X-UD5TH from GIGABYTE is a fantastic option.

PRICING: You can find the GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH retails for $254.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The GIGABYTE Z87X-UD5TH retails for $335.44 at Amazon Canada.

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PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

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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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