Introduction and Package
Introduction of the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H
Step by step, we're working our way through the line of Z97 motherboards that we have received in the last couple of weeks. We started out our look with the ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1, which was then followed by a look at the ASRock Z97 Extreme4.
After looking at those two, we got a chance to check out the MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC, which carried with it a bigger price tag than the other two but an awesome set of features. Having taken a look at options from ASUS, ASRock, and MSI, it seemed the next logical step would be GIGABYTE.
At the moment, we're sitting on a pair of GIGABYTE Z97 motherboards. The particular one we're going to be looking at today, though, is part of the popular Ultra Durable series. The Z97X-UD5H follows the UD5H name that we've seen before and has always impressed us. The UD5H line of boards tend to offer good performance at a good price point. We're hoping today that the trend continues with the Z97X-UD5H.
We don't really need to say much more here as we've already spoken about the Z97 chipset a bit. If you want to learn more about it, then I recommend you head over to our first Z97 review (ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1). If you've already had a chance to look at that, though, then let's just move forward and see what's going on with the bundle of the Z97X-UD5H today.
Package - What comes inside the box
Taking a look at the black and gold themed box, you can see there's not too much going on with the front. We've got a big Ultra Durable logo along with the brand across the top and model across the bottom. Apart from a couple more logos, there's not much going on. Turning the box over, you can see we've got a picture of the motherboard and some of the main features being highlighted. We'll take a closer look at all of this when we look at the board on the next page.
Across the bottom of the box, you can see a picture of the I/O panel, but again, we'll take a closer look at that on the next page. As for the left side, you can see a list of the main features that are offered, including mentions of the All New Heatsink Design, Gold Plated CPU Socket, Black Solid Caps, DualBIOS, and 2x Copper PCB.
Moving inside the package, we see it's a fairly standard bundle. Across the top, you can see our main pieces of paperwork along with a Driver CD. On the right hand side, you can see four SATA cables, with the I/O plate, the SLI bridge, and an Ultra Durable sticker all being seen to the left.
Close up with the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H
Taking a look at the motherboard, we straight away see how nice the black and gold color scheme looks. This really is a nice looking motherboard, and the heat sinks look great; we'll take a closer look at those in a moment. You can see the overall layout of the motherboard, and nothing stands out in an unusual manner. So, saying that, let's move in closer and see just what we're dealing with here today.
Looking above, you can see that GIGABYTE has opted for a slightly different setup to what we've seen from other Z97 boards. While we see the same three PCIe x16 slots, which run at x16, x8/x8, or x8/x4/x4 depending on the type of setup you have, the big difference is seen with the addition of two PCI slots alongside the two PCIe x1 slots. I can't remember the last time I used a PCI card, but GIGABYTE clearly feels that people have a use for it.
Above the top PCIe slot, you can see that we have the M.2 connector placed towards the middle of the board. Out of the four boards we've looked at now, this is the third one to include it. While it's indeed one of the more major features that the Z97 chipset offers, it may still be a while before users are making use of the technology.
Taking a look across the bottom of the board, you can see a fairly standard line up of headers, including audio, system fans, USB 2.0, and our main front panel headers on the far right side.
Turning the corner, you can see a total of nine SATA ports. We've got a single SATA Express connector sitting alongside eight SATA3 connectors. Six of these run off of the Intel Z97 chipset, while the furthest grey two run off of the Marvell 88SE9172 chip. Towards the bottom of the board, you can see we've got a SATA power connector. If you're making use of two or three video cards, GIGABYTE recommends using this ensure system stability.
Starting to make our way to the north end of the board, we can see our four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32GB of DDR3 at speeds ranging from 1333MHz DDR to 3200MHz DDR via overclocking. Alongside that, you can see we've got a fair bit going on here. We have our main 24-Pin ATX power connector, and to the left of that, we have our LED Debug reader and a USB 3.0 header. On the right, you can see we've got a red power button with a small reset and Clear CMOS button.
Looking at CPU area, you can see our main 8-Pin ATX power connector in its typical spot, and the CPU area, as usual, is very clean looking. Here we also get a good look at what's going on with the heat sink setup. You can see it's just a single heat pipe with a really high quality heat sink that looks and feels great.
Finally, we finish up our look at the motherboard with the I/O side of things. Starting from the left, you can see we've got two USB 2.0 connectors along with a combo PS/2 port at the bottom. Moving along, you can see the video out options include DVI, VGA, and HDMI. Unlike other companies, you can see that GIGABYTE has chosen to skip out on including DisplayPort.
We've got a total of six USB 3.0 connectors, with two running off of the Intel Z97 chipset and the further four running off of the Renesas uPD720210 hub. Dual Gigabit networking is provided by an Intel chip and the Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201 LAN chip. Audio connections come via five auxiliary ports along with an optical out that all run off of the Realtek ALC1150 Codec.
BIOS Images and Information
Heading into the BIOS for the first time, we're greeted with a Startup Guide that lets us choose the language while also giving us the ability to choose which entry screen we want to use.
Getting out of the Startup Guide, we head into the HD version of the Smart Tweak BIOS. Thanks to the high resolution, we can see a ton of information with all the main highlights being seen on each side and across the top. We can then move through the Frequency, Memory, and Voltage sections to mess around with all of the overclocking options that are on offer.
Moving along a bit more, you can see the rest of our options, including the save and exit screen. Along with the Smart Tweak BIOS, though, we also have the Classic BIOS, which can be accessed with press of a button.
Moving through the Classic BIOS, you can see all of the standard options. If you're in here, you'll no doubt be spending most your time in the M.I.T. section, which brings with it all of the overclocking features that you saw.
Test System Setup and Overclocking
Sitting alongside our GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H today, which will be running at both stock and overclocked speeds, we've got all of the other Z97 motherboards that we've looked at already. If you skipped our introduction, that means we've included the ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1, ASRock Z97 Extreme4, and MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC. Along with those, we've also included the ASRock Z87 Killer.
When it came to the overclocking side of things, we found the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H performed well. Heading into the BIOS, we do what we always do and throw the multiplier to 49x and take the time to mess around with the voltages to the level we need them to be. With everything looking good, we head into Windows and see how we're going.
With the 49x multiplier working well along with the 100 BCLK to give us an even 4.9GHz, we head back into the BIOS to adjust the BCLK and see if we can get any more performance out of our CPU. Looking above, you can see we ended up with a 101 BCLK, which brings our CPU to 4.95GHz. This is a nice overclock and should yield a decent performance gain. Let's move forward and see how it performs.
CPU & System Benchmarks
CPU Test - HyperPi 0.99
Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99
CPU Test - AIDA64
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Out of the box and at stock speeds, you can see that the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H performs in line with our other Z97 motherboards and our single Z87 motherboard. Overclocking brings with it a nice boost in performance, and you can see a nice chunk of time shaved off of our HyperPi time.
System Test - PCMark 8
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04
System Test - MediaEspresso
Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5
Looking above, you can see that our PCMark 8 Home score is down by about 10 percent when compared to our other setups here at stock. We tested it multiple times and even the next day after the system had been off, and the number was still consistent.
What was interesting, though, was when it was overclocked, we see the 4200+ score line up with roughly what other motherboards do at the same speed. You can also see that the work performance lines up with the other options.
USB 2.0, USB 3.0 & SSD Benchmarks
USB Test - AIDA64
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400
As we mentioned in our MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX review, we've just upgraded our USB 3.0 device to a new Corsair Voyager GS 128GB, which meant we had to start the results again. Looking above, you can see that both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 performance is very similar to each other when comparing the two setups.
SSD Test - AIDA64
Version and / or Patch Used: v4.30.2900
SSD Test - PCMark 8
Version and / or Patch Used: 2.0.191
SSD Test - HD Tune Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 5.50
Taking a look at SSD performance, you can see that the performance of our SSD on the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H is a little behind the other setups under AIDA64. It's not behind by a major amount, but you can see we're about 10 MB/s to 20 MB/s slower depending on the test and the board.
While PCMark 8 sees all of the boards performing similarly to each other, you can see that the HD Tune Pro numbers are down. This isn't unusual from HD Tune Pro as you can see a bit of difference between the setups. We did test multiple times, though, and the results remained consistent within a few MB/s of each other.
Memory & Gaming Benchmarks
Memory Test - AIDA64
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Memory performance on the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H is strong. You can see it's up compared to the competition, and the write numbers are up by a considerable amount. Overclocking brings a slight increase to the write speed, but as usual, we see that the extra MHz doesn't do much for overall memory performance.
Gaming Test - 3DMark 8
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Gaming Test – Sleeping Dogs
Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
While 3DMark 8 sees little difference between the setups, you can see that Sleeping Dogs sees the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H pull out some strong FPS numbers that are then pushed even further when overclocked.
Temperature & Power Testing
Power Consumption Test
Looking at the power draw numbers, you can see that the idle sits second, while load sits at the lowest out of the Z97 setups. Overclocking brings a slight boost to both numbers, but overall, we see some very impressive power draw numbers out of the board.
Core Temperature Test
At stock, the idle and load numbers are impressive, while overclocking shows some strong load numbers. Coming in at 4.95GHz and seeing a load number that isn't in the 90C range is always excellent.
Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts
Sitting below $200, we find ourselves instantly becoming a little more excited about the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H. Coming in under the $200 mark is always appealing to people as they find themselves budgeting for a motherboard around this price point. At around $200, you tend to get most of the features you need that are going to keep you going for a while.
Looking today, you can see the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H manages to really offer us a nice amount of features for this price point. While the package is a little on the light side, you can see that the design of the board is strong, and overall features are strong thanks to that Ultra Durable labeling that brings with it some great quality components.
Performance overall is really strong. The PCMark 8 Home score was slightly down, and we saw that HD Tune Pro numbers sat a bit behind the pack. Memory performance was strong, though, alongside the overclock. Something else that really stood out was both the power and temperature numbers we saw on the setup. At 4.95GHz, the fact that we remain under 90C is always impressive, especially considering the extra voltage going through our CPU.
The GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H really does a great job of ticking most of the boxes when it comes to going over everything. Sitting at under $200, the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H manages to still see an excellent line up of features, including Bigfoot Killer Gigabit networking and all of the extras that Ultra Durable brings to the table.
Overclocking performance is strong, and not only does the heat sink in gold look great, but it clearly seems to work as we see some great numbers when it comes to heat. For the price point, it really feels like you can't go too wrong with this board. The UD5H series again brings with it both features and performance at a great price point.
PRICING: You can find the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H 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 Z97X-UD5H retails for $184.99 at Amazon.
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