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Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H Motherboard Review

Rating: 9.0.

Today we are taking a look at the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H, the latest Z77 motherboard targeting the mainstream enthusiast audience. This board is built for overclocking and stability using the 3D power system with Auto Voltage Compensation. Is this an ideal board to shortlist for your next system build?

Over the last couple of weeks we have reviewed many Z77 motherboards from Asus, ASRock, BioStar and Sapphire. If you are building a new Z77 system then you are spoilt for choice. Does this Gigabyte board match the excellent ASrock and ASUS boards we have recently reviewed?

The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H motherboard we are looking at today is available via special offer with ARIA right now and they are including a free Antec Kuhler 620 Liquid Water cooler, all for £177.77 inc vat.

Gigabyte have a loyal enthusiast following and this board looks to be fully loaded, at a reasonable price point. This board offers both Crossfire and SLI support, with four digital power zones for the CPU (Vcore), VTT, processor graphics and memory.

Gigabyte box artwork is always very simple, and the Z77X-UD5H is no exception. Primarily white with a cube logo, focusing on their ‘3D Bios’ implementation.

The bundle includes a user manual, optical disc with drivers and software and a 3.5 inch USB 3.0 bay for a chassis. There is also an SLI cable, a backplate and multiple SATA cables. Gigabyte also include a branded sticker which can be adhered to a case.

The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H Motherboard is built around a black PCB with blue accenting on the heatsinks. This is an ATX motherboard with 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm dimensions. The board incorporates onboard Voltage read points to allow for real time voltage monitoring when overclocking. OC-PEG provides two onboard SATA power connectors for stable PCIe power when using 3-way and 4-way graphics configurations.

An mSATA drive can be connected just below the CPU socket. This is controlled by the Intel Z77 chipset.

Gigabyte have left plenty of space around the CPU socket for installation of the biggest physical CPU coolers, such as the Noctua NH D14. That cooler fits perfectly on this board without a problem. There is a CPU power connector in this area, with several fan headers to connect multiple heatsink, or chassis fans.

The board has four memory slots, all coloured black. They are split into a dual channel configuration. The Z77X-UD5H has support (officially) for 32GB of 2400(OC)/1600/1333/1066 MHz DDR3 memory, although they list 2666mhz as also being supported ‘unofficially’. We will look at this support later in the review. Obviously there is full support for Extreme Memory Profiles (XMP) to make the configuration process straightforward.

Gigabyte have included a power, reset and ‘clear cmos’ button with a diagnostic readout close by the memory slots. These are often placed along the bottom of the board, but it makes more sense to position them next to the memory as they are easier to access with multiple graphics cards installed.

There are eight SATA ports installed on the Z77X-UD5H (with an extra one along the bottom row of the board for front panel connection). The two grey and two white ports are SATA 3 rated. The grey ports are controlled by the Marvell  88SE9172 chip (Raid 0 and Raid 1 support). The four black ports are SATA 2 rated with support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10. It is worth pointing out that the SATA2 5 connector will become unavailable when the mSATA connector is installed with a solid state drive.

Along the bottom of the board are the audio connectors, several USB headers, and another four pin fan header. Next to this is the front panel header panel, nicely colour coded. Next to this is the SATA header for front panel connection and several USB 3.0 headers. As we mentioned earlier, the CMOS, reset and power buttons are moved up next to the memory slots, within easy reach.

The Z77 chipset is passively cooling with a large blue heatsink, branded with the Gigabyte logo.

The board has the following expansion slot support:

  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
    * For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
    * The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
    * The PCIEX4 slot is available only when an Intel 22nm (Ivy Bridge) CPU is installed.
    * The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX8 and PCIEX16 slots. When the PCIEX4 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode and the PCIEX8 will operate at up to x4 mode.
    (The PCIEX16, PCIEX8 and PCIEX4 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
    * PCIE Gen.3 is dependent on CPU and expansion card compatibility.
  • 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
    (All PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
  • 1 x PCI slot

The back panel has the following connectors:

  • 1 x D-Sub port
  • 1 x DVI-D port
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 1 x HDMI port
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x eSATA 6Gb/s connector
  • 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.0 ports
  • 1 x IEEE 1394a port
  • 2 x RJ-45 ports
  • 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Side Speaker Out, Line In/Mic In, Line Out)

On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source. You can right click and ‘save as’ to your computer to view later.

The Gigabyte Bios is a well laid out UEFI implementation. We received a new bios just before starting this review, which is a good way to test the onboard flashing system. The motherboard detected our flash drive and we pointed to the ‘F6’ bios update as shown above.

The flash procedure took around 3 minutes, ending with a verification process. All in all, a painless experience and a good first indication of a well designed bios.

We have looked at the Gigabyte 3D bios before. It offers a more intuitive option for less experienced users, who can simply click on a various section of the board to get access to settings. There is also a live readout top right of the CPU and memory speeds.

We clicked on the system tuning option and were presented with the following menu. While this is ideal for a new user to tweak settings easily, we prefer the advanced panels.

The M.I.T. section of the bios allows for all the overclocking options and fine tweaking of the settings. We will look at this in more detail shortly.

The System menu shows the newly flashed bios revision ‘F6’ with the relevant date and ID number. We can also change the system time in here.

The Bios Features panel is useful to configure the drive configuration, as well as enabling and disabling some features. We always disable the Full screen boot logo for instance.

The Peripherals menu is self explanatory which various settings for onboard devices such as the audio and USB 2.0 controller.

The Power Management panel gives control over alarm and wake up settings and the Save & Exit menu can store and load pre-configured settings. There is also an option here for boot override and for recovering to an optimised state.

The M.I.T. panel is well laid out, although there are too many individual sections for my personal tastes. Perhaps it is because im more used to ASUS UEFI configurations, but I prefer having everything listed in one place. Above, an image which allows us to change the clock ratio – we set 47, or 4.7ghz and changed the memory from 1333mhz to XMP profile 1, which is 2,400mhz for the Corsair GTX8 we installed.

It is also worth pointing out that Gigabyte have adopted the ASUS methodology of using a default state of 39 for all core activity states. 1,2,3 and 4 cores on the 3770k will operate at full turbo speeds of 3.9ghz, unlike other boards we have reviewed recently. This can lead to a significant performance increase in real world situations if you use the Z77X-UD5H at default settings.

There is a separate panel for memory settings as shown above. At 1,333mhz, the board automatically configures memory voltage to 1.5V, but when set to profile 1, this increases to 1.65V.

Again there is a separate menu for CPU Core Voltage Control as shown above. We could get the system stable at 4.6ghz with a cheap cooler at 1.25 volts, the same as the ASUS boards we have reviewed recently. We were also able to get the system stable at 4.7ghz with our 3770k with 1.3 volts. This needs a good cooler, so we used the Noctua NH D14 at these settings. We could also push higher to 4.8ghz but this requires 1.36 volts which can cause a dramatic temperature increase, even with a high end cooler.

We settled on 4.7ghz due to the lower temperatures. Validation at these speeds can be seen over here.

As we have reviewed so many Z77 motherboards in recent weeks we are focusing on a heavily overclocked state today @ 4.7ghz. We will compare against a variety of processors and systems we have tested in recent months.

If you are interested in analysing the onboard graphics performance of Intel’s HD4000 built into the Core i7 3770k, then read this review.

Processor: Intel Core i7 3770k
: Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H
: Noctua NH D14
: Corsair GTX8 2,400mhz (10-12-11-30)

Graphics Card
: AMD HD7870
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W.
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive.
Chassis: Cooler Master Cosmos 2.
Monitors: Dell U3011, 3x Ilyama ProLite E2472HDD.
Boot Drive: Kingston SSDNow V+200 90GB.
Storage Drive: Patriot 240GB Wildfire.

Processor: Intel Core i7 3930K
Motherboard: Asus P9X79 WS WorkStation
Cooler: Corsair H100
: 8GB Corsair Dominator GT8 2400mhz memory
Graphics Card
: AMD HD7770 CrossfireX
Power Supply
: ADATA 1200W
Optical Drive
: Asus BluRay Drive
: Cooler Master Cosmos 2
Boot Drive: Crucial C300 128GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 240GB Pyro SE

Intel i7 3960X EE
: Asus Rampage IV Extreme
: Antec H20 920
: 8GB Corsair Dominator GT 2400mhz memory
Power Supply
: Enermax Platimax 1200W
Optical Drive
: Asus BluRay Drive
: Lian Li PC-A77FR Aluminium Red Full Tower Case
Boot Drive: Patriot WildFire 120GB
Secondary Drive: 1TB Samsung

Intel i7 3820
: ASRock Extreme4-M
Cooler: Intel reference cooler
Memory: 8GB Corsair GTX8 @ 2133mhz
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Chassis: Lian Li PC60
Boot Drive: Crucial C300
Secondary Drive: Patriot Pyro SE 240GB

AMD FX 8150 Black Edition
Processor: AMD FX 8150 Black Edition
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Memory: G-SKill Ripjaws 1600mhz 8GB (2x 4GB)
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Chassis: SilverStone Raven 3
Boot Drive: Intel 40GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 120GB WildFire

Intel Core i7 990X
: Intel Core i7 990x
Cooler: Corsair H100
Motherboard: Gigabyte G1 Assassin
Memory: Kingston HyperX 6GB
Drives: Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Chassis: Antec Twelve Hundred

Intel Core i7 2700k
: Intel Core i7 2700k
Cooling: ThermalTake Frio OCK
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 Motherboard
Chassis: Silverstone Raven 3.
Power Supply: Corsair 850W.
Memory: Corsair 1600mhz memory
Storage: Intel 80GB SSD (boot) / Patriot Wildfire 120GB SSD.

Intel Core i7 2600k
Processor: Intel Core i7 2600k
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen 3
Cooler: Intel XTS-100H
Memory: ADATA 1600mhz DDR3 8GB (2x4GB)
Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower 850W
Boot Drive: Intel 510 SSD 250GB

Intel Core i5 2500k
Processor: Intel Core i7 2500k
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 Motherboard
Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme Rev.2 CPU Cooler
Memory: Corsair 1600mhz memory 8GB (2x4GB)
Power Supply: Corsair 850W.
Boot Drive: Patriot Pyro 120GB SSD.

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Memory: G-SKill Ripjaws 1600mhz 8GB (2x 4GB)
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Chassis: SilverStone Raven 3
Boot Drive: Intel 40GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 120GB WildFire

Gaming System Comparison System:
: Core i7 970 @ 3.9ghz
Graphics: Asus GTX680
Cooling: Coolit Vantage
Motherboard: MSI X58A-GD65
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10 GT
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Memory: 6GB ADATA @ 2133mhz 9-10-9-32
Storage: Kingston SSDNow V+ 512GB Gen 2 SSD (Storage) / Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (OS boot)

Some game descriptions are edited with courtesy from Wikipedia.

PCMark 7 includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed to cover the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete PC performance testing for Windows 7 for home and business use.

The system at 4.7ghz scores over 6,000 points which is one of the best scores to date. This is aided by the fast solid state drive and 2,400mhz Corsair memory.

Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7. This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.

The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H system scores well, thanks to the 3770k in such a high state of overclock, this boosts the score to 26,803 points. A great result for a HD7870 powered system.

3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.

After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.

Strong overall scoring especially in the Physics test, highlighting the strength of the 3770k when overclocked to 4.7ghz.

Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.

Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.

Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:

  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures

We use the following settings: 1920×1080 resolution. Anti Aliasing off. Anisotrophy 4, Tessellation normal. Shaders High. Stereo 3D disabled. API: Direct X 11.

With the HD7870, the system averages over 67 frames per second, an excellent result from this demanding Direct X 11 benchmark. This bodes well for the game test results later in the review.

HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.

There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.

This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.

Read our initial analysis over here

AMD HD7870
Dial with static pattern 5
Gray Bars 5
Violin 5
Stadium 2:2 5
Stadium 3:2 5
Horizontal Text Scroll 5
Vertical Text Scroll 5
Transition to 3:2 Lock 5
Transition to 2:2 Lock 0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5:5 FPS Animation
6:4 12 FPS Animation
8:7 8 FPS Animation
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
Random Noise: Sailboat
Random Noise: Flower
Random Noise: Sunrise
Random Noise: Harbour Night
Scrolling Text
Roller Coaster
Ferris Wheel
Bridge Traffic
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
Roller Coaster
Ferris Wheel
Bridge Traffic
Luminance Frequency Bands
Chrominance Frequency Bands
Vanishing Text 5
Resolution Enhancement
Theme Park
Driftwood 5
Ferris Wheel
Skin Tones
Total 196

A score of 196 points is class leading right now, the ideal solution for high definition media playback on a big screen.

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software.

Sandra is a (girl’s) name of Greek origin that means “defender”, “helper of mankind”. We think that’s quite fitting.

It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what’s really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCI-X, PCIe (PCI Express), database, USB, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.

Native ports for all major operating systems are available:

  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x86)
  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x64)
  • Windows 2003/R2, 2008/R2* (IA64)
  • Windows Mobile 5.x (ARM CE 5.01)
  • Windows Mobile 6.x (ARM CE 5.02)

All major technologies are supported and taken advantage of:

  • SMP – Multi-Processor
  • MC – Multi-Core
  • SMT/HT – Hyper-Threading
  • MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE 4.1, SSE 4.2, AVX, FMA – Multi-Media instructions
  • GPGPU, DirectX, OpenGL – Graphics
  • NUMA – Non-Uniform Memory Access
  • AMD64/EM64T/x64 – 64-bit extensions to x86
  • IA64 – Intel* Itanium 64-bit

At 4.7ghz, the 3770K performs as we would expect, hitting the top of the graphs, behind the 3960X Extreme Edition at reference speeds. Memory performance is also very strong, scoring over 27 GB/s of bandwidth at 2,400mhz.

CINEBENCH R11.5 64 Bit is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.

At 4.7ghz, the system scores 9.54 points which makes it ideal for full time 3D rendering duties. Obviously the Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition is much faster, but the price premium is significant.

Crystalmark is a useful benchmark to measure theoretical performance levels of hard drives and SSD’s. We are using V3.0 x64.

Today we focused on the Kingston SSDNow V+200 90GB Solid State Drive, and the results are impressive when paired up with the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H Motherboard. Sequential read performance is close to 500 MB/s.

ATTO results mirror CrystalDiskMark, with the drive peaking at 560 MB/s read and 505 MB/s write.

V2011 is the first release of 3DStudio Max to fully support the Windows 7 operating system. This is a professional level tool that many people use for work purposes and our test will show any possible differences between board design today.

Autodesk 3ds Max Design 2011 software offers compelling new techniques to help bring designs to life by aggregating data, iterating ideas, and presenting the results.

Streamlined, more intelligent data exchange workflows and innovative new modeling and visualization tools help significantly increase designers’ creativity and productivity, enabling them to better explore, validate, and communicate the stories behind their designs.

Major new features:

  • Slate: A node based material editor.
  • Quicksilver: Hardware renderer with multithreaded rendering engine that utilizes both CPU and GPU.
  • Extended Graphite Modeling Toolset
  • 3ds Max Composite: A HDRI-capable compositor based on Autodesk Toxik.
  • Viewport Canvas toolset for 3D and 2D texture painting directly in the viewport
  • Object Painting: use 3D geometry as ‘brushes’ on other geometry
  • Character Animation Toolkit (CAT): now integrated as part of the base package
  • Autodesk Material Library: Over 1200 new photometrically accurate shaders
  • Additional file format support: includes native support for Sketchup, Inventor
  • FBX file linking
  • Save to Previous Release (2010)

We created a new 8200×3200 scene and recorded the time for the hardware to finalise the render.

These results are excellent, aided by the 2,400mhz memory bandwidth. It manages to outperform the last generation 990X EE system at reference clock speeds.

CyberLink MediaEspresso 6 is the successor to CyberLink MediaShow Espresso 5.5. With its further optimized CPU/GPU-acceleration, MediaEspresso is an even faster way to convert not only your video but also your music and image files between a wide range of popular formats.

Now you can easily playback and display your favourite movies, songs and photos not just on your mobile phone, iPad, PSP, Xbox, or Youtube and Facebook channels but also on the newly launched iPhone 4. Compile, convert and enjoy images and songs on any of your computing devices and enhance your videos with CyberLink’s built-in TrueTheater Technology.

New and Improved Features

  • Ultra Fast Media Conversion – With support from the Intel Core i-Series processor family, ATI Stream & NVIDIA CUDA, MediaEspresso’s Batch-Conversion function enables multiple files to be transcoded simultaneously.
  • Smart Detect Technology – MediaEspresso 6 automatically detects the type of portable device connected to the PC and selects the best multimedia profile to begin the conversion without the need for user’s intervention.
  • Direct Sync to Portable Devices – Video, audio and image files can be transferred in a few easy steps to mobile phones including those from Acer, BlackBerry, HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Palm, as well as Sony Walkman and PSP devices.
  • Enhanced Video Quality – CyberLink TrueTheater Denoise and Lighting enables the enhancement of video quality through optical noise filters and automatic brightness adjustment.
  • Video, Music and Image File Conversion – Convert not only videos to popular formats such as AVI, MPEG, MKV, H.264/AVC, and FLV at the click of a button, but also images such as JPEG and PNG and music files like WMA, MP3 and M4A.
  • Online Sharing – Conversion to video formats used by popular social networking websites and a direct upload feature means posting videos to Facebook and YouTube has never been easier.

For our testing today we are converting a 3.3GB 720p MKV file (2h:12mins) to Apple Mp4 format for playback on a portable device. This is a common procedure for many people and will give a good indication of system power. We are using the newest version which has been optimised for Sandybridge processors.

For testing today we are enabling graphics acceleration encoding.

A final time of 6 minutes and 55 seconds is a record time. That said, Media Espresso does not use 100% of all the cores, so therefore the results above don’t tie in accurately with some of the other software today. By comparison a Quad core Intel ATOM powered system can take 1 hour and 15 minute to complete the same task.

With hardware acceleration enabled, CPU demand drops to around 19-22 percent. This ensures that the system is responsive enough to handle other tasks within a multitasking environment.

Handbrake is a fantastic free program which we wanted to include to confirm findings with Media Espresso, earlier in the review. HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows.

We used the latest V 0.9.5 for testing today across all platforms. We encoded an DVD.MPG file.

At 4.7ghz the system takes 4 minutes and 49 seconds to complete the encoding task, around 5 seconds faster than the 2600k when it is clocked to 4.8ghz. Good results.

F1 2011 is the newest Direct X 11 racing game from industry pioneers CodeMasters. The 2011 Formula One season is the 62nd FIA Formula One season. The original calendar consisted of twenty rounds, including the inaugural running of the Indian Grand Prix before the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pirelli returns to the sport as tyre supplier for all teams, taking over from Bridgestone. Red Bull Racing are the reigning Constructor’s Champions. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is the defending Drivers’ Champion, one of five World Champions appearing on the grid.

The system averages 69 frames per second, dropping to 61 frames per second in some of the more intensive sections of the environment.

Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.

To test the cards we used a 1080p resolution with DX11, Texture Quality Very High, MSAA Samples 1, 16 af, ambient occulsion on, shadow complexity high, motion blur on. We use this with most of our graphics card testing so cards are comparable throughout reviews.

Excellent performance from the system, averaging 75 frames per second at these demanding settings.

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. We don’t really enjoy playing this game, but the engine is a great Direct X 11 test of modern hardware.

This is a very demanding engine at high resolution/image quality settings. We are able to enjoy a perfectly smooth experience, averaging almost 60 frames per second.

According to EA, Battlefield 3 garnered 3 million pre-orders by the day of its release. It is unknown at present whether these figures are worldwide or just for the US. The pre-order total makes it “the biggest first-person shooter launch in EA history”, according to the publisher. The engine is beautiful on the PC and very demanding of the partnering hardware.

The system performs well, averaging 67 frames per second throughout our test environment. This drops under 60 frames per second a few times, although the frame rate generally holds above this sweet spot.

Mass Effect 3 is an action role-playing game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. The game’s endings have been controversial with many fans. Criticisms include the lack of variation in the endings in view of the player’s choices over the previous two games, as well as a general lack of closure and perceived plot holes.

No performance issues with this engine either at these settings, averaging 50 frames per second.

The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H is without doubt one of the finest Z77 motherboards we have reviewed to date. We have been impressed with not only the stability and reliability over the last week, but also the potential for overclocking. The 12 Phase power design delivers fast transient response times and class leading power delivery.

The 3D BIOS is a very attractive design which will definitely appeal to bios fearing users. By simply clicking on a full screen image of the board the user is presented with relevant options to tweak and tune. We would feel however that experienced users will ditch this immediately for the advanced interface, we certainly know we did.

The M.I.T. advanced section of the BIOS is fully featured with plenty of options to tweak voltages, frequency adjustments and power distribution. That said, we do feel that ASUS still hold the leadership here, especially in regards to intuitive layout. Gigabyte could really include many of these functions in a single, easy to scroll location. I found myself frequently navigating backwards and forwards within sub menus to change voltages and frequencies.

Overclocking this board is very straightforward and we had great success, even with a modest air cooler. We achieved stability at 4.8ghz with the Core i7 3770k although it required 1.35 volts which meant that the cooling solution would need to be enhanced for long term reliability. A Corsair H100 would be our recommendation for this setting.

4.7ghz was our chosen speed for this review as we could drop the voltage to 1.3, subsequently lowering temperatures by 10c under load. The Z77X-UD5H was rock solid and passed our stress tests with ease. A quality, inexpensive air cooler could be used at 4.6ghz (@ 1.25v), such as the Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 which retails in the United Kingdom for only £20.

The Z77X-UD5H is fully featured, with fantastic connectivity and the mSATA slot will let the end user take advantage of Intel Smart Response and Rapid Start. There are also a myriad of USB 2.0/3.0 ports and a total of 9 SATA connectors for the most demanding enthusiast system. We like the small touches, such as moving the CMOS, reset and power switches next to the memory at the top of the board. This means it is easier to locate the buttons and recover from a serious problem, especially if multiple graphics cards are installed.

We have no hesitation in recommending the Z77X-UD5H for a new system build. It is just as good as the Asus motherboards we have tested and ARIA are currently offering a great deal, at £177.77 inc vat, with a free Antec Kuhler 620.


  • Competitive price point.
  • Good bundle.
  • stable.
  • good bios.
  • fantastic overclocker.


  • I still prefer the ASUS bios layout, but thats about it.

Kitguru says: As good a board as the Asus Z77 boards we have reviewed in recent weeks. Great deal from ARIA too right now.

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Biostar introduce a new dual-core SoC motherboard

Just last week, Biostar announced a new A10N-9630E quad-core Mini-ITX SoC motherboard designed to offer a …