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Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC Motherboard Review (w/ Intel i7 4770k)


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We didn’t receive our Intel Core i7 4770k samples until very close to the NDA deadline so we didn’t get the time to cover everything we wanted in our reviews today. I think this has actually been one of the worst Intel launches in history, with almost all the details of the products leaked online long before the ‘official’ NDA broke this weekend.

That and the motherboard manufacturers insistence on pushing almost every detail of the products into the public domain via video ‘previews’ and picture media makes this launch feel like a damp squib.
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The Intel Core i7 4770k is the direct replacement for the highly successful Core i7 3770k , a processor which sold well into the overclocking sector.
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Intel are keen to highlight the ‘re-invention of the desktop pc’. With the new manufacturing process they can focus on reducing power drain, physical dimensions of the partnering chassis and allow their partners further options for delivering interesting products.

As we would expect the Intel Core i7 4770k is a Quad core processor with hyperthreading support (4+4), identical in that regard to its predecessor, the 3770k. It is also unlocked, targeting the overclockers who want to get the most for their money. We don’t have confirmed pricing as I am writing this, but we have been told that it will cost more than the 3770k.

Sadly, AMD are not able to challenge Intel in this specific sector so they can charge whatever they want, knowing that many people will pay a premium for the performance.

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The 4770k is manufactured on the 22nm process and has a Max TDP rating of 84W. The standard clock speed is set at 3,500mhz, although as we will see later in the review, the processor can turbo well above this figure, depending on the thermal overhead at the time. The official speed rating is up to 3.9ghz and it has 8MB of cache.

The 4770k has an integrated memory controller which supports 2 channels of DDR3-1600 memory, with 2 DIMMs per channel. With an XMP profile, the memory limitations are much higher, as we will find out later.

As we received multiple motherboards for launch day we are looking at the Core i7 4770k onboard graphics performance in this review (HD4600). We don’t think too many people buying a 4770k will be wanting to rely on onboard graphics capabilities, unless it would be a temporary solution while they save money to buy a discrete card. Nonetheless it will be interesting to look at later in the review.
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New enhanced built-in visual features deliver a seamless visual PC experience for doing everything from simple e-mail to enjoying the latest 3D and HD entertainment. The built-in visuals suite includes:

  • Intel Quick Sync Video Technology: Media processing for incredibly fast conversion of video files for portable media players or online sharing.
  • Intel InTru 3D: Stereoscopic 3D Blu-ray playback experience in full HD 1080p resolution over HDMI 1.4 with 3D.
  • Intel Clear Video HD Technology: Visual quality and color fidelity enhancements for spectacular HD playback and immersive web browsing.
  • Intel Advanced Vector Extensions 2.0 (Intel® AVX 2.0): Increased performance for demanding visual applications like professional video & image editing.
  • Intel HD Graphics 4600: Significant 3D performance for immersive mainstream gaming on a broad range of titles. The dynamic graphics frequency ranges up to 1250MHz.

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The Intel ‘HD4600’ graphics get a new control panel in Windows, as shown in the screenshots above. The main panel splits the options into 5 separate sections – ‘display’, ‘3D’, ‘support’, ‘video’ and ‘options’. By default Intel have the general image quality settings configured to the ‘balanced’ preset. This offers a mixture of image quality and performance characteristics. The ‘Video’ panel has a variety of settings to adjust the onscreen image quality.

We found the image quality to be excellent, although still a little behind AMD and NVIDIA discrete solutions.

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