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GIGABYTE Z77X-UP7 Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Features, Layout, and Bundled Accessories

Features

Courtesy of GIGABYTE

  • Industry Leading 32+3+2 Phase CPU Power Design
  • True All Digital PWM Design
  • GIGABYTE 3D Power (patent pending) Utility
  • GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ 5
  • 4-Way Graphics
  • GIGABYTE 3D BIOS (patent pending)
  • OC-Touch
  • Thin Fin Cooling Design
  • GIGABYTE 333 Onboard Acceleration
  • GIGABYTE On/Off Charge
  • Onboard mSATA Support
  • 80 Port Debug Display
  • Exclusive Bluetooth 4.0/WiFi Expansion Card
  • Lucid Universal MVP Support

Motherboard Layout

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With a larger than average footprint, the GIGABYTE Z77X-UP7 features a black and orange color scheme with more than enough room for all the features packed into this powerhouse. Its unprecedented 32+3+2 phased power delivery system promises to deliver the utmost performance levels from your prized CPU. GIGABYTE loaded this board with plenty of SATA and USB ports, five PCI-Express x16 slots, Lucid MVP software for the highest flexibility with those video ports, and on-board power, reset, CMOS reset, and overclocking buttons. Additionally, the major heat producing parts of the board are covered by large aluminum heat sinks interconnected by a heat pipe system.

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The underside of the board's PCB is clear of components in the path of the CPU and hold-down assembly. However, GIGABYTE does include an aluminum heat spreader covering the digital power circuitry located underneath the MOSFETs to better protect those chips and dissipate the heat from under the board.

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GIGABYTE chose to integrate the following ports into the Z77X-UP7's rear panel assembly: a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 4 USB 3.0 ports controlled by the Via chipset (adjacent to the video ports), 2 USB 3.0 ports controlled by the Intel Z77 chipset (adjacent to the analogue audio ports), an Atheros GigE NIC port (adjacent to the optical audio port), an Intel GigE NIC port (adjacent to the analogue audio ports), an HDMI video port, a DisplayPort video port, a DVI-D video port, a VGA video port, an optical digital audio output port, and 6 analogue audio ports. GIGABYTE also included port covers for all included video ports.

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GIGABYTE designed the board with a total of five PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots and two PCI-Express x1 slots. If you choose to use three or more video cards in the system, no PCI-Express x1 slots remain accessible. Further, the CMOS battery will be blocked with a card in the fourth PCI-Express x16 slot. The board officially supports up to 4-way NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFire configuration. For single card use, GIGABYTE recommends using the black PCI-Express x16 slot. The board supports full x16 bandwidth in single and two card configuration with x8 bandwidth in three or four card configuration thanks to the embeded PLX PEX 8747 48-lane PCIe Gen3 switch.

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The front panel audio, S/PDIF input and output and serial port headers are located in the upper left corner of the board, along the upper outer edge of PCI-Express x16 slot 5.

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Along the lower left side of the fifth PCI-Express x16 slot are the on-board USB 2.0 headers, the front panel header, and a board rarity - on-board switches. These switches control the status of the integrated dual BIOS chips. The M/B switch controls the active BIOS chip (primary or backup), while the SB switch determines whether or not the dual BIOS functionality is active. The CMOS battery is located just under the secondary PCI-Express x1 slot, to the upper right of the USB 2.0 headers. Note that the CMOS clear jumper is located to the lower left of the front panel header.

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In the lower left corner of the board are three fan headers, a 2-digit diagnostic LED, an Etron chipset controlled USB 3.0 header, and the system reset button. The included diagnostic display can be helpful for troubleshooting board initialization issues in tandem with the debug code table included in the back of the user manual.

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The Intel Z77 chipset is covered by a large aluminum, thin-finned heat sink connected to the rest of on-board cooling via heat pipe inter-connects. GIGABYTE had enough room between the chipset and the board edge for the 10 on-board SATA ports and an mSATA port. The SATA power port to the right of the SATA ports is used to provide additional power to the PCI-Express x16 slots when using two or more video cards.

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GIGABYTE included a total of 10 on-board SATA ports and an m-SATA port. The four gray colored ports are SATA 3 6GB/s ports controlled by a Marvell controller with all other ports (including the mSATA port) controlled by the Intel Z77 chipset controller. The black colored ports are SATA 2 3GB/s ports, while the white colored ports are SATA 3 6GB/s ports. Note that SATA port 5 (the upper left black colored port) disabled with a drive seated in the mSATA port.

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GIGABYTE placed the on-board DDR3 memory slots in the lower right of the board with plenty of room left for other devices as well. The primary memory slots are the orange colored slots with dual channel memory mode enabled when modules are seated both slots. The board supports up to 32GB of memory running at up to 3200MHz. Note that memory speeds above 1600MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. The Intel Z77 chipset controlled USB 3.0 header, 24-pin ATX power connector, and a system fan header are located to the lower left the memory slots. The board uses a 4-phase power regulation system, powered by on-board SFC (super ferrite choke) chokes located in between the memory slots and the ATX power connector. GIGABYTE controls the on-board chokes using three digital PWM chips from IR (International Rectifier), located to the left of the memory slots, to the left of the on-board button cluster, and the to upper right of the memory slots.

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In the lower right corner of the board are the on-board overclocking, power, and CMOS reset buttons, as well as a low frequency switch and on-board voltage measurement ports. The included measurement cables plug directly into the ports giving easy access to direct voltage measurements using a multi-meter. Most board voltages are accessible via these ports. The overclocking buttons include + and - buttons for CPU ratio manipulation (upper set of + and - buttons) and +, -, and Gear buttons for Base Clock frequency manipulation (the lower set of buttons). The Gear button forces frequency stepping to 0.1MHz instead of the default 1MHz stepping setting. The LN2 labeled switch forces the CPU speed to low speed operation to prevent issues during extreme overclocking.

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The LGA1155 CPU socket has more than adequate room around it for use of the larger coolers, but seems tighter due to the massive cooling mechanism surrounding it. The socket is surrounded on three sides by the heat pipe cooler, connecting the heat sinks cooling the power circuitry, the PLX bridge chip, and the Intel Z77 chipset. Power delivery for the CPU is regulated via a massive 32-phase power structure using a mix of IR design PowIRstage chips and SFC chokes. Three additional phases are dedicated to the CPU-integrated graphics controller and two other phases reserved for the CPU VTT power regulation.

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To help power the massive power plant for the CPU, GIGABYTE included two 8-pin ATX12V power connectors located to just below the right side of the rear panel assembly. An additional fan header is located to the right of these power connectors as well.

Included Accessories

Keeping in-line with the larger than average theme, GIGABYTE included a massive amount of accessories to put the board's integrated devices to full use.

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The bundled user manuals and installation DVD's provide more than enough information to get the board up and running, including a separate manual for the included Atheros-based WiFi/Bluetooth PCI-Express add-on card.

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The rear panel shield is a base black color with all device ports color-coded and marked for easy identification.

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GIGABTYE includes a total of six SATA cables, rated for up to 6GB/s operation. The included cables are locking cables with a mix of straight and 90 degree connectors included.

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For multi-GPU operation, 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way NVIDIA SLI connectors are included as well as a single 2-way AMD CrossFire connector.

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For wireless networking, GIGABYTE includes a PCI-Expess x1 Atheros-based wireless networking card. This card supports dual-antennae 300Mb/s 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth.  Note that the card requires a USB 2.0 header connection to activate its Bluetooth functionality.

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Also included is a front panel assembly containing two USB 3.0 ports.

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A rear panel bracket containing 2 e-SATA ports and a MOLEX-style power port are included with two e-SATA cables and a SATA to MOLEX power connector (for plugging into the rear panel bracket).

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A total of eight voltage measuring cables are included for direct board voltage measurement. Note that each cable has positive and negative leads.

January 29, 2013 | 10:04 AM - Posted by KngtRider

" Note that the card requires a USB 2.0 header connection for enhanced functionality unlocked via its Windows app."

No.

Contrary to popular beleif, Mini PCI-E cards are dual mode and support PCI AND USB

On combo WiFi/BT Cards such as this Atheros and Intel Centrino, Bluetooth is routed to the USB pins of the mini PCIE (the small end)as Bluetooth is designed for USB drivers/software only.

Inserting a combo card into a slot wired for PCI only will simply just not enable the Bluetooth.

Some Mini to full Carrier cards such as the one included with this board have a USB port to fully enable the Mini PCIE slot.

Some carrier cards such as generics or Intel's 6205 Desktop card do not pass USB through and as such cannnot use Bluetooth or 3G cards.

Mini PCIE WWAN/3G are also USB only due to the driver/softwre stack.

Getting mSATA to work in a Mini PCIE slot is anothr matter, and some new laptops have a fully universal slot, some motherboards dont. One can see a Marvel IC in the periphery of this boards mSATA.

January 29, 2013 | 05:46 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

KngtRider - thank you for the clarification on the functioning of the Atheros card.  The review information has been updated for accuracy...

January 29, 2013 | 10:50 AM - Posted by Laurențiu Roman (not verified)

Color scheme makes it look like an old DFI Lanparty.

January 30, 2013 | 06:05 AM - Posted by Leo (not verified)

Why does every motherboard bundled software have glossy, flashy and badly skinned UI? Can't anyone make clean, readable and aesthetically pleasing UI? Is it just me?

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