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GIGABYTE Z77X-UP7 Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

System Port Device Testing

Audio Subsystem Testing

Audio Playback Testing

Using a selection of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music tracks and Windows Media Player, the audio subsystem playback performance was tested for playback accuracy and fidelity. Playback of the selected audio tracks was distortion free using a 5.1 speaker setup through the on-board analogue audio ports.

The audio playback was flawless with no distortion detected.

Microphone Port Testing

For testing the board's Microphone input port, a Labtec Desk Mic 524 microphone was used to capture a 30 second spoken phrase with the assistance of the Microsoft Sound Recorder application. The resulting audio file was saved to the desktop and played back using Windows Media Player

The recorded audio test resulted in clean audio pickup with no distortion or aberrant noise effects heard during playback of the recorded audio. The audio subsystem is very sensitive to volume, requiring the use of Microphone Boost to increase pickup by a minimum of +20db and an increase in the input pickup volume.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

To validate that the board’s device ports were functioning correctly, we connected an OCZ Vertex 3 90GB SATA III SSD to the system and ran the ATTO Disk Benchmark against the drive. ATTO was configured to test against transfer sizes from 0.5 to 8192 KB with Total Length set to 512 MB. The SSD selected for testing has a maximum read throughput of 550 MB/s and a write throughput of 500 MB/s on a SATA III port and a maximum read throughput of 280 MB/s and a write throughput of 260 MB/s on a SATA II port. Additionally, a Mushkin Atlas 60GB SATA III mSATA drive was connected to the system. The Mushkin mSATA drive is rated for a maximum read throughput of 555 MB/s and a write throughput of 505 MB/s over a SATA III interface.

External device testing was done against the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports using conversion cables to connect the SSD. The SSD was connected to the internal SATA II and SATA III ports as well. The SATA device ports were set to work in AHCI mode in order to optimize SSD device operation. All tests were run 3 times with the highest repeatable read and write scores recorded in MB/s values.

According to various other testing sites, the real-world performance maximum of USB 2.0 peaks at 35-40MB/s (about 60% of its rated 60MB/s throughput and USB 3.0 peaks at 200-250MB/s (about 60-75% of its rated 350MB/s throughput).

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The performance seen on all external devices, both USB 2.0 and 3.0, fell within the expected ranges with the Intel Z77-based and Eton-based USB 3.0 ports showing the top write performance.

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The devices on the Intel Z77-controlled ports performed exactly as expected with hitting the port speed thresholds on SATA II and mSATA and the device limits on the SATA II ports. The Marvell-controlled ports performed somewhere in between the SATA II and SATA II Intel Z77 ports with its write performance somewhat lacking. The Marvell chipset's lack of performance could be partially attributed to its use of the shared PCI-Express bus. The Intel Z77-controlled mSATA port is constrained to SATA II speeds because of its link to one of the Intel Z77 SATA II ports.

SoftPerfect Research NetWorx Speed Test

In conjunction with Windows Performance Monitor, SoftPerfect Research NetWorx Speed Meter application was used to measure the upload and download performance of the motherboards integrated network controllers. Speed Meter was used to measure average network throughput in MB/s with Windows Performance Monitor used to measure average CPU utilization during the tests.

Intel GigE controller

For the wired network adapter, the testing consisted of copying two file sets from and to a remote system directly connected to the local system via a crossover cable. Use of a crossover cable eliminates the possibility of throughput loss due to router passage. The two file sets used consisted of a single 3 GB archive file and a folder containing 3 GB of audio files.

Note that that theoretical maximum throughput for a Gigabit Ethernet adapter is 125 MB/s (1.0 Gbps).

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The Intel GigE controller performance fell within expectations with the exception of the large file download average of 73 MB/s coming in a bit lower than expected. The CPU utilization was impressive, staying below 10% for all tests.

Atheros GigE controller

For the wired network adapter, the testing consisted of copying two file sets from and to a remote system directly connected to the local system via a crossover cable. Use of a crossover cable eliminates the possibility of throughput loss due to router passage. The two file sets used consisted of a single 3 GB archive file and a folder containing 3 GB of audio files.

Note that that theoretical maximum throughput for a Gigabit Ethernet adapter is 125 MB/s (1.0 Gbps).

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The Atheros GigE controller performed on par with the Intel controller with its small file averages more in line with expectations. The large file download performance underwhelmed at 81 MB/s in comparison to the small file's average of 107 MB/s. The CPU utilization measured quite a bit higher than that of the Intel controller, coming in at 20% in some cases. The CPU utilization seems to be the price of the performance seen from this adapter.

Atheros 802.11n wireless adapter

For the wireless network adapter, the testing consisted of copying two file sets from and to a remote system connected via router. The target system was connected to the router via a wired 1Gbps link to eliminate the possibility of throughput loss due to wireless transmission. The two file sets used consisted of a single 750 MB archive file and a folder containing 750 MB of audio files.

Note that that theoretical maximum throughput for a dual-channel 802.11n based wireless adapter is 37.50 MB/s (300 Mbps). However, real-world performance is normally much lower due to the massive overhead and packet loss inherent to a wireless-based system.

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The 802.11n wireless adapter averages where nothing short of astounding with both large and small file download speeds averaging 15-20 MB/s. The CPU utilization averaged at or under 6% for all tests.

Atheros Bluetooth adapter

For the Bluetooth network adapter, the testing consisted of copying two file sets from and to a remote system directly connected via the Bluetooth link. The two file sets used consisted of a single 10 MB archive file and a folder containing 10 MB of audio files.

Note that that theoretical maximum throughput for an 802.11n based wireless adapter is 375 KB/s (3.0 Mbps). However, real-world performance is normally much lower due to the massive overhead and packet loss inherent to a wireless-based system.

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The Bluetooth-based adapter performed consistently well during both sets of tests with both download and upload speeds of over 200 KB/s. The CPU utilization remained minimal during testing, at 2% or below.

January 29, 2013 | 01:04 PM - 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 | 08:46 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 | 01:50 PM - Posted by Laurențiu Roman (not verified)

Color scheme makes it look like an old DFI Lanparty.

January 30, 2013 | 09:05 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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