GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H Motherboard Review
Features and Motherboard Layout
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
- Supports 4th and 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors
- Extreme multi graphics support
- Precise digital CPU power design
- SATA Express support for 10 Gb/s data transfer
- M.2 for SSDs drives with up to 10 Gb/s data transfer
- Killer™ E2200 and Intel gaming networking
- Realtek ALC1150 115dB SNR HD Audio with built-in rear audio amplifier
- 2x copper PCB design
- Long lifespan Durable Black Solid caps
- APP Center including EasyTune™ and Cloud Station™ utilities
- GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™
The GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H motherboard was designed with a matte black PCB and gold coloration on the VRM and chipset heat sinks, common to their channel line for several of the past board revisions. All board components are black colored to blend in with the board's coloration with the exception of the power and reset buttons. GIGABYTE was able to integrate the new features into the board's design without impacting spacing between components, leaving plenty of room with which to work on the board.
The back side of the board has virtually no circuitry or components, minimizing the risk of damaging the board during installation into the case. Further, the area directly behind and around the CPU socket is entirely free of chips or other components, making the installation of the CPU cooler and its backplate that much easier.
GIGABYTE designed the Z97X-UD5H's rear panel with the following ports: a keyboard / mouse PS/2 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports controlled by the Intel Z97 chipset (located above the HDMI port), 4 USB 3.0 ports controlled by the Intel Z97 chipset controller via a Renesas hub (located below the GigE NIC ports), an Intel GigE NIC port (inside RJ-45 port), a Qualcomm Atheros Killer NIC port (outside RJ-45 port), an HDMI video port, a DVI-I video port, an optical audio port, and 5 analogue audio ports.
The Z97X-UD5H motherboard has a total of seven PCI-Express device ports - three PCI-Express x16 slots, two PCI-Express x1 slots, and two PCI slots. For the PCI-Express x16 slots, the board supports full x16 bandwidth with a single card, x8 bandwidth with cards in the primary and secondary slots with two cards populated, and x8 / x4 / x4 in all PCI-Express x16 slots with three cards populated. There is sufficient space in between all PCI-Express x16 slots to accommodate up to dual slot coolers. Notice that GIGABYTE also designed the PCI-Express port layout so that a PCI-Express x1 slot remains available even with all PCIe x16 slots populated.
Just below the primary PCI-Express x1 slot is the integrated M.2 port. This port supports M.2 type SSDs, supporting drives with up to 10 Gb/s transfer rates. Note that SATA ports 4 and 5 are automatically disabled with an M.2 SSD installed in the board. The CMOS battery is located to the lower left of the primary PCIe x16 slot.
GIGABYTE designed the audio subsystem on a separate PCB to ensure audio clarity and fidelity. The PCB separator line is demarcated by a yellow line on the motherboard, but does not glow when the board is powered. The front panel audio header is located the upper left corner of the audio PCB, to the left of the audio chipset.
Along the outside of the tertiary PCIe x16 slot are the front panel audio header, the S/PDIF output header, a system fan header, a serial port header, and a trusted platform module device header.
To the lower left of the tertiary PCIe x16 slot are the trusted platform module device header, a system fan header, and an on-board USB 2.0 header.
The two on-board USB 2.0 headers, two system fan headers, front panel header, and the CMOS reset jumper (two pin jumper to the lower right of front panel header) are located in the lower left corner of the board.
The Intel Z97 Express chipset is covered by a large, low profile heat sink just below the PCI-Express x16 slots. The heat sink is gold colored with the GIGABYTE corporate logo along the lower portion of the heat sink in black and white.
GIGABYTE integrated a total of six on-board SATA 6 Gb/s ports and one SATA Express 10 Gb/s port located just under the chipset cooler into the board's design. The two gray colored SATA ports on the right of the port block are tied to the Marvel controller, while the black colored ports on the left are tied to the Intel Z97 chipset controller. To the left of the port block is the PCIe power connector port. This port is used to provide extra power to the PCI-Express slots when multiple video cards are seated in the board. You simply plug in a SATA-style power plug from the PSU into the port.
The on-board DDR3 memory slots are located just below the CPU socket in the lower right quadrant of the board. Dual Channel memory mode is enabled by seating memory modules like colored slots with the gray colored slots acting as the primary slot set. The board supports up to 32GB of memory running at a maximum speed of 2933MHz. Note that memory speeds above 1600MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. Just under the memory slots are the Intel Z97 chipset controlled USB 3.0 header, the 2-digit diagnostic LED, and the 24-pin ATX power connector. The diagnostic LED display can be used in conjunction with the table provided in the user manual to identify and troubleshoot board boot-related issues.
To the lower right of the DIMM slots are the voltage measurement points, the Dual BIOS switch (SB), the active BIOS switch (BIOS_SW), and on-board power, reset, and CMOS clear buttons. The voltage measurement points allow for direct board voltage measurement using a volt meter. The active BIOS switch is used to switch between the primary and backup BIOS. With the switch set to the 1 position (default), the main BIOS is active. In the 2 position, the backup BIOS is activated. The Dual BIOS Switch is set to enabled (the 1 position) by default. Dual BIOS is disabled with the switch in the 2 position.
To the upper right of the DIMM slots are two 4-pin CPU fan headers. The primary CPU fan header is colored white. The secondary CPU fan header can be used to attach a pump RPM output cable when using a water cooling system to cool the CPU.
The CPU socket is clear of obstructions with the power circuitry and VRM heat sink surrounding the upper three sides of the socket. The board contains a total of 12 digital power phases to ensure board stability under all operating conditions. Notice that the M.2 slot to the left of the socket is far enough away from the socket so that it will not interfere with CPU cooler mounting.
GIGABYTE provides a single 8-pin ATX12V power connector to provide additional power the CPU, located in the upper right corner of the board.