Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 Review
If you'll forgive us for slipping away from the more formal OC3D style for a moment and into the realms of the tabloid journalist, the only conclusion we can draw from our testing of the Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 is "Phew, what a scorcher".
The quality of recent Gigabyte motherboards has been variable to say the least. For every blinding Sniper 3 or D3H there is an equally shabby X79S. We heard talk for a long time that the Z77 series wouldn't be seeing a UD7 model, and although it hasn't there is no question that the Z77X-UP7 is their range-topping LGA1155 model. The fact they gave it the orange colour scheme we had only seen on the fabulous X58 OC at least gave us confidence that Gigabyte had faith in their product and that faith proved well justified. This thing is incredible.
Even if it was terrible, which it isn't, you know how much we'd love the looks, but it's not only the choice of orange that makes our mouth water. There are plenty of fan headers spread in useful places. The heatsinks are simple and sleek but with a huge surface area thanks to the high fin density. It's always worth remembering that the UP7 is designed for record breaking and so the heatsinks are both excellent for air cooling, and easy to remove if you're going sub-zero. Speaking of which the 32+3+2 Phase design most definitely has all the power you'd require to eliminate a lack of voltage from your list of why the overclock has failed. IR and their 60A PowIRstages supply the juice which, according to Gigabyte, can give 2000W of power delivery, its also worth noting the CPU area of the board alone costs the same to produce as the entire D3H! Certainly enough that if this passed 88 you'd be in Hill Valley without need of a lightning strike.
A 4.9GHz overclock from our retail CPU was stunning, and it was certainly the easiest board we've yet tested to give us the 5GHz CPUz. It wasn't a case of an overclock that was big on numbers and short on performance either. Nearly every test saw the UP7 give us the highest result we've seen on a Z77 motherboard. Indeed only in PC Mark was the UP7 anything other than the top of the graph. Thankfully we know the CPU is working hard, and when we look at the 3D Mark results we see that the 3D scores are awesome too, so the board covers every angle you could desire.
We haven't even begun to discuss how many connection options you have, the two Gigabit LANs, how useful the onboard OC buttons are, how the power phases are low profile to make applying putty around your pot easy, or how all the CMOS clear and voltage monitoring points are within easy reach. We haven't mentioned the PLX8747 which gives you 48 extra PCI Express lanes, or how the loadline calibration gave rock solid stability under even the highest loading.
The only slight thing anyone could quibble about is the price, around £310, but even that is right on a par with all the other high-end boards on the market and in case you haven't been paying attention this is the fastest motherboard we've tested. I personally would be perfectly happy to have it at the heart of my PC at home, and I can't think of a more ringing endorsement than that. So you're getting everything you could possibly desire with zero downside. A stunning performer, utterly worth of the OC3D Gold Award.