Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H Review
It's always difficult when you're reviewing the first in a line of products. Without much to compare it to it's too easy to be bowled over by impressive performance that on later viewing is only middling, or equally be underwhelmed by something that's actually near the top of the pile.
However, with a lot of experience with the 2nd Generation of Intel processors and the P67/Z68 motherboards, we at least can get a grasp on where the UD5H fits in against those, and the answer is fairly averagely. One of the things we've often said about the Sandy Bridge range was that Intel had refined everything to such a fine art that it was very difficult to get something to stand out, and so it proves here.
There is a lot to like about the Z77X-UD5H. It's designed well. The BIOS is incredibly easy to use and nearly bulletproof, with the usual Gigabyte Dual-BIOS allowing you to recover from even hopelessly optimistic overclocking attempts. It even works with gaming mice, which is more than can be said for many UEFI BIOS'. It, unlike the Intel board, was happy to run our G.Skill 2400MHz kit at its rated timings, with the amount of performance benefit one would expect. You're not short of connectivity options either, with a host of SATA connections and USB ports. Finally if you're just interested in 3D benchmark numbers, regardless of how they are achieved, then the combination of the HD7970 and Lucid MVP most definitely will rock your world.
As always there are things that are less than perfect. The most obvious one is the overclocked performance is a bit hit and miss. In some tests we saw enormous benefits, exactly the kind of numbers we'd expect this high-end set of hardware to put out. Yet in others it seemed as if the overclock was doing precisely nothing. It isn't even a case of certain tests, as AIDA64 tests the CPU separately and so does Sandra, yet only AIDA64 showed improvements. The long-awaited full-fat PCI Express 3.0 which is unlocked with the use of a 3rd Generation CPU really has zero benefit on our HD7970. A card that isn't exactly lacking in performance, but doesn't gain any improvement only time will tell if this is the CPU or a motherboard issue, there is also an outside chance it could even be the progam itself having some buggy problems with the new CPU.
The million dollar question is, if you already own a hyper-threaded 2nd Generation Intel CPU such as the 2600K or 2700K, is this worthy of an investment? The short of it is no. There just aren't enough new features, nor extra performance, to justify the cost involved.
However, if you are currently in need of an upgrade then the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H makes perfect sense thanks to it's build quality and very well-rounded package. It's not aimed at doing a single thing well but rather providing the basis for an everyday system with the variety of tasks that are called upon them.
Of course until we've tested an array of Z77s it's difficult to place it in the grand scheme of things, but for now we think that you're very unlikely to be disappointed if you picked one up, and for that it gets our OC3D Gold Award. We look forward to seeing what the Sniper.3 and some other boards can bring to the party to see if this is a whole hearted gold or maybe even demoted to a shiny silver. Only time will tell.