Date: Tuesday , July 30, 2013
GIGABYTE is one of the largest motherboard manufacturers in the world. Formed in 1986 GIGABYTE began with motherboards and expanded its business over the years to include a variety of other peripherals and consumer electronic products. The list of those is long enough to put you to sleep and some of these are probably products you haven’t heard of specifically. It’s fair to say that GIGABYTE makes a lot of stuff. For the enthusiast GIGABYTE is known for motherboards above all else. For years it has produced stable, reliable, and highly overclockable motherboards in a multitude of price brackets.
The motherboard we are reviewing today is the GIGABYTE Z87X-UD3H which is on the lower end of the price spectrum but offers a solid feature set and looks to have all the ingredients of a winner. A few examples of these features include but are not limited to: black solid electrolytic capacitors, 2oz. copper PCB, IR PowIRstage ICs, and anti ESD IC’s.
The GIGABYTE Z87X-UD3H is based on Intel’s Z87 Express chipset and naturally uses the LGA1150 socket compatible with all Haswell family CPUs. The board is constructed with 6 fan headers, built in headphone amplifier, Japanese made Chemi Con black solid electrolytic capacitors, 2oz. copper PCB, IR PowIRstage ICs, and anti ESD IC’s for the USB ports and even a gold plated CPU socket. A single fuse is employed per USB port for added anti-surge protection from USB devices. The chipset supports 32GB of DRAM, 6 SATA 6Gb/s ports, RAID0, 1, 5, 10, JBOD, PCI-Express 3.0, 2.0, Intel network controller, Intel’s Smart Connect Technology, and rapid response technology. MultiGPU technologies such as CrossFire support and SLI are supported as well. The board features 2 extra SATA 6Gb/s ports and 2 eSATA 6Gb/s ports via a single Marvell 9172 controller.
Main Specifications Overview:
Detailed Specifications Overview:
The motherboard ships in a standard motherboard box. The black / blue packaging is attractive but nothing unusual. Our sample arrived safe and sound with no damage and all accessories accounted for. User manual, installation guide book, driver disc, GIGABYTE case badge, I/O shield, SATA cables, and an SLI bridge.
The layout of the GIGABYTE Z87X-UD3H is actually very good. Fan headers, controls, ports, and expansion slots are all well placed without too many negative oversights. Even the inside of some ports are labeled as to what these are. This shows incredible attention to detail. My only complaint is the location of the clear CMOS button to the reset button on the PCB. These are different colors now but are almost in the same location. It would be easy to press the wrong one. Not being careless about which you press would prevent problems but a more insightful design would still be appreciated here. Of course being able to save your BIOS settings in the BIOS make this less of an issue if you use it.
The motherboard is visually striking but not distinct in any way shape or form. GIGABYTE uses an all black theme with a few items color coded gray to make these stand out a little but not enough to interfere with the all black theme it has going on here. Not being unique is fine but the motherboard doesn’t visually distinguish itself from anything else on the market as more and more boards try and do something other than black and red or some other common color scheme.
The CPU socket area is flanked by the MOSFETs and the large cooling system. These and not heat pipe based and are mounted using a tension spring / pin setup. While not as secure as screws the setup at least uses metal pins instead of plastic ones. For voltage regulation the GIGABYTE Z87X-UD3H utilizes a International Rectifier IR3563B PWM controller. Additionally, the MOSFETs are International Rectifier PowIRstage IR3553 driver, control MOSFET and Schottky diode packages (DrMOS v4.0) which have a 93.2% efficiency rating at 1.2v with frequency switching up to 1MHz. These are rated at 40A DC.
The GIGABYTE Z87X-UD3H supports up to 32GB of DDR3 memory via four DIMM slots. These slots are color coded black and gray to make figuring out dual channel memory mode configuration a snap. Just above the RAM modules on the right you’ll find two 4 pin fan headers and just below the DIMM slots you’ll see the onboard power, reset and clear CMOS buttons. The slots themselves are clear of the expansion slot area which is a nice touch. The slots are somewhat close to the CPU socket but this is by necessity as it’s a requirement as longer trace paths create signal degradation which would create problems with the design.
The south bridge is located in the south west corner of the motherboard. It’s cooled with a passive, low height heatsink. This heatsink is designed to avoid clearance issues with the expansion slot area. Directly in front of the chipset you’ll find the motherboard’s 8 SATA 6Gb/s connectors. The black ports are connected to the chipset while the other two are connected to the Marvell 9172 controller.
The expansion slot area is clean and well thought out. The clear CMOS battery is placed somewhere that’s easily accessed even if a smaller PCIe x1 card would have to be removed to do so. There is ample room between the two PCI-Express x16 3.0 slots. These slots operate in an 16x0 or 8x8 lane configuration depending on how many graphics cards or devices are installed. The third PCIe x16 slot is a 2.0 slot which is mechanically an x4 slot. This allows for a 8x8x4 configuration which is not ideal for mutliGPU setups that use three cards.
The rear I/O panel is packed with ports. We have 1x PS/2 keyboard or mouse port, 6x USB 3.0 ports, 1x DSUB and DVI-D port, 1x optical output, 1x HDMI port, 1x DisplayPort, 1 RJ-45 port, 2 eSATA ports (Shared with the internal SATA 6Gb/s ports connected to the Marvell 9172 controller), and 6x mini-stereo jacks.