By: Jonathan Kwan
August 10, 2012
According to Wikipedia, social determinants of health are "the economic and social conditions –- and their distribution among the population –- that influence individual and group differences in health status". It probably is not terribly surprising to you if I said people in developed countries have dramatically longer life expectancy than those who live in developing nations, simply because the latter lack even the basic necessities for living, such as clean water and food. But for those who live in developed countries such as Canada and the United States, what determinants do we include when we benchmark these nations against each other? Many researchers propose factors such as income, housing, and employment. While this is nice and agreeable, in my personal opinion, they are all missing one very important aspect. If anyone wants to be healthy, what they truly need is a fast computer that starts every time and never crashes. At the end of the day, let's admit it: We have all screamed and yelled when your computer crashes at just the wrong time, or at the very least, become frustrated at unbearably slow PCs. All these will cost a few years of your life in the long run. So for health related reasons... I think it is time for you to upgrade your desktop, haha. After all, you only live once. To give you a hand, what we have here at APH Networks this morning is a mainstream performance motherboard from Gigabyte. Promising excellent performance, top notch stability, and rock solid reliability that won't break the bank, will the GA-Z77X-UD3H fit the bill? Read on to find out!
Our review unit of the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H came in a medium sized, corrugated cardboard box from the company's American offices in California, USA. Funny to mention the Golden State, because I have always imagined how nice it would be if I was there when it is a chill forty degrees Celsius below outside in the winter here in Calgary, Alberta. But now that I have my central air conditioner running at a temperature that most Californians would laugh at, what can I say? I would much rather be where I am right now. Chit chat aside, using UPS Saver, the motherboard landed on my doorstep in excellent condition as always. So we cracked open the box, and got straight to work... three months after it arrived. Yep, the infamous APH Networks backlog. Oops.
With a new generation of motherboards is a new retail box design theme. This year, Gigabyte decided to use a clean white background to highlight the GA-Z77X-UD3H. At first glance, I heard myself saying, "Nice!" Traditionally, motherboard manufacturers tend to pack as much information as they possibly could onto the front of the box. Well, I think someone finally realized no one actually reads everything, and when you overwhelm consumers with too much information, they might just end up not reading it at all. With the new design, it is much cleaner. From a consumer's perspective, I am much more interested in seeing what the marketing people want to say about this product. If you just look at the picture above, it shows off two main features: 3D Power and 3D BIOS. This is thematically enhanced by the cube frame prominently displayed. An array of icons and logos at the bottom highlight other features of lesser distinction. Other than that, I don't think you will have a problem finding the make and model of this board, so before we move on, let's take a look at the specifications of the Z77X-UD3H, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:
- Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1155 package
- L3 cache varies with CPU (Some Intel® Core™ processors require a graphic card, please refer "CPU support List" for more information.)
- Intel® Z77 Express Chipset
- 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
* Due to Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.
- Dual channel memory architecture
- Support for DDR3 2666(OC)/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
- Support for non-ECC memory modules
- Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
(Please refer "Memory Support List" for more information.)
- 1 x D-Sub port
- 1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200
* The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
- 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200
- 1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 2560x1600
- VIA VT2021 codec
- High Definition Audio
- Support for S/PDIF Out
- Atheros GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
* For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
- (The PCIEX16 and PCIEX8 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
* The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.
* PCIE Gen.3 is dependent on CPU and expansion card compatibility.
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
* The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with all PCI Express x1 slots. All PCI Express x1 slots will become unavailable when a PCIe x4 expansion card is installed.
- 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
(The PCIEX4 and PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
- 1 x PCI slot
- Support for 2-Way AMD CrossFireX™/NVIDIA SLI technology (PCIEX16 and PCIEX8)
- 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0/SATA3 1) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
- 4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2 2~5) supporting up to 4 SATA 3Gb/s devices
- 1 x mSATA connector
* The SATA2 5 connector will become unavailable when the mSATA connector is installed with a solid state drive.
- Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
* When a RAID set is built across the SATA 6Gb/s and SATA 3Gb/s channels, the system performance of the RAID set may vary depending on the devices being connected.
Marvell 88SE9172 chip:
- 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors on the back panel supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
- Support for RAID 0 and RAID 1
- Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
* In Windows XP, the Intel USB 3.0 ports can support up to USB 2.0 transfer speed.
- Up to 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (available through the internal USB headers)
VIA VL800 chip:
- Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports on the back panel
* Due to a Windows 7 limitation, please connect your USB device(s) to the Intel controlled USB port(s) (located below the RJ-45 LAN port) before the VIA USB 3.0 controller driver is installed.
Internal I/O Connectors
- 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 1 x PCIe power connector
- 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- 4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
- 1 x mSATA connector
- 1 x CPU fan header
- 4 x fan headers
- 1 x front panel header
- 1 x front panel audio header
- 1 x S/PDIF Out header
- 3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
- 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
- 1 x power button
- 1 x reset button
- 1 x Clear CMOS button
- 1 x Voltage Measurement Points
- 1 x BIOS Switch
Back Panel Connectors
- 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
- 1 x D-Sub port
- 1 x DVI-D port
- 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
- 1 x HDMI port
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors
- 6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
- 1 x RJ-45 port
- 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Side Speaker Out, Line In/Mic In, Line Out)
- iTE I/O Controller Chip
- System voltage detection
- CPU/System temperature detection
- CPU/System fan speed detection
- CPU overheating warning
- CPU/System fan fail warning
- CPU/System fan speed control
* Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/system cooler you install.
- 2 x 64 Mbit flash
- Use of licensed AMI EFI BIOS
- Support for DualBIOS™
- PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a
- Support for @BIOS
- Support for Q-Flash
- Support for Xpress Install
- Support for Xpress Recovery2
- Support for EasyTune
* Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
- Support for eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)
- Support for Auto Green
- Support for ON/OFF Charge
- Support for Q-Share
- Support for 3D Power
- Support for LAN Optimizer (Intelligent optimization network management tool)
- Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
- Intel® Rapid Start Technology
- Intel® Smart Connect Technology
- Intel® Smart Response Technology
- LucidLogix Virtu MVP
* Make sure the monitor cable has been connected to the integrated graphics port on the back panel.
- Support for Microsoft® Windows 7/XP
- ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
CPU-Z screenshot of the motherboard tab running Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H in Windows 7 Professional x64. At press time, we were using Gigabyte' F11 BIOS revision. This is the latest BIOS revision at the time of writing this review.