Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD3H-BK Review (Page 1 of 12)

By: Jonathan Kwan
August 15, 2014

If you live in Markham, Ontario or Richmond, BC, it is easy to identify vehicles driven by what we call a "C-Lai". Now, what the heck is a "C-Lai"? To put it in terms most people can understand, a C-Lai is a Cantonese term that roughly translates to the American equivalent of a soccer mom. They are usually some forty-year-old Chinese woman who does not have a job; their daily routine involves making trips between the supermarket, their kids' school and any after school activities, as well as the houses of other nearby C-Lais to rant about their husbands, or show off how amazing their kids are academically. For poorer C-Lais, they typically drive dinged up -- usually caused by their poor driving skills in mall parking lots -- beige Toyota Corollas or Camrys. For richer C-Lais, they usually roll around in a brand new Mercedes C, E, GLK, or ML class. But here is always one thing in common: Their license plates almost always have 888 in there, or some variant of it, like 048, 168, or 668. In case you do not know what 048, 168, 668, or 888 mean, basically, it sounds like "especially prosperous", "all the way to prosperity", "every road leads to prosperity", and just "prosperity" times three, respectively, in Cantonese. Now, I did not grow up in a superstitious household, nor am I superstitious myself (We do not have any of those numbers in our license plates, phone numbers, etc), but because it is so ingrained in our culture, everyone knows about the implications of these numbers right off the bat. When Gigabyte released their Black Edition motherboards with 168 hour durability testing, I could not help but get a good laugh out of it. In reality, 168 hours translate to exactly one week, with nothing to do with cultural superstitions. But will it still be the start of something good? We took in a GA-Z97X-UD3H-BK to find out.

Our review unit of the Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD3H-BK came in a medium sized, brown corrugated cardboard box from the company's American headquarters in California, USA. Coincidentally, it is almost exactly two years since I have reviewed the GA-Z77X-UD3H, except the difference is APH Networks' infamous backlog did not necessarily translate to a three month review like last time. We always joke about in the forums if an article takes less than a month to complete, it is considered fast. So what can I say? This is a fast review. Anyway, using UPS Standard, everything arrived in excellent condition for our review today. I whipped out a knife, opened the box, and took photos on the day it arrived. This, my friend, is what we call rarity on this website.

As with other motherboards we have reviewed from Gigabyte in the past, the GA-Z97X-UD3H-BK arrived to us in its retail box. The size and form of the packaging in question is practically the same as everything we have seen in the past; even the flap top cover with a window underneath it should not be something too out of the ordinary for most computer enthusiasts out there. However, as far as the artwork is concerned, this is where all the similarities end. The new "Black Edition" motherboards comes appropriately branded as, well, a black retail box, and the text very prominently displayed across the front cover, as you can see in our photo above. Meanwhile, Gigabyte's logo can be found at the top left corner, the line "168 hour server level durability tested" adjacent to it, and model number at the bottom. Behind the front cover are three rows of photos with description to highlight its features. More features and specifications can be found at the back of the box, along with some diagrams to make everything a little more consumer friendly. Generally speaking, I am quite pleased at the design. It does not carry any surprises as far as a product of this nature is concerned, but neither should you expect any, haha.

Before we move on, let us take a look at the specifications of the Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD3H-BK, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:

CPU
- Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/ Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1150 package
- L3 cache varies with CPU
(Please refer "CPU Support List" for more information.)

Chipset
- Intel® Z97 Express Chipset

Memory
- 4 x DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
* Due to a 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 the size of the physical memory installed.
- Dual channel memory architecture
- Support for 3100(O.C.) / 3000(O.C.) / 2933(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666(O.C.) / 2600(O.C.) / 2500(O.C.) / 2400(O.C.) / 2200(O.C.) / 2133(O.C.) / 2000(O.C.) / 1866(O.C.) / 1800(O.C.) / 1600 / 1333 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.)

Onboard Graphics
Integrated Graphics Processor:
- 1 x D-Sub port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200@60Hz
- 1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200@60Hz
* The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
- 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2160@24Hz or 2560x1600@60Hz
* Support for HDMI 1.4a version.
- Support for up to 3 displays at the same time
- Maximum shared memory of 512MB

Audio
- Realtek® ALC1150 codec
- High Definition Audio
- 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
- Support for S/PDIF Out

LAN
- Intel® GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)

Expansion Slots
- 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.
- 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.
* When installing a x4 or above card in the PCIEX4 slot, make sure to set PCIE Slot Configuration (PCH) in BIOS Setup to x4. (Refer to Chapter 2, "BIOS Setup," "Peripherals," for more information.)
- 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
(The PCIEX4 and PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
- 1 x PCI slot

Multi-Graphics Technology
- Support for 3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFire™and 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology

Storage Interface
Chipset:
- 1 x M.2 PCIe connector
(Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280 SATA & PCIe SSD support)
- 1 x SATA Express connector
- 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
(M.2, SATA Express, and SATA3 4/5 connectors can only be used one at a time. The SATA3 4/5 connectors will become unavailable when an M.2 SSD is installed.)
- Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10

USB
Chipset:
- 6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
- 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)

Internal I/O Connectors
- 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 1 x M.2 PCIe connector
- 1 x SATA Express connector
- 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- 1 x CPU fan header
- 1 x water cooling fan header (CPU_OPT)
- 3 x system fan headers
- 1 x front panel header
- 1 x front panel audio header
- 1 x S/PDIF Out header
- 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
- 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
- 1 x serial port header
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header

Back Panel Connectors
- 1 x PS/2 mouse port
- 1 x PS/2 Keyboard port
- 1 x D-Sub port
- 1 x DVI-D port
- 1 x HDMI port
- 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
- 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
- 1 x RJ-45 port
- 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
- 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)

I/O Controller
- iTE® I/O Controller Chip

H/W Monitoring
- System voltage detection
- CPU/Chipset/System temperature detection
- CPU/CPU OPT/System fan speed detection
- CPU/System overheating warning
- CPU/CPU OPT/System fan fail warning
- CPU/CPU OPT/System fan speed control
- * Whether the fan speed control function is supported will depend on the cooler you install.

BIOS
- 2 x 64 Mbit flash
- Use of licensed AMI UEFI BIOS
- Support for DualBIOS™
- PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0

Unique Features
- Support for APP Center
- * Available applications in APP Center may differ by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also differ depending on motherboard specifications.
- @BIOS
- EasyTune
- EZ Setup
- Fast Boot
- ON/OFF Charge
- Smart TimeLock
- Smart Recovery 2
- System Information Viewer
- USB Blocker
- Support for Q-Flash
- Support for Smart Switch
- Support for Xpress Install

Bundle Software
- Norton® Internet Security (OEM version)
- Intel® Rapid Start Technology
- Intel® Smart Connect Technology
- Intel® Smart Response Technology
- cFosSpeed

Operating System
- Support for Windows 8.1/8/7

Form Factor
- ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 22.5cm

CPU-Z screenshot of the motherboard tab running Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD3H-BK in Windows 8.1 Pro x64. At press time, we were using Gigabyte' F6 BIOS revision. This is the latest BIOS revision at the time of writing this review.


Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Bundle, Chipset, BIOS
3. A Closer Look, Board Layout, Test System
4. Benchmark: AIDA64 CPU
5. Benchmark: AIDA64 FPU
6. Benchmark: AIDA64 Memory
7. Benchmark: PCMark 8
8. Benchmark: 3DMark
9. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 8.0
10. Benchmark: SuperPI 1M, Cinebench R15
11. Onboard Sound Frequency Analysis
12. Overclocking and Conclusion