In recent years there has been an explosion of feature-rich motherboards, and with the launch of the Z77 we have seen a wide range of offerings already. Gigabyte’s Z77X-UD5H sits in a sweet spot in this regard – it doesn’t have the at times expensive flourishes that come with a ‘gaming’ motherboard, while still having an extensive featureset.
On the I/O backplane sit a wide variety of ports. There are four USB 3 and two USB 2 ports, as well as eSATA and Firewire. There are DVI, D-Sub, HDMI and Displayport outputs for Intel’s processor graphics, as well as optical and analog audio outputs. This board also has dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, one using an Intel controller and the other driven by a third party Atheros chip.
On the board itself are front panel headers for a further four USB 2 and four USB 3 ports. There are the standard four DIMM slots and nine SATA ports in total (four SATA 6Gbps and five SATA 3Gbps). There is also an mSATA slot that sits between the CPU socket and the first PCI-Express slot. This is largely designed to take an SSD for use with Intel’s Smart Response caching technology, but could also sport a larger SSD for use as a boot drive. We have seen a few mSATA slots popping up on Z77 motherboards, and Gigabyte is pushing the technology across most of its products.
There is one x16 PCI-E slot, one x8 PCI-E slot and one x4 PCI-E slot. These are all active when an Ivy Bridge CPU is used, but when run with Sandy Bridge the x4 slot is disabled due to the differences in PCI-Express controllers. These will support both SLI and CrossfireX, and the spacing is such that the board is one of the few that will support two triple slot graphics cards.
The Z77X-UD5H is an incredibly well-rounded motherboard, with ample expandability, good overclocking performance and a few nifty touches like mSATA. If you need something feature-rich, without paying for a pile of high-end features that you’ll likely never use, then it’s a solid option.