Seven Sub-$160 Z77 Express Motherboards, Reviewed

Overclocking With Biostar Toverclocker

With few overclocking options enabled, Biostar uses monitoring pages to bulk-up its Toverclocker utility. The first two tabs, for instance, show CPU and memory status.

Overclocking settings are few, but they do work for the most part. We say “for the most part” because we were only able to increase our BCLK to 105 MHz on a CPU known to work at up to 109 MHz via UEFI changes. The utility also doesn’t recognize the TZ77XE3’s 300 MHz maximum base clock setting, though that hardly matters, given the roughly 110-112 MHz limit inherent to most LGA 1155-based platforms.

CPU core, memory, and chipset voltage levels can be adjusted via Biostar's app, but GPU voltage changes don’t work at all, while a system agent voltage entry appears missing from Toverclocker’s menu. We weren’t able to show maximum values in our screen shot because voltage changes are made in real-time, without the need or even the ability to click Apply.

An unfortunate lack of multiplier adjustment makes Toverclocker appear optimized only for low-end processors. Neophytes are welcome, however, to try Biostar’s V6 and V12 automatic overclocking profiles.

Biostar actually protects inexperienced users by creating V6 and V12 profiles without added CPU core voltage. But the resulting frequency increases are fairly small. The third choice, Auto, crashed our system.

Don't worry too much about the limited readings available in Toverclocker’s CPU and Memory monitoring menus, as a far greater selection of data exists across its three H/W Monitor pages.

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  • SpadeM
    LAN performance .. ISC performance ... USB 3 .. well that's it then.
    -3
  • Crashman
    SpadeMLAN performance .. ISC performance ... USB 3 .. well that's it then.
    Tom's Hardware has several controller comparisons, and publishes new ones frequently. So unless you think one of the boards has a broken controller, wysiwyg.

    The things that actually get screwed-up are typically related to the clock generator, multiplier control, memory timings and power options.
    1
  • nikorr
    I would place the ASRock and Gigabyte on the top as well : )

    Nice review.
    0
  • jaquith
    I always appreciate your Articles! :) I know how much work you do to get them done.

    You're kidding - Biostar. I guess this article is not about the 'Best Sub-$160 Z77' MOBO's but about the best manufacturers sent you. The cheapest MOBO I recommend for the SB/IB (K) is the ASUS P8Z77-V which pops your 'unique' budget cap depending where you shop; found it here for $159.99 - http://www.gadgetneeds.net/asus-p8z77-v-atx-intel-motherboard/

    Interesting you didn't get an ASUS P8Z77-V LK ~$120 which offers SLI. The ASRock Z77 Extreme4 and Gigabyte Z77X-D3H for the price aren't bad.

    There's NO WAY I'm recommending Biostar in the forum, folks and myself would thing I've lost my mind.
    0
  • jimishtar
    It would be nice to see the CPU voltage for every board when overclocking.
    1
  • Crashman
    jimishtarIt would be nice to see the CPU voltage for every board when overclocking.
    1.25V
    4
  • gorillagarrett
    No peripherals performance tests? Those are the only tests that differentiate those motherboards from each other.

    Would really like to see how the UD3X Atheros Ethernet controller fares against the Intel and broadcom ones.
    0
  • Crashman
    gorillagarrettNo peripherals performance tests? Those are the only tests that differentiate those motherboards from each other. Would really like to see how the UD3X Atheros Ethernet controller fares against the Intel and broadcom ones.
    I'll let the integrated controller guy know you'd like to see those parts compared :)
    3
  • gorillagarrett
    Quote:
    I'll let the integrated controller guy know you'd like to see those parts compared


    Thank you!
    0
  • rolli59
    I would have liked to see the Asus P8Z77V-LK version instead of the LX since it is better equipped.
    -1
  • Crashman
    rolli59I would have liked to see the Asus P8Z77V-LK version instead of the LX since it is better equipped.
    It's also mentioned in the article. It was over $160 (at $165) when the comparison was set up.
    0
  • nevertell
    Why are there no DCP latency tests ? These differentiate the motherboards
    This is what differentiates them performance wise.
    0
  • pacioli
    Wow, Biostar...? I wonder what the longevity of that board is...
    0
  • Crashman
    pacioliWow, Biostar...? I wonder what the longevity of that board is...
    It's hard to tell, but the last Biostar board I had in a system lasted 12 years before it got dismantled for its entire processor selection being too slow.
    0
  • CaedenV
    Nice to see a Mobo review where the charts are not all identical bars lol. It has been a long time sense the stock performance has had much of any variance between brands, and we are getting much more feature variety as well. I thought as more and more parts became integrated into the CPU that the bars would become more and more similar, and mainstream features would become more and more homogeneous.

    Also, I love the True Studio Pro software, if you are running digital audio it really makes any idea of a dedicated sound card a thing of the past. Every computer I build now either has True Studio Pro with the mobo, or I purchase the MB2 software suite, it makes such a difference if using headphones or quality speakers, and much less buggy that Creative's sound cards and driver issues that we all know and love.
    0
  • jamie_1318
    On-motherboard start buttons are a useless feature. Anyone who could actually use it should know they can just short across the power switch header using any piece of metal.
    -5
  • delaro
    At this point SATA 6GB, USB 3 and PCI-e 3.o should be a standered and not a side option.
    0
  • g-unit1111
    As good as Asus motherboards are - why do they include such poorly made I/O brackets? Even Biostar and ECS include ones that are better made than Asus does.
    0
  • goinginstyle
    Another comment about why the P8Z77V-LK board was not reviewed. I own this board now after a total disaster with one of the boards you awarded so why is it missing? The ASUS P8Z77V-LK was priced at $149.99 when I purchased it and is now $139.99 with a rebate down to $119.99 after a quick check this morning. Based on your comments about the Biostar and ASRock boards having additional features like SLI/CF or additional USB 3 ports it is hard to understand why this board was not reviewed. The P8Z77V-LE is priced at $165 not the LK board. As to the 4-dimm testing, did you try the DDR3-2666 ratio or is the test overclocking the 2400 ratio?
    -2
  • Crashman
    goinginstyleAnother comment about why the P8Z77V-LK board was not reviewed.
    Because it was priced at $165 two months ago when the invitations went out. End of story.
    0