Six $160-220 Z77 Motherboards, Benchmarked And Reviewed

Z77H2-A2X Firmware

Though many of its earlier enthusiast-oriented efforts fell flat when it came to firmware, the Z77H2-A2X is a product in which ECS can finally take pride. A first in recent memory for ECS, setting CPU Voltage Mode to Ignore SVID allowed us to set the desired voltage, rather than guessing the results of an offset.

We had no problem pushing this review’s early-stepping Core i7-3770K to an ultra-competitive 4.69 GHz at 1.30 V, though the setting that got us that voltage was actually 1.25 V.

This is also the first ECS motherboard in our memory to provide Vdroop compensation, though over-compensation would be a more accurate term, since the lower Enabled setting kept us close to our desired limit.

ECS’ CPU Overclocking Configuration submenu includes base clock, CPU multiplier, and power limit controls.

Clicking through the Chipset Overclocking Configuration link brings up a slightly better titled memory menu. XMP is properly supported, though we had to switch to manual mode to reveal primary, secondary, and tertiary timings in this screen shot.

The motherboard does not have individual Auto settings for each timing, but perhaps goes one better by retaining previously-set values during the change. For these screen shots, we simply set XMP Profile 1 first, and those settings were retained as we switched to manual configuration.

The Z77H2-A2X got us a class-leading DDR3-2741 from a pair of G.Skill DDR3-2666 modules, but four-DIMM tests were far less exciting.

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  • TekN9Ne
    Great review! At the end of day, it comes down to brand loyalty.
    7
  • Anonymous
    do you mean nvidia and intel gets news during weekends not only news but featured articles?
    -8
  • yougotjaked
    There's a typo on the last page. It says X77H2-A2X instead of Z77H2-A2X :P It's on the second to last paragraph...
    1
  • HMSvictory
    I am surprised that you guys did not include the Asus z77-V

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131820
    9
  • rickrents
    why not with Pci-e 3.0?
    3
  • confish21
    Nice article thank you!
    -1
  • confish21
    One thing i was looking for was the part about asrock not having true "digital" PWM and going with an analog PWM. Does this really matter?
    0
  • Crashman
    TekN9NeGreat review! At the end of day, it comes down to brand loyalty.
    I don't think the article stated anything like that. It comes down to the features you want and the cards you plan to use. In the MSI vs ASRock debate, it's x8-x4-x4 with all three slots in PCIe 3.0 mode, or x8-x8-x4 with x4 in PCIe 2.0 mode, and you're definitely wiser to pick between them based on WHAT you plan to use in the third slot.
    simone saysdo you mean nvidia and intel gets news during weekends not only news but featured articles?
    It's Monday here, and editorial has very little contact with news.
    HMSvictoryI am surprised that you guys did not include the Asus z77-Vhttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813131820
    Tom's Hardware didn't "include" anything in the review. A couple boards were excluded based on price, and everything else was let in. The P8Z77-V Pro was the cheapest board Asus sent.
    rickrentswhy not with Pci-e 3.0?
    Editor had no PCIe 3.0 cards. And the reason he didn't get one yet is because it didn't matter. The only thing that really mattered in a single-GPU MOTHERBOARD comparison was to use the same card on all platforms.
    confish21One thing i was looking for was the part about asrock not having true "digital" PWM and going with an analog PWM. Does this really matter?
    Some digital voltage regulators have been garbage, take a look at a few of the older reviews to see this. Very few have been very good. And many more analog voltage regulators have been garbage, while many more analog voltage regulators have been very good. Quality of execution is more important than the underlying technology.
    9
  • hellfire24
    UD3H seems to be an excellent value board.
    1
  • HMSvictory
    would it be possible to review the asus z77 and gigabyte ud5h in a future review.
    2
  • tacoslave
    this review needs crossfire/sli results
    4
  • AlexIsAlex
    Still no boot/post time comparison? With all performance scores being almost identical, I would have thought this could be a useful differentiator.
    8
  • sosofm
    Is good a test with PCIE 3.0 video card to see if is a real benefit compare to PCIE 2.0.
    0
  • valuial
    z77 sabertooth wanted !
    1
  • jaquith
    Thanks Thomas another Great Article! Don't like what I see, but I digress.

    Something's gotta be pooched with the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro BIOS (UEFI) -- hopefully. In the past the ASUS Pro line has been the meat & potatoes for my recommendations, and this is not the only review with similar performance numbers.

    Voltages, I am going to have a hard time recommending a vCore >1.2Xv, VCCSA and CPU VTT of 1.20v on the IB. I still need to see otherwise. From what I've seen the IB is more 'girlish' with voltages than the SB or SB-E, and there's little point having the fans spinning 'through' the case and creating high dBA with a high vCore. RAM (voltage), it goes back to my feelings that 1.50v DIMM was a bunch of Urban Myths especially since the SB-E and seemingly the IB can handle 1.65v DIMM RAM.

    Yeah, I noticed the XMP tried to set 1.25v VCCSA, or at least the set is encoded that way. Further, I don't wan to debate the OC until I get my hands on an IB, it should be any day now.

    Further, either the Engineers were dead wrong on the SB (1.50) or IB (1.65) they're wrong in both instances. I 'get' ultra fast kits (today) >DDR3-2133 e.g. DDR-2400 or faster are 1.65v kits, but only a few months ago IF 'I' recommended SB + 1.65v I'd have 20+ negative comments in the Forum. Seems counter intuitive step in DRAM voltage.

    Also, I am assuming you're testing the IB ES and I wonder how much of an impact that has in that the CPUID are geared towards the Retail. I remember all of the E5 (ES) problems and drops in performance compared to the Retail sisters.

    OC observation only, you seemed 'wimpish' with the SB-E compared to the IB - interesting?!
    -2
  • notsleep
    i don't understand why the mobo don't have all sata6 and usb 3.0? i mean they're backwards compatible. why even include the old stuff? why not have 8 sata 6 and 8 usb 3.0 with 0 sata 3 and 0 usb 3.0? :?
    -1
  • spyfish
    Good review, I read a similar review before i decided for MSI Z77A-GD65.

    A chose this board as it has a better Audio Chipset then the Competitors. This board comes with ALC898, while the other ones come with ALC892. Apparently ALC898 is far better than ALC892.

    So far i am quite happy with the board.

    Just 1 note, if overclocking do not disable "Power technologies", it will prevent overclocking. If i disabled the power saving features 1 by 1 i had no problems.
    -1
  • xtreme5
    like it good review!
    -1
  • Pezcore27
    Just curious as to what made you pick the GA-Z77X-UD3H for $160 over the GA-Z77X-UD5H for $189? Is there not that much difference between the 2 boards?
    0
  • CaedenV
    Fun mobo review as always!
    I have always loved ECS for cheap 'value' builds (in fact I am using a 6 year old ECS board in a little htpc I am throwing together, it doesn't do much, but it has never let me down either), it is wierd seeing them in the 'high end' market like this, and (unlike previous boards they have produced) it looks stunning!
    The first time I saw the gold on black look was with my ex3 gen3 board, which looked odd in pictures, but great in real life, and this new ECS board looks absolutely gorgeous in pics, so I am sure it looks great in real life as well.

    Still, at the end of the day I am not sure that I would go for ECS on a high end build, but it is good to see that they are getting somewhere.

    Also, it is good to see that ASRock is still doing OK now that they are no longer under the ASUS umbrella.

    As for the review: Why even do the program benchmarks? We all know that the mobo is merely for the feature set, parts cooling, and power management quality for OCing (and truth be told aesthetics as well), and has next to no bearing on how fast things get processed at any specific frequency. All that I personally care about is the feature set, OC ability, and subjective ease of use for the UEFI and keeping it updated, vs the overall cost of the board.
    -1