Skip to main content

Seven Sub-$160 Z77 Express Motherboards, Reviewed

Z77H2-A2X Deluxe UEFI

ECS' M.I.B. X menu opens to reveal important voltage settings, including CPU core and Vdroop. Setting Vdroop to Disabled allows the system to keep voltage stable under increased load.

With Vdroop disabled, we found that our CPU climbed from 1.15 V at idle to 1.25 V under load using the Z77H2-A2X Deluxe’s 1.15 V setting. That voltage got our processor to a stable 4.69 GHz with all four cores fully taxed.

A mere 1.25 V isn’t enough to push 4.7 GHz from our chip on most motherboards, yet ECS still supported the 47x multiplier. An under-spec base clock of 99.7 MHz at the 100 MHz setting explains this discrepancy.

The Z77H2-A2X Deluxe supports Intel’s XMP technology to ease the overclocking of most DDR3 memory modules. Fortunately, the XMP timings stick when switching from XMP to Manual mode, and SPD timings stick when switching from full-auto to Manual mode.. Thus, we were able to keep our memory’s complete timing configuration while playing with its multipliers. Biostar could learn something from this.

ECS appears to learn from all of its competitors, expanding its overclocking profile storage to support up to eight custom UEFI configurations.

  • SpadeM
    LAN performance .. ISC performance ... USB 3 .. well that's it then.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • nikorr
    I would place the ASRock and Gigabyte on the top as well : )

    Nice review.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • jimishtar
    It would be nice to see the CPU voltage for every board when overclocking.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    jimishtarIt would be nice to see the CPU voltage for every board when overclocking.1.25V
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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 :)
    Reply
  • gorillagarrett
    I'll let the integrated controller guy know you'd like to see those parts compared

    Thank you!
    Reply
  • rolli59
    I would have liked to see the Asus P8Z77V-LK version instead of the LX since it is better equipped.
    Reply