Skip to main content

Seven Sub-$160 Z77 Express Motherboards, Reviewed

Overclocking With Intel Extreme Tuning Utility

Intel doesn’t seem to want you to use its Extreme Tuning Utility. How else could we explain why it isn’t mentioned in the motherboard’s software suite, or referred to on the motherboard’s product page? How else could we explain why it isn’t even listed as compatible for recent motherboards, or that motherboards are only added to its list after they’ve fallen out of our spotlight?

XTU is likely intended for “in the know” overclocking exhibitionists and members of the press who usually get their hardware long before our round-ups are published. Most end-users are forced to search for it, and the lack of references to the name makes that search even more difficult.

XTU’s system information tab provides basic information about your software and hardware configuration, but lacks most of the status readings found in its Desktop Utilities application. The pair might be complementary.

Image 1 of 2

Image 2 of 2

Manual Tuning controls primarily focus on increasing the power ceiling for overcurrent protection, with voltage increases limited to Additional Turbo Voltage. We're showing everything maxed out, but the only part of the program we really used was its base clock controls. We’ll discuss the reason for this on the next page.

Intel has its own stress-testing program, which many professional-level overclockers use to prove that their systems are stable.

As in the UEFI, a complete set of XTU values can be saved as an overclocking profile.

  • 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