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Seven Sub-$160 Z77 Express Motherboards, Reviewed

Z77A-G45 UEFI

MSI’s UEFI hasn’t changed noticeably in the past year, still placing the greatest visual priority on the system clock and the least visual priority on truly useful settings. Fortunately, the array of available settings is plentiful.

Base clock and CPU multiplier controls top the Z77A-G45’s OC menu. We were able to reach 4.65 GHz at our target 1.25 V when pairing these settings with a Vdroop Offset Control of 100%.

Unfortunately, we found that set voltage levels weren’t accurate whatsoever, requiring 1.235 V CPU core and 1.6330 V DIMM settings to reach our desired 1.25 V and 1.65 V. Using the 1.25 V setting with a lower Vdroop Offset Control simply allowed the CPU voltage to drop under load while remaining high at idle.

The Z77A-G45 allows the CPU multiplier to be raised as other features of Intel Turbo Boost technology are disabled.

Individual memory timings can be left in auto mode, while others are manually configured. MSI also allows XMP profiles to set the timings baseline by choosing the profile first, then manually altering other values (including memory ratio).

Up to six custom firmware configurations can be saved on the Z77A-G45 as overclocking profiles.

  • 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