Power, Heat, And Efficiency
ECS might claim that its $160 board has the most features, but that still doesn’t excuse a full-load power increase so large. We’d expect no more than a few watts of difference, similar to what we see between Asus and Intel at the miserly end of the scale.
Those huge heat sinks that MSI uses to make its Z77A-G45 looks like a top overclocker do have real functionality, dropping its voltage regulator temperature by around 10° compared to Asus' uncovered P8Z77-V LX.
Gigabyte, Asus, and Biostar top our average performance chart, which should help to boost each vendor's efficiency scores.
High performance and low power consumption put Asus' reduced-feature P8Z77-V LX at the top of our efficiency charts. Biostar’s similarly-barren board takes second place.
The things that actually get screwed-up are typically related to the clock generator, multiplier control, memory timings and power options.
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.
Would really like to see how the UD3X Atheros Ethernet controller fares against the Intel and broadcom ones.