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Six $160-220 Z77 Motherboards, Benchmarked And Reviewed

Which Mid-Range Z77 Board Should You Buy?

We normally begin our final thoughts with remarks on value, but a more newsworthy development occurred that caught our attention: ECS can finally overclock! While the company's Golden Z77H2-A2X didn’t attain the highest CPU frequency, even adequacy in that department is a huge step forward for a company that spent years trying to get more competitive in the enthusiast space.

And then there’s the so-called value chart that, by excluding the real value of on-board features, makes low-cost products appear to be top contenders. Biostar probably would have landed at the top of this chart if we used its actual $150 Web price. However, the firm was adament about competing in our $160+ round-up, so we're sticking to the higher price, which can also be found online.

More important than hitting the lowest possible price is offering the best feature set for an enthusiast's dollar. Asus’ $220 P8Z77-V Pro should have the best feature set, but its Wi-Fi card and four added USB 3.0 ports are approximately matched by the two added USB 3.0 ports, USB-based Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth of ECS’ Golden Z77H2-A2X.

Biostar’s low-cost overclocker might have won the title in a round-up of less-expensive products, but it simply couldn't beat Gigabyte's $160 Z77X-UD3H in any particular discipline. Because $160 sets the baseline price for today’s story, Gigabyte takes the nod in that particular comparison.

The tightest overall competition pits ASRock against MSI. MSI wins overall CPU overclocking and ASRock has the highest CPU base clock. ECS might have joined the value-overclocking race with the highest dual-DIMM memory data rate, but its $220 price tag is significantly higher than its competition. MSI’s PCIe 3.0 x4 slot beats ASRocks PCIe 2.0 x4 slot for bandwidth, while ASRock’s x4 slot has the advantage of not stealing lanes away from the two primary graphics slots.

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While we’re sure any of today's competitors would have liked to see an award, we think half of today's field deserves praise. A two-way value tie between ASRock's Z77 Extreme6 and MSI's Z77A-GD65 is difficult to settle. That forces us to a single conclusion: buyers should carefully consider the overall feature set of both contenders before picking the one that best suits their individual needs.

  • TekN9Ne
    Great review! At the end of day, it comes down to brand loyalty.
    Reply
  • do you mean nvidia and intel gets news during weekends not only news but featured articles?
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • HMSvictory
    I am surprised that you guys did not include the Asus z77-V

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131820
    Reply
  • rickrents
    why not with Pci-e 3.0?
    Reply
  • confish21
    Nice article thank you!
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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 6813131820Tom'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.

    Reply
  • hellfire24
    UD3H seems to be an excellent value board.
    Reply
  • HMSvictory
    would it be possible to review the asus z77 and gigabyte ud5h in a future review.
    Reply