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Six $160-220 Z77 Motherboards, Benchmarked And Reviewed

Z77H2-A2X Firmware

Though many of its earlier enthusiast-oriented efforts fell flat when it came to firmware, the Z77H2-A2X is a product in which ECS can finally take pride. A first in recent memory for ECS, setting CPU Voltage Mode to Ignore SVID allowed us to set the desired voltage, rather than guessing the results of an offset.

We had no problem pushing this review’s early-stepping Core i7-3770K to an ultra-competitive 4.69 GHz at 1.30 V, though the setting that got us that voltage was actually 1.25 V.

This is also the first ECS motherboard in our memory to provide Vdroop compensation, though over-compensation would be a more accurate term, since the lower Enabled setting kept us close to our desired limit.

ECS’ CPU Overclocking Configuration submenu includes base clock, CPU multiplier, and power limit controls.

Clicking through the Chipset Overclocking Configuration link brings up a slightly better titled memory menu. XMP is properly supported, though we had to switch to manual mode to reveal primary, secondary, and tertiary timings in this screen shot.

The motherboard does not have individual Auto settings for each timing, but perhaps goes one better by retaining previously-set values during the change. For these screen shots, we simply set XMP Profile 1 first, and those settings were retained as we switched to manual configuration.

The Z77H2-A2X got us a class-leading DDR3-2741 from a pair of G.Skill DDR3-2666 modules, but four-DIMM tests were far less exciting.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.