In the balance between quality and features, Gigabyte’s $200 Z87X-UD4H appears to favor the former while still addressing the latter. We still find, for example, four extra USB 3.0 and four extra SATA ports split between internal and external connectors, but only two of those added-on SATA ports can be activated simultaneously.
The I/O panel also features separate VGA and DVI-D connectors, rather than using a DVI-I adapter block, in addition to the expected HDMI and DisplayPort outputs.
Similar compromises are found atop the board, from its older-but-adequate ALC898 audio codec to its four-lane PCIe 2.0 bottom slot. Using the chipset's PCIe connectivity for the bottom slot lets you drop in a card without stealing lanes from the graphics slots, but also makes the slot unsuitably slow for three-way CrossFire. And many builders are probably better-off treating it as an x1 slot, since enabling four-lane transfers requires the middle two x1 slots to be disabled.
Of course, one of those x1 slots will probably be covered by a graphics card anyway, since most of us favor powerful graphics engines.
Gigabyte shoves the Z87X-UD4H fairly hard towards the overclocking market with top-mounted power and reset buttons, a CLR_CMOS button, two BIOS switches, a POST code LED display, and a row of voltage rail detection points. The BIOS switches select single or dual BIOS mode, and which MOS is primary.
The company is still a bit proponent of its dual-BIOS functionality, and Gigabyte continues to do well with this technology. Anecdotally, though, I still remember the old days of swearing at the dual BIOS system, when a missed boot would cause the old backup ROM to overwrite the new one, when the old firmware wasn’t compatible with a new CPU. Recent improvements include a an automated request to update the backup MOS after rebooting from a primary MOS update, but users can still turn the feature off if desired.
Our only layout concerns are that owners of poorly-designed cases might have some difficulty getting their front-panel audio cables to reach the Z87X-UD4H’s bottom-rear corner header, and that its second USB 3.0 port is located too close to the third x16-length slot. If we pretend that bottom slot is incompatible rather than unworthy of a high-end graphics card, our second concern goes away.
The Z87X-UD4H installation kit is fairly basic, including only four SATA cables with an I/O plate and SLI bridge.