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Six $220-280 Z77 Express-Based Motherboards, Reviewed

DZ77RE-75K Software And Firmware

Intel’s software bundle is unchanged from our previous review, and even its hard-to-find Extreme Tuning Utility remains without update. We took a few screenshots to be certain, but, with nothing new to discuss, we can instead refer you to our last round-up for more information about Intel's bundled software.

The DZ77RE-75K’s firmware-based overclocking menu also appears unchanged from less expensive board we reviewed previously, though a change in hardware does trigger different overclocking results. A 101 MHz base clock and 46x multiplier give us 4.64 GHz at 1.25 V.

It appears that everyone is fudging the numbers when it comes to voltage these days, displaying lower voltages in the firmware than our meters show at the pins, and Intel's DZ77RE-75K sets a particularly egregious example for the CPU core. To begin with, High V-droop mode is supposed to allow voltage to sag under CPU load, but this board caused the CPU’s voltage to climb under load. Setting Low V-droop caused the CPU voltage to climb even more under load. The only way we could get the CPU to 1.25 V was to choose 1.19 V as the baseline and watch the voltage climb.

The DZ77RE-75K doesn’t let you fine-tune memory from XMP mode, but the board does retain previously-set timings when entering manual mode. Entering Manual mode from Auto makes SPD values your baseline, while entering Manual from XMP mode makes those timings stick as well. Because of that, we were able to start our DRAM overclocking effort without manually configuring primary, secondary, and tertiary controls.

The big difference between memory overclocking on the Intel and ECS boards was the set voltage. While ECS reported 1.632 V for our 1.65 V reading, we had to set the DZ77RE-75K to 1.687 V to reach an actual 1.65 V on our meter. That makes Intel the only company in today’s comparison that isn’t under-reporting DIMM voltage.

  • roberta
    As u have reviewed SIX (6) motherboards, the article's title should be:
    "Six $220-280 Z77 Express-Based Motherboards, Reviewed"
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    No SATA and USB tests ? data transfer speed differences will typically be noticable in everyday usage.
    Also, the time taken to show the windows loading screen/ BIOS page..
    Reply
  • admit it.
    you really liked the black/grey dimms and PCI slots of the gigabyte better than the blue/black of the MSI!
    Reply
  • Crashman
    robertaAs u have reviewed SIX (6) motherboards, the article's title should be:"Six $220-280 Z77 Express-Based Motherboards, Reviewed"Let's see what the article says:
    The one motherboard in today’s line-up with a 48-lane PCIe 3.0 bridge is ECS’ Golden Z77H2-AX. Unfortunately, this platform climbed $40 beyond the budget limit of today’s round-up in the time we've been reviewing it. We're tired of seeing board vendors playing pricing games based on our review schedule (this isn't the first time we're seeing a curiously-timed price move). So, since we put the work in to review ECS' submission, we're including our already-gathered data and simply withholding the board from any award candidacy.
    mayankleoboy1No SATA and USB tests ? data transfer speed differences will typically be noticable in everyday usage.Also, the time taken to show the windows loading screen/ BIOS page..Would have covered windows load time except that it wasn't markedly different. That is, after disabling empty SATA controllers. If you count the time that it takes to get the "No Device Found" error on boards that have extra SATA controllers, you're penalizing a board for having more features.

    Andrew Ku tests drive controllers. I'm trying to get him to "write the book" on controller performance, since dozens of boards use only a few different controllers. As for testing things like Z77 controller performance on board A vs Z77 controller performance on board B, it's a waste of time unless something is broken. So the article looked for "broken stuff". See the red bar on the first chart:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z77x-up5-th-z77a-gd80-z77-oc-formula,3305-22.html
    With nothing broken, there's no excuse to test the Z77 controller six times. Back to me begging Andrew Ku for a comprehensive comparison of every SATA controller currently available on mainstream-brand enthusiast boards.
    Reply
  • JeanLuc
    Arghh! Why the hell are you overclocking the base clock on Z77!! That will most likely cause permanent damage to your CPU.
    Reply
  • You left out a key aspect for overclockers which is vcore offset.
    This allows ocer's to achieve higher overclocks while still retaining the power saving functions, instead of being forced to either reduce the overclock, or be forced to run high voltage 24/7.
    MSI doesn't have this key feature.
    Reply
  • Onus
    I would think that the Sabertooth's five year warranty merits at least a mention in any value conclusion.
    Reply
  • ttg_Avenged
    I'll just stick with sandy bridge. Doesn't seem like I'm losing much at all.
    Reply
  • luciferano
    JeanLucArghh! Why the hell are you overclocking the base clock on Z77!! That will most likely cause permanent damage to your CPU.
    Overclocking the BLCK is very unlikely to cause any damage, it's just likely to not give much of a stable overclock.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    jtt283I would think that the Sabertooth's five year warranty merits at least a mention in any value conclusion.I actually missed that, having checked the lesser brands just to make sure those still had their three year warranty. Will add it.
    Reply