Packed with four extra USB 3.0 ports and two eSATA connectors, Gigabyte put great effort into locking the Z87X-UD3H at its current $160 price point. The board's I/O panel is similarly packed with four full-sized video connectors, though the CPU’s integrated controller only supports three simultaneous outputs.
The six I/O panel-based USB 3.0 ports are easily accessed, but the same convenience doesn’t always apply to the Z87X-UD3H’s four front-panel connectors. That’s because one of the dual-port headers is located beneath the bottom PCIe x16 slot, where it can be blocked by a graphics card.
Not that most of us would put a graphics card in the third slot. The top two x16 slots share the processor’s sixteen PCIe 3.0 pathways, switching from x16/x0 to x8/x8 whenever the second slot is filled. Meanwhile, the bottom slot gets its four lanes from the Platform Controller Hub. Furthermore, placing a x4 (or longer) card in the bottom slot causes the Z87X-UD3H to disable two of its x1 slots.
The x1 slots that get disabled are located between the first and second x16 slots. This makes sense, since the first slot under a graphics card is often blocked by a graphics cooler anyway. At least Gigabyte was thoughtful enough to make the top x1 slot always active.
The Z87X-UD3H encourages overclocking exhibitions with its placement of power, reset, and CLR_CMOS buttons in the board’s upper-front corner. A pair of CMOS selector switches next to those buttons lets you jump from one IC to the other, and disable dual-BIOS technology to prevent improper error recovery. The exhibition theme continues, bolstered by a row of voltage detection points along the front edge. Gigabyte even adds a Port 80 code display next to the main power connector to tell overly-aggressive overclockers what they did wrong.
Traditionally, front-panel audio connectors show up in the bottom-rear corner, and Gigabyte lets history repeat itself on its Z87X-UD3H. Unfortunately, the front-panel cables on some cases are just a little too short to reach. Builders who like to wrap their auxiliary +12 V power cable over the top of the motherboard tray will also find the eight-pin connector's upward-facing latch difficult to disengage once the cable is wrapped tightly over it.
Apart from those minor differences, the Z87X-UD3H layout resembles the first three motherboards that we've already outlined in this round-up. Three slots worth of spacing between x16 interfaces improves airflow in systems with multiple graphics cards, and forward-facing SATA connectors work with all but the most outdated case designs.
The Z87X-UD3H includes only four SATA cables to connect its eight internal ports. Of course, you could instead pretend that the board only has six internal ports, since two must remain unpopulated in order to enable eSATA.