Okay, how to put it boldly and not too nasty, well the Z77X-UP7 is pure sex really. From A to Z the motherboard a dream solution with way too many features and options. Now I do have to make one remark here, if you stick to regular processor cooling heatpipe coolers or say LCS units like the H100 from corsair, then all 32 power-phases and component selection mean little compared to the investment you are about to make. Seriously Ivy Bridge processors simply run into heat issues no-matter what motherboard you use. So a 150 EUR motherboard from Gigabyte will get you nearly the very same overclock as this 365 EUR motherboard. And that's a bitter pill to accept. 4600 to 4900 MHz is the maximum range for Ivy Bridge and non sub-zero cooling solutions.
The Ivy Bridge processors all have poor heat transfer from the silicon die to the IHS. And Gigabyte can't do a thing about it it as it truly is an Intel HSF issue.
That fact set aside, the board is magnificent. 5 PCI-slots, 10 SATA ports, WIFI, Bluetooth 4.0, many USB 3.0 connectors, geeky buttons, LN2 switch, voltage monitoring, dual-BIOS solutions and of course absolutely gorgeous looks. The price of roughly 365 EUR is very steep though, especially in times like these.
So yeah admittedly we are impressed with this motherboard. The overall looks are definitely very sweet. You get the nice dark black PCB with the orange embedded in it. The heatsinks and aesthetics simply look great.
The tweaking performance of this motherboard was on par with what we expected. We got the 3770K processor rocking stable at 4800 MHz with the memory (XMP enabled) at 2666 MHz and that's not bad at all, no Sir.
As stated in the introduction, Ivy bridge processors run hotter when overclocked opposed to Sandy Bridge, reaching 4500~4800 MHz is fairly easy to accomplish with the motherboard but you'll find yourself needing juice in the 1.35~1.4 Volts range of the processor. So be prepared for processor heat, and proper liquid cooling definitely deserves a recommendation alright.
As shown we quickly popped in G.Skill's new Trident X 2666 MHz memory as well, and in the BIOS we simply flicked the XMP profile to on and boom, the memory was running at a rather amazing clock frequency of 2666 MHz. Astonishing really, though that alone will not bring you heaps of extra performance -- the reality remains that a set of way more affordable 1600 MHz DIMMs balance things out really well.
The Ultra Durable 5 components used on this motherboard are impressive, 60 Amp chokes and that International Rectifier PowIRStage IR3550 ICs in the VRM zone, that's impressive. To feed it enough juice you can use the two 8 Pin CPU power connectors which are provided allowing for a potential maximum power delivery of 600W across the 32 CPU VRM phases. Now the two connectors CAN be used, you can also use just one of course.
Very sweet are the 10 SATA ports, six SATA 6 Gb/s ports, four SATA 3 Gb/s ports, and one (shared) mSATA 6 Gb/s. Next to that the dual gigabit Ethernet interfaces is something we love, then the included 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 is there as well as 8.2 channel HD audio as delivered by the Realtek ALC898 codec. Then there's 10 USB 3.0 ports of which six are located on the rear panel and you get four via headers. Combined with a PLX bringing in more PCIe lanes the board has five PCIe slots, use up-to four of them for even quad-GPU configurations. The board can handle it alright. And sure add to that the sporty features like on board buttons, pre-overclock modes and diagnostic LEDs etc, overall this just an excellent build.
We had a lot of fun with the Z77X-UP7, it truly is a marvel of engineering but realistically though it's a pro overclockers motherboard, as only with subzero cooling this board will reach much higher overclock levels. It however is stuffed with exclusive feature and does offer options that the competition doesn't have, and I'm not even talking about the magnificent build quality. What a seriously nice piece of technology, definitely worthy of our Guru3D Top pick award !
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