Provided by: Gigabyte
No compensation was received for review of this product.
Price: MSRP $129.99
At a price point of $129.99, the Gigabyte GA-Z77-HD4 is in the entry-level category of Intel Z77 motherboard systems.
Benchmarks – The benchmark results for the Z77-HD4 were as expected and could be pushed further through performance tuning. The Z77 chipset provides very good transfer rates for both SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 functionality. The Realtek Gigabit LAN port performed on par with our previous experience with the 8111F chip.
Board Layout - The Z77-HD4's width, measuring 8.5-inches, is slightly shorter than the standard ATX of 9.6" inches. The topmost PCI-E slot is positioned at the second ATX slot, with plenty of room between the CPU socket and the video card, should any large heatsink require additional clearance. The SATA ports are not angled and could be blocked, should a long video card be installed on the second PCI-E x16 slot.
Pre-bundled Accessories – The GA-Z77-HD4 comes with the typical accessories of mainstream motherboards, including four latching SATA cables, two of which are angled, an I/O shield, detailed English and multi-lingual installation guide book, as well as a disc containing drivers and bundled software.
Wireless – The Gigabyte Z77-HD4 has no on-board Wireless network features.
LAN – A Realtek 8111F Gigabit LAN is included on board, and the adapter managed to achieve the expected speeds in real world testing.
USB 3.0 – Four USB 3.0 ports are provided in total, two via onboard header and two more built into the rear I/O. These USB 3.0 ports are natively provided by the Intel Z77 Express Chipset. The transfer speeds observed were on par with what the typical Z77 USB 3.0 bandwidth provides.
SATA 6G – A pair of SATA 6G ports are provided on board natively by the Intel Z77 Express Chipset.
Peripherals – The Gigabyte Z77-HD4 has four fan headers, all of which are four-pin PWM for advanced fan control capability. There is also a trusted module platform header for security purposes. A COM header is also available for serial device usage.
Performance Tuning – Adjusting the CPU settings in the UEFI is very convenient, either done in the 3D mode user interface or in Advanced mode, which uses the more traditional BIOS layout. There are options for load line calibration, phase control, advanced memory timings, as well as voltage control, so users can overclock with ease. There is also a backup BIOS that kicks in should the primary settings fail so users can immediately just start trying out a different setting once again until a stable overclock is reached. With 1.31V in the VCore, I was able to overclock my Intel Core i7-3770K to 4.5GHz. The Z77-HD4 was also able to easily load the 2666MHz XMP profile of the Kingston HyperX Predator dual-channel DDR3 kit.
Typical of Gigabyte motherboards, the Z77-HD4 has a high-quality build that is evident from the moment you see it fresh from the box. The Z77-HD4 sports Gigabyte’s classic candy blue and white color scheme and is extremely reliable, due to Ultra Durable 4 technology. The new glass fabric PCB is not strictly for aesthetic reasons but offers a level of humidity protection that is not found on other high-end motherboards, let alone an entry-level mainboard. The high-quality components ensure higher temperature and voltage tolerances for an extended lifespan, even when running overclocked.
In terms of functionality, the Gigabyte Z77-HD4’s four display output options set it apart from the rest. While DVI and HDMI offer resolutions up to 1920x1200, a DisplayPort output supports displays up to 2560x1600 without any additional discrete graphics solutions. Users who do not need the DisplayPort output also have an option with the Z77-HD3, which can be had at an even more enticing price than the Z77-HD4. All of the Z77-HD4's fan headers are PWM capable, so flexible fan controls are also possible.
The Z77-HD4’s layout is slightly different than what we have become accustomed to, due to the non-angled SATA ports and smaller VRM heatsink, but there are barely any clearance issues, making installation easy without worrying about difficulty of plugging in components. Due to the shorter 8.5-inch width, the SATA ports do not need to be angled, as there is room for the wire to maneuver and be routed on a mid-tower ATX case. Granted, an angled SATA port looks better but functionally, the upturned SATA ports are serviceable. The only major clearance issue occurs when there is a long video card on the second PCI-E slot as it can block the SATA ports. The second PCI-E x16 slot only runs at x4 however, limiting secondary video card options to select AMD Radeon video cards, none of which are high-end (as it will bottleneck on the x4 PCI-E severely) so the odds of them being long enough to block all the SATA ports is not high. In the case that it does, however, a more sensible approach would be to install the SATA cables first before installing a video card. There is no clearance issue with large CPU coolers and video cards on the top PCI-E x16 slot as the slot is actually positioned lower, starting at the second PCI-E location on the standard ATX case.
Overclocking and performance tuning is handled through the UEFI and is quite easily done either through the 3D BIOS or in advanced mode. The UEFI interface supports mouse functions so it is much easier to navigate and select options. Memory up to 2800MHz is supported and could even load the Kingston HyperX Predator’s 2666MHz XMP profile. Some options overlap, however, and prevent the settings from saving properly in the UEFI. For example, if you set your memory multiplier manually first, then decide to load the XMP profile, the memory multiplier is still overriding the XMP profile setting. You have to first, revert back to auto and then load the XMP profile for it to be loaded correctly. Other than that quirk, the UEFI provides advanced memory and CPU overclocking options, including load line calibration, phase control and detailed timings.
Overall, the Gigabyte Z77-HD4 is a solid offering with robust functionality for entry-level users as well as unique non-mainstream features, including a DisplayPort output, dual UEFI BIOS, CrossFireX support and high-quality components. Compared to other mainstream motherboards, however, it does not have extra USB 3.0 and SATA ports so expansion would be limited in those fronts. Despite that, the Z77-HD4 is reliable and was very stable when overclocked, automatically recovering with every failed attempt and boots without any issues again in the UEFI so I could try different settings again immediately. For the $129.99 price tag currently at NewEgg, the unique feature set and great build quality offset the short comings of not having extra USB or SATA ports. This price segment is very competitive, however, so users have to really weigh in which functionality works well with their particular system builds. For those that do not require the DisplayPort output, the Z77-HD3 is also available at a much lower $109.99 price point.
- Four-pin PWM fan headers
- Glass-fabric PCB
- ESD resistant ICs
- Dual BIOS protection
- Solid capacitors and Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs
- 3D UEFI
- LLC, Phase Control and Advanced memory timing options
- USB On/Off Charge with one fuse per port
- Four Display outputs including an HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort
- PCI-E Gen 3.0
- Gigabit LAN
- Four USB 3.0 ports
- 2800MHZ (OC) DDR3 support
- Possible clearance issue with the SATA ports being blocked by a long video card on the 2nd PCI-E slot
- UEFI BIOS setting conflicts
- No extra USB 3.0 ports
- No extra SATA ports
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