Introduction – Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H
Just a short time ago we looked at the Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H and now we grabbed up its little brother, the UD3H. This board offers similar feature sets as the UD4H but a little more on the value side which means it will omit small bells and whistles to keep it on the lighter side of the pricing equation.
The board comes in at a price of $159.99 on Newegg, placing it among some of the least expensive boards on the market and with that any feature is a huge advantage since many of the boards at this price point are down to the very basic to ensure the best competitiveness at the value price point.
Features & Specifications
Ultra Durable 5 Plus
Gigabyte has been marketing the Ultra Durable line for awhile and many things have changed as more solid components and technologies have made their way into the lineup. some of these features are described below.
New Heatsink design
The new heatsink designs are made with a new design which I personally feel are rgeat for aesthetics but also seem to cool the VRM and chipset rather well.
Here you can see the new heatsink design, not only is it functional but its quite clean and sexy looking compared to some heatsink designs we have seen recently. The reason we mention the appearance is that so many users are building high end windowed systems and you have to take motherboard appearance into account for those who want to show off their hardware.
All IR Digital Power Design
Gigabyte originally was a naysayer of the digital VRM designs but they have come around–this adaptation of the popular IOR components for their digital power solutions has great performance. The Digital solution allows for finite adjustment and regulation of voltages under idle and load conditions, extra-fine granular tuning, and has features such as LLC and great power saving under lower load situations via finer voltage control which can be modulated actively in real time by the controller.
Full black solid cap design
Here we see the Solid state caps which have been a staple of the Ultra Durable config for pretty much as long as we can remember. Now they have an all black design which first of all looks really good. Also, these caps have a 10,000 HR rating which means they have a lifespan rating 5X that of typical consumer product offerings and even 2x that of standard mainstream offerings.
High ESD Protection
Gigabyte wants to ensure that some of the weird customer induced issues such as ESD from unplug and replug of devices is reduced which they accomplish by extra ESD protection built into the rear IO panel ports to make sure the board should have a better chance of surviving small static shocks unscathed.
Gaming grade audio and Headphone amplifier
Gigabyte enabled a high end audio amplifier on the new series of board to ensure that they can push some of the new higher end headset solutions which are becoming increasingly popular among gamers as speakers are becoming far less prevalent. This is a sign of a manufacturer seeing where the market is heading and ensuring they are ready.
On/Off Charge 2
Gigabyte has made some improvement to their On/Off charge technology to support the latest and greatest mobile devices including those running iOS or Android, and they will charge even with the PC powered off via the PSU supplied standby voltage supply.
One Fuse per USB Port
We have seen this before from Gigabyte and we always thought it was a great idea as having a single fuse protecting a whole block of USB’s means that if one device causes a fault, you could lose all of those ports, resulting in a severe loss of functionality. Gigabyte runs a single fuse per port so that if a device shorts or has an issue you lose only a single port and the malfunction is localized with less chance of affecting other components.
Intel Gigabit LAN
Gigabyte includes Intel NIC on the 8 series boards which is a good move as Intel Gigabit NICs are known for their stability, performance and overall durability even under heavily loaded environments.
The Gigabyte Z87 boards this time around have a very well refined software suite with a much smoother and finished feel to them.
The App Center is where you can do quick updates or start the Easytune app. This is a cleaner looking interface and shows the design styling Gigabyte has chosen for its software. We can imagine being the App center this will be a constantly evolving App Drawer which will be used as a central point to launch new utilities as Gigabyte adds them to the suite.
Gigabyte refined the Easytune software to include all of the previous functionality but needless to say if you look at the screen captures it is majorly better when it comes to layout and appearance. Let’s not forget that it is much easier on the eyes as well with a nice soft gray/black combo which adds to the smooth feel.
One thing definitely worth noting here is that the Easytune software can be changed to match different series boards with Orange for the OC series boards, Blue for standard and Green for the Killer/Gaming series boards, we think this is a cool addition as it adds a dose of not just functionality but also customization to the mix which many users will like.
The fan control is really cool now offering auto adjustments and tuning along side the standard manual adjustability to allow system tuning down to a very fine level to allow users to make the board exactly what they need it to be.
The ability to adjust everything down to phase control all within the OS and in this software makes it much easier to make small adjustment especially when overclocking without having to jump out to the BIOS with every little tweak.
Overview of the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H
The packaging for the 8 series from Gigabyte carries pretty much the same flavor as the 7 series which is not a bad thing as it usually carries a nice angle shot of the VRM/Heatsink.
Overall the front is a bit more cluttered than some we have seen as it has quite a lot of Ultra durable 5 detail right on the cover which may or may not catch the eyes of consumers. We still think the X79 boards were probably some of the best packaging Gigabyte has done to date and possibly even better than most competitors as it was super clean and simple but got attention.
The rear of the box is full of spec and detail info so that before you ever even make a purchase you have a really good idea of what you are getting.
- User Manuals
- Installation Discs
- SATA Cables
- SLI Ribbon
- IO Shield
This bundle is very simple and will easily get you connected, although we would like to have seen more SATA cables, as having 8 SATA ports but only 4 cables means if you have a decent storage system you could be left searching for more cables.
Here you can see the whole board layout, much like the UD4H we saw before the connectors are kept at board edge to allow a tidy build with only a few stray fan headers any further than an inch inboard. The overall appeal is nice with a dark package so that no matter the build you install it into it should not jump out and command attention which in many cases can be bad for a custom build unless the board is exactly the right color. With that said there are subtle blue hints on the heatsinks which we think are nice and not so highly toned that it would be distracting from a build of clashing colors.
Click Image For a Larger One
Click Image For a Larger One
- PS2 combo keyboard/mouse port
- 6x USB 3.0 Ports
- Optical SPDIF connectors
- Gigabit LAN port
- Dsub Port
- DVI Port
- HDMI Port
- Displayport Connector
- eSATA ports (x2) from Marvell controller
- Up to 7.1 Channel HD audio via Realtek ALC898
The connectivity is vast and allows for connection of virtually any display without issue along with many SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports to ensure no lack of high speed transfer.
Click Image For a Larger One
The CPU fan connection you will notice has a secondary header which is pretty cool. This OPT header is designed for usage with either dual fan air coolers or even AIO units where the pump uses a fan header so that you can have the port run full power for the pump rather than hoping the onboard modulation doesn’t slow the pump down and harm performance.
The “Overclockers corner” on the top right has onboard buttons to allow easy bench top usage and also dual switches for BIOS control from not just which BIOS chip to use but also enabling a “Single BIOS” Mode so that it will not inadvertently reflash the main BIOS via the dual BIOS function as so many users have seen before when overclocking and having a couple bad POST attempts. Unfortunately that happened to us before and reflashed a firmware that was not compatible with the chip we were using, so you could imagine the headache we had with that. We do also like that the BIOS now requests flash of the second ROM when updating the main one so that if a cross-flash ever happens you’re not flashing to an older image which may not support your hardware.
Gigabyte UEFI Dual BIOS
Testing & Methodology
We’ve expanded our testing suite considerably since the X79 chipset release, and will continue to use the same methods for most of the motherboards and CPU’s we test. In the interests of thoroughness and accurate results, we run each test at least three times, and some tests more than that. We average the total of all the tests from each benchmark then report the average here.
The OS we use is Windows 7 Pro 64bit with all patches and updates applied. We also use the latest drivers available for the motherboard and any devices attached to the computer. We do not disable background tasks or tweak the OS or system in any way. We turn off drive indexing and daily defragging. We also turn off Prefetch and Superfetch. This is not an attempt to produce bigger benchmark numbers. Drive indexing and defragging can interfere with testing and produce confusing numbers. If a test were to be run while a drive was being indexed or defragged, and then the same test was later run when these processes were off, the two results would be contradictory and erroneous. As we cannot control when defragging and indexing occur precisely enough to guarantee that they won’t interfere with testing, we opt to disable the features entirely.
Prefetch tries to predict what users will load the next time they boot the machine by caching the relevant files and storing them for later use. We want to learn how the program runs without any of the files being cached, and we disable it so that each test run we do not have to clear pre-fetch to get accurate numbers. Lastly we disable Superfetch. Superfetch loads often-used programs into the memory. It is one of the reasons that Windows occupies so much memory. Vista fills the memory in an attempt to predict what users will load. Having one test run with files cached, and another test run with the files un-cached would result in inaccurate numbers. Again, since we can’t control its timings so precisely, it we turn it off. Because these four features can potentially interfere with benchmarking, and and are out of our control, we disable them. We do not disable anything else.
One thing to note is that we are revamping our testing method in order to better represent motherboard performance and offering to you guys the consumer. Also we want to make it an easier read for you without miles of endless charts. Please feel free to provide feedback on what you think as many benchmarks will be shuffled or removed completely.
|Case||Open Test Bench|
|Ram||GSkill TridentX 2666MHz|
|CPU Cooler||Swiftech 240mm rad custom loop|
|Hard Drives||Western Digital Velociraptor 1TB 10000RPM 6Gb/s Hard Drive|
|SSD||1x Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA III 6Gb/s SSD|
|GPU||Intel iGPU or Nvidia GTX 680|
|PSU||Thermaltake Toughpower XT 1475W Gold|
|Mouse||Tt eSPORTS Black Gaming Mouse|
|Keyboard||Tt eSPORTS Meka G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard|
We will use the following applications to test the performance of the Z87 Chipset (Motherboard, Processor).
|SuperPi Mod 1.5|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0|
|Batman Arkham City|
|Sniper Elite V2|
First up is PCMark and, just like the Intel board we see a nice little increase versus the previous generation Ivy Bridge setups. The Gigabyte board shows a nice performance here even besting most of the other boards we have tested to date.
Switching over to a discrete card, you can see that performance can improve on the Physics end which is rendered on the CPU. However, when it comes to overall discrete graphics performance, the gain is marginal as cards simply cannot reach the limit of the PCIe 3.0 controller on Ivy Bridge, let alone Haswell.
This tests single threaded performance and clock efficiency by processing digits of the number pi. Going from the previous gen Z77 to Z87 yields a nice efficiency jump clock for clock, but we still feel this could be a premature result. The UD3H does turn in nice results here but we do see a slight decrease in efficiency from the UD4H coming to the UD3H but we’re talking numbers you would never even notice in real world usage outside of numerical benchmarks.
WPrime is similar to SuperPi, but is multi-core aware and you can set the core count. We used 8 threads to take advantage of the 4770K’s HyperThreading ability. Here you can see that the efficiency in multi-core processing improves as you can see a pretty nice gain going from Z77 to Z87, and even more so when overclocked. We are quite excited to see what this platform can do as we get our hands on more boards to test real world performance.
On the Gigabyte UD3H once again we see that the benefit of going with the UD4H is apparent as it outpaces it a bit, ever so slightly as it may be the board tuning appears to be a little better with the UD4H model.
“CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer’s performance capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more. MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based). The resulting values among different operating systems are 100% comparable and therefore very useful with regard to purchasing decision-making. It can also be used as a marketing tool for hardware vendors or simply to compare hardware among colleagues or friends.”
Transcoding has become more popular now and the latest Sandy Bridge processor added support for AVX instruction for faster video transcoding. With that you can see that going from Ivy Bridge to Haswell can net you some very good gains, especially a 2FPS gain on 2 Pass. This tells us that overall optimizations to the new platform are present and working very well. The UD3H holds ground with the UD4H which is very promising for the value based board.
TrueCrypt is a real world application that gives a good indication of the true performance of our latest processor. Here the new Core i7 4770K puts some definite room between itself and the outgoing 3770K with over a 22% performance increase, which means in the same time you can get a lot more work done. Here we see a sizable gain from the Gigabyte team as once again it is very close in performance to the UD4H we had seen previously.
Unigine Heaven 2.5
Unigine Heaven is a benchmark program based on Unigine Corp’s latest engine, Unigine. The engine features DirectX 11, Hardware tessellation, DirectCompute, and Shader Model 5.0. All of these new technologies combined with the ability to run each card through the same exact test means this benchmark should be in our arsenal for a long time.
Unigine Heaven on a discrete GTX 680 gains about a single FPS, probably just due to the expanded performance with the overclock. For the most part, however, recent platforms are so efficient that there simply is no bottleneck for current gen card models.
Metro 2033 shows drops slightly in comparison to the Intel when overclocked but the gaming performance appears slightly better when comparing stock to stock speeds. This could partially be due to the higher memory bandwidth numbers the Intel board was showing as it gives a bigger pipeline to work with.
Batman Arkham City
Discrete GPU results for the Gigabyte board are very good showing increases quite good over the reference Intel board and even more when overclocked which speaks well to the Gigabyte teams performance optimizations.
Sniper Elite V2
While Sniper Elite V2 shows very high max FPS on the Intel board when overclocked, but in reality that does nothing if its not consistent and with the Gigabyte board we see a much higher average FPS with not as much peaky performance which means it holds a much more consistent FPS to allow the average to be higher which is a plus and means much better gaming experience overall.
Our Final Thoughts
Gigabyte impressed us with the UD4H, but we were a little apprehensive to show excitement for a value board. Much to our surprise here the UD3H has proven to be a very good performer for a sub-$200 budget. Now do keep in mind that each board has its own target segment, but as we see gaming being a huge set of enthusiasts users this board can easily match and perform in any gaming rig, and even has the looks to pull off an excellent looking windowed rig with the all dark PCB and dark components.
Since this board does lose a very small amount in tuning compared to what we saw on the UD4H, we think platform consistency does need to be addressed and could be as simple as a firmware update in the future. Also, the lesser features may make some look to a different model, but for the price this is a very stout board with very nice component choices.
Overall, if you’re looking for a board within a budget and don’t need some of the fancier bells and whistles, the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H is an excellent choice for its performance and component quality.