by Rob Williams on September 6, 2013 in Motherboards
At its $160 price-point, GIGABYTE’s Z87X-UD3H brings a fair bit to the table. It offers a plethora of SATA and USB ports, for starters, even going as far as to include two internal USB 3.0 headers. Past that, it has a solid layout, and perhaps best of all, features one of the best EFI implementations we’ve ever seen.
What’s this? A look at a second Z87-based board in a single week? Indeed – I’ve been a bit slack on our motherboard content as of late, but I’ve found a rhythm and plan to make it a regular feature on the site again. It helps that I genuinely enjoy taking a look at different motherboards, because once you delve a bit deeper into what differentiates one from another – especially at the vendor level – things can get quite interesting.
Last week, I posted a look at ASUS’ excellent Z87-EXPERT. Ultimately, that became one of the best motherboards I ever had the pleasure of examining, thanks to its robust feature-set, easy-to-use EFI and the fantastic AiSuite III software. While it was priced a bit high at $240, Thunderbolt was to blame, and thankfully, for those who don’t need that, the similarly-spec’d Z87-PRO at $40 less would make for a great choice at that $200 price-point.
The board I’m taking a look at here goes even lower, settling in at ~$160. It’s called the Z87X-UD3H, comes from GIGABYTE, and packs some serious promises. At this price-point, it’s clear that the UD3H might not be as stacked as the ASUS model I tackled last week, but it does look to offer a lot for that $160.
We’ll take an in-depth look at the actual hardware on the next page, but for now, feel free to peruse a top-level view of what GIGABYTE’s latest UD3H board offers:
| ||GIGABYTE Z87X-UD3H|
|Architecture||Intel Z87 (LGA1150)|
|Form-Factor||ATX (12″ x 9.6″)|
|Memory||Up to 4x8GB DDR3-3000|
|Multi-GPU||2-way NVIDIA SLI|
2-way AMD CrossFireX
|Expansion||3x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16 or x8+x8 or x8+x4+x4)|
3x PCIe 2.0 x1
1x Legacy PCI
|Storage||6x SATA 6Gbit/s (Intel)|
2x SATA 6Gbit/s (Marvell)
2x eSATA 6Gbit/s (Marvell)
|Network||1x Intel Gigabit|
|Audio||Realtek ALC898 8-channel|
Input/Output + S/PDIF
|USB||Back-panel: 6x 3.0 (Renesas)|
Internal: 2x 3.0 (Intel), 2x 3.0 (Renesas), 6x 2.0 (Intel)
|Back I/O||1x 1Gbit/s LAN, 6x USB 3.0/2.0, 1x Optical S/PDIF, 6x Audio Jacks, VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, PS/2|
|Features||@BIOS, Q-Flash, Xpress Install, EasyTune, ON/OFF Charge2, EZ Setup, Dual BIOS|
Looking over this table, it amazes me a little to see how far we’ve come in just a handful of years. It used to be that getting a motherboard with more than 6 SATA ports forced you into the $200+ territory, but lo and behold, we have 8 on this $160 offering from GIGABYTE. Likewise, and as we’ll see in our upcoming comparison, the board offers 6 fan headers – today, the chance of running into a serious fan routing issue in your build is definitely smaller.
Like ASUS’ board from last week, GIGABYTE’s can handle up to 32GB of RAM at staggering DDR3-3000 speeds, but unlike ASUS’ board, the UD3H cannot handle 3-way SLI/CrossFire. Rather, it’s capped at 2-way – something I am sure the vast majority of people are going to be a-OK with.
Worth noting is that the UD3H includes not one, but two internal USB 3.0 headers – one powered by Intel, the other by Renesas. GIGABYTE clearly believes that 3.0 is a big enough deal to offer as much functionality as possible even on a $160 board, and I love that thinking.
GIGABYTE Z87 Mainstream Boards Comparison
One of the most challenging things consumers can encounter when choosing parts for a new build is deciding between one motherboard and another, even of the same brand. This isn’t helped when a vendor might sell 10+ boards from the same series. In GIGABYTE’s case, it sells 17 Z87 boards – that’s not counting H87, B85, H81 and Q87. I’d hate to be in charge of keeping track of all these!
That said, to help better understand the differences between the mainstream options in GIGABYTE’s Z87 line, I’ve compiled a table that takes a look at four boards in sequential pricing order, ranging from $135 to $200 (as of the time of writing).
What strikes me as impressive here is that all four of these motherboards feature two internal USB 3.0 headers – even the ~$135 model. That’s extremely useful for those who want to use a total of 4 3.0 ports at the front of their chassis.
There are many similarities among these four boards. For starters, each one features 6x USB 3.0 ports at the back, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, Realtek’s AC892 audio chip and at least 6x SATA 6Gbps.
Given the mere $15 price difference, the best comparison here might be between the UD3H and UD4H. What does that extra $15 get you? In a nutshell, a boost from 10 phases to 16 (2 dedicated to DRAM, and 2 to iGPU), along with a beefier PWM heatsink, one that’s a bit larger and features a heatpipe. Whether this is worth $15 is really up to you, but it’s recommended more for those looking to get some serious overclocking done on as inexpensive an ATX board as possible.
With this overview taken care of, let’s move onward to our hardware tour.