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GIGABYTE Z87X-UD3H Motherboard Review
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GIGABYTE Z87X-UD3H
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by Rob Williams on September 6, 2013 in Intel 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.

Introduction, Specifications & Hardware Tour

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.

GIGABYTE Z87X-EXPERT - Overview

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
Wireless None
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).

  Z87X-D3H Z87X-UD3H Z87X-UD4H Z87X-UD5H
Price ~$135 ~$160 ~$175 ~$200
Multi-GPU 2-way SLI
2-way CrossFire
2-way SLI
2-way CrossFire
2-way SLI
2-way CrossFire
2-way SLI
2-way CrossFire
Expansion 3x PCIe 3.0 x161
3x PCIe 2.0 x1
1x PCI
3x PCIe 3.0 x161
3x PCIe 2.0 x1
1x PCI
3x PCIe 3.0 x161
3x PCIe 2.0 x1
1x PCI
3x PCIe 3.0 x161
3x PCIe 2.0 x1
1x PCI
SATA 6x 6Gbps (Intel) 6x 6Gbps (Intel)
2x 6Gbps (Marvell)
6x 6Gbps (Intel)
2x 6Gbps (Marvell)
6x 6Gbps (Intel)
4x 6Gbps (Marvell)
USB External:
6x 3.0 (Renesas)
2x 2.0 (Intel)
Internal:
2x 3.0 (Intel)
2x 3.0 (Renesas)
4x 2.0 (Intel)
External:
6x 3.0 (Renesas)
Internal:
2x 3.0 (Intel)
2x 3.0 (Renesas)
6x 2.0 (Intel)
External:
6x 3.0 (Renesas)
Internal:
2x 3.0 (Intel)
2x 3.0 (Renesas)
6x 2.0 (Intel)
External:
6x 3.0 (Renesas)
Internal:
2x 3.0 (Intel)
2x 3.0 (Renesas)
4x 2.0 (Intel)
Thunderbolt None None None None
Network 1x Intel (I217V) 1x Intel (I217V) 1x Intel (I217V) 2x Intel (I217V)
Teaming Support
Bluetooth None None None None
Audio Realtek AC892
7.1-Channel
S/PDIF In/Out
Realtek AC892
7.1-Channel
S/PDIF In/Out
Realtek AC892
7.1-Channel
S/PDIF In/Out
Realtek AC892
7.1-Channel
S/PDIF In/Out
Creative X-Fi & EAX Support
Power 8 Power Phase
IR Digital Power
8+2 Power Phase
IR Digital Power
12+2+2 Power Phase
IR Digital Power
12+2+2 Power Phase
IR Digital Power
Back Ports 6x USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0
1x VGA
1x DVI
1x HDMI
1x LAN
1x PS/2 KB+M
5 Audio Jacks
S/PDIF Out
6x USB 3.0
2x eSATA 6Gbit/s 2
1x VGA
1x DVI
1x HDMI
1x DisplayPort
1x LAN
1x PS/2 KB+M
6 Audio Jacks
S/PDIF Out
6x USB 3.0
2x eSATA 6Gbit/s 2
1x VGA
1x DVI
1x HDMI
1x DisplayPort
1x LAN
1x PS/2 KB+M
6 Audio Jacks
S/PDIF Out
6x USB 3.0
1x DVI
1x HDMI
1x DisplayPort
2x LAN
1x PS/2 KB+M
6 Audio Jacks
S/PDIF Out
Onboard 5x 4-pin Fan Onboard Power/Reset
LED BIOS Readout
BIOS Switcher
5x 4-pin Fan
1x 3-pin Fan
Onboard Power/Reset
LED BIOS Readout
BIOS Switcher
5x 4-pin Fan
1x 3-pin Fan
Onboard Power/Reset
LED BIOS Readout
BIOS Switcher
7x 4-pin Fan
1 2nd x16 PCIe operates @ x8, 3rd x16 operates @ 4x; 2 Cannot be used at the same time as the Marvell 6Gbit/s internal ports; All wired Ethernet is 1Gbps; All audio is 8-channel; Pricing aggregated from Amazon and Newegg.

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.


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