Given the task of assembling a system for somebody who is relatively unfamiliar with PC hardware, I would often ask a series of questions involving what activity they would primarily use the system for. Is it a system for photo or video editing? Is it a system for gaming? Is it for multimedia use? Is the system going to be overclocked? The client’s answer to all four have been increasingly leading towards “all of the above”, prompting me to search for a mainboard that can accommodate all of those features at a price point that sounds reasonable for most users.
For video/photo editing builds, mainboards that are capable of fast transfer rates with plenty of storage connectivity options and fast memory support is important. For gaming, users often search for mainboards that have future multi-GPU expansion potential, whether it is Radeon CrossFire or GeForce SLI. For multimedia use, users want a motherboard with excellent audio quality and flexible onboard display features. Those who want an overclocking motherboard want something outfitted with high-quality components and designed with performance-oriented power control options for easy and stable results. Additional features for convenient performance tuning could also come in handy, although each additional feature increases the price further. Thankfully, with the release of Intel’s new Z87 platform, Gigabyte updates their UD3H offering to meet all of these requirements.
The Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H is outfitted with impressive high-end features at a mainstream price. The Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H utilizes Ultra Durable 5 Plus technology, including the use of 10K solid Japanese capacitors, 2x Copper PCB, gold plated CPU brushes, ESD protection on USB and Ethernet ports with one fuse per port design, as well as International Rectifier PWM controllers and PowIRstage ICs. Unlike other mainstream Z87 mainboards, the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H has a total of ten USB 3.0 ports for unprecedented connective flexibility and also implements On/Off Charge 2 technology for rapid mobile device charging. Users who want to tune their system performance further will find the quick onboard buttons handy, including voltage read-out points, digital debug display, OC PEG, clear CMOS button, dual BIOS switch, as well as onboard power and reset buttons.
Unboxing and Product Overview:
GIgabyte APP Center
|Onboard Graphics||Integrated Graphics Processor:
|Internal I/O Connectors||
|Back Panel Connectors||
To test all systems, processors, and motherboards, Hi Tech Legion has compiled a list of popular programs to test performance; these benchmarks are taken from programs that are available to the public. We have compiled these to create the Hi Tech Legion Benchmark Suite, which includes system, graphics, processor, rendering, compression, and word processing. All scores will be graphed for each specific test under its category: video benchmarks (gaming will be rated in FPS: Frames per second), system scores will be graded by numbers which are given as results by their respective programs, higher will be better unless otherwise specified. If file compression is chosen, then all times will be in seconds. All temperatures will be measured in Celsius. LAN Speed test v3 will be conducted with another Gigabit ethernet (Intel 82579V) capable system running the LAN Speed Test server plugged in to the Gigabit router with 6ft. long Cat5e cables.
Discrete Video Card Gaming
Performance Tuning was done through the UEFI with the following settings:
- CPU Clock Ratio: 46
- All other settings: Default/Auto
Memory Performance Enhance:
- XMP Profile: Profile 1
- Hyper-Threading and Turbo: Enabled
- EIST, C1E, C3, C6 and C7: Enabled
- All other settings: AUTO
Designed for Windows 7, PCMark 7 benchmarks your system with a variety of tests including video, photo editing, gaming, and communications. For results, a total PCMark score will be given (default setting) and individual scores for the tasks that are tested. To learn more about PCMark 7 visit Futuremark's website.
AIDA 64 is a diagnostic and benchmarking tool. AIDA 64 will be used for its Cache and Memory benchmark. System memory, L1 cache, L2 cache, and L3 cache will be benchmarked for latency, read, write, and copy. Final Wire is the producer of this software.
Created by Maxon, Cinebench R11.5 tests rendering of your CPU and GPU and scores their performance individually. We will be using the CPU rendering portion of the program and benchmark single CPU and multiple CPU performance.
WinRAR is a popular file compression and decompression tool it is a multi-threaded application that reads most compressed file formats. HiTech Legion uses WinRAR to measure Speed (MB/s) using the WinRAR benchmark and hardware test found in its Tools section. We also use our own 5GB uncompressed file folder and compress it to a RAR file (normal setting) measuring the amount of time required to compress the file.
LAN Speed Test 3.0
LAN Speed Test is designed to be a rock solid tool to measure your file transfer and network speeds (wired & wireless) easily and accurately. It does this by building a file in memory, then transfers it both ways (without effects of Windows file caching) while keeping track of the time, and then does the calculations for you. Simple concept and easy to use. Both the LAN Speed Test v2 and LAN Speed Server software used in this review are the full retail versions. This software was developed by Totusoft and a free version is also available for download.
JPerf 2.0.2 is a simple JAVA based tool that is designed to test the network bandwidth of a system. It does this using client/server setup and by transmitting packets over 100 second period between the systems. JPerf then automatically measures the bandwidth based on how much data can be transferred within the 100 seconds. HiTech Legion uses JPerf for two reasons, to measure bandwidth and to see bandwidth jitter. When measuring bandwidth a sustained transfer rate is more important than the final result. JPerf also graphs bandwidth jitter, what we are looking for is a smooth straight line which will denote sustained transfer rates.
Crystal DiskMark 3.0 x64
Crystal Mark is a disk benchmark software that features:
- Sequential reads/writes
- Random 4KB/512KB reads/writes
- Text copy
- Change dialog design
- internationalization (i18n)
- Download Crystal Mark
File Transfer Tests
The 1 and 5 GB files are placed on the desktop then sent to the SSD. This allows the SSD to both read the file before transfer then write it to the SSD. Times are calculated in Seconds for the 1 GB file and Minutes and Seconds for the 5 GB file.
Prior to the first actual on-die GPU, integrated graphics was delegated a position of a system's motherboard. Being placed on the motherboard doomed any type of gaming performance, due to bottlenecks caused by onboard controllers, the motherboards architecture or the lack of bandwidth produced. Intel's first CPU with on-die graphics was codenamed "Clarkdale" and was launched in March of 2010 (Core i5 661). Although many of the bottlenecks were bypassed, performance was still nowhere near the caliber of a budget discrete video card. A year later, Intel launched their second generation of CPU with on-die graphics, which was codenamed "Sandy Bridge". We saw many advances and were even introduced to a technology called Quick Sync, which uses the power of the CPU and GPU combined to accelerate video transcoding (encode and decode). Unfortunately, it still lacked a few qualities a discrete video card had to offer and one of those was DirectX 11. With the launch of "Haswell", Intel has overcome many obstacles and those who seek the performance of a budget level discrete video card will no longer have to spend the extra money. They can now purchase the entire package in the form of a 22nm processor and game at 1080p (Low Settings).
Intel 4600 Series HD Graphics was tested on multiple motherboards with exact system specifications (other than the motherboard) and our results were virtually identical throughout. The benchmarks below represent an average of all tests combined.
- 3DMark: Extreme Preset (1920 x 1080)
- Unigine 4.0: Highest/4x AA
- Metro Last Light: Ultra Preset, Tessellation
- Crysis 3: Very High
X.264 HD Benchmark
X264 by VideoLAN is a free application which contains a software library for encoding video streams into the H.264 and MPEG-4 AVC formats. HiTech Legion uses X264 to measure conversion times of predetermined files. X264 is also a multi-threaded application. AMD has also been working closely to develop an OpenCL accelerated x264 application that provides even better performance. X.264 is measured in Frames Per Second.
With Intel Quick Sync Technology and Lucid Virtu, the user can take advantage of Multimedia Multitasking. When set to D-Mode, Lucid Virtu enables the user to game with the benefits of their discrete video card while utilizing the parallel processing capabilities of the on-die GPU of the "Haswell" Processor to transcode video. When set to I-Mode, the user still has full control over Intel Quick Sync Technology but will also consume less power to run their system.
"With Virtu software, next-generation PCs with 2nd, 3rd and 4th Generation Intel® Core™ processor platforms will dynamically balance the advanced power-efficient, built-in media features of Intel Core processor graphics with the high-end, DirectX 11 3D, anti-aliasing and performance features of discrete GPUs, while significantly reducing the power drain of traditional entertainment desktops. Ultimately, the consumer is assured optimal simultaneous performance in 3D gaming and video functions like transcoding and HD playback without the need to swap video cable connections between GPUs."
"Express video conversion software MediaEspresso is the hassle-free solution for converting all your favorite videos for playback on iPhone, PSP, Xbox, YouTube and more. Simply choose the preferred media player or medium, and let MediaShow Espresso do the rest."
Cyberlink Media Espresso
- Input File: MPG, 1080p, 11:57
- Output File: Apple Generic, Smart Fit, TrueTheater Enhancements Off
Provided by: Gigabyte
No compensation was received for review of this product.
Price: $159.99 USD
At a price point of $159.99, the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H is in the Mainstream category of Intel Z87 motherboard systems.
Benchmarks – All benchmark results were within a margin of error when compared to other Z87 motherboards we have reviewed. The SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 speeds from the Z87 chipset performed on par, and the integrated Intel NIC performed at a very high speed.
Board Layout - The Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H is a standard ATX motherboard measuring 12 inches in length and 9.6 inches in width. The topmost PCI-E 3.0 slot is positioned at the second ATX slot, with two PCI-E x1 slots between it and the second PCI-E 3.0 slot. This allows not only for clearance for large heatsinks but also for airflow between multiple graphics cards. SATA ports are in line with the first PCI-E slot and but can be reached easily with a standard video card a long video card will limit access. There are also CPU fan and four System fan headers positioned on the motherboard.
Pre-bundled Accessories – Accessories for the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H motherboard are what would be expected with a mainstream motherboard. This includes four locking SATA 6G cables, both are angled on one end and straight on the other, a case badge, I/O shield, SLI bridge, detailed English and multi-lingual installation guide book, quick start guide, as well as a disc containing drivers and bundled utilities.
Wireless – The Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H board does not provide on-board wireless.
LAN – The LAN chipset included on the mainboard is the Intel I217V and is designed for sustained throughput. In our testing transfer speeds
USB 3.0 – Four USB 3.0 ports are provided on the rear I/O and one on the motherboard itself. These USB 3.0 ports are natively provided by the Intel Z87 Express Chipset. The transfer speeds observed were on par with what the typical Z87 USB 3.0 bandwidth provides.
SATA 6G – SATA ports 1 thru 6 are the SATA 6G ports and are controlled natively through the Z87 Express chipset. There are also two GSATA 6G ports which are run by Marvell 88SE9172 controller.
Peripherals – There are four system fan connectors available on board, allowing the fans to be controlled by the motherboard, along with a TMP or trusted module platform header for those that need the security feature. A COM port header is available to provide access to the legacy serial connection.
Performance Tuning – Gigabyte has a new UEFI BIOS which has two modes, Classic and Let's call it UEFI. Using UEFI Mode, the Z87X-UD3H was able to increase the CPU performance to a frequency of 4.6GHZ. All that was required was to raise the CPU voltage from auto to a fixed 1.25V. There was no need to change other settings on the motherboard. I did attempt to reach a frequency of 4.7GHz but was not able to, based on the processors limitations. XMP profiles were used and memory used was at a frequency of 2400MHz with a voltage of 1.65.
UEFI BIOS - OK, just when I was getting used to 3D BIOS, they went and changed it. There are two layouts that can be used, Classic or Dashboard. The classic version is something that we old timers were used to seeing before UEFI. The UEFI or Dashboard is a little hard to get used to. After a BIOS update, the interface was snappy and precise. Unfortunately, I was not very impressed by the layout, as it did not seem to flow. Oddly enough, the manual only showed Classic mode, so I was left to question what the on/off buttons in the UEFI were.
The Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H mainstream motherboard is an affordable option for those who desire similar onboard options that more expensive motherboards have to offer. The addition of a second onboard USB 3.0 header and the Intel NIC are rarely found on motherboards at this price point. Gigabyte has also moved to their 5th edition of Ultra Durable, which includes a gold plated CPU socket, black solid caps, new heatsinks over the PCH and VRM (some offer both passive or active combos), dedicated fuse USB 3.0 ports, 2x copper PCB, all IR Digital Power design and high ESD protection for both USB and LAN.
The Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H also comes with multiple options for onboard display, something some manufacturers have been downgrading. Having the multiple ports gives the user the option of multiple screens. Although I may not use them frequently, the Z87-UD3H has two eSATA ports on the rear I/O which are connected to a Marvel controller. For those who delve into extreme gaming, such as SLI or Crossfire, the extra SATA power connector on the motherboard will assure that there is no power loss to your PCI-e slots.
I have mixed feelings about the new Dual UEFI BIOS. Gigabyte has changed their UEFI frequently and just when I felt I mastered one, another is launched. In dashboard mode, I found the BIOS to be responsive and was able to navigate with my mouse with minimal effort. That is after a BIOS flash, but there was occasion where the mouse was very sluggish, which could have been a polling issue or a bad restart into the BIOS. A couple features, like tab customization and the ability to run the BIOS in Classic mode, made the BIOS learning curve a little less taxing but since there are so many tabs and sections, I felt it took longer to find and set what I actually needed. I did also find that in classic mode, the BIOS were a little sluggish to the mouse but were quite snappy using the keyboard. I have to give the new UEFI Dual BIOS a C+.
Overall user experience and testing of the board revealed that it's all about the features. I have tested at least ten Z87 motherboards to date and all performed and overclocked within a margin of error. The Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H offers features that other boards in its class don't, which gives it a leg up. I know I mentioned this before but the addition of the Intel NIC, the second USB 3.0 header, the onboard power and reset buttons as well as the debug and multiple monitor outputs are things you may not find at this price point from other manufacturers.
Board Design, something that I have at times not appreciated much from Gigabyte in the past, is actually very good. The layout flows and even with a larger video card the first two SATA connectors can be reached. The heatsinks are aesthetically designed and are not too bulky or too small and provide efficient cooling of the VRM and PCH. The debug is placed by the 24-pin power connector so when it is inside your case you can actually see it. The BIOS switches, Power, Reset and clear CMOS Buttons/Switches are located top right and are easy to access. Some motherboard manufacturers place them on the bottom and they can be hard to reach if you are using multiple video cards.
The new EZ APP has some good and not so good qualities, the best quality is that it is very simple to use and is straight forward. If you choose to auto tune your system, there are four predetermined options and one advanced option. EZ Setup allows you to forgo many of the INTEL based software's by combining them into one via the module, such as dish switch mode, rapid start, smart response and smart connect. Smart Fan, which can be found in the Easy Tune module, offers an alternative way to adjust your fans with the click of your mouse and will also auto tune them for you, if you so desire. It is not as intuitive as others I have used but it does offer options you will not find in the BIOS.
Overall, the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H is a Diamond in the rough at a price point of $159.99 USD. It offers many qualities and features that you would expect to receive on motherboards at a higher price point.
- PCI-E 3.0 x16 Spacing
- Crossfire and SLI ready
- Dual UEFI BIOS
- Dual BIOS with a switch
- Ultra Durable 5+
- PCI-E Gen 3.0
- Intel Gigabit LAN
- 2 USB 3.0 Onboard headers
- Aesthetically Pleasing Heatsinks
- No Wireless Features