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Gigabyte has always had a knack for naming its boards. To the outsider, it might look like an attempt to send Klingon morse code, but if you're of the particular sort that builds their own PCs it makes perfect sense.
- Web page: Gigabyte
- Form factor: ATX (305x244mm)
- Chipset: Intel Z77
- External USB: 2 x 3.0 (Intel), 4 x 3.0 (Via VL800)
- Internal USB: 6 x 2.0, 2 x 3.0
- SATA 6Gbps: 2 x Intel
- SATA 3Gbps: 4 x Intel (+ shared mSATA)
- PCI-E: x16: 1 | x8: 1 | x4: 1 | x1: 3
- PCI: 1
- E-SATA: 2x Marvell 88SE9172
- Video: DVI, VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort
- Audio: S/PDIF, 7.1 VIA VT2021
- Ethernet: 1Gbps Atheros AR8151-B
Take the GA-Z77X-UD3H — GA denotes Gigabyte, Z77 is the chipset type, UD is Ultra Durable (which basically means fancy Japanese solid state capacitors and improved power design), H is for HDMI. That X is a little more vague, but generally refers to CrossFire/SLI support and digital PWM. The numeral three equally make sense — just like the long-established BMW naming convention, the lower the number, the lower down the rung the board is on the prestige scale.
We'd rather just call it Sergio.
Sergio's the very definition of a mid-teir motherboard, happily ticking the boxes of a large part of the motherboard buying population. Z77 chipset? Check. Myriad of display ports (as opposed to DisplayPort, but that's there too) on the back? Check. USB 3.0? In abundance, although most of them are powered by a VIA chip, requiring an extra driver to get them to work.
This presents some fun moments when installing Windows from scratch, as you try to guess which of Sergio's USB ports are powered by Intel and will function without drivers. It's even more fun when you realise that only two ports are active, and your mouse and keyboard combo requires three. For those in the same boat, the ports next to the audio block will work just fine until you get things up to a driver-installable state.
There are three USB 2.0 headers on board, supplying an extra six ports, and a single USB 3.0 header, supplying another two — although, your case will have to support USB 3.0 to enable this, as like most other motherboard manufacturers, Gigabyte doesn't include its own front panel bracket. If you've got an older case, there are various workarounds available to you.
There's another point of difference, and that comes in the form of a SATA power connector, mounted horizontally at the edge of the board near the SATA ports. It's apparently there to help deliver stable power when using multiple graphics cards.
Power! Despite the SATA power connector being right next to the SATA ports, it actually supplies extra power for multi-graphics card solutions.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBSi)
As is increasingly the case these days, interconnects are a little bit starved. For your average, single GPU gamer, the board will be perfectly fine, but for that special little niche of performance slaves, you'll need to be aware of the bandwidth sharing going on.