Well guys, its time for our review of one of the most crucial components of the PC; the motherboard. Gigabyte have kindly agreed to provide the motherboard for our PC Build feature, so we could use the rig for featuring on the site, and for our future game reviews and component testing. A big thanks to them for making the review & use of the Z87X-UD4H possible. So, lets jump right in!

As we know, Haswell only launched a few months ago and with it came a new line of motherboards, ranging from the budget models, to the very expensive high end performance models. Today we have a board which places itself in the higher part of the mid-range pricing category, but offers most of the features the high end boards have, which is quite an impressive feat. The beautiful red, silver and black colour scheme also makes the board look like a high-end product and overall, the board offers everything you will really need if you are going for high end gaming, and does it in style.

The UD4H has all the essential features needed for a high end build, with even a few extras offered but is missing some of the ‘extreme’ features for extreme PC Builds. To give an example, the board can only support dual Crossfire/SLI. This really is all most people would need, as even going with a dual card solution can cause glitches, but by the time you get to three or four graphics cards together, it can be very difficult and sometimes disadvantageous to use them as one.

The UD4H, as you can see, is an ultra durable model motherboard. Gigabyte has this year decided to use a black PCB with all of their ultra durable models, something which I am a fan of. The black style contrasts very well with the red and silver heatsink designs surrounding the processor and chipset. This all comes to together to offer a lovely design to use with a windowed case, and can be completed further with the use of red-themed RAM and red LED lighting.

If we take a look at the RAM slots to begin, we can see that, of course, the Haswell chipset uses dual channel DDR3 memory. The UD4H distinguishes its channels with pairs of black and light grey alternating slots. The UD4H offers overclocking support of up to 3000Mhz, with the RAM being clocked at 1600Mhz as standard. As usual, up to 32GB is supported through four 8GB DIMMS. To the right of the RAM slots, we see a very nice feature which Gigabyte has included. Power, reset and clear CMOS switches are all present on-board, with the power switch being further enhanced with an LED light to show if the system is receiving power. These are great for troubleshooting, as they can be used outside a case for easy-access.

Next to those switches are the dual BIOS switches; great for both saving different overclocking settings, and for recovering in the event of a bad flash. Also present is a debug LED, something often only included on very high end model motherboards. This LED will allow the easy identification of errors during posting. If the system does not post, just take a look at the code on the LED, consult the user manual and the component or setting causing the problem will be identified. We had a few problems when building our build, and the debug LED was EXTREMELY useful in localising the error. Voltage test points are also present on the board, and, of course, the main front USB 3.0 connnector.

Now, if we move up to the CPU, we’ll see that the CPU socket has a nice chrome finish, and is situated next to the heatsinks. One of the things worth mentioning is that the mounting area for the CPU cooler is the exact same as Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge (Socket 1155), so, you will have no problem carrying forward a CPU cooler, be it a fan cooler or a watercooling loop. The UD4H definitely impresses in its power delivery system, which is usually cut on lower model boards. The board is fitted with 16 power phases, taking on an IR Digital Power design. The older MOSFET design has been replaced with a far more efficient single chip system, which really is a premium feature. It just shows that the UD4H really does offer extreme value; coming in at half the price of the highest end model, but cutting very few of the notable features.

If we move next to the SATA port area, you will notice that the board comes equipped with a whopping 8 SATA3 (6Gbps) ports, again, a great offering for a mid-range board in pricing. The 6 ports which are black in colour are direct chipset ports, while the two grey ports come from an additional Marvell chip on-board. I would recommend using the chipset ports for SSDs and hard drives, and using the Marvell ports for optical drives. A SATA power connector sits beside the ports, which can offer auxiliary power to the PCI slots, should you be using a dual-card solution.

Moving to the bottom section of the board, we see a very rich, premium-style offering. We have, going from left to right, the front panel audio, SPDIF_O & SPDIF_IN connectors, a system fan header, a couple of legacy/serial ports, THREE front USB 2.0 connectors and a second front USB 3.0 connector. This brings the board’s total USB3 ports up to 10 (6 on the rear IO). Also present is the essential power switch, reset switch, power LED etc connection area.

Finally, we have the rear IO, which is, again, very feature-rich taking into account the price of the board. We see 6 USB 3.0 connections, two e-SATA connections (which can be used instead of the Marvell ports on the board), a PS/2 mouse & keyboard combination port, a gigabit ethernet connection, 8 channel analogue audio, a digital optical audio port, one DVI-D port, one HDMI port and one DisplayPort connection.

PCI Slots
One thing we left out in the FEATURES section is a description of the PCI slot offerings, which we think deserves its own section. Now, the board is marketed and described as supporting a dual graphics card solution, however, you can add a third (although the board is not optimised for such configuration). Starting from the top, moving down:

SLOT 1: 1x slot
SLOT 2: 16x slot (downgraded to 8x when slot 5 populated)
SLOT 3: 1x slot
SLOT 4: 1x slot
SLOT 5: 16x, wired as 8x
SLOT 6: Legacy PCI
SLOT 7: 16x, wired as 4x

As you can see, if you are using just a single card, you would want to use the second slot, as it runs at 16x when the board is not using slot 5. If you go with a dual-card solution, you can use slot 2 and 5 and both cards will use an 8x slot. Finally, if you would like to use a three-card solution (be warned, results may vary), you can use slot 2 and 5 at 8x, with the final card running at 4x. I would recommend using the 4x slot only for a PhysX card alongside the other nVidia GPU(s).

The UD4H is packed full of overclocking potential. We used an i5-4670K in this board, and we were very lucky with our processor. We were able to push the processor to run at 5GHz on 1.34V. While this produced some high temperatures, with the correct cooling, it would be possible. For a board of this price range, a 5GHz overclock is impressive. We decided that for daily running, we should push the overclock down to 4.6GHz, which we were able to run stable at an impressive voltage of 1.243v. This shows that the UD4H is a fantastic board for overclocking, and the potential is there to push your CPU to its limits.

We used two programs while benchmarking the board in conjunction with the CPU, CineBench and SuperPI. CineBench tests CPU and graphics performance from a 3D animation rendering perspective while Super PI tests the amount of time necessary to compute PI to 32 million digits. We also used PCMark7 to measure overall system performance.

We took a look at some of the standard results for mid-range motherboards, and the general standard for a Haswell i5-4670K running on a mid-range motherboard was a Cinebench score of approximately 7.35 when the processor is NOT OVERCLOCKED.

The Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H managed to score 7.53 when the i5 processor was left at stock speeds, which is a significant gain over the average score in mid range motherboard configurations. The interesting part was what happened when the processor was overclocked. The CineBench score rose to an impressive 9.72 on the i5 4670K at 4.6Ghz, through the UD4H.

Super PI is a single threaded application used to calculate pi to varying numbers of digits; in this case, 32 million. The standard time for calculation on Haswell processors using a variety of boards is 8 minutes, 53 seconds. Our i5 4670K running at stock speeds completed the process in 8 minutes, 50 seconds and, when overclocked, managed a significantly better 7 minutes, 14 seconds.

For general performance, we ran PCMark7, an benchmarking toolkit which measured over 25 different system workloads. The score will NOT be comparable for everyone, as it is literally based on almost each and every piece of hardware in your system, along with settings and overclocking profiles.

Our test system (HD7970, i5 4670K and UD4H motherboard with a dual SSD storage solution) scores 6619 on PCMark7, a very impressive score, as I have seen scores with i7 4770Ks and other mid-range Haswell motherboards scoring in the 5600-5900 range.

We decided not to run any dedicated video benchmarking software in the review (such as 3DMark), as very little of this is affected by the motherboard and is generally solely down to the power of your GPU. From the results, we can see that the UD4H is perfectly capable of holding up with high end motherboards, and does not deteriorate the performance you would expect from a high-end gaming system.

The UD4H comes with Gigabyte’s newly developed 1080P UEFI BIOS. As you can see from the screenshots below, the new BIOS is very stylish and adds very useful sidebars of information, and customisable tabs where you can define what settings you would like to be present within each. The new BIOS screen offers CPU clock speed, voltage information and temperature in addition to memory and system fan speed information all through the handy sidebars.

Each tab on the home screen has different settings organised within each. Using the home tab, you can add your most used settings to your own tabs and name them. The UD4H doesn’t have as many settings to adjust as a lot of high end motherboards, although there is enough there to suit everyone who will be using their systems for anything up to high end gaming/rendering or benchmarking. The classic BIOS can be reached through the simple push of the F2 key. The mouse is enabled in the new bios, which makes it even easier to use.

Pricing & Conclusion
The Gigabyte Z87X UD4H is available in price range usually devoted to mid-range motherboards, however, the UD4H is an exception and Gigabyte has offered a board with a lot of high end features at a fantastic price point. Overclockers expect a high-performance, reliable and feature rich motherboard for their system, and, I am happy to say, there is no need to fork out £300/€400 and upwards for a board of such nature, Gigabyte has delivered the perfect board through the mid-range price point.

The UD4H has an excellent layout, and is optimised for a dual card setup (three-way GPU is possible, but with mixed results). The 8 SATA ports and support for 10 USB 3.0 ports makes the board an impressive offering, as do the abundance of USB2 headers, the debug LED and the on-board power, reset and CMOS switches. Now, to finally reveal the part we’ve been lingering on the entire review, the PRICE. As of the time of writing, the Z87X-UD4H is available for a fantastic £146.33 from Amazon UK and $189.99 from Newegg in the US.

I cannot recommend more that you invest in this board. It is THE most impressive offering in terms of features AND performance that I have ever seen at that price. Without a doubt, the board earns our GOLD AWARD and is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BUY.