Updated apps are much improved; plenty of bells, no whistle
New UEFI better than "3D" version but still confusing to read
The Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H offers a lot of features for the price.
The world’s economy may be on the mend but a lot of people still want to justify every cubit spent on technology. For some people, spending $280 for the Asus Z87-Deluxe or even $260 for the Intel DZ87KLT-75K may seem exorbitant. Fortunately for you, budget-minded power user, Gigabyte has its GA-Z87X-UD5H board. OK, we’ll admit, $210 isn’t really budget, but you’ll see that it’s a pretty modest price given the board’s features.
The Z87X-UD5H gives you SLI and CrossFireX support, 10 SATA 6Gb/s ports, dual USB 3.0 headers, dual NICs, a POST LED, surface-mounted power and reset buttons, Creative Labs X-Fi MB drivers, and Gigabyte’s trademark dual-BIOS setup. We’ve had the unfortunate need to resort to the dual-BIOS in the past and it’s been an automatic affair. The UD5H offers and automatic and manual mode, which we got to use when we bricked the primary BIOS. No problem, flip a switch and you’re back up and running on the backup BIOS. From there, you simply flip the switch back to the primary and reflash the BIOS again. It’s pretty damned robust.
The last time we reviewed a Gigabyte board we complained hardily about the goofy UEFI (hey, that rhymes), with its faux “3D” mode. Gigabyte has since redone its BIOS with a vastly improved interface. Unfortunately, it’s still not in the class of Asus’s and now Intel’s excellent UEFI. In fact, we went back to “classic” BIOS mode because the sheer amount of information on the UEFI screen is overwhelming.
One area where Gigabyte has really improved is in its OS utilities. We haven’t been happy with the gear-shifter style interface and confusing options for some time and usually just avoided them. With the UD5H, the utilities have gotten a complete makeover that actually makes them competitive with Asus’s excellent utilities. Gigabyte, for example, now has its own equivalent of Asus’s Fan Xpert2 that’s pretty good. It’s not as granular or nerdtastic in settings but it’s a step in the right direction. And Gigabyte even aces Asus is the update utility, which can find and fetch mobo drivers and utilities for you. This isn’t a breakthrough feature, as MSI used to do this (although not very reliably), but it’s a welcome feature that we’d love to see other board vendors also implement. The upshot is that the utilities are something to actually be used, not just installed once and ignored.
In performance, the Z87X-UD5H holds its own. Both the Intel and Gigabyte boards showed default multipliers of 8-39 on our Core i7-4770K, while the Asus had a default multiplier of 8-43. This gave the Z87-Deluxe a decided advantage in several benchmarks—but the Z87X-UD5H got pretty close. It also managed to smoke the Intel by a good margin.
In the audio department, the board uses the same ALC898 as the Intel board, but Gigabyte licenses Creative’s software algorithms, including its Crystallizer and voice changing-features, among others. We’re fans of the Crystalizer, which is a nice upgrade over the stock Realtek audio applets we usually see. We also did some close listening tests using a set of gaming headsets while hammering the USB 3.0 port with gigabytes of data and couldn’t discern any snap, crackle, or pop.
Our overall view of the GA-Z87X-UD5H is that it’s probably the sweet spot for most enthusiasts who could put the money saved by forgoing Thunderbolt or Wi-Fi into the CPU, GPU, or SSD instead.