It’s commonly understood that if you can run Thunderbolt, you probably also snack on Beluga caviar, wear a Patek Philippe watch, and vacation in a country only rich people know about: Grenyarnia.
Not so, actually. Thunderbolt apparently doesn’t require you to smash the piggy. This is no more apparent than with Gigabyte’s Z77X-UP4 TH. What the TH stands for we don’t know for sure, but we’re guessing it has some relation to Thunderbolt, which the Z77X-UP4 TH has in spades.
It’s hard to believe you can get a board with not one, but two Thunderbolt ports for under $200.
The Z77X-UP4 TH pretty much has all the modern must-have components, including both native Intel and discrete VIA USB 3.0 ports. There’s also SLI/CrossFireX, an mSATA slot, and not one, but two Thunderbolt ports.
The fact that Gigabyte can jam all this into a board that streets for $190 is astounding. Lest you think the board is the equal of the P8Z77-V Premium, it isn’t. The lack of extra SATA controllers, surface-mount power switches, extra SATA ports, and a POST LED affirms this board’s pedestrian pedigree, but for the price difference, you could buy a CPU.
In performance, the board gave us interesting results. It’s the first one we’ve tested that has faster USB 3.0 performance than the Asus boards, but in overall graphics and system performance, the Gibabyte was slightly slower than the Premium board. To be fair, we did enable SSD caching on the Asus P8Z77-V Premium, but that’s because the board comes with it. Like other Gigabyte boards, the Z77X-UP4 TH turned out slower-than-expected performance in some graphics tests. It’s not a huge disparity, but it shows up in the numbers. Because we’ve seen it in three Gigabyte boards now, it’s likely some driver-related issue.
Another thing we should note is that our review board smelled like an iPhone crawled into the ass of a laptop and died there. The heavy electronic stink was so overwhelming, we were ready to bury our face in a skunk to get rid of the odor. The smell diminished over time, but P.U.!
Despite the smell, it’s hard to argue with the bargain you’re getting here. The board lets you run multicard setups, packs two Thunderbolt ports (which were tested to within a few percentage points of the Asus P8Z77-V Premium), and even seems to have improved the USB 3.0 performance markedly. Yes, it could use a couple more SATA ports and a good airing out, but for the money, we ain’t arguing.
Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH
Dual Thunderbolt ports for under $200.
Could use more SATA ports; and smells like burnt toast covered with skunk ass.
Asus P8Z77-V Premium
Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP4 TH
3DMark 11 Overall
PCMark 7 Overall
PCMark 7 Lightweight
PCMark 7 Productivity
Valve Particle (fps)
SiSoft Sandra 2012 (GB/s)
SATA 6Gb/s read (MB/s)
SATA 6Gb/s write (MB/s)
USB 3.0 Read (MB/s)
USB 3.0 Write (MB/s)
Auto Overclock (GHz)
Best scores are bolded. We used a Core i7-3770K, 8GB of DDR3/1866 set at DDR3/1600, a WD Raptor 150, 64-bit Windows 7 Professional, and a GeForce GTX 580 in all of our motherboards. SATA 6Gb/s speeds were measured with CrystalDiskMark 3.01 and an OWC Mercury Extreme SSD. USB 3.0 speeds were measured with CrystalDiskMark and a Patriot Wildfire SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure using an Asmedia controller. 32GB compliance was measured with four 8GB DDR3 modules. The P8Z77-V Premium board was tested in SSD-caching mode.