NiC C4 Untouchable CPU Cooler:
Incorporating the proprietary technology, all new Thermaltake NiC series ( lineup consists of the F3, F4, C4, and C5 ), the new CPU cooler series with non-interference cooling space for the ram and motherboard area, the advancement towards silence, performance and compatibility. Fully compatible with RAM of all kinds, ideally for power users to fill their RAM slots with high-end overclocked RAM.

New Standard Non-Interference Cooler
The new NiC Series coolers solve the problem that high performance RAM and CPU coolers cannot co-exist in the past. NiC series coolers achieve the best RAM clearance allowing user to install high end overclock RAM with coolers with ease.

Overclock Design support up to 200W
Heat is conducted from the CPU onto the cooler through the thick nickel coated copper base and then onto the aluminum fins with 4 Φ6mm U-shaped heat-pipes. This ensures the best possible heat dissipation performance conducting heat effectively.

Curved Aluminum Fins
Aluminum fins are specially designed in a curved shape to reduce back air resistance and at the same time maximize airflow through them. The 0.4mm thick aluminum fins also increase the overall thermal dissipation area.

Integrated Dual 120mm VR fans
Both VR fans are contacted to an adjustable fan speed knob where the fans speed can be manually adjusted from 1000 to 2000rpm. A convenient tool-less fan mounting bracket design makes installation easier.

Universal Socket Compatibility
All-in-one back-plate design, the universal socket offers support all latest Intel and AMD platform.

Specs
P/N CLP0607
Compatibility
Intel LGA
2011/1366/1155/1156/1150/1150/775
AMD
FM2/FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2
Heatsink Dimension 160H * 140W * 50L mm
Heatsink Material Aluminum Fins and cu base
Copper Heatpipes
Heatpipe Φ6mm x 4 pcs
Fan Dimension 120 x 120 x 25 mm(L xW x H)
Fan quantity 2 pcs
Fan Speed 1000-2000RPM
Rated Voltage 12V
Start Voltage 9V
Rated Current 0.32A
Power Input 3.84W
Air Flow 99.1 CFM
Air Pressure 2.99 MM-H2O
Noise 20 ~39.9 dBA
Life time/Fan Life time 40000 hr
Fan control VR
pin connect 3 pin
Cooling Power 220W
Weight 794 g







Overview and Setup:

When I first got this cooler and opened the box I was surprised of the packaging that Thermaltake had done with this cooler.
It was amazing to see how well it was packaged. Once opening the first thing I did was grab the paperwork and read the installation instructions. It amazed me on how simple the instructions were and it was nice to see separate instructions for Intel and AMD. Since I was installing this on a brand new G1.SNIPER A88X I grabbed the AMD instructions and took a quick glance on the install. Now taking this cooler out of the box I was impressed with how the cooler came all put together and all I needed to do was install the back plate and mount the cooler… So simple..

I mounted the AMD kit and installing the back plate and mounting the cooler was by far the simplest air cooler install I had ever done.
I applied some GELID Solutions GC-Extreme Thermal Compound and mounted the cooler. When attaching the hold down plate you must pop the fans and brackets off so you can screw down the hold down. Once mounted I attached the 3 pin fan header to the motherboard then reattached the push/pull fans. I’d have to say from un-box time to total install time couldn’t have been more than 2-3 minutes which is awesome.

Once in the bios of this G1.SNIPER A88X the fans defaulted to low speed. I loaded optimized defaults and booted into windows. At this time I had noticed that the fans ramped up to 100% and were kind of loud. I ran them 100% for about 25-30 minutes while I installed drivers and such from the drivers disk on this new G1.SNIPER A88X and then rebooted back into the bios. Once in the bios I set CPU_FAN to Silent Mode and rebooted and the fan once again was at 100%. It’s at that time I realized I would need to use the VR knob that comes with this cooler to manually control the fans. Had the fan header from the fans been a 4 pin then the motherboard would have controlled the fan speeds.

With the VR hooked up and running the fans about half way I was surprised at how well they were cooling and how quite they were.
To test efficiency between the NiC C4 and a Prolimatech Megahalems on a mild overclocked A10-6800K I removed the NiC C4 and installed the Prolimatech Megahalems and went straight to a certain overclock that I knew would be stable and I would be able to perform some benchmarks.

I went into the bios and was after a 4.9GHz overclock with about 1.41vcore.
I booted into Windows 7 and loaded Cinebench.
At full load with the Prolimatech Megahalems I had the motherboard shut down so I knew temperatures might be an issue.
So I removed the Prolimatech Megahalems and reapplied some Thermal Interface and started over.

Once back into Windows 7 and Cinebench loaded and running with the Prolimatech Megahalems I saw temps steady around 86-88C.
I removed and installed the NiC C4 and rebooted. While running Cinebench I noticed temperatures staying in the 61-67C range.
To make sure the test was as close as possible between the 2 coolers I used the fans from the NiC C4 on the Prolimatech Megahalems in push/pull. For temp monitoring the only software I used that displayed accurate temps was Easy Tune 6. Every other software I tried to use with a A88X motherboard and a Richland A10 displayed incorrect temps.

So, what I can honestly say is in the situation of my testing the NiC C4 outperformed the Prolimatech Megahalems and the Prolimatech Megahalems costs about $25.00 more. Thermaltake has done an awesome job with the design and functionality on this cooler. For it’s price point it’s simply amazing and a must buy if you’re going with a high end air cooling setup.

Pros:
– Packaging
– Design
– Fit & Finish
– Ease of Use
– Performance
– Price

Cons:
– Better choice for colors of fans offered.

Special thanks to Thermaltake for making this little review possible.

G1.SNIPER A88X

Is everyone ready for the yet to be released Steamroller core Kaveri APUs?
Well until the release this review is being done with a A10-6800K and we are all well aware of these APU’s.
This review will be a work in progress since I have no Kaveri yet.

Specifications & Features

Before we take a detailed look at the G1.Sniper A88X, let’s take a look at this motherboard’s specifications, which can be found here
www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4683#ov

APU:
FM2+ Socket:
AMD A series processors
AMD Athlon™ series processors
(Please refer “CPU Support List” for more information.)

Chipset:AMD A88X

Memory:
1. 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 64 GB of system memory
2. Dual channel memory architecture
3. Support for DDR3 2133/1866/1600/1333 MHz memory modules
4. Support for AMD Memory Profile (AMP)/Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
* Due to a Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed,
the actual memory size displayed will be less than the size of the physical memory installed.
* The maximum 64 GB of system memory can be supported using 16 GB (or above) memory modules.
GIGABYTE will update the memory support list on the official website when the memory modules are available on the market.
(Please refer “Memory Support List” for more information.)

Onboard Graphics:
APU with integrated AMD Radeon™ HD 8000/7000 series graphics:
* To use the onboard graphics port, you must install an AMD APU with integrated graphics.
1. 1 x D-Sub port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920×1200
2. 1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 2560×1600
* Support for 2560×1600 resolution requires both a monitor and cable that support Dual Link DVI.
* The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
3. 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096×2160
* The resolution of 4096×2160 can be supported when using an FM2+ APU; the maximum resolution supported is 1920×1200 when using an FM2 APU.
* Support for HDMI 1.4a version.
4. Maximum shared memory of 2 GB

Audio:
1. Realtek ALC898 codec
2. High Definition Audio
3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
4. Support for S/PDIF Out

LAN: Realtek® GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)

Expansion Slots:
1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
(The PCIEX16 slot conforms to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
* To support PCI Express 3.0, you must install an FM2+ APU.
2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
3. 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
(The PCIEX4 and PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
4. 2 x PCI slots

Multi-Graphics Technology:
1. Support for AMD Dual Graphics technology
* Only A series APUs support AMD Dual Graphics.

Storage Interface:
1. 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
2. Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, and JBOD

USB:
Chipset:
1. 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
2. 9 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (5 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)

Internal I/O Connectors:
1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
3. 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
4. 1 x APU fan header
5. 3 x system fan headers
6. 1 x front panel header
7. 1 x front panel audio header
8. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
9. 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
10. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
11. 1 x serial port header
12. 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
13. 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
14. 2 x gain control switches

Back Panel Connectors:
1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
2. 1 x D-Sub port
3. 1 x DVI-D port
4. 1 x HDMI port
5. 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
6. 5 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
7. 1 x RJ-45 port
8. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
9. 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)

I/O Controller: iTE I/O Controller Chip

H/W Monitoring:
1. System voltage detection
2. APU/System temperature detection
3. APU/System fan speed detection
4. APU overheating warning
5. APU/System fan fail warning
6. APU/System fan speed control
* Whether the fan speed control function is supported will depend on the cooler you install.

BIOS:
1. 2 x 64 Mbit flash
2. Use of licensed AMI EFI BIOS
3. Support for DualBIOS™
4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a

Unique Features:
1. Support for @BIOS
2. Support for Q-Flash
3. Support for Xpress Install
4. Support for EasyTune
* Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
5. Support for Smart Recovery 2
6. Support for ON/OFF Charge

Bundle Software:
1. Norton® Internet Security (OEM version)
2. cFosSpeed

Operating System:
1. Support for Windows 8.1/8/7 32-bit/64-bit
* If you plan to install Windows 8.1, please download the latest drivers from GIGABYTE’s website.
2. Support for Windows XP 32-bit
* To support Windows XP 32-bit, you must install an AMD FM2 Trinity APU.

Form Factor: ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 22.5cm
** Note ** This motherboard is not a standard ATX size. Please pay special attention when mounting inside a case.

For a full review of this amazing motherboard please see
www.overclock.net/t/1429830/g1-sniper-a88x-review-info

So the time has come once again to take a look at what Gigabyte has to offer to the world with for the Z87 platform.
As most of us have seen over the past few months Haswell hasn’t been a huge success and big hit like most had expected.
As many of you know from reading in these forums there seems to be a huge issue with heat like we all had with Ivy Bridge.
The main things that stand out to me with Z87 is amazing memory overclocking as we are seeing 4000 MHz or higher.
I know as well as most of you know the average user will never see 4000 MHz on Z87 and most will not even see 3000 MHz
but it shows us what is possible.
With the Z87 lineup from Gigabyte we see a solid offering of motherboards to meet every perspective for all end users.
While the GA-Z87X-UD5H isn’t Gigabyte’s top tier motherboard it still fits in an area of upper mainstream motherboards for all users.

Some of the features of this motherboard are:
GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ 5 Plus
Ultra Cool All New Heat Sink Design
Ultra Performance All IR® Digital CPU Power Design
Ultra Safe GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™
Ultra USB3.0+ 10 USB 3.0 Ports
GIGABYTE Exclusive Ultra Durable Technologies Durable Black Solid Caps
High ESD Protection for USB and LAN (USB 3.0 only)
Gold Plated CPU Socket
2x Copper PCB GIGABYTE’s exclusive 2X Copper PCBs design
One Fuse per USB Port
Built-in Gaming Audio/Headphone Amplifier (Front Headphone / Rear line out)
GIGABYTE On/Off Charge™ 2
HyperDuo Technology-Automated SSD/HDD Tiering
Dual Intel® Gigabit LAN i210AT / i217v
Generous System Fan Support-7 Fan Connectors
GIGABYTE OPT Fan Support
Multi-Graphics Support
Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite
HDMI™-The Next Generation Multimedia Interface / DVI Support / Display Port Support
GIGABYTE App Center / GIGABYTE EasyTune / GIGABYTE @BIOS / GIGABYTE EZ Setup
GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™

The Z87X-UD5H features a 16-phase all digital power design featuring International Rectifier PowIRstage ICs.
Black Nippon Chemi-Con capacitors rated at 10,000 hours at temperatures of 105c.
Consisting of Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs, 60A rated sealed ferrite-core chokes, and solid electrolytic capacitors.
More precisely, it has been outfitted with an 12+2+2 phase power design for the CPU, so 12 phases dedicated to the cores themselves,
two for the System Agent (SA), and two phases for the integrated GPU.
The award winning IR Power Stages, these are the IR3553M and are capable of 40A per phase with up to 1MHz switching frequency.
They have excellent characteristics, and run pretty cool and as seen on the X79 lineup where they required no heatsink.
They are basically a driver and two MOSFETs in one or they are called a powerstage.

For a full review please see
www.overclock.net/t/1417839/gigabyte-ga-z87x-ud5h-review-info

My inspiration

With my recent post titled “The Future” it seemed to get mixed feeling and thoughts. What the post was meant for was where is “MY FUTURE” with the reviews and overclocking community. This post is more along the lines on where my inspiration comes from with the community of computers and overclocking.

The word inspire means different things to different people. Websters Definition of INSPIRE is this:
To influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural

What brought me into computers was web hosting and building websites. I ran a few old HP X4000 workstations from my house and a friend and myself ran our own little business called none other than “XtremeCuztoms”. Having servers / workstations I grew to love hardware and building computers which allowed me to branch off into gaming and building a gaming machine. With servers running I was able to point more attention to gaming and UT99 GOTY. After a few months of playing I was hooked with computers and needed more. I was inspired gaming and gaming took me to a forum in which I joined and stayed for awhile. This site was www.overclock.net

While there I met a few really nice people that guided me to posts and media that I needed to read to “overclock” my graphics cards to help with “FPS”. The first person locally I met was Tracy Nadeau (Noguru). He was an inspiration when it came time to learn the motherboard I was using and that board was none other than the famous GA-EP45-UD3P. Noguru knew the ins and outs of this board like no ones else and he helped me pick some good components to build from with the board and a Q9550.

As time had gone on him and I talked about overclocking, liquid nitrogen, dry ice (Dice as it’s called to us) and all aspects of overclocking. Not long after finding a CPU pot really cheap in the forums and having out first failed attempt of using “DICE” I was hooked.

I began to read a lot of forum posts on other forums about overclocking and 2 sites that always seemed to have the elite info were
www.kingpincooling.com/forum/index.php and www.xtremesystems.org/forums/

The info I found and saw drove me to want to push more into overclocking and to buy as much used hardware as possible because I knew that since my 1st attempt at overclocking failed I was going to kill hardware… 😀

After a few good results on chilled water and “DICE” I met a lot of new people from the forums and was invited into this private Skype room that all the overclocking team mates from OCN hung out at. Once there I had met Oliver (El gappo), Rob (Battlecryawesome), Mike (Mikecdm) and Greg (Hobiecat). There were a few more back in those days but those few will remain nameless at this time.. This group of guys became close friends, we chatted every night, we talked about
HWbot ( hwbot.org/ ) and what hardware we were going to buy and use for “Forum Warz” and overclocking. These guys became my inspiration into overclocking, they are the ones that were there to share the ups and downs with overclocking. None of us had unlimited resources to bench / overclock the best of the best hardware. We all banned together and found hardware for one and other like a small team or family. Since that time back a few years ago a lot has changed, many of those guys that use to be there for one and other are gone. Some are not into the overclocking hobby and some just don’t have the time. We are all human and have lives away from this hobby. For some, this hobby is a job, it’s a life and those people are the ones that inspire others to overclock and perform these insane benchmarks with insane hardware. In this hobby there are 2 main groups of people. We have the professional overclockers and the none professionals. Most all the pro’s get unlimited amounts of free hardware to test and kill.
All of us none pro’s spend out hard earned funds and try and buy those $800.00 video cards..

We are all inspired in this hobby when we see Andre Yang submit a 8,709MHz overclock on a FX-8150 ‘Bulldozer.
The people in the overclocking community see this and we are inspired to buy this processor, a Crosshair V Formula and get LN2 and try to attempt the same thing.

We are inspired from Vince (K|ngp|n) submitting 30759 marks with 2x GeForce GTX Titan at 1660/3800MHz on 3DMark11. This submission makes us want to go out and buy a Intel Core i7 3930K and a EVGA X79 Dark.

We are inspired when we see a guy that isn’t a professional overclocker that makes a submission like a this one. PCMark05 65255 marks with Intel Core i7 3770K at 6488MHz and sets a new world record.

What these guys do is inspire, they inspire us as consumers and end users to go and buy the products like they used to submit these awesome scores and the marketing works. We are all guilty of going and buying up all these products that we see submitted on hwbot.org/ because deep down inside we all look for that one chance that we can call ourselves a professional overclocker. The 3 guys I spoke about here, 2 are professionals working for major computer companies and 1 guy (Mikecdm) is just your above average everyday guy that enjoys a hobby and is inspired when he sees “Gold” and “Globals”.

People see inspiration in different forms dependent to what they are doing. When it’s a hobby that someone enjoys they need to be inspired to want to do better. Andre, Vince, Nick, Mike, Ron, Rob, El gappo, Chispy, knopflerbruce, Xtreme Addict, nacho_arroyo, Planet, rdrash, Hazzan, Deanzo, Splave, I.M.O.G., l0ud_sil3nc3, Dino, Pro (Bullants), HiCookie and Dhenzjhen to name a few….

These are the ones that inspire me, they are the ones that inspire us all to do more. More for the community and more for the future.

Company’s like Gigabyte, Asus, Asrock, EVGA, Intel and AMD are inspired by those people listed above. These company’s make a product or products and these guys and millions of others use these products and do amazing things with them. Some push them to the brink of exploding and some use them to design and build the future.

So…… Inspiration. Stop and think to yourself really quick after reading this long post. What inspires you in this hobby?

Best wishes
Dave

The Future

I know I need to stop and thank a lot of people that have helped me along the way with doing reviews and being a retired forum moderator over at www.overclock.net

For awhile now there were some friends that have stood behind me and allowed me to begin a future with doing reviews and maybe it’s time I actually stop and give a “Shout out” to those people here instead of doing it on social media.

I’d like to first and foremost thank Colin Brix…
I met Colin at an overclocking event that I put together last year in Farmington Hills, MI
And Colin actually showed up to the event. The items that Gigabyte and Colin provided during that event were amazing and it was the “TRUE” beginning of Gigabyte support into www.overclock.net

Since then Gigabyte has done a lot for the entire community there and in many others around the world and I have to stop and say Thank You to Colin, Irene, Dino and Tim.. All you guys rock and everyone needs to stop and take their hats off to this crew.

As time has gone on I’ve had the wonderful chance to review and test a few really killer motherboards from Gigabyte and along the way was introduced to some other wonderful people with other companies. Shannon at Thermaltake is one of the people that needs another special thank you. Thermaltake provided a lot of items at this event last year and since then Shannon and I have kept in touch and we have worked on another item that could help me in the future.. More on that at another time..

With me being a Michigander… Vince “K|ngp|n” Lucido and I became friends since he’s a Michigander and I’m a team member on our overclocking team called Team Pure. Being on this team I was able to meet Jake from Corsair, Andre from Asus and Nick from Asrock to name a few. These guys are top notch and the best in their fields and show much needed support around the world. A special thank you to all of you guys as well. I cant forget Frank from G.Skill for his support either. A big thank you to my friends that I speak to nightly which include Mike (Mikecdm), Rob (Battlecryawesome), Ron (Schmuckley), Dhenz (dhenzjhen). These guys are the ones that keep me motivated to continue on with all this when I’ve wanted to give up.

I know a lot of my friends and co-workers look at me like a deer in the headlights when I talk about this stuff but it’s become a passion of mine and a hobby as well. I can be the first to admit that I don’t have unlimited funds to drop $8000.00 on hardware like a lot of these guys do, I don’t have unlimited resources for hardware and software like these other guys do and I’m still the “New Guy” trying to get his foot in the door with overclocking and reviewing. Which brings me to why I’m posting this….

Since the release of Haswell (or Hasfail as some have called it) I was given a wonderful chance to review a great overclocking motherboard. I had no resources for a processor like the other 98% of the people that got an “ES” chip. Heck, even guys that didn’t ask for them received them and I was told that there are none left to hand out….

I know some tried to get a processor and were not able to get one for me (Thank you Colin and Irene) and with my limited resources I was unable to purchase one right away on release day. So, after I purchased a crappy retail chip I posted what I thought was a good review giving good input on a product. The product was amazing and feature rich. But since the post of the review I’ve felt that I’ve been shunned away from the community and some other people, maybe it’s me…

The Future:

I’m currently working with someone that Shannon from Thermaltake got me in touch with. This person, his reviews and his site are amazing and I’m looking forward to what the future holds. I guess only time can tell what the “Future” holds for XtremeCuztoms.

Best wishes
Dave

GIGABYTE GA-Z87X-OC

Well.

Here we are a few weeks to a month into Haswell and a lot can be said about this “new” platform.
By me saying a lot, I mean what we see on Hwbot is not what us average users are going to see in terms of benchmarks.
I held off buying a chip for awhile and the question would be asked, Why did you hold off XtremeCuztoms?
Well to be totally honest, aside from the memory overclocks on air that I’ve been seeing I wasn’t all that Impressed with the new platform. Watching the new motherboards coming to the market and seeing what was offered I was blown away with some of the new features that these company’s were offering.
But daily average overclocks were sub-par to me.

With something new coming out, I’d expect to see forums flooded with posts of members 4770k’s doing 5.0Ghz + on a nice custom water loop.
I mean, there are a few posts of decent clocks on a CLC setup or custom water cooling solution but it seems these posts are few and far between.
Aside from the lack of the “wow” factor of seeing what is posted in the forums I parted ways with a great 3770K to grab a mediocre Haswell and join the crowd on a new platform. Will my chip be great, Will it be subpar? Let’s just say I’ll still be enjoying my stock 2600K and Z68X-UD4 for now.

So let’s get onto the good stuff with this amazing motherboard and it’s amazing price point.

What the Z87X-OC is based on is tried and true Overclocking. The monikor “OC” has been used since the inception of the X58-OC which set the bar for other OC branded motherboards. Where this board fits in line with the current lineup makes it a killer deal of a board, but not to everyone due to some of it’s features.
This board and it’s bigger brother the Z87X-OC Force aren’t really designed to bring in the gamers or the 24/7 everyday users, these boards are designed and marketed to a smaller crowd of folks. While I can say there are many gamers that enjoy pushing their systems to it’s limits from time to time, these guys and gals aren’t going to benefit from items like the OC Touch or OC Brace Kit. But what I think Gigabyte did here with this Z87X-OC was gear it towards beginners, gamers and serious overclockers alike due to it’s price point. I mean, you don’t really need to go drop $400.00 on An overclocking motherboard because you got all that you need here in this nice package.. Unless you need 4 way SLI, Then you’re going to have to drop some additional cash..

I’ll save you all from the boring review of Haswell and the processors as I’m sure there are a lot of reviews out there on the processors at this point. We are going to dig into the board and it’s features.

To read the full review please see this link:
www.overclock.net/t/1405687/gigabyte-ga-z87x-oc-review-info

• Chipset: Intel® Z77 Express Chipset
• CPU: Supports LGA1155 3rd/2nd Generation Corei7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors
• Memory: 4 DIMMs, max. 32GB, Dual Channel DDR3 2800(O.C.) support
• VGA Output: Dual Thunderbolt/HDMI/DVI/RGB
• Multi-GPU Support: 2-way SLI & 2-way CrossFireX & LucidLogix Virtu MVP


Here was the motherboard layout

The GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH is the world’s first certified dual port Thunderbolt motherboard, capable of connecting up to 12 devices plus 3 digital displays simultaneously.
Other features include the award winning GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ 5 technology equipped with high current capable components for the CPU power zone
including IR3550 PowIRstage® ICs from International Rectifier, 2X Copper PCB and high current Ferrite Core Chokes rated up to 60A,
which together are able to deliver up to 60°C cooler temperatures than traditional motherboards.
Also onboard is GIGABYTE All Digital 3D Power engine, 3D BIOS and onboard mSATA connector to take advantage of Intel’s latest caching technologies.

Thunderbolt codename “Light Peak” is a hardware interface that allows for the connection of external peripherals to a computer.
It uses the same connector as Mini DisplayPort (MDP). It was released in its finished state on February 24, 2011.
Thunderbolt combines PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort (DP) into one serial signal alongside a DC connection for electric power, transmitted over one cable.
As many as seven peripherals may be supported by one connector through various topologies.
Thunderbolt is an added cost to the price of the motherboard and a nice feature but the cost of the hardware used with
Thunderbolt will drain your bank account quickly with the cost of these addons still being very expensive for an average end user.
Despite the costs invloved with Thunderbolt, Gigabyte has two motherboards with dual Thunderbolt ports with the UP4 TH being the lesser of the two.

With Gigabyte having a good range of Z77 motherboards out that have done so well it excites me to see what the future holds with future products like the UP Series boards.
CPU performance matches that of other manufacturers in this generation, and what sets the Z77X-UP4 TH apart from the rest?
Let’s dive in and take a look.

6+2+2 Phases, The Digital PWM Dual output 6+2 phase PWM Controller controlled by an IR3567A.
The IR3567A is a dual-loop digital multiphase buck controller designed for CPU voltage regulation, Switching frequency from 200kHz to 2MHz per phase, Per-Loop Fault Protection: OVP, UVP, OCP, OTP, CFP +3.3V supply voltage; -20°C to 85°C ambient operation.

Dual Thunderbolt controller, and IR3550 ICs to help with the power delivery and 60amp chokes.
When it comes to looks, this board does look a little strange with smaller heat sinks compared to it’s bigger brother the UP5 TH, a gap left for an mSATA drive and some empty I/O,
but we do have a classic three-way PCIe device implementation such that with an Ivy Bridge processor, this board can run x16, x8/x8 or x8/x4/x4 in PCIe 3.0 mode.
There is a lack any extra SATA ports, with only those provided by the chipset being used, and the back panel uses only USB 3.0, two from the chipset and four from a VIA VL800 controller.
The other two USB 3.0 ports that the chipset provide are used for an onboard USB 3.0 header.

One of the benefits of using the IR3550 ICs in the power delivery is that because each one is rated up to 60 amps, this means fewer phases are needed on board and with fewer phases comes energy savings and less cost.
The IR3550 integrated PowIRstage is a synchronous buckgate driver co-packed with a control MOSFET and a synchronous MOSFET with integrated Schottky diode.
The IR3550’s Peak efficiency up to 95% at 1.2V and Output current capability of 60A DC.
The down side which is more visual means smaller heat sinks when comparing this motherboard to it’s bigger brother the UP5 TH. As for the socket area around the Z77X-UP4 TH, there is an abundance of room and most
All large air coolers should fit no problem except those that will interfere with tall memory.
The heat sinks remind me of the ones used on the Z77X-UD4H that I reviewed not long ago. They are small in comparison to the Z77X-UP5 TH but they do their job very well.
For fan headers the CPU area has access to three in the immediate vicinity and two to the top right of the socket which are both 4 pin (1 CPU and 1 SYS) and another (4 pin SYS) just above the 24-pin ATX connector.
The other two fan headers on board are found on the bottom and both are 4 pin (SYS).
Here are the heat sinks removed, as we see Gigabyte has done a good job with cooling on these motherboards.

In terms of extra hardware and controllers beyond the chipset standard there isn’t much that is special beyond the Thunderbolt controller.
The USB 3.0 is controlled by a VIA VL800 chip. The VIA VL800 is a single chip USB 3.0 Host controller,
which enables a PCI Express equipped platform to interface with USB Super-Speed (5 Gbps), High-Speed (480 Mbps), Full-Speed (12 Mbps), and Low-Speed (1.5 Mbps) devices.
The root hub consists of four downstream facing ports enabling the simultaneous operation of multiple peripheral devices.
the audio is a Realtek ALC892 (7.1+2 Channel HD Audio Codec with Content Protection) and the Ethernet is a Realtek 8111.
The iTE chips onboard give us access to a combination PS/2 port and a COM port.

The right hand side of the board is empty compared to a lot of other Z77 boards we have seen,
from top to bottom there is a 4-pin SYS fan header, the 24-pin ATX power connector, a USB 3.0 header (powered by the chipset), two SATA 6 Gbps ports in white and four SATA 3 Gbps ports in black.
One of these black SATA 3 Gbps ports shares routing with the mSATA, meaning only one of them can be used at a time.
The chipset heatsink has nothing extra in the way of controllers to cool, so it is relatively small taking care of the chipset chip itself.
At the bottom we have front panel audio, a SPDIF output header, a 4-pin SYS fan header, a TPM header, three USB 2.0 headers, another 4-pin SYS fan header, front panel connections and a COM port header.
The PCIe layout is set up to give maximum cooling for a dual GPU setup, despite being configured for a tri-GPU configuration.
From the top we have an x1, x16 (x8 in dual and tri), x1, x1, x8 (x4 in tri), PCI and x4. Having a GPU in the bottom slot could potentially block the bottom headers and any cables inserted.

One small caveat to note about this motherboard, there are no power/reset buttons nor a debug LED which is a major downfall in today’s market.

The rear I/O features a combination PS/2 port, video connections (VGA, DVI-D and HDMI), six USB 3.0 ports in blue (two from the chipset, four through a VIA VL800 controller)
a gigabit Ethernet port (Realtek), two Thunderbolt ports, an optical S/PDIF output and audio jacks.
The two Thunderbolt ports are powered by a single DSL3510L chip, which means peak bandwidth between the ports will combine to a maximum of 10 Gbps, rather than 10 Gbps each.
This also depends on the PCIe devices connected in the board. However, both ports will support a Thunderbolt display each or (two if connected with a DisplayPort to Dual-DisplayPort Adapter),
making a maximum of four video outputs possible.
In order for the Thunderbolt controller to operate correctly it makes use of a PLX PEX8605 switch chip. This chip will switch automatically the available
PCI Express lanes to the devices that need them. On a motherboard with too many PCI Express devices without using the PLX chip you would have to manually
disable devices on the motherboard setup in order to achieve full performance on the items connected to the USB 3.0 / SATA-600 and the Thunderbolt ports when
transferring files at the same time.

And since we are on the discussion of Thunderbolt and displays this is what would be needed for a 4K Collage Display Technology.
1. Motherboard – A PC built using any GIGABYTE 7 series dual Thunderbolt® motherboard.
2. Processor – A 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i5 or Core™ i7 processor supporting Intel®HD4000 processor graphics.
3. HD Displays – Four displays supporting 1920 x 1200 or 1900 x 1080 native resolutions with DisplayPort interfaces. For Intel Collage Vertical Mode you may also require a stand to hold the four displays in position.
4. Intel Collage Driver – The latest Intel Collage Driver is available from the GIGABYTE official website: www.gigabyte.com/
5. DisplayPort Splitter Adapters – Finally, you also need two DisplayPorts splitter adapters plus DisplayPort cables that allows you connect four displays using the onboard Mini DisplayPorts of your GIGABYTE motherboard.
Further information can be found here – www.gigabyte.us/MicroSite/323/images/guide.html


Board features:

Price www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128558&Tpk=up4%20th
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA-1155
Chipset Intel Z77
Memory Slots Four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB
Up to Dual Channel, 1066-1600 MHz
Video Outputs VGA / DVI / TB2 / HDMI / TB1
Onboard LAN Realtek 8111
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC892
Expansion Slots 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x8 in dual)
1 x PCIe 3.0 x8 (x4 in tri)
1 x PCIe 3.0 x4 (when IVB CPU is used)
3 x PCIe 2.0 x1
1 x PCI
Onboard SATA/RAID 2 x SATA 6 Gbps (Chipset), RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
4 x SATA 3 Gbps (Chipset), RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
1 x mSATA 3 Gbps (disables SATA2_5)
USB 4 x USB 3.0 (Intel) [2 back panel, 2 onboard]
4 x USB 3.0 (VIA) [4 back panel]
6 x USB 2.0 (Intel) [6 onboard]
Onboard 2 x SATA 6 Gbps
4 x SATA 3 Gbps
1 x mSATA
5 x Fan Headers
1 x USB 3.0 Header
3 x USB 2.0 Headers
1 x COM Header
1 x TPM Header
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX Power Connector
1 x 8-pin CPU Power Connector
Fan Headers 1 x CPU (4-pin)
4 x SYS (4-pin)
IO Panel 1 x PS/2 Combination Port
1 x VGA
1 x DVI-D
1 x HDMI
6 x USB 3.0
1 x Realtek GbE
2 x Thunderbolt
1 x Optical S/PDIF
Audio Jacks
Warranty Period 3 Years

Final thoughts:

It’s great to see Thunderbolt and IR3550 ICs onboard, but there seems to be some much needed items missing.
With so many motherboards on the market with onboard items like debug LED’s and power / reset buttons I feel that the missing items will deter the end users from even looking at this board.
While there are other boards out there with Thunderbolt, this board along with it’s big brother the UP5 TH will hit a certain market of users looking for that expanding 4K and extra storage availability.
One thing to consider about this board, If you are in the market for a Dual Thunderbolt motherboard this is the motherboard to get. With a price of $184.99 at the time of this test, It’s a great value considering what you get.
I think Gigabyte set out to design and build this board with a budget in mind, with Dual Thunderbolt, Ultra Durable 5 and it’s power delivery it meets the budget for most end users, but some might look past this board and step up to the bigger
UP5 TH due to it’s much richer features. Will this board fit the requirements for everyone? No. But if you’re interested in a 4K Collage setup with Thunderbolt storage and on a budget, it doesn’t get any better than this.

A Special thank you to Gigabyte for making these reviews possible.
I most likely won’t do any major overclocking on this motherboard but I do have a surprise in store for all the readers here. And this surprise has to do with Thunderbolt and Displays…. Stay Tuned

A few days ago CPUID launched a new GIGABYTE OC branded version of their very popular CPUz application. It’s something we especially hope overclokers will appreciate – bringing our signature OC orange and black looks to probably the one app that all overclockers use on a daily basis.

Check out this screenshot. How could any GIGABYTE lovin’ CPU pusher possibly resist?

www.cpuid.com/downloads/cpu-z/1.62.2-oc-setup-en.exe

A lot can be said about where this board falls into place at it’s given price point with rich features for overclocking and gamers alike. But since I’m more into the overclocking aspect and less into the gaming I thought I would put this board through it’s paces and see how well it stacks up against other Z77X boards I’ve tested so far.

The first thing I noticed was how easy the memory overclocking was and how high I was able to overclock while maintaining stability.
The memory sticks I’m using are Team Group TXD34096M2400HC9N-L 9-11-11-28.
This kit will run 2600 10-12-12-28 no problem and these settings were tested on 3 other Z77X Gigabyte boards and the same holds true with this amazing board. I tried to push the 3770K as much as possible on a custom water cooling loop but didn’t go overboard on voltages because I wanted to maintain good temperatures while testing and running benchmarks.

As you can see in the above images, Minor adjustments were made to obtain the clocks that I was testing at.

As you can see here 5Ghz and 2600 Memory was easily obtainable with good voltage.
So here are a few benchmarks that I tested.

Hardware Test Bed.
Z77X-UD4H
i7 3770K
Team Group TXD34096M2400HC9N-L 9-11-11-28
MSI HD 7970 Lightning
Detroit Thermo DT 5Noz cpu block
Antec HCP-1200




Conclusion:
Setting up this motherboard was super easy and straight forward with no problems. This motherboard booted up on the very first boot and installing all the needed drivers went smoothly. In the past on Z77 motherboards and doing fresh windows installs you needed PS/2 keyboards and a mouse because of driver issues, This board has 2 available USB slots on the I/O that are just for this issue, Big thanks to Gigabyte for addressing this concern that many people had.

With the overclocking ability on this motherboard the sky is the limit to how far one can really push their system.
I really have only spent a small amount of time playing around with the features and the settings and find it very user friendly and very simple to overclock on. I will continue to test with “LN2” and post some results but for now the average consumer using a nice custom water cooling loop can see what they can expect from such a great motherboard by a great company like Gigabyte.

I want to personally thank Gigabyte and their Team for making this review possible.