Monthly Archives: March 2013

• 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