A budget Z77 board that brings all the basics.
With the Ivy Bridge processor launch out of the way, we have a chance to get back to concentrating on some of the simpler things in life. Like a motherboard. I have already covered Gigabyte’s mainstream Z77 board in the Ivy Bridge motherboards roundup article, with the GA-Z77-UD5H coming out as the top dog. Today we’ll be looking at the younger sibling, the GA-Z77-D3H.
The Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H is an entry-level motherboard that ticks most of the checkboxes required for a modern gaming rig. Being based on the latest Z77 chipset we get the benefit of USB 3.0 ports, PCIe 3.0 and Lucid Virtu MVP performance. Oh and all compatible memory sticks will boot up with 1600MHz, not forced down 1333MHz like with Sandy Bridge CPUs.
Additionally we also get some Intel specific features newly introduced for the Ivy Bridge platform, the Intel Smart Connect feature which updates your feeds (emails, Twitter, FB, etc.) automatically even when the PC is in Sleep mode. Intel Rapid Start Technology allows your PC to return back to desktop within seconds when coming out of Hibernation mode; something that’s moot if you have a SSD, though.
Speaking of SSD, the GA-Z77-D3H also comes with an mSATA port, allowing you to plug in a small capacity drive so that Intel Smart Response Technology can use it to cache your frequently used programs from your normal hard drive. Gigabyte has gone one step further, with their ‘EZ Smart Response’ software which basically allows you to bypass all the cumbersome activation of ISRT in BIOS and reinstalling Windows under RAID. The software does it all for you with a few button clicks.
Another cool thing that comes from the Ivy Bridge processors is the ability to support three displays simultaneously using the integrated GPU (Intel HD 4000). This is done via the VGA, DVI and HDMI port on the back.