We recently published a round-up of 32 motherboards with the Intel Z77 chipset. If you're not planning on overclocking and won't be using more than one graphics card, then there is a more affordable version available of the Ivy Bridge chipset called Intel H77. The chipset itself costs less, and motherboard manufacturers are also making less comprehensive boards. That means that you can buy a motherboard for your Ivy Bridge processor for around £70 already.
The differences between the Z77 and the H77 are limited to just those two areas. H77 lacks the option for overclocking unlocked K processors via the multiplier. Secondly, because H77 cannot split the 16 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes of the processor into 2 x 8 lanes, it's not possible to create SLI or Crossfire configurations for multiple graphics cards. No overclocking, and not more than one video card, in other words.
The rest of the features are identical. The chipset includes 2x Serial ATA 600, 4x Serial ATA 300, 4x USB 3.0, 10x USB 2.0, RAID, SSD caching and the ability to connect three monitors. Below you can see the differences between the Z77 and H77 chipsets, side by side.
|Extensive CPU overclock features||Yes||Yes||-||-||-||-|
|Processor GPU overclock features||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|PCI-Express 3.0 lanes (on CPU)||1x 16 of 2x 8 of 1x 8 + 2x 4||1x 16 of 2x 8||1x 16||1x 16||1x 16||1x 16|
|PCI-Express 2.0 (on chipset)||8||8||8||8||8||8|
|Serial ATA 600||2||2||2||2||1||1|
|Serial ATA 300||4||4||4||4||4||4|
|Rapid Storage Technology 11||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Smart Response Technology (SSD Caching)||Yes||-||Yes||Yes||-||-|
|Active Management Technology 8.0||-||-||-||Yes||-||-|
Four manufacturers sent us a total of eight motherboards containing the H77 chipset. The cheapest board costs about £72, the most expensive around £78. All of the motherboards in this test are entry-level products, but there are some differences.