33 Haswell motherboard group test: 26x Z87, 4x H87 and 3x B85

ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte, Intel and MSI duke it out

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Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC

The Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC is Gigabyte's Z87 board made specially for die-hard overclockers. Gigabyte's resident overclocker HiCookie lent a hand designing the board, and it's true that the GA-Z87X-OC has some clever extras that are useful for overclocking, even some things we haven't see before.

We'd like to complement Gigabyte on the fact that they seem to realize that gamers and overclockers are two different target groups, unlike ASUS which markets the same RoG board to both groups. Like Gigabyte's special OC boards, the GA-Z87X-OC also has a black and orange color scheme.

Gigabyte Z87X-OC

The board has four PCI-Express x16 slots: 16/0/0/4 (one card), 8/0/8/4 (two cards), and 8/4/4/4 (three or four cards). The fourth slot, which always has four lanes, gets them from the chipset, the other three come from the CPU. Quad-Crossfire is possible, but SLI is limited to two cards. Either way, for three or four cards it's better to use the X79 platform due to the limited number of PCI-Express lanes of the Socket 1150 platform.

The board has six Serial ATA 600 ports from the Z87 chipset. On the back there are 6x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 2x HDMI, DisplayPort, Gigabit LAN and 7.1 audio. Internally there are two USB 3.0 header connectors (from a Renesas USB-hub) and two USB 2.0 headers. On the front of the board there are two internal USB ports. That's the first smart additional feature for overclockers. When you're working with extreme cooling, it's a much better spot for plugging in a USB stick.

Gigabyte Z87X-OC

The second new feature is located next to the two internal USB ports, a button that's the equivalent of removing the BIOS battery. Hardcore overclockers will know this, you can't trust the BIOS reset button 100% in extreme circumstances. So thanks to the CBAT_SW you don't have to take out the battery each time.

Gigabyte Z87X-OC

Another practical button can be found on the back among the I/O connectors, the OC Ignition. When you press it, the PSU remains always on, even when the PC is turned off. This allows overclockers to turn on liquid cooling and phase-change controllers before the PC is turned on. Don't forget that the graphics cards will also be powered.

Most OC features are on the front right side of the motherboard, a whole slew of buttons and switches for various applications. Among the large black buttons there's the Tag button which lets you load an OC profile in the BIOS when you reset it. The Turbo button is Gigabyte's version of MSI's OC Genie and automatically overclocks the CPU and RAM. The first + and – buttons adjust the bClk live, and the Gear button changes it in increments of 0.1 or 1 MHz. The second set of + and – buttons are used for adjusting the CPU multiplier live. The last black button is the Power switch.

Gigabyte Z87X-OC

Below the larger, black buttons there's a row of smaller push buttons and switches. The first is to reset the BIOS. The TGR switch (OC Trigger Switch) sets the CPU temporarily to the lowest possible multiplier. The next two switches switch manually between the two BIOS chips and can disable the Dual BIOS feature. SET_LOCK reverts the BIOS to the most recent settings that led to a succesful boot up. The DTB or Direct To BIOS is copied from MSI and takes you directly to the BIOS when you restart the computer. The Mem_SAFE puts the RAM in safe settings. There's also a block with four dip-switches that can disable the four PCI-Express slots.

In the lower right there's a HEX display with BIOS POST codes and measuring points for 12 different voltages, and there are attachment points as well for pens. The board has an 8-phase power supply with digital PowIRstage chips. Also, if Gigabyte 'only' has 8 phases on its OC board, you could conclude that the 16 phaes on the UD5H are a bit of an overkill. Next to the socket there's lots of space, and there's an 8-pin and a 4-pin power connector. There are 8 fan connectors, six of which are PWM. There's an extra onboard 6-pin PEG connector for graphics cards.

A very practical extra feature is the bracket you can screw to the motherboard to which you can attach graphics cards, which is great for when you're overclocking with a loose motherboard outside of a chassis. Another example of Gigabyte really thinking things through for overclockers.

Gigabyte Z87X-OC

The GA-Z87X-OC is has an orange BIOS, but the features are identical to all the other ones.

So there are tons of features, and we really like time. Gigabyte has proven with the GA-Z87X-OC that it understands what the die-hard overclockers want and don't want.

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  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
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  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • Gigabyte Z87X-OC


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