Articles: Mainboards

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Having decided to add a few entry-level models to the long list of Z77-based products we had tested, we started out by reviewing the ASUS P8Z77-V LK mainboard. It is only natural that the next one should be from Gigabyte, but what model exactly? We've always been fond of the seemingly simple and comprehensible nomenclature of Gigabyte's mainboards, yet there may occasionally be some difficulties. It's easy to rank several models from the same series if their names begin with “UP4”, “UP5” and “UP7”, but it's hard to quickly grasp the difference between two mainboards whose names end in “HD3” and “D3H” (but there is a difference in functionality, and it’s quite substantial). Anyway, we’re going to tell you about one of them today. It is called Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H.

This model has no exact counterpart among ASUS products. On one hand, like the mentioned ASUS P8Z77-V LK, it is equipped with an additional controller to implement two back-panel USB 3.0 ports and relies on the capabilities of the Intel Z77 Express chipset otherwise. But on the other hand, like the ASUS P8Z77-V LX, it doesn’t implement the chipset’s ability to share CPU-integrated PCIe lanes between two graphics slots. It may seem that the simpler Intel Z75 Express chipset might be used just as well for that functionality, but that’s not so. Even if we disregard the fact that Gigabyte, and most other mainboard makers, does not offer any products with the rather useless Z75 Express, the GA-Z77-D3H has one important feature that wouldn’t be possible with it. We’ll tell you all about this and other features in our review, but first let’s take a look at the product's packaging and accessories.

Packaging and Accessories

We can see an example of Gigabyte’s traditional mainboard packaging here. There's a model name and a few logotypes referring to the mainboard's capabilities and technologies on the front of the box. A picture of the product can be found on the back together with a list of basic specifications and illustrated descriptions of a few key features.

The mainboard is additionally wrapped into an antistatic pack inside. Above it and separated from it with a sheet of cardboard, we find the following accessories:

  • Four SATA cables with metal connector locks, half with two L-shaped locks and another half with one straight and another L-shaped lock. Tow cables are specifically designed for 6 Gbps devices (black);
  • I/O Shield for the back panel;
  • User manual;
  • Brief installation guide in different languages;
  • DVD disk with software and drivers;
  • “Gigabyte” logo sticker for the system case.

Only ASUS mainboards used to come with special cables for SATA 6 Gbit/s devices (with white inserts on the connectors) but now such cables are included with Gigabyte products as well. Frankly speaking, we don’t know how the special SATA 6 Gbit/s cables differ from ordinary ones. They look the same, except for color, and use the same 26AWG wires, but the black cables have the 6 Gbit/s label whereas the blue ones don’t.

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