Before the upcoming arrival of the new Haswell Shark Bay motherboards and socket refresh, we look at Gigabyte's top of the line Z77X-UP7, which is one of the few premium Z77 boards that supports 4-way GPU operation for the well heeled Ivy Bridge enthusiast.
Gigabyte's Z77X-UP7 is the company's top enthusiast-grade drawer for the Ivy Bridge platform and competes head on with the other overclocking superstars like ASUS's Maximus V Extreme and EVGA's Z77 FTW. Decked out in orange accents that originally debuted in the limited edition X58-OC eons ago, it builds on the excellent Z77X-UP5 TH that we've reviewed late last year by adding more VRM phases of the excellent IR3550 PowerIRstage variety (Ultra Durable 5), OC Touch (onboard buttons to adjust BCLK and multipler on the fly) and PEX8747 multiplexer for up to four cards PCIe v3 x16 multi-GPU support.
At the I/O Panel, we see the usual array of ports, with the notable inclusion of dual Gigabit LAN (Intel on the left and Atheros on the right) and a single PS/2 connector for the overclocker wanting to disable the USB 3.0 ports for less CPU interrupts during benchmark sessions. Thunderbolt is not available here though.
An Atheros 802.11 2×2 AGBN adapter is also included in the package for wireless connectivity.
The storage subsystem consists of 10 SATA ports (four 6Gb/s from a pair of Marvell 88SE9172 controllers), and optional mSATA SSD for caching.
Gigabyte's engineers have cleverly designed their PCIe lanes electrical configuration such that the user can bypass the use of the PEX8747 multiplier (i.e directly addressed by the CPU) in the case of a single discrete GPU usage model, thus eliminating extra latencies incurred that could affect performance. The first, second and fifth slot are electrically x16, while the third and last slot is limited to x8.