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Gigabyte Z87X-OC review

Andrew Unsworth
22 Aug 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
165
inc VAT

Good board with lots of onboard overclocking buttons and switches, but it’s a niche product

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Specifications

LGA1150, ATX, Intel Z87 chipset, supports: 4th-gen Core i3, Core i5, Core i7

The Gigabyte Z87X-OC is a higher-end ATX motherboard specifically designed for overclocking. As its name implies, the Z87X-OC uses the Intel Z87 chipset and is compatible with Intel’s 4th-generation 'Haswell' processors. Needless to say, it uses Intel’s new LGA1150 processor socket, so it won’t work with older Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge processors.

Gigabyte Z87X-OC

Thanks to the Z87 chipset, the Z87X-OC provides six SATA3 slots, so every drive can potentially run at its fastest speed. The Z87X-OC also has four dual-channel RAM slots that can accommodate up to 32GB of memory, four PCI-E x16 slots, two legacy PCI slots and a single PCI-E x1 slot. Although the Z87X-OC can accommodate up to four graphics cards, the four slots run at different speeds depending on which . The first x16 slot runs at x16, the second at x8 and the second x16 slot runs at x8 when the first slot is occupied. The speed of the second slot drops further to x4 when you insert cards in the third and fourth x16 slots, and the first card drops to x8. The fourth and third slots run at x4.

Conveniently, the Z87X-OC has a set of switches that let you turn off specific PCI-E slots without physical removing cards. Also handy is a motherboard based six-pin PCI-E power connector that provides the board with extra power should you be using two or more graphics cards.

The lack of PCI-E x1 slots might seem miserly, but we don’t think it’s a problem in the context of a motherboard designed for overclocking, as you’re unlikely to use it as a general-purpose PC for watching TV or attaching many USB3 devices.

It does, however, have a good complement of connection ports on its backplane, including six USB3 ports, two USB2 ports, six analogue audio jacks, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a PS/2 port. It also has a great selection of display outputs, with two HDMI outputs and one DisplayPort output. As for internal connectors, the board has two USB3 headers, two USB2 headers and two USB2 ports.

Gigabyte Z87X-OC

Many users will use a massive heat sink and fan with the Z87X-OC, but be aware that it may be perilously close to a set of overclocking buttons. A large heatsink may also obscure one or more of the RAM slots.

OFF TO BUTTON MOON

Although it’s an ATX motherboard, and will happily sit within many cases, the Z87X-OC’s many buttons and switches make it a perfect board for open cases and test benches so that you can tinker with settings and quickly remove components. It even comes with a special brace that locks up to four graphics cards in place so that there’s no risk of them losing contact with the slot, or bending over and putting undue stress on the card’s connector. You screw the brace into the motherboard’s screw holes, but we couldn’t screw it into our test bench as it has plastic risers. It’s a shame Gigabyte didn’t include some nuts with the board so that you have something to screw the brace into.

Unfortunately, a few important buttons, such as the reset and Direct To BIOS buttons, are not marked with natural language descriptions or icons of their functions. This means that it’s impossible to know what a button or switch does unless you study the manual like a textbook and memorise their functions. This is half the fun the fun with a board such as the Z87X-OC, but even so, anyone can hit the wrong button by mistake and a description or an icon provides a visual cue that might prevent you from hitting a button accidentally.

Gigabyte Z87X-OC

This is a shame, as there are eight other buttons that are marked by descriptions and icons, and let you increase and decrease the clock speed of your processor, apply an automatic overclock that gives a slight increase in performance, and switches between 0.1MHz and 1MHz for base clock adjustment, among others. These buttons are fairly large and easy to press, as long as your heatsink’s not in the way.

If you’re in Windows, pressing the Direct To BIOS button enters the BIOS directly after a reboot, but we’d prefer the system to reboot and enter BIOS immediately when we press the button rather than having to reboot manually.

ROARY THE RACING CAR?

At its default settings, the Z87X-OC produced the same overall result in our benchmark tests as the Best Buy-winning Gigabyte Z87-D3HP, scoring 112. Once that test had completed, we pressed the Turbo button and re-ran the tests, and were pleased to see a higher overall score of 115, even if it is just a slight increase in performance.

With an overclock of 4.8GHz applied, the Z87X-OC scored 134 overall. This is much lower than the 143 scored by the Z87-D3HP under the same conditions, but we think the unseasonably high ambient temperatures played a part in this low score, despite our best efforts to keep the processor and board running cool.

The board’s UEFI BIOS looks intimidating, but you quickly work out where everything is located, and provides all the voltage and clock speed options you could want. Should you prefer, You can also access a traditional BIOS by pressing F2.

CONCLUSION

We like the Z87X-OC, but it has a niche set of users who will make best use of it. Indeed, to get the best out of it you’ll also need to buy expensive processors such as the Core i5-4670K or Core i7-4770K, as well as multiple graphics cards and high-speed memory. It’s a great board for enthusiasts who find tinkering more fun than using their computer, but we think the cheaper Gigabyte Z87-D3HP is a better board if you just want to overclock components occasionally.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
Processor socketLGA1150
Form factorATX
Size305x244mm
Processor support4th-gen Core i3, Core i5, Core i7
Processor external bus100MHz
Chipset north bridgeIntel Z87
Chipset south bridgeIntel Z87
Passively-cooled north bridgeyes
Integrated graphicsNo
Supported memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory speedPC3-24000
Memory slots4
Maximum memory32GB
Dual-channel supportyes

Buying Information

Price£165
Supplierhttp://www.dabs.com
Detailswww.gigabyte.com

Internal Ports

Power connectors1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 8-pin ATX, 1x 4-pin
PCI-E x16 slots4
Dual graphics architecture2-way SLI, 4-way CrossFire
PCI-E x4 slots0
PCI-E x1 slots1
PCI slots2
Fan headers6
Floppy ports0
IDE ports0
Serial ATA ports0
RAID chipset (max disks)Intel Z87 (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)

Features

Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Sound (ports)Realtek ALC892 (6x analogue out, optical S/PDIF)
USB2 ports / headers8/6
Firewire ports / headers0
Legacy portsserial header
Other ports2x HDMI, DisplayPort
Cables included2x SATA, 1x CrossFire bridge, 1x SLI bridge
Brackets includednone
Software includedNorton Internet Security

Setup and Overclocking

Voltage adjustmentCPU/RAM/chipset
CPU clock max adjustment333MHz

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