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Motherboard ECS Z77H2-A4 Review

Chipset Intel Z77 can’t be called a novel product in the market, since it has already transformed into a customary platform for personal computers. The versatility of motherboards employing this chipset is countless, in fact, and each and every consumer is able to find the one to his specific needs. ECS boasts its own inventory of boards based on Intel Z77; Z77H2-A4 is an intermediate item between hi-end and entry-level models, due to its alluring price and improved functional facilities. This board attracts primarily thrifty customers who would like to get all modern commodities for a sensible price.

Design and Layout

Budgetary orientation of ECS Z77H2-A4 motherboard is manifested, first of all, through a diminished PCB dimensions. Nonetheless, the model accommodates a couple of PCI Express Graphics slots with the allotted twenty rails of PCI-e bus. There is no symmetric rail distribution between the slots, so the second PEG slot receives only four rails. The board’s inventory also includes two PCI slots which are supported by an additional ITE IT8893E bridge. The main 24-contact socket is located in the bottom section, while a supplementary 4-contact – in the right-side section. The elaborated rear panel contains three video outputs (DVI, VGA, HDMI), PS/2 port, COM, LPT, and other sockets.

The PCB features four soldered 240-contact DIMM slots that support DDR3 memory modules of up to 32GB capacity. They are split into two groups of two modules with color alternation. In order to enable two-channel operational mode, the user needs to install the modules into the slots of the same color. The motherboard is compatible with DDR3-1066…2600 MHz frequency. In overclocking mode frequency index might rise to 2800 MHz.

The nominal delivery set of Z77H2-A4 embraces DVD with dedicated software and drivers, user’s manual, two SATA cables, and a plug from the rear panel.

Expansion Flexibility

The integration of Z77 chipset promotes for the support of four SATA 3Gb/sec channels and a pair of SATA 6Gb/sec channels. All the channels are located near the chipset, where gray horizontal ports correspond to 6GB/sec and all other – to 3Gb/sec. Right to them ECS implemented mSATA socket which is void of a particular SATA controller but instead employs SATA 3 Gb/sec channel. The motherboard houses ten USB 2.0 ports and supports USB 3.0 interface (available 4 ports). The implementation of ALC892 controller permits the board to support 8-channel audio. Network facilities are ensured by gigabit Ethernet controller RTL 8111E, connected to PCI-e x1 bus.

UEFI

Model Z77H2-A4 is known to support UEFI interface with its own graphics cover. Once entering UEFI, the user sees four large buttons; one of them is responsible for the shift to the main specs section. All memory settings, including frequency adjustment, can be found in M.I.B. III overclocking section. The system is able to monitor operational voltage showings on all major components, get info from all sensors due to eOC applet, and control fan rotational speed thanks to Smart Fan option. It should be noted that monitoring over all Intel CPUs is concentrated in a single section.

UEFI also provides two useful applets, eBLU and eDLU, which are responsible for BIOS and software update correspondingly. Both applets require Internet connection to implement all fresh updates.

Overclocking

The list of overclocking options counts up:
— CPU factor altering;
— Bclk altering from 99 MHz to 150 MHz;
— Vimc altering from +0.15V to +0.945V;
— Vcore altering from +0V to +0.4V;
— Vmem altering from -0.8V to +0.63V;
— Vpll altering from +0.1V to +0.63V;
— Vcsa altering from +0.1V to +0.63V;
— Vpch altering from +0.1V to +0.63V.
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  • 07 March 2013, 13:04
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