The Intel Z77 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip supports two SATA-600 ports and four SATA-300 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). This motherboard has two additional SATA-600 ports, controlled by a Marvell 88SE9172 chip, supporting RAID 0 and 1. These two additional ports are shared with the two eSATA-600 ports available, so they cannot be used simultaneously.
The SATA ports are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards won’t block them.
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Figure 4: The two SATA-600 ports controlled by the Marvell chip (gray) and the four SATA-300 ports (black), and the two SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (white)
The Intel Z77 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports. The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H offers six USB 2.0 ports through three headers located on the motherboard. It also offers eight USB 3.0 ports, six on the motherboard rear panel and two available through one header on the motherboard. The four additional USB 3.0 ports are controlled by a VIA VL800 chip.
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H doesn’t support FireWire ports.
This motherboard supports 7.1+2 audio format, i.e., eight channels plus two independent channels for audio streaming. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using the Realtek ALC892 codec, which is a mid-range solution, providing 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 90 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. These specifications are perfect for the average user. However, if you plan to convert and edit audio from analog sources (such as VHS tapes, vinyl records, and cassette tapes) you will need to pick a motherboard with an input SNR of at least 100 dB.
The analog audio outputs are independent and the motherboardalso comes with an on-board optical SPDIF output. It also has a two-pin header labeled “SPDIF_O”, where you can install an adapter to have a coaxial SPDIF output or to connect a cable to older video cards that required a physical connection to have audio on their HDMI outputs.
The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by a Realtek RTL8111F chip.
In Figure 5, you can see the motherboard rear panel with a shared PS/2 connector for keyboard and mouse, six USB 3.0 ports, VGA output, DVI-D output, optical SPDIF output, HDMI output, DisplayPort output, two eSATA-600 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and the analog audio jacks.
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Figure 5: Motherboard rear panel