The Z77X-UP4 TH is a mainstream socket LGA1155 motherboard from Gigabyte targeted to the “Ivy Bridge” processors (third-generation Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors). Its main highlight is the presence of two Thunderbolt ports. Let’s see what the Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH has to offer.
The Intel Z77 is an upgraded version of the Z68 chipset with the same basic features (Intel Smart Response Technology and Virtu video switching technology), plus native support to four USB 3.0 ports. It also includes the addition of two new technologies: Smart Connect (allowing the computer to receive emails and refresh webpages while it is in sleep mode) and Rapid Start (faster boot times).
In addition, the Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH supports the Virtu Universal MVP, which allows you to combine the performance of the integrated graphics processor available in the CPU with the performance of any video card installed. This is similar to what occurs with the Hybrid SLI and ATI Hybrid Graphics technologies, with the notable difference of not being limited to GPUs from a specific manufacturer.
So far, Gigabyte has released only two motherboards with Thunderbolt ports, both based on the Intel Z77 chipset. In the table below, we compare their main specifications. Prices were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this article. For further information on Thunderbolt, please read our “Everything You Need to Know About the Thunderbolt Connection” tutorial.
|Specification||Z77X-UP4 TH||Z77X-UP5 TH|
|PCI Express x16 3.0||3 (x16/x0/x0 or x8/x8/x0 or x8/x4/x4)||3 (x16/x0/x0 or x8/x8/x0 or x8/x4/x4)|
|PCI Express x1 2.0||3||3|
|Wi-Fi||No||Yes, dual-band 802.11b/g/n|
|Voltage Regulator||10 phases total||12 phases total|
|Price||USD 185||USD 250|
* The Thunderbolt ports are available as mini DisplayPort connectors, so the motherboard has DisplayPort ports available as Thunderbolt ports.
In Figure 1, you see the Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH motherboard.