Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 Motherboard

Slots

The Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 comes with five PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots, two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, and one mSATA slot.

Usually, on motherboards based on the Z77 chipset, only the first two PCI Express x16 slots are controlled by the CPU. The other PCI Express x16 slots are controlled by the chipset, operating at a lower speed (almost always x4) and only compatible with the 2.0 specification, which offers half of the 3.0 bandwidth. On this motherboard, however, the five slots are controlled by the processor, using a PLX PEX8747 switching chip.

The second PCI Express x16 slot (“PCIEX16_2”, the black one) bypasses the PLX chip and must be used when a single video card is installed.

The PCIEX8_1 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16_1 slot, and the PCIEX8_2 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16_3 slot. The first PCI Express x16 slot (“PCIEX16_1”) operates at x16 if the third slot (“PCIEX8_1”) is unused, but they will both work at x8 if the third slot is populated. The same occurs with the last pair of slots. The fourth PCI Express x16 slot (“PCIEX16_3”) operates at x16 if the fifth slot (“PCIEX8_2”) is unused, but they will both work at x8 if the last slot is populated.

The Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 supports the configurations listed below.

PCIEX16_1 PCIEX16_2 PCIEX8_1 PCIEX16_3 PCIEX8_2
x16
x16 x16
x8 x8 x16
x16 x8 x8
x8 x8 x8 x8

When installing dual-slot video cards, you “kill” the slot immediately to the left (looking at the motherboard with its rear connectors facing up) of the slot being used. If a fourth dual-slot video card is installed (in the fifth PCI Express x16 slot), you will need a case with at least eight expansion slots. (Computer cases usually have seven expansion slots.)

The PCI Express x16 slots support both SLI and CrossFireX technologies with up to four video cards.

Gigabyte Z77X-UP7Figure 2: Slots

The mSATA slot is not a Mini PCI Express slot, meaning you can’t install a Wi-Fi card in it. It is designed specifically for SSDs using the mSATA form factor. This slot is connected to the “SATA2 5” port, so you can’t use this SATA port when an mSATA SSD is installed. This slot uses a SATA-300 connection.

Gigabyte Z77X-UP7Figure 3: The mSATA slot

The PLX PEX8747 chip, which allows the high-end slot configuration, is shown in Figure 4, without its heatsink.

Gigabyte Z77X-UP7Figure 4: The PLX PEX8747 chip

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Author: Rafael Coelho

Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master's degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.

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