Product Listing

Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP7 Motherboard - The King of the Hill?

By Wong Chung Wee - 21 Mar 2013
Launch SRP: S$600

Overclock Tools and Utilities

Overclocking using OC-Touch

We also tried our hands on using the onboard OC-Touch buttons during our overclocking exercise. According to the company, on-the-fly changes can be made to the base clock frequency and CPU ratio with these set of buttons, in whatever the environment (BIOS, DOS, Windows etc.) without the need to reboot the system. In theory, this sounds very handy when the overclocker needs to edge out a performance gain quickly (if it works to his advantage).

Alas, the instructions on how to utilize the OC-Touch feature wasn't very explicit. While we expected Gigabyte's OC-Touch feature to function in a similar manner as ASRock's Rapid OC that we used when reviewing the ASRock Z77 OC Formula motherboard, little did we expect that Gigabyte's OC-Touch didn't have an accompanying software. We dug deeper at the product's support page and managed to download OC-Touch drivers for our Windows 7 test rig; however, we were unable to locate any dedicated software for the OC-Touch feature.

We were able to tweak the settings of the board with the OC-Touch buttons after the successful installation of their Windows driver; however, we would like to see the OC-Touch feature implemented in a similar manner as ASRock's Rapid OC where our changes and settings were reflected in the sofware's GUI. In this case, our changes were reflected in our standard CPU-Z utility; however, we strongly felt that the absence of dedicated OC-Touch software is an affront to the pedigree of such a high-end board. We also attempted to use the OC-Touch buttons to see if the changes made by their adjustments would be reflected in the Tuner utility of EasyTune 6; however, they didn't work well together, resulting in frequent system lockups.

With reference to the photograph below, the first set of "+" and "-" buttons allowed us to adjust the CPU Ratio of the board; while with the other set, we were able to tweak the base clock frequency accordingly. By depressing the "Gear" button next to them, we were able to change the frequency in steps of 0.01MHz, else the buttons will change the frequency in steps of 1MHz. Again, better labeling or silk screening on the board would have been ideal to figure out the use of all these buttons without referring to the manual - especially if you don't use these physical buttons often.

The onboard OC-Touch buttons that are used for overclocking in different environments. According to Gigabyte, they can work in BIOS, DOS, or Windows without the need for rebooting. But the actual experience wasn't quite what we expected.


Overclocking with Gigabyte EasyTune Touch

The Gigabyte EasyTune Touch is an exclusive iOS software that works exclusively with select Gigabyte boards that ship with a PCIe expansion card that offers Bluetooth 4.0 LE and Wi-Fi connectivity. It works with the host Gigabyte Cloud Station utility and allows users to remotely control their desktop system with a powerful suite of software functions that include overclocking and system tweaking, system monitoring, with the ability to also remotely power down the PC. EasyTune Touch also offers overclocking at the touch of a button, with three preset overclocking configurations that offer convenient performance enhancement with its unique Quick Boost function.

We slotted in the GC-WB300D PCIe expansion card and attached one of the antenna for illustration purposes. The antennae can be used interchangeably, one of the connectors on the expansion card is for Bluetooth connectivity and the other for Wi-Fi.

Before using the EasyTune Touch software, we had to set up the its PCIe expansion card as the GA-Z77X-UP7 shipped with a GC-WB300D card with two accompanying antennae, one for each connectivity option, to extend the wireless range of the system. We also had to connect a USB cable from the card's USB connector to one of the board's USB onboard connectors. After the successful hardware installation, we had to install the Gigabyte Cloud Utility software on our rig.

After installing our EasyTune Touch software, we also had to ensure our iOS device and test rig were on the same Wi-Fi network before we could proceed further. With reference to the screenshots below, the one on the right is the main menu of the EasyTune Touch.

After installing Gigabyte's EasyTune Touch, we proceeded to configure the iOS software after both devices were successfully found on the same Wi-Fi network.

After that, we proceeded to connect to the services of the Gigabyte Cloud Utility by tapping on the "Connection" tab of the main menu. Tap the host's name in the list to connect to the cloud utility.

In the Computer name listing, we selected our test rig. During our testing, there was only one PC on our network that was operating the Gigabyte Cloud Utility; hence, we had a lone entry on our list.

Upon establishing the link, we were able to use our iOS device to remotely configure our test rig and we dived into overclocking it by using the Tuner function of the software suite.

From the Tuner utility, we were able to access the key BIOS settings that allowed us to overclock the test rig.

Our experience with the Tuner utility drew mixed feelings; while we were grateful that we were able to configure the BIOS settings without being tethered to the test area; however, editing the values from the soft keyboard of our iOS device was a mixed affair as there were times our edited values were not saved and we had to re-enter our values again. Another point of discontentment is that our changes were not saved at the the platform-level; after a reboot, our EasyTune settings were not saved to the BIOS of the board.

In this instance, we chose to edit the BLCK value from 100MHz to 104.48MHz. It involved selecting the field and using the iOS keyboard to enter the value manually. Perhaps a scroll wheel for the numbers would be more user-friendly?

Besides attempting to overclock the system manually, we also tried our hands on the using the automated overclocking feature called Quick Boost. It did manage to overclock our system and its changes to the BIOS settings were permanent as they were saved; however, we failed to achieve a stable state even with the Fast Mode. We attempted to enter the BIOS UEFI utility to examine the settings of the Fast Mode but we failed as its settings somehow caused the utility to freeze. In the end, we had to reset the BIOS settings to our test rig back to its normal operational state.

It seemed like a good idea to go for automated overclocking of the system; however, we failed to reach a stable operational state with Fast Mode for our test rig.

 After selecting Fast Mode, we had to reboot our system.

All in all, we feel that it's a nifty way of tweaking some settings on the fly without entering the BIOS, without exiting an running test program and even away from the test machine, but it wasn't exactly a smooth affair all the time. Our advise is to use it as an auxiliary tool for the mentioned plus points, but it won't replace the conventional style of overclocking anytime soon.

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  • Performance 8
  • Features 9
  • Value 6.5
The Good
Rich feature set
Highly overclockable
Support for 4-way GPU setup
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
The Bad
Very expensive
No support for Thunderbolt
Disparate mix of supporting software utility
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