More often than not, the staff at Legit Reviews get the chance to look at the ‘high end’ components for computers. The companies like to push the products with the most bells and whistles, while this is great for the guys with unlimited budgets to spend or who want the best of the best regardless of cost. Those of us who like to get the best bang for the buck are kind of left out, as there aren’t many reviews out there for us. Unfortunately we don’t always have the chance or the time to look at the more budget orientated products. So we took some time away from the high end products, got our hands on some ‘budget’ motherboards that we can put through the paces!
Today we are going to look at a couple of the more budget friendly motherboards out there. Each of these boards can be picked up for right around $100 or so. While they may be aimed towards the budget minded, we are going to put them through the paces and see how they hold up in our usual tests and of course some overclocking!
We are going to be looking at three Intel Z77 motherboards that can all be purchased for under $100 before shipping. The three boards today will include the ASRock Z77 Pro3, BIOSTAR TZ77B, and the GIGABYTE Z77-DS3H. All three of the motherboards are considered full ATX though their dimensions are slightly under the full ATX measurement of 305mm x 244mm (12in x 9.6in). The ASRock Z77 Pro3 measures only 12in x 7.6in, the BIOSTAR TZ77B measures 12in x 8.6in, and the GIGABYTE Z77-DS3H measures 12in x 8.5in. By keeping the PCB smaller, the companies are able to save some money on the production costs of each of the boards and pass the savings along to the end user. They may be losing some precious real estate on the motherboard, but they aren’t trying to pack as many ‘extras’ on to the board.
Our first board on the chopping block for the day is the ASRock Z77 Pro3. The ASRock Z77 Pro3 has a street price of only $94.99 plus shipping. The ASRock Z77 Pro3 is a full featured Intel Z77 motherboard with all the bells and whistle you would expect to find on today’s motherboards. The Z77 Pro3 features the Intel Z77 express chipset which brings SATA III 6Gbps, SuperSpeed USB 3.0, support for the latest Intel 22nm ‘Ivy Bridge’ processors, and of course DDR3 RAM. The ASRock Z77 Pro3 list of features doesn’t stop with the basics that are included with the Intel Z77 chipset. The ASRock Z77 Pro3 also features the ASRock 555 technology. The ASRock 555 XFast includes XFast RAM, XFast LAN, adn XFast USB. The XFast RAM can boost the system performance by creating a virtual disk from the system memory. XFast LAN allows you to set the priority of the applications that go out to the internet. If you set the priority of games like World of Warcraft high, you can reduce the in game latency, improving your overall experience.
Our second board on the chopping block is the BIOSTAR TZ77B. Like the ASRock board above, it features SATA III 6Gbps, SuperSpeed USB 3.0, Intel 22nm processor support, and DDR3 RAM. The BIOSTAR TZ77B is part of the TSeries of motherboards and can be purchased for only $99.99 plus shipping. The BIOSTAR TZ77B is also part of the TOverclocking motherboards and features Smart Overclocking, Smart Overvoltage, and Smart Power Savings.
The Third and Final ‘Budget board is the GIGABYTE Z77-DS3H which is currently selling for $114.99 plus shipping. This is the only board included today that breaks the one hundred dollar barrier. You can purchase this board at Newegg for $99.99 after a $15.00 rebate during a promotion that runs 8/13/12 to 8/24/12. As with the Intel Z77 boards above the GIGABYTE Z77-DS3H has SATA III 6Gbps, SuperSpeed USB 3.0, 22nm processor support, and DDR3. The GIGABYTE Z77-DS3H also has several features that make it stand out. One of the unique features is the GIGABYTE 3D BIOS. We have seen the GIGABYTE 3D BIOS on a couple of our previous motherboard reviews and found it to work quite well. Maybe not as well as some out there, but certainly better than others that we have seen. Along with the 3D BIOS the GIGABYTE Z77-DS3H also has dual UEFI BIOS, having dual BIOS chips allows us to have a back up of the currently installed BIOS version. This board is also the only one that features a mSATA slot on the board for those that want to run an SSD that mounts directly to the board.
As we go through each of the boards today we will look at the specifications in greater detail. So without further ado, let’s move onto the ASRock Z77 Pro3 on the next page!