Gigabyte Dual Thunderbolt Motherboards Run 4K Display Across Four Displays Using Intel HD

Gigabyte Dual Thunderbolt Motherboards

Gigabyte Dual Thunderbolt Motherboards

Gigabyte used CES 2013 to show off a pair of dual Thunderbolt motherboards with a serious trick up their sleeve.

Both boards are able to power an Ultra HD 4K resolution video display across four regular 1080p monitors using Intel® Collage display technology, thereby transforming them into a 3840 x 2400 pixel display. What’s more they did so without the use of a discreet graphics card – using the HD4000 graphics that one finds on board any 3rd generation Core i5 or i7. That is a pretty impressive feat.

Gigabyte Dual Thunderbolt Motherboards Run 4K Display

Just the Facts

Motherboard: GA-Z77X-UP5 TH
Size: ATX
CPU Socket: 1155
Chipset: Intel Z77 Express
Memory: 4 x 1.5v DDR3 DIMM sockets (2800(OC)/1600/1333/1066 MHz); max 32 GB
Storage Interface: 2 x SATA 6 Gb/s; 4 x SATA 3Gb/s; 1 x mSATA
USB: Chipset – up to 2 USB 3.0/2.0 (headers); up to 6 USB 2.0/1.1 (2 on back panel, 4 on headers). Chipset + 2 Via USB 3.0 Hubs – up to 8 3.0/2.0 (4 on back panel, 4 on headers)
Expansion slots: 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16); 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8); 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4) (only available with Ivy Bridge CPU); 1 x PCI slot
Graphics ports: 1 x D-Sub; 1 x DVI-D (1920×1200 max); 1 x HDMI (1920×1200 max)
Thunderbolt: 2 (max resolution for video (2560×1600)
Network/wireless: 1 x Gigabit LAN; Wireless a/b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0
BIOS: Dual UEFI (with physical switch)
More specifications

Motherboard: GA-Z77X-UP5 TH
Size: ATX
CPU Socket: 1155
Chipset: Intel Z77 Express
Memory: 4 x 1.5v DDR3 DIMM sockets (2800(OC)/1600/1333/1066 MHz); max 32 GB
Storage Interface: 2 x SATA 6 Gb/s; 4 x SATA 3Gb/s; 1 x mSATA
USB: Chipset – up to 4 USB 3.0/3.0 (2 ports on back panel, 2 headers); Up to 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports. VIA VL800 chip – up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports on back panel.
Graphics ports: 1 x D-Sub; 1 x DVI-D (1920×1200 max); 1 x HDMI (1920×1200 max)
Thunderbolt: 2 (max resolution for video 2560×1600)
Network/wireless: 1 x Gigabit LAN
BIOS: Dual UEFI (with physical switch)
More specifications

A Closer Look

Layout-wise, the GA-Z77X-UP5 TH and the GA-Z77X-UP4 TH look fairly similar to their more expensive record setting older brother, the GA-Z77X-UP7 – with a more conservative color scheme, some less meaty heatsinks and without the heavier duty manual overclocking options. They retained the onboard reset and power buttons and they kept the LED debugging display and they both have dual BIOS.

Aside from the Dual Thunderbolt ports, which can each support up to 2K resolution, there aren’t too many surprises. The GA-Z77X-UP5 TH and the GA-Z77X-UP4 TH both feature an Intel Z77 chipset and an LGA1155 CPU socket. They both have 4 DDR3 slots, which support a maximum of 32GB of 1600 MHz memory (2800/2600 via overclocking) and both boards offer one PCIEx4, three PCIEx1 and one PCI expansion slots.

Where the boards diverge is in their hard disk and peripheral support; the GA-Z77X-UP5 TH gives you an extra SATA 6Gb/s and an eSATA 6Gb/s off its Marvell 88SE9172 chip. It also comes with a few extra USB 3.0 connectors. The other obvious difference, which you can pick straight from the picture thanks to the extra card and the antennae, is that the UP5 TH comes with WiFi (a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0. Other than that, there are some slight differences in hardware on the board, but they are the sorts of differences that you will only really notice if you push your system to its limits.

Other features include onboard MSATA, which I can take or leave, Intel Rapid Start Technology, which lets you bypass the system reboot when you restart Windows 7 (and I am assuming Windows 8) and has your computer up and running at its previous state (with no application data loss) within a few seconds. Another noteworthy feature is the incorporation of On/Off Charge USB ports, which allow you to quick charge devices even when the system has been shutdown. I will take the 40% faster charge time claims with a pinch of salt, because we don’t know the amperage to which Gigabyte is comparing – but it is still nice to know that you won’t find yourself having to charge for any longer than is necessary.

Images

GA-Z77X-UP4 TH
GA-Z77X-UP4 TH

GA-Z77X-UP5 TH
GA-Z77X-UP5 TH

The Big Brother: GA-Z77X-UP7
GA-Z77X-UP7

Verdict

All things considered, the GA-Z77X-UP4 TH and GA-Z77X-UP5 TH look like some very capable mid-range motherboards. Personally, I think that Thunderbolt should probably go the way of Betamax when USB 3.0 gets its speed boost next year, but that doesn’t help if you need 10Gb/s transfer rates and have to upgrade now.

Running a 4K display without a discreet graphics card is obviously going to come with some limitations. Playing video would not be a problem, but gaming would be a bit of a stretch. I don’t think that this would be a feature that I would find myself using, but it is a great way to demonstrate how far onboard graphics technology has come and there is nothing stopping your from plugging a graphics card or two into either of the boards (they both offer Crossfire and SLi).

That being said, dumping the video card saves a lot of power and cuts down on noise, so if you are looking for a good base for a home theater PC, either of these boards would be worth considering. For an HTPC or workstation, I would probably save myself the money and opt for the cheaper UP4 specification and see how things play out sans graphics card. For a gaming rig, I would probably find myself heading in the direction of the UP5, both for the hardware improvements and for the wireless package.

Price: The GA-Z77X-UP4 TH and GA-Z77X-UP5 TH motherboards are priced at $184.99
and $239.99 , respectively.

 

About the author: C. S. Magor

 

C.S. Magor is the editor-in-chief and reporter at large for Uberreview and We Interrupt. He currently resides in a sleepy basin town in the Japanese countryside - where both his bank balance and the lack of space in his home are testament to his addiction to all things shiny.

Follow @csmagor on Twitter

Website: http://www.uberreview.com

 

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