Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 Some Legends are born out of a desire to do what no one has done before. Some are born out of necessity, when someone or something exceeds expectations by a large enough margin to be nearly disbelieved. Some legends are the product of lineage, where a family's DNA seems to be superior granting legend status to the sons at birth. Gigabyte's Z77X-UP7 draws from all of these as the Flagship motherboard for socket 1155. The now familiar orange and black color scheme indicating it's lineage from a family of extreme overclocking boards that started with the X58-OC. Will it live up to the legend status? Read on ..... Introduction The Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 is one of Gigabytes new series of Ultra Durable 5 Z77 chipset based motherboard for the socket 1155 CPUs from Intel. The Z77 chipset launched in support of Intel's new Ivy Bridge series of processors. This board is aimed at the enthusiast overclocker, someone who wants a full featured and cutting edge motherboard. They don't want to sacrifice any performance, as a matter of fact, they want to squeeze every last ounce of performance from the board, the processor, the memory, as well as up to 4 GPUs in CrossfireX or SLI. No holds barred, knock em' down and out performance. No excuses. No compromises. The Z77X-UP7 fills in this role in Gigabytes lineup, and provides full access to all the features of the Z77 chipset. The product webpage for the Gigabyte Z77X-UP78can be found here: http://ca.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4334#ov The Z77X-UP7 microsite is located here: http://ca.gigabyte.com/fileupload/microsite/316/z77x-up7.html Board Layout The Z77 series of Ultra Durable 5 boards continue with the glass fabric weave that is designed to be more resistant to humidity. This was first introduced on the Ultra Durable 4 line. The big news however is the new IR3550 PowIRstage® ICs which promise to provide superior power output as well as lower overall temperatures. These are considered the pinnacle of current power circuit technology, and offer higher overall efficiency and fewer overall components on the board due to their single package design. This board goes well beyond the bounds of sanity with a 32 phase power system for the CPU. In theory this would allow the board to supply over 2000watts just to the CPU socket!! Insanity! Gigabyte has gone once again to black PCBs and orange highlights on the black heatsinks for its flagship overclocking performance board and, I have to say, its striking. The heatsinks use a new thin fin design for maximum heat dissipation. I really like this color scheme and the overall quality of these heatpipe type heatsinks gives the board a very expensive look and feel. I like the orange on black as a signature color. It reminds me of a Porsche GT3. All in your face color scheme and the performance to back it up as well. The board is SLI and CrossfireX compatible up to 4-way. Expansion port layout is as follows: 3 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1~3) * For optimum performance, if only one expansion card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16_2 slot. 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1~2)* The PCIEX8_1 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16_1 slot and the PCIEX8_2 slot with PCIEX16_3. The PCIEX16_1/PCIEX16_3 slot will operate at up to x8 mode when the PCIEX8_1/PCIEX8_2 is populated. (The PCIEX16 and PCIEX8 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.) * Whether PCI Express 3.0 is supported depends on CPU and graphics card compatibility. * The PCIEX16_2 slot will become unavailable when an expansion card is installed in the orange PCI Express x16 slot. 2 x PCI Express x1 slots (All PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.) When using a single GPU, place the card in the black colored PCIEX16_2 slot. This bypasses the PLX chip and reduces latency slightly. There is an additional SATA power connector on the edge of the board to help provide additional power to the PCI-E slots when running SLI or CrossfireX. There are 2 internal headers for additional USB 3.0 front ports. One just between the DIMM slots and ATX power connector. The other one is located at the bottom right of the board.