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SOLVED Overclocking Analysis of the Gold-Themed ECS Z77H2-A2X Motherboard

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Jan 4, 2005
Intel has just launched the Ivy Bridge platform, and the price seems to be positioned in middle to high range of the desktop market.
The high-end Z77 Ivy Bridge chipset has also become the main objective for performance among all of the motherboard brand competitors.
While in recent years ECS has mainly focused on the OEM business, in the last few years, the company has been more active in launching its own brand of motherboard products.
ECS has launched four new products based on the ATX Z77, together with about four products based on the H77.
Currently, the ECS product line has a wider range of selections for the Ivy Bridge platform than before.


High-end motherboards often appear in colors such as black, red, green, orange and white, yet the ECS Z77 comes in a very rare color.
From the website information, it seems that the Z77H2-A2X and the Z77H2-AX both emphasize the use of gold as their color.
The other three ECS Z77 products are almost the same as earlier products with black PCBs that are supplemented by gray and white versions in the entry-level Z77H2-A2X,
which is ECS’s mid-level Z77 motherboard model, and the highest level product is the Z77H2-AX.

The ECS Z77H2-A2X
Besides the black PCB, the first thing you see is that other parts of the system almost all have a gold glitter.
Even the solid-state capacitors and inductors are gold, and this design really makes a unique impression in the hearts of users.

Gold 4Ever is the main appeal, including the golden quality, the golden stability, the golden heat dissipation and the golden appearance.
But it is unclear whether the company is promoting these standards, because in some situations, the user only has this impression after using the products for a long time.

Accessories Included
English user manual, quick-start manual, golden IO panel, driver software CD
SLI bridge, protective plastic cover for IO ports, mobile connect wireless.

SATA Cable, Front USB 3.0 Panel

Lower Left of Motherboard
2 X PCI-E X16 Gen 3.0, supporting AMD CrossFireX / nVIDIA SLI technology
Two VGA bandwidth cards X8 + X8
2 X PCI-E X1
The network chip is the Realtek RTL8111E.
The sound chip is the Realtek ALC892 with eight channels that supports HD Audio technology.

Bottom Right of Motherboard
2 X Black SATA ports, Z77 chipset provided, SATA3 specification
2 X Black SATA ports, Z77 chipset provided, SATA2 specification
Above can be combined to set up RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10, with the top performance determined by the installed SATA devices
2 x Black SATA ports, ASM1061 chip provided, SATA3 specification, support for AHCI
1 x Mini PCI Express port, supporting Mini SATA and Mini PCI Express
Power / Reset button and debug LED lights. On the left, the black connector is the front USB 3.0 port

Upper Right of Motherboard
4 X DIMM DDR3 supporting 1600/1800/2133/2400/2600/2800 (OC), maximum capacity for DDR3 up to 32GB
Supporting Extreme Memory Profile technology. Below is the 24-pin power input.

Beside the CPU, the power supply is designed with eight outputs, and in the upper portion, behind the cooling module is an 8-pin power input.
New LGA 1155 protective cover, making usage more convenient

1 X Bluetooth Dongle
3 X USB 2.0 Ports (Red/Black)
1 X D-Sub / DVI-D/HDMI
1 X Wireless LAN Dongle
1 X eSATA3/USB 2.0 Ports (Red)
4 X USB 3.0 Ports (Blue)
1 X RJ-45 Ethernet Port
6 x Audio Jacks
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The large gold heat-dissipation module shows an emphasis on providing better cooling capacity.
If gold had been used for the color of the heat pipe in middle, the overall appearance would be more consistent.

The heat sink for the Z77 chipset is not small and the spatial design is also good.
The special characteristic of the Black Extreme name printed on the high-end ECS series is that an orange pattern will be displayed as the temperature rises to a certain range.

The pins for the LGA 1155 CPU use a 15μ gold connecting material,
which is also used for the DDR3 DIMM to emphasize the provision of materials that on average have more than three times the oxidation resistance,
heat resistance and scratch resistance of ordinary materials.

The main view of the ECS UEFI shows four graphical interface functions.
In total, 10 different languages are supported including traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.

Advanced Interface
The main choices are for CPU and DRAM functions, clock speed, parameters or voltage settings.

Voltage Details
CPU Voltage +0.010 -- +0.630 V
AXG Voltage +0.010 -- +0.630 V
IMC Vlotage +0.011 -- +0.945 V
DIMM Voltage +0.010 -- +0.630 V
System Agent Voltage +0.010 -- +0.630 V
PCH Voltage +0.010 -- +0.630 V
CPU PLL Voltage +0.010 -- +0.630 V

The CPU multiplier default is 47, or in other words, 3770K for 4700MHz operation
The Graphics Core Ratio Limit is the clock speed of the CPU’s internal GPU
The 23 algorithm is 23 X 50 => 1150MHz, and the figure shows the default 3770K clock for the internal HD 4000

DDR3 Setting Page
Supporting XMP technology, the DDR3 clock default is 2400
The main parameters are CL10 11-11-28 1T

In the Z77H2-A2X, ECS has opened a lot more DDR3 parameters than in their own X79R-AX

Page with CPU information and related technology
You can choose to open a few CPU cores.
I personally am accustomed to turning off the power saving C3/C6 and C1E in low-bandwidth overclocking mode to find the best settings.
The ECS UEFI interface provides eight types of access to files. Users can save or read their preferred settings, thereby saving setup time.

Above are the some of the main screens of the Z77H2-A2X UEFI with more abundant options and features than before.
When the Z77 is overclocking, it can only match 3770K or 3570K. Based on the CPU characteristics and heat dissipation environment it is possible to start overclocking.
The timing parameters may also be adjusted based on the DDR3 characteristics, and voltage can be increased to 1.6 - 1.65V to improve stability.
This time, ECS has made significant progress in terms of overclocking ability and stability of the Z77, and this should be encouraged.

Test Platform
CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K
Motherboard: ECS Z77H2-A2X
VGA: Intel HD Graphics 4000 / PowerColer 7970
HD: SanDisk Extreme 240GB
Cooler: CORSAIR Hydro Series H100
OS: Windows7 Ultimate 64bit

CPU 99.8 X 47 => 4689.13MHz (Turbo Boost and C1E turned off.)
DDR3 2394.6 CL10 11-11-28 1T
Intel HD Graphics 4000 1150MHz

Hyper PI 32M X8 => 12m 5.526s
CPUMARK 99 => 739

Nuclearus Multi Core => 32969
Fritz Chess Benchmark => 36.69/17612

CrystalMark 2004R3 => 372413

CPU => 9.47 pts
CPU (Single Core) => 1.99 pts

Running Time => 4m 02s
x264 FHD Benchmark => 27.8

PCMark Vantage => 26265

To evaluate CPU performance, at the same clock speed, both the 3770K and the 3570K are almost the same in terms of single-line performance data.
The 3770K has the advantage of support for 4C8T and HT, so multitasking effectiveness is as much as 20% higher.
In multitasking performance, the Ivy Bridge architecture is about 10 to 14% higher compared with the previous generation Sandy Bridge architecture.
For the above-mentioned overclocking performance, the vast majority of software gets very high marks, and in multiple-application environments, performance can be very good.

DRAM Bandwidth Test
DDR3 2394.6 CL10 11-11-28 1T
ADIA64 Memory Read - 24122 motherboard/s
Sandra Memory Bandwidth - 30124 motherboard/s
MaXXMEM Memory-Copy - 27163 motherboard/s

DDR3 2594 CL10 11-11-28 2T
ADIA64 Memory Read - 24399 motherboard/s
Sandra Memory Bandwidth - 31868 motherboard/s
MaXXMEM Memory-Copy - 27807 motherboard/s

Thanks to the Ivy Bridge architecture, the Z77H2-A2X can easily reach the DDR3 2400 -- 2600 level.
This high clock speed has not been easy to achieve on the Intel platform, and the new structure provides a significant improvement in DDR3 performance.
Following these two clock comparisons, it can be seen that the DDR3 2400 1T clock has high bandwidth performance.
If the DDR3 2600 2T is pulled up for a performance increase, there isn’t a big improvement,
and if the DRAM I had on hand wasn’t such high quality, sometimes it might have been worthwhile to lower the clock a bit and use the 1T at a lower parameter for decent performance.
Intel HD Graphics 4000 Performance Test
GPU clock default value is 23, or after conversion is 1150MHz
3DMark Vantage => P4556

StreetFighter IV Benchmark
1920 X 1080 => 52.01 FPS

1920 X 1080 => 837

The Intel HD Graphics 4000 compared with the previous generation 3000 has a 60% boost in performance.
These tests were performed at the high resolution of 1920 X 1080, and even with the integrated graphics, it has top-notch 3D performance.
For entry-level 3D, it’s good enough, and of course, even performance with some mid-range software is quite good.

Probably the most popular game -- Diablo3
1920 X 1200 effects setting default value => 26 FPS

Typical single-player game in general is about 23 -- 28 FPS

Increase the Intel HD Graphics 4000 from 1150MHz to 1400MHz
1920 X 1200 effects setting is the default value => 31 FPS

Typical single-player game is generally about 27 -- 32 FPS

The above Diablo3 environment is not too complex, set in a high-resolution, default-effects environment.
I suggest that after overclocking the Intel HD Graphics 4000 a bit, performance should be a bit smoother.
If you change to 1280 X 800, it will be 60 to 70 levels, while 1680 X 1050 will have 40 levels.
If you use the current integrated graphics for the best 3D performance, resolution needs to be lowered a bit to make the pages smoother.

I will share my experience with the high-end VGA I have on hand -- PowerColor PowerColor AX7970 3GBD5-2DHV3
3DMark Vantage => P34055

StreetFighter IV Benchmark
1920 X 1080 => 392.82 FPS
1920 X 1080 => 6038

Today the best high-performance integrated graphics Intel HD Graphics 4000 is about eight times better than the VGA AMD Radeon 7970.
In the past, with each generation of high-end platforms, there has been a 30-50 fold gap in the 3D performance of integrated graphics compared with VGA.
In the last two years, 3D performance in each generation of integrated graphics has increased at a multiple rate, and the actual gap with VGA has been getting smaller and smaller.
However, for high-end 3D games, I recommend that you choose better performance VGA, which will be faster at high resolution and when special effects are fully enabled.

1920 X 1200 special effects set to maximum => 100 FPS

Typical single-player game mode about 100 FPS

The 3D demands of Diablo3 are not very stringent, so if your budget is limited, the AMD Radeon 7770 provides very good performance.
I previously used the NVIDIA GTX 560Ti, and at high resolution and with special effects fully enabled, it almost always ends up around 100 pages.
Under the conditions of multiplayer warfare and in a complex environment, it was relatively easy to drop pages.
In a test, when I used the 7970, the actual performance significantly exceeded the maximum display of 100 pages.
Although sometimes the status reached 160 pages, within a very short time after starting, Diablo3 reached the maximum number of pages displayed at 100.

Temperature Performance (room temperature about 31 degrees)
System Standby - 36 to 42

Running LinX with CPU at full speed - 84 to 92

Ivy Bridge’s temperature was higher than Sandy Bridge’s by about 10 degrees, and this point needs to be emphasized.
In addition, each core of a 3770K differs in quality, and at OC 4.7GHz, you will see a gap in data ranging from a minimum temperature of 84 and a maximum of 92 degrees.
Due to the approach of summer, room temperatures are rising, and if you want to overclock to 4.6GHz and above, using a high-end heat sink is very important.

Power Consumption Test
System Standby - 78W

Running LinX with the CPU at full speed - 181W

The Intel Core i7-3770K is made with a 22nm process, and the power consumption performance is better than the previous 32nm generation.
Standby consumption is lower than the previous generation platform by more than 20W, and at full speed during burn-in, power can also be reduced to about 50W.
The 22nm CPU’s power consumption performance saves more electricity.

I’ll share with you the temperature performance of the ECS cooling module while overclocking.
The large gold cooling module next to the CPU had a standby temperature of 41.1 degrees and the temperature of the CPU at full speed was 51.3 degrees.
The golden heat sink above the Z77 chipset had a standby temperature of 45.3 degrees and with the CPU running at full speed, the temperature was 49.5 degrees.
ECS's new, large gold-colored cooling system, in addition to its advantages in size and appearance, achieved a very good level of heat dissipation.

1. A rarely seen gold product line, with packaging and the motherboard product well matched.
2. The UEFI interface features and overclocking performed well.
3. The unique wireless LAN and Bluetooth dongle provided two communication transmission methods.
4. The QoolTechTM IV cooling modules are beautifully designed and achieve a high level of heat dissipation.
5. An internal Mini PCI Express port, as well as support for Mini SATA and Mini PCI Express devices.
6. Use of eight driver MOS power supplies, native PCI-E Gen3, CPU/DDR3 installed with 15μ gold contacts

1. Need to add a DisplayPort output.
2. If the voltage options included a step-down function, it would be better.
3. Room for improvement in market visibility and sales service channels.


Performance rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 85/100
Components rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 88/100
Specifications rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 80/100
Appearance rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 88/100
Performance to price rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 83/100

The current price of the ECS Z77H2-A2X is about US$220, equivalent to about NT$6600.
In the mid-range market where the Z77 is positioned, there are many higher-priced Z77 motherboards.
Touted as the Golden Board, in terms of appearance, materials, heat dissipation and stability, it can be considered a golden product line.
In terms of durability, running at a temperature of 50 degrees for a 72-hour burn-in stability test, there is room for improvement in user confidence.

The ECS gold thermal module performs well in heat dissipation, and while overclocking at a high clock speed, in standby mode or running at full speed the temperature difference is small.
The overclocking ability is better than before, and I’m guessing that it was more careful attention to the UEFI interface that improved stability.
If the voltage can be lowered, I personally feel that the overall function of the ECS UEFI will be better.
ECS has launched quite a few Z77 motherboards, with specifications and price points ranging from entry level to high end.
In the market for mid-range Z77H2-A2X products, the cost to performance value is quite good.
Seeing that each generation of ECS software and hardware has made more-or-less steady progress, I also hope that the company can continue working on its own-brand products.
If ECS can improve their sales channels and warranty service, I believe consumers will have more brands and more affordable motherboards to choose from. :)

In early June at Computex, we photographed this ECS show girl emphasizing the gold line, and we’re sharing that here with you.

This article is also post in my log, WIND3C, All comments are welcome.