It used to be that we would post a nice big picture of the top of the motherboard, and map out all the various VRM components – which phases are powered by which PWM, etc. For example, check out page 2 of our Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H review. However with Haswell, most motherboards aren’t going to have a robust CPU VRM to talk about, as it just isn’t needed anymore. The CPU’s integrated VRM will do most of the heavy work, taking care of ripple itself. The motherboard’s VRM is relegated to converting the 12v input from the PSU to the correct CPU input voltage. So now, we can cover the entire CPU VRM with one picture:
There it is, the entire VRM. This being Gigabyte, we expect the components to be high quality, even on this mATX board. The PWM is a new one from InterSil, the ISL95820 4 phase PWM. They call this a “Hybrid Digital” PWM, but it is essentially an analog PWM. It’s just a basic low cost yet highly durable and energy efficient PWM from InterSil.
Each phase consists of a pair of 4C06N low side MOSFETs and another 4C06N high side MOSFET. This is the first time I have come across Gigabyte using these products from ON Semi. According to the datasheet page, they support Low RDS(on) and low capacitance, so should be good. As far as durability goes, I can’t say personally.
Z87M-D3H Component Tour
Let’s move on to our motherboard component tour, where we detail all the important onboard components that make the Z87M-D3H what it is.
I’m feeling a bit crabby, so we’ll start with the Realtek ALC892 audio codec. The capacitors are also there to smooth out the sound. The ALC892 is Realtek’s 8 channel budget solution, and as such its specs are a bit lower than the ALC898 used on more expensive Gigabyte boards. The output SNR is 95 dB, while the ALC898’s SNR is 110 dB. We’ll test this later, but if you are using decent speakers or headphones you will absolutely want to use a gaming soundcard such as the Asus Xonar Phoebus Solo we reviewed last week.
And I’ll mention once again that Gigabyte is only offering one SPDIF output on this board, so even if you want to get around the low quality DAC on this codec by using digital audio, you will have to use HDMI output, or find an adapter to use the internal SPDIF header that’s on the board.
Gigabyte stuck with THE CRAB~! for their Ethernet adapter, this time using the RTL8111F adapter. We’ll put this to the test against a couple Intel adapters and an Atheros controller, but Realtek have come a long way in terms of CPU usage with their ethernet adapters.
The IT8728F is the first of two Super IO chips used by Gigabyte on the Z78M-D3H. This is used for hardware monitoring, fan controls, and all the legacy ports that exist on the Z87M-D3H. This includes a PS/2 mouse/keyboard port, and internal headers for a serial port and parallel port.
And that’s all there is to talk about on the Z87M-D3H, really. After all, this is a small mATX board, so there aren’t a lot of components packed onto it. Let’s see what Gigabyte’s 8 series BIOS and software look like on the next page: