Final Thoughts

As one of the two sub-$200 boards in our roundup we hoped the ECS Z77H2-AX would offer a decent value. While it still might have potential, ECS has its work cut out. Not only did the board linger at the bottom of our performance charts, but we experienced a bug that prevented us from overclocking. Considering those discoveries, we can't really recommend the Z77H2-AX until it gets an update and maybe a slight price cut. At $180, it seems like a tough sell with more polished solutions aplenty.

For instance, Asrock's Z77 Extreme6 is a relative steal at just $175. While costing less, it delivers almost everything you'll find on more expensive Z77 boards: a clean layout and solid build quality, tons of connectivity, a UEFI that's powerful and easy to use (though it's not the prettiest), as well as top-notch performance when it comes to speed and power consumption. Along with being the most affordable entry, the Z77 Extreme6 was the second best overclocker. This is "the" board to beat.

...And if there was ever a board equipped to top the Z77 Extreme6, it would be the Z77X-UD5H-WB. Although Gigabyte's contender is considerably more expensive at $230, it's a "no expenses spared" kind of product, going as far as bundling an add-in card for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Fortunately, if you don't need this, the Z77X-UD5H is the same board sans wireless connectivity for $190, which is only 9% more expensive than the Z77 Extreme6 -- not bad when you factor in the extra USB 3.0 and SATA ports.

Last but not least, the DZ77GA-70K is a well-polished, all-round performer -- like most Intel products. However, it also commands a premium like most Intel products, making it the most expensive board in our roundup at $240. We won't say the DZ77GA-70K isn't worth that price, but it's probably not worth it for most builders. Feature-wise, the board doesn't offer much beyond the Z77 Extreme6. While it slipped behind in most speed tests, it consumed the least power and had the best UEFI software.

Given the choice, we'd favor the Asrock Z77 Extreme6 or Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H-WB (with or without the wireless card) over Intel's DZ77GA-70K. Value-minded shoppers will likely lean toward the Z77 Extreme6 as it was neck-and-neck with Gigabyte's pricier solution through most of our tests while cutting a few non-essentials to drive down the price. Meanwhile, the Z77X-UD5H-WB is a no-compromise board for enthusiasts who can't part with any features. Again, we can't currently recommend the ECS Z77H2-AX.