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William George (Product Development)

Z68, Z77, and H77 - What is the difference?

Written on April 12, 2012 by William George

Intel is nearing the release of their third-generation Core Processor platform, and in preparation they have launched several new motherboard chipsets this week.  For desktops, there are four variants: Z77, Z75, H77, and B75 - with a couple more coming later in the year.

All of these share the same core functionality, and for our customers here at Puget Systems the more value-oriented Z75 and B75 options aren't really worthwhile. However, I think a brief overview of the differences between Z77 and H77, with a comparison to the preceding Z68 chipset, merits a look.  In fact, lets start with Z68.



This chipset represents the pinnacle of Intel's second-generation, mainstream Core processor platform (also known as Sandy Bridge).  It combined the key features of the earlier P67 and H67 chipsets, as we have previously discussed.  It supports splitting the main PCI-Express x16 connection into two x8 slots, allowing SLI or Crossfire functionality for improved gaming.  It also allows for overclocking of select processors, and was the first Intel chipset to add Smart Response Technology - Intel's fancy name for SSD caching of a traditional hard drive.  Use of the onboard graphics on Intel's Sandy Bridge processors is also supported, with up to two simultaneous monitor outputs.

Newer motherboards using this chipset have even been designed to be compatible with the upcoming third-gen Core processors; the Asus P8Z68-V Pro Gen3 is one such example.  Those modified in this way claim to support PCI-Express 3.0, once equipped with a new 3rd-generation processor that supports the new standard.




This is the direct successor to Z68, with almost the exact same feature set.  It has everything Z68 does and then some.  For example, USB 3.0 has been integrated into the chipset; four USB 3.0 ports can be powered in this way, along with several of the older USB 2.0 ports.  That means an add-on controller chip is no longer required, though many motherboards will still have one so that they can sport more than four USB 3.0 ports.  SSD caching, overclocking, dual PCI-Express x8 slots, etc are all still available as well.

Another aspect of the chipset that has been improved is the support for onboard graphics.  Once the matching 3rd-generation processors are out, motherboards will be able to offer three simultaneous monitor outputs instead of just two.  Onboard graphics will also be faster, but both of those are functions of the newer processors; when paired with older Sandy Bridge CPUs, the speed will be the same as Z68 and the number of monitors supported at a time will still be two.




This is a scaled-back chipset option, suitable when overclocking and multiple video cards are not needed.  It cannot split the main PCI-Express x16 slot into two connections, though the PCI-Express 3.0 standard is still supported (with the upcoming processors).  Support for increasing the multiplier on unlocked processor models is also missing, hence the lack of overclocking support.  Aside from those two limitations, though, it is effectively the same as Z77: the same number of SATA and USB ports are there, SSD caching, onboard Intel graphics, and more.

This situation makes Z77 ideal for most users, as it gives the largest range of performance and upgrade options, but H77 is a great fit when overclocking and more than a single video card are simply not feasible.  For example, in small form factor systems like our Echo line the H77 chipset should be right at home.


Now keep in mind that while the chipsets were released on April 8th, the actual 3rd-generation Core processors are not yet out.  Until they are also released, any system - even one ordered with the new Z77 or H77 chipsets - would simply be running a Sandy Bridge processor.  There is nothing wrong with that, as those processors offer great performers and have been running well for the last year.  The chipset-specific features like added USB 3.0 will also be functional, so in one sense this is a nice upgrade for those who would have purchased Z68 a week ago... but for the full set of new features to be operational we will have to wait and see when Intel launches the processors that these chipsets pave the way for.

Tags: Intel, chipset, Z68, motherboard, H77, Z77

My Asus Maximus IV Extreme Z already has USB 3.0.  Z77 seems pointless to me.

Posted on 2012-04-13 22:55:37

From Intel's product support page:

"Intel H77 Express Chipset also enables overclocking features of unlocked 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors."

The PCI Express Graphics is the only difference I can see looking at the information on Intel's website.

Posted on 2012-04-15 10:05:45

Poit57 - Do you have a link to where you got that quote?  I would like to take it to Intel and see what they say, since all of the other sources I've seen indicated H77 does not support overclocking.

Posted on 2012-04-16 20:25:31

I was looking at Intel's website and found your article while trying to see if there were any other differences I was missing. That piece of info just seemed to contradict what Intel's website said. 


The chart below the diagram is labeled "Features and Benefits." The information I quoted is from the first section in that chart labeled "Support for 3rd generation Intel® Core processors."

Posted on 2012-04-16 21:16:48

I haven't heard back officially from Intel yet, but I think it has to be a typo.  Nowhere else can I find mention of the H77 chipset supporting overclocking, and the previous H67 chipset definitely did not support overclocking.  You can see what Intel says about H77 in other places, like this:


I searched that document, and there is no mention of overclocking.  Compare that to a similar document about Z77, where overclocking is mentioned as a feature:


Posted on 2012-04-18 21:27:12

 Think back to P67 and H67, I actually had some media boards that overclocked a little but nothing like P67, Z68 or Z77. I could only get about 400/500MHz out of the chipset and it really depended on the board vendor BIOS. Maybe there is a marketing perspective as to what frequency is considered overclocking.

Posted on 2012-05-21 23:41:53

William, please do update us on what Intel says if you do get an update from them regarding that Poit57 has posted.

Posted on 2012-04-18 13:05:24

 The H77 they say is "limited oc"

the multiplier cant be changed, even in K chips
i think its through the BCLK

Posted on 2012-04-20 23:21:57

If that's really all it is, that's not much overclocking capability. The highest BCLK I've seen that was 100% stable was 103 (from the default of 100). On a CPU like the 2500K (3.3Ghz), that only results in about a .1GHz overclock. Not really worth the stability concerns if you ask me.

Posted on 2012-04-20 23:31:45

For gaming should I consider the new Z77 or z68 chipset? I'm not seeing much difference between the ASUS P8Z77-V PRO and ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 motherboards. I think both with support Ivy Bridge? (I'm not doing Ivy Bridge anytime soon, but would like the option to upgrade @ future date) Will be mating the board to i5 2500K with 2 SDD drives and aftermarket air cooler. Any and all advice is welcomed!

Posted on 2012-04-20 15:58:15

This is just my personal opinion, and some might disagree with me; but I really don't see any reason to upgrade to a 7-series chipset if you are already on a 6-series chipset. The only major advantage that I would personally use is the integrated USB 3.0, which is very nice but not worth the cost of an upgrade IMHO. From a gaming performance standpoint, you shouldn't see any difference between a Z68 and a Z77 chipset.

Now, if you are purchasing a new system, there's no reason not to get a 7-series chipset. It's just that if it was my personal system, I wouldn't upgrade for the sake of upgrading. Maybe one of the other new features is important enough to you to warrant an upgrade, it really just depends on your needs are and what a new 7-series motherboard can offer you.

Posted on 2012-04-20 19:42:28

You may have already purchased a board, but Lucid Virtu MVP will help out your graphics card depending on your monitor resolution if you're a gamer. Otherwise, it's the owners with weaker P67 features that would benefit the most.

Posted on 2012-05-21 23:45:25

After 6 years. I have no regrets buying the 7 series board. The USB 3.0 came handy after years passed and still using this build now. If I had bought the 6 series I would have been disappointed to myself, and could have upgraded much earlier.

Next upgrade should come with USB Type C.

Posted on 2018-02-27 06:32:59

Thanks for this explanation!

Posted on 2012-04-24 17:45:48

Kinda late for the party here, but in the interest of stability, I am not planning any OC activities in the next build, as I use my system intensively for graphics, particularly CS6 Photoshop. So, the H77 would seem to be adequate. Disallowing the OC, is there any advantage otherwise to go to  the Z series? (I've done OC validation professionally and well understand the tradeoffs for real world, business type OC activities)

Posted on 2012-07-25 17:28:31

@Starbuck - There probably is no particular reason to go with Z77 for you, but no reason necessarily to push for H77 either.  Both would work, and while H77 is usually cheaper it also has a more limited selection of motherboards that use it.  I would focus more on what other things you need: selection of ports / connections, motherboard form factor, etc - and make the decision on those, rather than specifically on the chipset :)

Posted on 2012-07-25 17:33:51

 One reason to go with the H77 is that it will keep me out of trouble...no OC capability! I did a fair amount of validation work on the first i7's for overclocking and the bug bit me!

I need stability, which is why the H77 comes to mind, but noticing the write-up of the Obsidian work station, I have some additional work to do, namely adding ECC vs non-ECC to the mix.

I may wait out for AMD Trinity before making any determination. The costs of going Intel, especially if work station configurations are being considered, does limit my capabilities.

I just finished a comparison between a high end 24 thread 2 Xeon 6 core DDR3 workstation and my Athlon IIx4 630 running CS6 opening, closing flattening and large brush stroke tests and amazingly, my system performed really well, in one case, (flattening) better than an older  workstation using two 4 core Xeons and DDR2 memory.

That certainly won't translate across the board as a good bench mark will tell you!

Posted on 2012-09-23 15:55:26

Don't discount the B75 chipset -- if you have a customer who has a PCI card that cannot be easily/cheaply replace (ie: certain multi-track sound cards, SCSI cards, etc.), the B75 can handle such much better than the Z77/H77 chipsets.  Why?  The B75 has a native PCI controller embedded into the chipset (Intel), while the other chipsets have to use a PCI to PCIe bridge. 

Q77 is interesting when a user may need a full remote access/administration solution as well as the native (not bridged) PCI functionality. 

Posted on 2012-09-23 09:49:42

yo tengo un msi h77ma-g43 y tiene overclock y funciona de maravilla

Posted on 2012-11-29 14:59:27

does asus p8b75-v can support overclocking........

Posted on 2012-12-29 11:59:40

I don't believe so - the B75 chipset is one of the less-common business oriented chipsets, and so not really aimed at the markets which would be into overclocking (gamers, usually).

Posted on 2012-12-31 17:02:05

Can i connect 2 monitors to H77 ???

Posted on 2013-01-08 18:03:54

Yes, assuming the motherboard has two (or more) video outputs.  I have an Asus P8H77-M at home, and it allows that.

Posted on 2013-01-08 18:26:11
Mike S.

Hey William,  I see that P8H77-M has a VGA and DVI outputs.  Are you using these two video outs to connect to you dual monitors?

Posted on 2013-01-30 08:20:56

The board also has HDMI output. HDMI sends the same video signal as DVI, in fact, so you can adapt between the two easily. My aging monitors only have DVI input, so that is what I use: DVI + HDMI (with an adapter to DVI).

Posted on 2013-01-30 16:55:44

 A very helpful article enlightening the key differences and features. Thanks for the resplendent post.

Posted on 2013-01-14 21:05:34

Thank you. Very helpful.

Posted on 2013-01-20 02:59:59

http://www.gigabyte.com/mic... shows two dual-gigabit-LAN ITX boards, one with H77, one with Z77.

If a board has a M.2 port then it doesn't need a second PCI-E for a fast SSD. SATA SSD is good enough for many of these small systems, also.

PCI-E/M.2 SSD is a lot faster, compared to the 6Gb/s (or 6000/8 = 750MB/s). Even the slowest M.2 SSD is going to be 1570MB/s read and 540MB/s write... so read time is half that of SATA SSD. The higher end SSDs will saturate SATA.

Posted on 2016-12-17 05:30:39