ASUS P8Z77-V PRO LGA 1155 Ivy Bridge Motherboard Review - Meet The Family - P8Z77-V

Meet The Family - P8Z77-V

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Maintaining its position as the worldwide leader in motherboards following the success of the Sandy Bridge and Sandy Bridge-E series, ASUS has launched a complete lineup of Intel Z77-based LGA 1155 socket motherboards: the P8Z77 Series, ROG Maximus V Series (GENE, Formula, Extreme), TUF SABERTOOTH Z77 and P8Z77 WS. All these motherboards feature leading digital power design (Dual Intelligent Processors 3) along with innovative new features specific to the needs of diverse market segments and user needs. If you are in pursuit of high performance, quality, stability, unique intelligent cooling or a gaming motherboard, check out the below details and choose one to experience how you can benefit from the experience of the world’s most award-winning motherboard brand.

 

The new P8Z77 Series motherboards offer powerful performance mixed with unprecedented control and convenience, for the best computing experience today.

 

Not to be forgotten, the P8Z77 Workstation boards also come loaded with the latest standards for peace of mind expandability and reliability. Gen3 4-Way CrossFireXTM graphics power works up to 50% faster than the previous Gen 2 4-Way CrossFireXTM, while dual server-class Intel LAN ports leads to a 71% lower CPU utilization, increasing throughput to achieve outstanding performance as well as better support for diverse operating systems. And with complete compatibility with RAID and LAN cards, data is secure and redundancy failures a thing of the past.

 

Dual Intelligent Processors 3 w/Smart DIGI+

ASUS started implementing twin onboard chips for performance optimization and power savings in 2010. These "Dual Intelligent Processors" are made up of the "TurboV Processing Unit" (TPU) and "Energy Processing Unit" (EPU). The arrival of the third generation of Dual Intelligent Processors means exciting things for overclocking enthusiasts. Smart DIGI+ offers overclockers a pair of power management profiles that cater to the two most common usage scenarios: maximum performance for gaming or rendering and low-intensity for web browsing and office productivity. Activating what ASUS calls the "Smart DIGI+ Key" profile results in higher performance with a single click. Some manual fine tuning of CPU ratios within the TPU can result in an advertised 85% boost in performance. On the other hand there's the "Smart CPU Power Level" profile, which can reduce CPU power consumption to a specified wattage as low as 35W. Smart DIGI+ is available for all P8Z77-V motherboards. 

 

T-Topology

ASUS has decided to do away with the old school method of serial "daisy chain" reads between memory and the CPU. To counter the inherent latency in this type of setup, ASUS has introduced what they call "T-Topology" to essentially perform the memory reads in parallel thanks to a modified trace layout. This could theoretically result in a 15% boost in performance, but only in the case of 4 DIMMs being populated. It does nothing clock-for-clock, but rather increases the overclocking envelope when all slots are populated. While only real performance geeks will see improvements by using 4 DIMMs, you have to hand it to ASUS for making the effort to model the transmission line impedances and trace layout themselves as opposed to using Intel's stock layout. 

 

DDR3 1600

The P8Z77 boards have been tweaked to utilize the full 1600MHz allowed by DDR3 memory by default. One must remember that while DDR3 may be advertised to run at 1600MHz, this is merely the speed under which the RAM has demonstrated stable performance under testing. Typically the RAM will run at a default frequency governed by the CPU - 1333MHz in the case of Sandy Bridge. Thanks to an auto-detect feature, Ivy Bridge will default to the native clock speed of the RAM it's paired with. Whereas most users would need to venture into the BIOS to increase their memory speed from the 1333MHz factory default, ASUS has spared Sandy Bridge toting customers some setup time by implementing this change. Another thing to consider is that just because the RAM is capable of running at higher than stock clock speeds doesn't mean that the memory controller in conjunction with the board can match those frequencies. ASUS has optimized the UEFI through extensive validation for wide compatibility and has also worked to optimize the trace layouts to maximize support for DDR3 overclocking.

 

Q-LED

Diagnosing posting problems can be a real headache after completing a tedious build, so ASUS positions several red LEDs around the motherboard to check key components in sequence during booting. Lights next to the GPU, CPU, RAM, and Boot devices shows you what's causing the system to hang at a glance.  This feature really does make diagnosing problems much easier, and might save you a call to call the resident PC doctor (and the docs themselves will appreciate it)!

 

Wi-Fi GO!

There are two big convenience features that come packaged with Wi-Fi GO!. The first is DLNA streaming, a wireless communications protocol that is becoming the norm in TVs, smartphones, and tablets. Having a DLNA-certified motherboard means that one can wirelessly stream HD content, music, and photos from a desktop PC to any of these devices, provided that they are connected to the same network. While a "Play To" option already exists within Windows Media Player, ASUS offers their own intuitive DLNA Media Hub for dead-simple streaming. The second big offering from Wi-Fi GO! is a Remote Desktop client. Much like Splashtop or LogMeIn, ASUS' client lets you access the files on your desktop from the comfort of your couch via a smartphone or tablet. 

 

Fan Xpert 2

Continuing the theme of adding contextual value to the motherboard, ASUS' Fan Xpert 2 offers the most comprehensive fan control that we have ever seen in a motherboard. The Fan Xpert 2 software supports 3-pin and 4-pin fan headers, which is great for those with a mix of fan headers between their CPU cooler and chassis fans.  All of the headers are 4-pin to make use of any and all 4-pin fans you might have.  The CPU headers only have 4-pin control, but all other headers will work fine with both. What makes Fan Xpert 2 so powerful is how it auto-calibrates each fan to determine the full performance envelope of your cooling setup. That way the software knows when an individual fan is effectively silent and when it is kicked into high gear. Users have the option to set fans at a fixed RPM or customize the RPM curve for each fan to their liking. Being able to define the name and location of each fan within the chassis is icing on the cake.  Chalk up $20+ in the value column, getting all the control of a fan controller without any of the space taken up in the case.

 

Network iControl

One is likely to run into a few hiccups if they try to execute a large download while streaming HD video. Network iControl allows the user to prioritize network traffic by application, allowing for a stutter-free video stream at the expense of a slower download. By activating Network iControl with a single click, the program currently in use has its data and bandwidth prioritized over any other programs that might be running. Favorite programs can be put into a bandwidth hierarchy and favorite profiles can be setup to run at specific times to maximize throughput and minimize congestion on your network. 

 

USB Charger+

To combat the issues customers were having with charging their iPads and iPhones from low-powered USB ports, ASUS introduced their AI Charger utility to effectively trick the iDevices into recognizing a low-powered port as a high-powered one. USB Charger+ is the next logical step forward as it now gives customers the ability to also charge non-Apple devices from a PC in any state: sleep, hibernation, or even powered off at an advertised 3x faster. 

 

USB 3.0 Boost

While USB 3.0 is already pretty darn fast, there are remnants of USB 2.0 technology that are holding it back, namely Bulk-Only Transport (BOT) protocol. This outdated protocol, which limits file transfers to a single command at a time, is still tucked in a dusty corner of Windows 7. Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 8 will support the newest USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) that will enable a rapid sequential transfer of commands. All ASUS P8Z77 boards support this new protocol. Those stuck with traditional BOT protocol devices can still benefit from a Turbo mode that collects file transfer commands into batches to be sent out all at once, giving the impression of lower latency. ASUS claims that USB 3.0 Boost should push USB 3.0's already blazing 4.8Gb/s by an advertised 170%, although numerous benchmarks have seen improvements more along the lines of 50%.

 

USB BIOS Flashback

This feature allows the BIOS to be updated without CPU or DRAM even needing to be installed in the system. As long as the power supply is connected, the user can connect a USB stick containing the BIOS update and depress the specially marked BIOS Flashback button for 3 seconds. The UEFI BIOS is automatically updated without the user so much as booting the computer. This means that one can recover from a corrupt BIOS even if their machine refuses to post. A very convenient feature indeed!

 

UEFI BIOS

The idea of a graphical BIOS has been around for some time now, however ASUS was the first to offer one that can be fully navigated by mouse - another way to open up the world of advanced settings to the average user. There's a lot of options to be had here for novice and advanced users alike, and the clean and easily-to-navigate interface is sure to be enjoyed by everyone. We'll take a closer look at the GUI of the ASUS UEFI BIOS later in the review. 

 

P8Z77-V Deluxe

P8Z77-V PRO

P8Z77-V

P8Z77-V LE

CPU Socket

 
LGA1155 socket for 3rd/2nd Gen. Intel® Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3 Processors (22nm/32nm)

Chipset

 
Intel® Z77 Express Chipset

Memory

 DDR3 2600(O.C.)*/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1600/1333MHz

Power Design

 Dual Intelligent Processors 3 - SMART DIGI+ Power Control
 20-Phase Power(16-Phase for CPU & 4-Phase for iGPU)
16-Phase Power(12-Phase for CPU & 4-Phase for iGPU)
12-Phase Power(8-Phase for CPU & 4-Phase for iGPU)
8-Phase Power (6-Phase for CPU & 2-Phase for iGPU)

PCIex16 Slots

 3

Multi-GPU

 CrossFireX/SLI  
 CrossFireX

Gbit LAN

 2 (Intel/Realtek)
 1 (Intel) 
 1

Wireless Connection

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/nDual band 2.4/5GHzBluetooth v4.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/nSingle band 2.4GHz 
 --

Audio

  8-ch HD, DTS  
 8-ch HD

Storage

4*SATA
6Gb/s4*SATA 3Gb/s2*eSATA
4*SATA 6Gb/s4*SATA 3Gb/s1*eSATA 
4*SATA 6Gb/s4*SATA 3Gb/s
4*SATA 6Gb/s
(1 is eSATA port)
4*SATA 3Gb/s

USB

 8*USB 3.0
(4 ports at back panel, 4 ports at mid-board)
6*USB 3.0
(4 ports at back panel, 2 ports at mid-board) 

 

One thing we pointed out in our reviews of ASUS' X79 boards is that we are big fans of the way ASUS lays out their board families.  Instead of a typical board heirarchy of varying features and components, ASUS uses the same components in their budget boards as the flagship models.  The mentality here is that you shouldn't have to shell out for the higher-end motherboards to be able to maximize the potential of your CPUs overclocking headroom.  Instead, ASUS uses a high-performance foundation in the budget motherboards, and each successive model adds a tangible set of features which correspond to the pricing tier. 

 

The table above demonstrates this graphically very well, we see the primary performance drivers are the same with every board.  Each board will allow oustanding memory performance and power delivery, keys to making the most of overclocking headroom.  We can then see the tiers of features you receive with each upgrade, and it's easy to see what you're getting for your money.  They all have the same core features and utilities available, and you don't see any handicapping of software or hardware features on the budget motherboards.  The reason we like this so much is that other approaches can be downright confusing.  A budget board might have quad-SLI capability but limited overclocking features, but a step up yields only standard Crossfire/SLI capability but opens up more overclocking headroom.  These features are conflicting, and it makes choosing the right board a bit more difficult.  With ASUS, it's almost as simple as choosing the features you care about, but no matter which way you go, you're hardware isn't going to be handicapped.

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