ASUS has made great strides towards making their motherboards as self-contained as possible. By avoiding dependence on OS, chipset, memory, and even fan type to execute advanced functions, the P8Z77 series gives customers a wealth of functionality right out of the box, and the P8Z77-V PRO exemplifies this. Rather than simply focusing on playing the numbers game with ports and certain performance metrics, ASUS provides a thoughtfully laid out board with conveniently placed fan headers, plenty of space for large air-based coolers, and right-angle SATA ports for easier cable routing. Diagnostic features like a removable BIOS chip, UEFI SPD info, POST status LEDs, and a highly versatile USB flashback utility make dealing with potential issues as painless as possible. ASUS offers any adjustment you'd want to make in the UEFI accessible in the OS with a friendly and familiar UI. It's great for overclocking because it removes the shut down-reboot cycle, so you can make changes, stress test, and repeat without needing to hop back into the BIOS.
ASUS places a high value on transparency, not only between themselves and the customer, but also between the customer and the machine. The ASUS UEFI BIOS continues to be the most intuitive, best-looking and functional graphical BIOS that we've had the pleasure of using, and it's already Windows 8-ready on ASUS' Z77 and X79 platforms. The easy-to-use auto-overclocking options allow users to be as tenacious as they please when it comes to pushing their rig, and makes it almost too easy for the passive overclocker to realize a nice boost in system performance. The adaptive nature of the auto-OC functions means you'll get safe OCs that match your setup, instead of generic clock speeds. This means that even if you've got a "whimpy" cooling setup, the board will iterate and find a great clock for you setup. We also noticed some very good, and not overly-aggressive voltages being placed on the CPU, which means you're getting a great overall overclock, and all it takes is a couple pushes of a button and a few minutes of your time. Even for hardcore manual overclockers, the auto OC gives you an awefully good starting point, and the iterative process does some of the tedious work for you.
Those serious about cooling will find great comfort in the level of optimization that Fan Xpert II has to offer, and the fact that it essentially makes a fan controller obsolete and unnecessary is, quite frankly, pretty awesome. Last but certainly not least, Wi-Fi GO! and Network iControl turns your desktop into a very capable media storage and streaming hub that is ultra-simple to setup. Add the fact that all of these features can be toggled and accessed from within thge neatly-packaged AISuite II, and this board has something for any enthusiast to enjoy. With so many advanced options being drawn closer to the surface of the user experience, a higher end motherboard suddenly becomes more compelling, more justifiable, and most importantly more fun to play with.
Performance is also great, and we love the incredible speeds the Turbo and UASP USB 3.0 modes provide, with the Turbo giving us 425/410 MB/s read/write speeds... almost as good as SATA. The additonal ASMedia 6GB/s SATA port allows those with more than two SSDs to realize more of the capability of their additional SSDs, with speeds almost exactly in-between 3GB/s and 6GB/s.
Even with a discounted price of $209 versus an original MSRP of $235, the ASUS P8Z77-V PRO sits at the top of the mid-range enthusiast market. Comparable boards like the $180 MSI Z77A GD65, $170 Gigabyte Z77X UD3H, and $135 ASRock Z77 Extreme4 offer their own unique advantages, but none offer the same level of intuitive control as the ASUS board. Alot can be said about value when you talk about the upgraded power components, the fan-controller built into the motherboard, Wi-Fi capability, and the overall pleasant experience with the P8Z77-V Pro. Whether or not the huge feature set is worth a $29 to $74 premium is up to you and your budget. Rest assured, you can't go wrong with the P8Z77-V PRO and the support of an ASUS Premium Service warranty, and we'd be hard-pressed to recommend anything else in the $175-250 price bracket. It's really down to the whole experience, and it's been a fantastic one with the P8Z77-V Pro.
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