The Intel DZ87KLT-75K is a high-end socket LGA1150 motherboard targeted for the “Haswell” processors (fourth-generation Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors), coming with a Thunderbolt port, one Mini PCI Express/mSATA slot, a PLX switch chip, and more. Let’s see what this motherboard has to offer.
The new Intel Z87 chipset provides two important upgrades compared to its predecessor, the Z77: six USB 3.0 ports instead of four, and six SATA-600 ports instead of only two. Another important difference between the two chipsets is where the video outputs of the motherboard are connected. While with both chipsets the video is generated by the CPU, on the Z77 the video signal was routed to the chipset, and the video outputs were connected to the chipset. On the Z87 chipset, the video outputs are connected directly to the processor. Both chipsets support up to three independent video monitors. The Z87 supports all other features provided by the Z77, such as Smart Response (installing an SSD as a cache for the main hard drive), Smart Connect (allowing the computer to receive emails and refresh webpages while in sleep mode), and Rapid Start (faster boot times) technologies.
You can see the Intel DZ87KLT-75K motherboard in Figure 1.
The Intel DZ87KLT-75K comes with three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, one standard PCI slot, and one Mini PCI Express/mSATA-600 slot.
The three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots are controlled by the CPU, with the first slot working at x16 when only one video card is installed, the first two working at x8 when two video cards are installed, and with the first working at x8, and the other two working at x4 when three video cards are installed.
This configuration is somewhat different from what we’ve seen in competing products, where the third PCI Express x16 slot is 2.0, controlled by the chipset, and works at x1, x2, or x4 speed.
All three PCI Express x16 slots support the CrossFireX and the SLI technologies.
If you plan to install a dual-slot video card in the third PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, you will have to buy a case with at least eight slots. (Computer cases usually have seven.)
Since the Intel Z87 chipset does not support standard PCI slots, the motherboard uses an ITE IT8892 bridge chip to connect the standard PCI slot to a PCI Express x1 lane.
One of the highlights of this motherboard is the presence of a Mini PCI Express slot, allowing you to install a Wi-Fi card that uses this format. This slot is also compatible with mSATA SSDs, as it is connected to a SATA-600 port. Usually mSATA ports are SATA-300, so this is a great advantage.
In order to properly accommodate the additional PCI Express devices that are on this motherboard, the board makes use of a PLX PEX8608 switch chip. This chip automatically switches the available PCI Express lanes to the devices that need them. On motherboards with too many PCI Express devices without a switch chip, you need to manually disable devices on the motherboard setup in order to achieve full performance on devices connected to the additional USB 3.0 and SATA-600 ports, and the mSATA slot when transferring files at the same time.
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
Intel socket LGA1150 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket LGA1150 processors supports DDR3 memories up to 1,600 MHz. According to Intel, the DZ87KLT-75K supports memories up to 2,400 MHz.
The Intel DZ87KLT-75K has four memory sockets. Since DDR3 memory modules can be found in capacities up to 8 GiB, you can have up to 32 GiB with this motherboard if you use four 8 GiB modules.
In order to enable the dual-channel mode, you must install two or four memory modules. On the Intel DZ87KLT-75K, the first and third memory sockets are blue, while the second and fourth are black. When installing two memory modules, use the blue sockets.
[nextpage title=”On Board Peripherals”]
The Intel Z87 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip has six SATA-600 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). This motherboard has two additional SATA-600 ports, controlled by an ASMedia ASM1061 chip. All eight ports are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards won’t block them.
The Mini PCI Express slot is connected to one of the SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset, but the technical documentation provided on Intel’s website does not say which.
The Intel Z87 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and six USB 3.0 ports. The Intel DZ87KLT-75K offers eight USB 2.0 ports, two located on the motherboard’s rear panel and six available through three headers located on the motherboard; and eight USB 3.0 ports, two available through one header and connected directly to the chipset, and six located on the motherboard’s rear panel and connected to two USB 3.0 ports of the chipset by the way of two Genesys Logic GL3520 hub chips.
The Intel DZ87KLT-75K comes with two FireWire ports, one on the motherboard’s rear panel and available through a header. Both are controlled by a Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A chip.
This motherboard supports 7.1+2 audio format, i.e., eight channels plus two independent channels for audio streaming. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using the Realtek ALC898 codec, which is an outstanding solution, providing an impressive 110 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 104 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. This means you are able to capture and edit analog audio (e.g., converting LPs to CDs or MP3, converting VHS to DVDs or any other digital format, etc.) with this motherboard without adding any background noise.
The analog audio outputs are independent if you use a 5.1 analog speaker set. If you use an analog 7.1 speaker set, you must use either the “line in” (blue) or the “mic in” (pink) jacks for the two additional speakers.
The motherboard comes with an on-board optical SPDIF output. It also has a three-pin header labeled “SPDIFO,” where you can install an adapter to have a coaxial SPDIF output or to connect a cable to older video cards that required a physical connection to have audio on their HDMI outputs.
One of the highlights of this motherboard is the presence of a Thunderbolt port, which is controlled by an Intel DSL4410 chip. This port also works as a Mini DisplayPort connector.
The portrayed motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel i210 chip (“6K467101JW”) and the other controlled by an Intel I217-V chip.
In Figure 7, you can see the motherboard’s rear panel with shared PS/2 connector for keyboard and mouse, two USB 2.0 ports, external “clear CMOS” button, FireWire port, six USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, HDMI output, optical SPDIF output, the analog audio jacks, and the Thunderbolt port.
[nextpage title=”Other Features”]
The Intel DZ87KLT-75K has a few additional features not usually seen on products from Intel. This motherboard has two two-digit POST diagnostics display, so you can see, through a four-digit code, which component is preventing your computer from turning on.
Additionally, the motherboard has a series of LEDs for diagnostics, which include the traditional “CPU init,” “video init,” etcetera, and unique alerts such as “CPU hot” and “voltage regulator hot.”
The portrayed motherboard also has an infrared interface, making it inexpensive for you to add an infrared sensor to be able to use a remote control or to connect devices using infrared technology (IrDA).
In Figure 10, you can see all of the accessories that come with the Intel DZ87KLT-75K.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the Intel DZ87KLT-75K has eight phases for the CPU, controlled by an IR3563B chip, which uses a digital design. It is important to keep in mind that, while there are competing products with 12 phases, some of them use a six-phase controller chip, doubling the number of phases to 12 by using phase-doubler chips.
Each of the phases is driven by an IR3553 chip, which combines the three required transistors (“driver,” “high side,” and “low side”) in a single integrated circuit.
The portrayed motherboard comes with a series of LEDs for you to monitor the use of the phases.
The Intel DZ87KLT-75K uses solid capacitors and ferrite-core coils. If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Intel DZ87KLT-75K include:
- Socket: LGA1150
- Chipset: Intel Z87 Express
- Super I/O: Nuvoton NCT6683
- Parallel ATA: None
- Serial ATA: Six SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5) and two SATA-600 ports controlled by an ASMedia ASM1061 chip
- External SATA: None
- USB 2.0: Eight USB 2.0 ports, two on the motherboard’s rear panel and six available through three headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: Eight USB 3.0 ports, six available on the motherboard’s rear panel and two available through a header on the motherboard; the rear USB 3.0 ports are connected to the chipset by way of two Genesys Logic GL3520 hub chips
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): Two ports, one on the motherboard’s rear panel and one available through a header, controlled by a Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A chip
- Thunderbolt: One port, controlled by an Intel DSL4410 chip
- On-board video: Controlled by the CPU; HDMI and Thunderbolt connectors
- On-board audio: Produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC898 codec (7.1+2 channels, 24-bit resolution, 192 kHz sampling rate, 110 dB SNR for the outputs, and 104 dB SNR for the inputs), on-board optical SPDIF output
- On-board LAN: Two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel i210 chip (“6K467101JW”) and the other controlled by an Intel I217-V chip
- Buzzer: Yes
- Infrared interface: Yes
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: Three PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots (working at x16/x0/x0, x8/x8/x0 or x8/x4/x4), three PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, one PCI slot (ITE IT8892 bridge chip), and one Mini PCI Express/mSATA-600 slot; PLX PEX8608 switch chip
- Memory: Four DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-2400, 32 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: One four-pin connector for the CPU cooler and five four-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: POST diagnostics display, diagnostics LEDs, and phase-monitoring LEDs
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: One
- Programs included: Motherboard utilities
- More Information: https://www.intel.com
- Average Price in the U.S.*: USD 280.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.
The Intel DZ87KLT-75K is a good option for to the user who wants to build a system for audio and video editing, as you can tell by the presence of a Thunderbolt port, two FireWire ports, and a high-end audio codec that provides very high signal-to-noise ratios (110 dB for the outputs and 104 dB for the inputs). But, of course, it can be used by enthusiasts who need the Thunderbolt port.
The third PCI Express x16 slot of the Intel DZ87KLT-75K is controlled by the CPU and therefore follows the 3.0 specification, and can be used to build CrossFireX and SLI arrays. Other highlights include a Mini PCI Express slot supporting mSATA SSDs with a SATA-600 interface (several motherboards use SATA-300), eight SATA-600 ports (one of them shared with the mSATA-600 slot), and eight USB 3.0 ports.
The presence of a PLX PEX8608 switch chip is a very important feature that not many users realize its importance. This chip automatically switches the available PCI Express lanes to the devices that need them. On motherboards with too many PCI Express devices without a switch chip, you need to manually disable devices on the motherboard setup in order to achieve full performance on devices connected to the additional USB 3.0 and SATA-600 ports, and the mSATA slot when transferring files at the same time.
The portrayed motherboard also comes with smaller yet interesting features, such as the phase-monitoring LEDs, two diagnostics displays, and a series of diagnostics LEDs.
The only drawback we found on this motherboard is how its rear panel USB 3.0 ports are connected. Each group of three ports is connected to a USB 3.0 hub chip, and each chip is connected to a USB 3.0 port of the chipset. If you use two or more ports that are actually connected to the same USB 3.0 port on the chipset at the same time, the performance will drop. Unfortunately the manufacturer does not label which ports are shared.