The ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE is a high-end socket LGA1155 motherboard targeted to the forthcoming “Ivy Bridge” processors (third-generation Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors) and also supporting the current “Sandy Bridge” models (second-generation Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors). Let’s see what the ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE will have to offer.
The Intel Z77 will be an upgraded version of the Z68 chipset with the same basic features (Intel Smart Response Technology and Virtu video switching technology), plus native support to four USB 3.0 ports. It will also include the addition of two new technologies: Smart Connect (allowing the computer to receive emails and refresh webpages while it is in sleep mode) and Rapid Start (faster boot times).
In addition, the ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE supports the Virtu Universal MVP, which allows you to combine the performance of the integrated graphics processor available in the CPU with the performance of any video card installed. This is similar to what occurs with the Hybrid SLI and ATI Hybrid Graphics technologies, with the notable difference of not being limited to GPUs from a specific manufacturer.
ASUS has launched 12 different motherboard models based on the Intel Z77 chipset. In the tables below, we compare their main specifications.
|Specification||P8Z77 WS||P8Z77-V DELUXE||SABERTOOTH Z77||P8Z77-V PRO|
|PCI Express x16||4 (x16/x16/x0/x0 or x16/x8/x8/x0 or x8/x8/x8/x8)||3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)||3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)||3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)|
|PCI Express x1||2||4||3||2|
|Wi-Fi||No||Yes (a, b, g, n)||No||Yes (b, g, n)|
|Price||NA||USD 285||USD 240||USD 235|
|Specification||P8Z77-V||P8Z77-V LE||P8Z77-V LK||P8Z77-V LX|
|PCI Express x16||3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)||2 (x16/x4)||3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)||2 (x16/x4)|
|PCI Express x1||2||2||2||2|
|Wi-Fi||Yes (b, g, n)||No||No||No|
|Price||USD 210||USD 165||USD 150||USD 140|
|Specification||Maximus V GENE||P8Z77-M PRO||P8Z77-M||P8Z77-I DELUXE|
|PCI Express x16||2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)||3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)||2 (x16/x4)||1|
|PCI Express x4||1||0||0||0|
|PCI Express x1||0||1||1||0|
|Mini PCI Express||2||0||0||0|
|Price||USD 210||NA||USD 140||NA|
Figure 1 shows you the ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE motherboard.
Figure 1: ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE motherboard
The ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE comes with two PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots, one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot, and four PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots.
The two PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots are controlled by the CPU, with the first slot working at x16 when only one video card is installed, and with both working at x8 when two video cards are installed. Since these slots are controlled by the CPU, they will offer PCI Express 2.0 bandwidth (8 GB/s at x16) when a “Sandy Bridge” CPU is installed, but PCI Express 3.0 bandwidth (16 GB/s at x16) when an “Ivy Bridge” CPU is used.
The third PCI Express x16 slot is 2.0 and always works at x4 speed. If you want to install a dual-slot video card in this slot, you will need a computer case with at least eight expansion slots. (Computer cases usually have seven.)
ASUS did a great job by using different colors at each PCI Express slot, so you can easily identify their speeds: Blue for x16/x8, gray for x8, and black for x4.
The PCI Express x16 slots support both SLI and CrossFireX technologies.
In order to properly accommodate the additional PCI Express devices that are on this motherboard (third PCI Express x16 slot, additional Gigabit Ethernet port, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card, two extra SATA-600 ports, and four extra USB 3.0 ports), 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 USB 3.0, SATA-600, and Gigabit Ethernet ports when transferring files at the same time.
Figure 3: The PLX PEX8608 switch chip
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
Intel socket LGA1155 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, which 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 LGA1155 processors supports DDR3 memories up to 1,333 MHz (“Sandy Bridge” CPUs) or up to 1,600 MHz (“Ivy Bridge” CPUs). According to ASUS, the P8Z77-V DELUXE supports memories up to 2,600 MHz.
The ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE has four memory sockets. Since DDR3 memory modules can be found in capacities up to 8 GB, you can have up to 32 GB with this motherboard if you use four 8 GB modules.
In order to enable the dual-channel mode, you must install two or four memory modules. On the ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE, the first and third memory sockets are blue, while the second and fourth are black. When installing two memory modules, use the blue sockets.
Figure 4: Memory sockets; install two or four modules for the best performance
As with other high-end motherboards from ASUS, the P8Z77-V DELUXE comes with the “MemOK!” feature, which allows you to test the compatibility of the memory modules that are installed by pressing the button shown in Figure 5.
[nextpage title=”On-Board Peripherals”]
The Intel Z77 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip supports two SATA-600 ports and four SATA-300 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). This motherboard has two additional SATA-600 ports, controlled by a Marvell 88SE9128 chip, which supports RAID 0 and 1. These ports are located at the motherboard’s edge and rotated 90°, so video cards won’t block them. Thankfully, ASUS used different colors to identify which SATA ports are SATA-300 (light blue), SATA-600 controlled by the chipset (gray) or SATA-600 controlled by the additional chip (dark blue). See Figure 6.
Figure 6: The four SATA-300 ports (light blue), the two SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (gray), and the two SATA-600 ports controlled by the additional chip (dark blue)
This motherboard also has two independent eSATA-600 ports, controlled by an ASMedia ASM1061 chip.
The Intel Z77 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports. The ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE offers eight USB 2.0 ports, four available on the motherboard rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard; and eight USB 3.0 ports, six located on the motherboard rear panel and two available through a header located on the motherboard, near the main power supply connector. The four additional ports are controlled by two ASMedia ASM1042 chips.
The ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE doesn’t have FireWire ports.
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 new 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 motherboard has on-board optical SPDIF output. A header labeled “
SPDIF_OUT” also provides SPDIF output for you to install a coaxial SPDIF output or to route digital audio to older video cards that require this physical connection in order to have digital audio output in their HDMI connectors.
The analog audio outputs are independent, so you won’t need to use the “mic in” or the “line in” jacks when installing an analog 7.1 speaker set.
The portrayed motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by the chipset using an Intel WG82579V chip to make the interface with the physical layer, and one controlled by a Realtek RTL8111F chip.
The ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE also comes with a module supporting Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n), which is to be installed on a special connector on the motherboard rear panel. It is important to notice that this module supports the latest Bluetooth standard (4.0, maximum theoretical transfer rate of 24 Mbps), while some competing motherboards only support Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (maximum theoretical transfer rate of 3 Mbps). Another important difference is on the Wi-Fi portion of the module, which is a dual-band device, i.e., it supports the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies, and has two antennas, allowing you to reach higher transfer speed when using the IEEE 802.11n standard compared to single-band devices operating at 2.4 GHz. These are important features to understand when comparing this motherboard to competing products.
Figure 7: The Bluetooth/Wi-Fi module
In Figure 8, you can see the motherboard rear panel with four USB 2.0 ports, the Bluetooth/Wi-Fi module installed, six USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA-600 ports, optical SPDIF output, HDMI output, DisplayPort output, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, the “BIOS Flashback” button, and the analog audio jacks.
Figure 8: Motherboard rear panel
[nextpage title=”Other Features”]
The BIOS Flashback button, shown in Figure 8, allows you to easily flash the motherboard BIOS with the computer turned off and without having to load any BIOS flashing program. With the computer turned off, simply install a USB memory on a USB port containing the file to be flashed, press the button for three seconds, and voilà!
This motherboard has a POST diagnostics display, where you can see, through a two-digit code, which component is preventing the computer from turning on.
Figure 9: POST diagnostics display
The motherboard has on-board power and reset buttons, and two switches, labeled TPU and EPU. The EPU switch enables or disables the power-savings features available, while the TPU switch enables or disables automatic overclocking. The EPU switch can be seen in Figure 10, while the TPU switch was already shown in Figure 5.
Figure 10: The EPU switch and the power and reset buttons
In Figure 11, you can see all of the accessories that come with the ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE has 16 phases for the CPU main voltage (Vcc a.k.a. Vcore), two for the CPU VSA voltage (memory controller), two for the CPU VTT voltage (PCI Express and DMI interfaces), and four for the CPU integrated video controller (VAXG). Therefore, it uses a “16+2+1+4” configuration.
Figure 12: Voltage regulator circuit
The voltage regulator is controlled by ASUS’s Digi+ EPU (ASP1000C) integrated circuit, using a digital design.
The ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE uses solid electrolytic capacitors. All coils on this motherboard are ferrite-core models, which can provide up to 20% improvement in efficiency.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
[nextpage title=”Overclocking Options”]
The ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE has a few overclocking options. Below, we list the most important ones (0906 BIOS):
- Base clock: From 80 MHz to 300 MHz in 0.1 MHz increments
- CPU core voltage: From +0.005 V to +0.635 V in 0.005 V increments
- CPU VCCSA (memory controller) voltage: From 0.8000 V to 1.7000 V in 0.00625 V increments
- CPU VTT (“I/O”) voltage: From 0.8000 V to 1.7000 V in 0.00625 V increments
- CPU PLL voltage: From 1.2000 V to 2.2000 V in 0.00625 V increments
- Chipset (PCH) voltage: From 0.8000 V to 1.7000 V in 0.0100 V increments
- Memory voltage: From 1.200 V to 1.920 V in 0.005 V increments
- Memory reference voltage: From 0.3950x to 0.6300x in 0.0050x increments
Figure 13: CPU overclocking options
Figure 14: CPU overclocking options
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE include:
- Socket: 1155
- Chipset: Intel Z77 Express
- Super I/O: Nuvoton NCT6779D
- Parallel ATA: None
- Serial ATA: Four SATA-300 ports, two SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5), and two
SATA-600 ports controlled by a Marvell 88SE9128 chip (RAID 0 and 1)
- External SATA: Two eSATA-600 ports controlled by an ASMedia ASM1061 chip
- USB 2.0: Eight USB 2.0 ports, four on the rear panel and four available through two headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: Eight USB 3.0 ports, six soldered on the motherboard rear panel and two available through a header on the motherboard, four controlled by the chipset and four controlled by two ASMedia ASM1042 chips
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): None
- On-board video: Yes, controlled by the CPU, HDMI and DisplayPort 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 the chipset using an Intel WG82579V chip to make the interface with the physical layer, and one controlled by a Realtek RTL8111F chip; Wi-Fi dual-band IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n support
- Buzzer: No
- Infrared interface: No
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: Two PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots (x16/x0 or x8/x8, supporting SLI and CrossFireX), one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x4), and four PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots (PLX PEX8608 switch chip)
- Memory: Four DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-2600, 32 GB maximum)
- Fan connectors: One four-pin connector for the CPU cooler and four four-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: Bluetooth 4.0, POST diagnostics display, MemOk! button
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: One
- Programs included: Motherboard utilities
- More Information: https://www.asus.com
- Average Price in the U.S.*: USD 285.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
The ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE is a high-end motherboard, meaning it is targeted to the most advanced user, who understands the importance of the PLX PEX8608 switch chip. Since the chipset doesn’t have enough PCI Express lanes available to connect all the devices that are present on this motherboard, this chip automatically switches PCI Express lanes in order to provide the highest performance possible to the device that is requiring performance at any given moment. On motherboards without this chip, you need to manually disable devices (namely, USB 3.0 and SATA-600 ports) that you are not using if you want to achieve the highest possible performance on the ports that are being used.
Feature-wise, it comes with a myriad of options: Three PCI Express x16 slots (working at x16/x0/x8 or x8/x8/x4), eight USB 3.0 ports, four SATA-600 ports, two independent eSATA-600 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a high-end voltage regulator circuit, and very good overclocking options.
It is important to understand that the Bluetooth/Wi-Fi module that comes with this motherboard is better than modules available in some competing products: The Bluetooth is 4.0 (not 2.1+EDR) and the Wi-Fi is dual-band with two antennas, which allows you to achieve higher speeds at you IEEE 802.11n network.
Also noteworthy is the high-end audio codec used by ASUS on this motherboard, the Realtek ALC898, which provides very high signal-to-noise ratios (110 dB for the outputs and 104 dB for the inputs), allowing you to use the on-board audio from this motherboard for professional tasks, such as audio editing.
In summary, it is a terrific option if you want the extra features brought by this motherboard. Of course, if you don’t need so many fancy features, you can pick a more affordable product.
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