The ASUS P8Z77-V PRO is a top mid-range 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 PRO 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 PRO 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 275||USD 240||USD 225|
|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 145||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 200||USD 160||USD 140||NA|
Figure 1 shows you the ASUS P8Z77-V PRO motherboard.
Figure 1: ASUS P8Z77-V PRO motherboard
The ASUS P8Z77-V PRO comes with two PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots, one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot, two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots and two standard PCI 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 workss 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.
Since the Intel Z77 doesn’t support standard PCI slots, this motherboard uses an ASMedia ASM1083 chip to connect them to PCI Express x1 lanes.
Figure 2: Slots
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 PRO supports memories up to 2,600 MHz.
The ASUS P8Z77-V PRO 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 PRO, 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 3: Memory sockets; install two or four modules for the best performance
As with other motherboards from ASUS, the P8Z77-V PRO 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 4.
Figure 4: The MemOK! button
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 an ASMedia ASM1061 chip (no RAID support). 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 5. There are no eSATA ports.
Figure 5: 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)
The Intel Z77 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports. The ASUS P8Z77-V PRO offers 10 USB 2.0 ports, two available on the motherboard rear panel and eight available through four headers located on the motherboard; and eight USB 3.0 ports, four located on the motherboard rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. The four additional ports are controlled by two ASMedia ASM1042 chips.
The ASUS P8Z77-V PRO 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 Realtek ALC892 codec, which is a mainstream-grade product, providing a 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 90 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. These specifications are good for the average user, but if you want to work professionally with audio editing or converting analog audio sources into digital format, you will need to pick a motherboard with at least 100 dB signal-to-noise ratio for its inputs.
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 one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by the chipset using an Intel WG82579V chip to make the interface with the physical layer.
The ASUS P8Z77-V PRO also comes with a module supporting Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b/g/n), which is to be installed on a special connector on the motherboard rear panel. This module, however, is a single-band device working at 2.4 GHz, so motherboards with a dual-band radio, such as the ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE will ac
hieve a higher transfer rate on IEEE 802.11n networks.
Figure 6: The Wi-Fi module
In Figure 7, you can see the motherboard rear panel with a shared PS/2 connector for keyboard and mouse, four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, the Wi-Fi module installed, optical SPDIF output, HDMI output, DisplayPort output, VGA output, DVI-I output, Gigabit Ethernet port, and the analog audio jacks.
Figure 7: Motherboard rear panel
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! The location of this button, however, is not convenient, as you will have to open your computer case in order to access it. On the DELUXE version of this motherboard, this button is located on the motherboard rear panel, which makes more sense.
Figure 8: The BIOS Flashback button
The motherboard has 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.
Figure 9: The TPU and EPU switches
In Figure 10, you can see all of the accessories that come with the ASUS P8Z77-V PRO.
Figure 10: Accessories
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the ASUS P8Z77-V PRO has 12 phases for the CPU main voltage (Vcc a.k.a. Vcore), one for the CPU VSA voltage (memory controller), one for the CPU VTT voltage (PCI Express and DMI interfaces), and four for the CPU integrated video controller (VAXG). Therefore, it uses a “12+1+1+4” configuration.
Figure 11: Voltage regulator circuit
The voltage regulator is controlled by ASUS’s Digi+ EPU (ASP1000C) integrated circuit, using a digital design.
The ASUS P8Z77-V PRO 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.
The ASUS P8Z77-V PRO 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 12: CPU overclocking options
Figure 13: CPU overclocking options
Figure 14: Voltage options
The main specifications for the ASUS P8Z77-V PRO 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 an ASMedia ASM1061 chip (no RAID)
- External SATA: None
- USB 2.0: 10 USB 2.0 ports, two on the rear panel and eight available through four headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: Eight USB 3.0 ports, four soldered on the motherboard rear panel and four available through two headers 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, VGA, DVI-I, HDMI, and DisplayPort connectors
- On-board audio: Produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC892 codec (7.1+2 channels, 24-bit resolution, 192 kHz sampling rate, 97 dB SNR for the outputs, and 90 dB SNR for the inputs), on-board optical SPDIF output
- On-board LAN: One Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by the chipset using an Intel WG82579V chip to make the interface with the physical layer; Wi-Fi single-band IEEE 802.11b/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), two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, and two standard PCI slots (ASMedia ASM1083 bridge chip)
- Memory: Four DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-2600, 32 GB maximum)
- Fan connectors: One four-pin connector for the CPU cooler and five four-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: 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 225.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.
The ASUS P8Z77-V PRO is a top mid-range motherboard, and therefore targeted to the user who wants more features than mainstream motherboards provide, such as three PCI Express x16 slots, eight USB 3.0 ports, a Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11b/g/n card, and an above-average voltage regulator circuit.
The only feature that we didn’t like about the P8Z77-V PRO was the choice of audio codec. Since it is a top mid-range product, we’d expect it to use a high-end codec such as the ALC898 or the ALC889, which provide a higher signal-to-noise ratio. On the other hand, if you are not going to work professionally with audio editing or converting analog audio to digital format, that won’t be a problem for you.
If you want even more features, you may consider the ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE, which brings the following advantages over the PRO model and costs USD 50 more:
- Realtek ALC898 audio codec (higher signal-to-noise ratio)
- The Wi-Fi card is dual-band with two antennas, achieving higher performance on IEEE 802.11n networks
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Two Gigabit Ethernet ports instead of only one
- Presence of a PLX switch chip, allowing higher performance when several data transfers are being executed at the same time
- POST diagnostics display
- Two eSATA-600 ports
- Button for the “BIOS Flashback” function located on the motherboard rear panel
- Voltage regulator circuit with more phases
The PRO model, however, has VGA and DVI-I outputs, connectors not available on the DELUXE model.
Of course, if you don’t need all the extra features available on the ASUS P8Z77-V PRO, such as additional USB 3.0 ports, a third PCI Express x16 slot, and a Wi-Fi card, you can pick a more affordable product.