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. The SATA ports are located at the motherboard’s edge and rotated 90°, so video cards won’t block them. ASUS used different colors to identify which SATA ports are SATA-300 (black), SATA-600 controlled by the chipset (brown) or SATA-600 controlled by the additional chip (gray). See Figure 6.
This motherboard also has two independent eSATA-600 ports, controlled by another ASMedia ASM1061 chip.
The Intel Z77 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports. The ASUS SABERTOOTH Z77 offers ten USB 2.0 ports, four available on the motherboard rear panel and six available through three headers located on the motherboard; and six USB 3.0 ports. Four of these ports are controlled by the chipset, two located on the motherboard rear panel and two available through a header located on the motherboard, near the SATA ports, and two are controlled by an ASMedia ASM1042 chip and available on the rear panel of the motherboard.
The ASUS SABERTOOTH Z77 doesn’t have FireWire ports.
This motherboard supports the 7.1 audio format, i.e., eight channels. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using the Realtek ALC892 codec, which is a good mainstream solution,
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 specs are good for the mainstream user, but if you are looking into working professionally with audio editing, you should look for a motherboard that provides an SNR of at least 97 dB for the analog input.
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.
In Figure 8, you can see the motherboard rear panel with four USB 2.0 ports, a clear area for airflow (notice the fan), four USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA-600 ports, optical SPDIF output, HDMI output, DisplayPort output, Gigabit Ethernet port, the “BIOS Flashback” button, and the analog audio jacks.
The BIOS Flashback button, shown in Figure 7, 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 the BIOS will be updated.
In Figure 8, you can see all of the accessories that come with the ASUS SABERTOOTH Z77.