ASUS P8Z77-V LGA1155 Motherboard Review

The ASUS P8Z77-V is among the latest entries into the ASUS motherboard Intel Z77 Express Chipset series. The P8Z77-V is poised as a more value oriented solution, potentially representing a great bang for your buck option if a Z77 chipset motherboard and Ivy Bridge processor get you excited.

Introduction

ASUS is the world’s largest motherboard manufacturer and the most recognized name in the DIY arena. ASUS maintains a diverse product line which contains offerings at multiple price points and markets. Of course it’s DIY motherboards are what it is best known for, and obviously what we will be taking a look at today.

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The ASUS P8Z77-V like all boards in the P8Z77 family, is based on Intel’s Z77 Express Chipset. This chipset of course is much like Z68 before it with a few improvements; the main improvement being native USB 3.0 support. When coupled with an Ivy Bridge processor, Z77 is also more flexible with regard to PCI-Express lane allocation.

Of course like all boards in the P8Z77 line up the P8Z77-V also features ASUS’ DIGI+ VRM design which is an all digital VRM solution which supports Intel’s VRD 12.5 specifications. It allows for granular adjustment of your load-line calibration and voltage settings. This in conjunction with its TPU and EPU features provides optimal power savings and efficiency. ASUS’ also upped its game in regards to fan control in this series, allowing a great deal of customization of fan speeds, monitoring, and even custom header renaming to each header individually. Support for mixing and matching multiple 4 and 3-pin fan devices is there as well. ASUS new BIOS Flashback feature also tops the feature list on the P8Z77-V as is the case with the rest of their Z77 line.

Despite being a "stripped down" board in comparison to some others in the P8Z77 family, it does feature SLI, Quad-SLI, and CrossFireX support. A built in Intel Ethernet solution has even been included along with support for 8 SATA devices thanks to an added ASM1061 controller from ASMedia. Rounding out the feature list are USB 3.0, SATA III 6Gb/s. PCIe gen 3.0 support (via Ivy Bridge CPUs), and the version we are looking at here even features built in WiFi capabilities.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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Packaging

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The board ships in the usual P8xxx series packaging seen since at least the P67 days. Included in the box are the following items: User guide, Wi-Fi Go userguide, exclusive features guide, driver disc, I/O shield, SATA cables, SLI bridge, Q-connectors, WiFi-GO adapter, WiFi antenna, and of course the P8Z77-V board itself.

Board Layout

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As is the case with all other boards in the series, the P8Z77-V has a well thought out design. The P8Z77-V has no major layout problems, but it does annoy me with a couple minor things. The most obvious to me is the poor placement of the CMOS battery. You would have to remove your video card to change this out or pull the battery if your video card is a dual slot solution. What makes this hard for me to grasp is the fact that boards which are far more complicated like the P8Z77 WS do not make concessions like this with regard to the layout. There is no reasonable excuse I can think of for making such a design decision. Of course pulling your CMOS battery and replacing it isn’t something you should be doing with regularity. Thus, this issue isn’t really that big of a deal. It just strikes me as an odd design choice.

Finally the proximity of the USB 3 header to two of the board’s fan headers boggles my mind. These are all jammed right next to your 24 pin ATX power connector. Depending on whether your case mounts the PSU low or high, this might be a bit of an annoyance. When fully assembled in a system, this area gets worse as you’ve got DIMM slots, a video card, ATX power connector, SATA cables, fan wires and the USB 3 header all clustered together. I know; I’m nitpicking.

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I’d tell you that the CPU socket area could be better, except that it can’t. All LGA1155 boards have CPU areas which are somewhat tight with regard to the distance between the socket itself and the DIMM slots. There isn’t anything ASUS could have done differently. This issue is a limitation all CPUs with integrated memory controllers seem to suffer. So while I want these things spaced out better, I have to give ASUS a pass on this as it is simply not its fault.

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As usual ASUS has 4 DIMM slots, color coded in alternating blue and black colors denoting proper dual channel memory mode operation. Despite being unnecessary due to the amount of clearance provided, ASUS once again used single sided retention setup for the DIMM slots.

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The Z77 Express is a unified chipset and therefore requires very little space on the board surface. The Z77 Express chipset is located in front of the expansion slot area and is cooled with a flat, yet passive aluminum heatsink. Located directly in front of that are the board’s 8 SATA headers. These are color coded for your convenience.

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The expansion slot area is well thought out and all of that. I have to wonder what ASUS was thinking by including two legacy PCI slots in the design. PCI-Express has been around for so long that I have to wonder what anyone might bring over in terms of PCI cards from legacy builds. Z77 doesn’t natively support PCI anymore, so an extra piece of hardware is required to include PCI slots on a Z77 based board. These types of things cost money and will most likely go unused at this point. I am not counting this against ASUS or anything. I’m sure ASUS did this for a reason and it isn’t as if options are a bad thing.

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The back panel of the P8Z77-V has a ton of ports, but when you realize half of them are for video, it is a bit less impressive. You are given four options for video connectivity. D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort. The board features 4 USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a combination keyboard or mouse port, six-mini stereo jacks and a single optical output.