ASUS Z77 LGA1155 Motherboards Preview

Author: MAC
Date: March 13, 2012
Product Name: ASUS Z77
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P8Z77 WS & Sabertooth

Since there's no reason to beat around the bush, of all the models revealed so far (hint!), the P8Z77 WS is our favourite. This is the model that real power users should be looking at.

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As you would expect, this Workstation model will natively support the Xeon variants of the 3rd generation Intel Core processor. it also features the most robust VRM, with 16 + 4 + 2 digital phase power design. That is good news, but not particularly exciting for most people. However, what is noteworthy is that thanks to a new PLX PCI-E Gen.3 switch this model will support 4-Way SLI and 4-Way CrossFireX, all while remaining in PCI-E 3.0 mode. This new switch is apparently really expensive, so it is not found on any of the other models revealed so far.

On the storage front, this board has been outfitted with a Marvel 88SE9128 controller, which can supply two SATA 6Gb/s ports and is RAID 0/1 capable. This is noteworthy because only this controller is capable of the one-click ASUS SSD Caching feature that we examined in a previous review. The WS also comes with two server-class Intel 82574L Gigabit LAN controllers, which offer better performance, teaming and failover support, not to mention compatibility with a much larger selection of operating systems.

It's only minor shortcoming is that it only features one DVI-I video output, and nothing else. This won't be an issue for those who intend to pack this board with discrete graphics cards.

Click on image to enlarge

Despite its occasionally questionable aesthetics, the Sabertooth has been a hit with consumers ever since it was revealed back in 2009. Thanks to a mix of value, an industry leading 5-year warranty, and proprietary value-added features it is not hard to see why it's so popular.

Now at first glance this new Sabertooth model might look identical to the previous P67 model, but there are whole host of new design tweaks and never seen before features. For starters, ASUS decided to expand the Tactical Vest concept, ie: the large protective piece of ABS plastic that protects the motherboard from physical damage. Renamed to Thermal Armor, this feature now includes Dust Defender, which consists of a bunch of covers that protect the expansion slots and memory slots from dust and miscellaneous debris. Thermal Armor doesn't only protect though, it also helps cool thanks to the Intake Fan and Assistant Cover Fan which help direct airflow to crucial areas of the motherboards. As part of the Fan Overtime feature, these fans will also keep spinning for a few minutes when the system is shutdown, to help dissipate any remaining heat and potentially improve the longevity of various ICs.

It is quite evident that they took cooling very seriously, since the PCB has extra copper channels to draw heat away from hotspots, and there are even Convection Holes to help force hot air through the backside of the motherboard.

From a conventional specs point-of-view, this model features an 8 + 4 + 2 digital phase design, 2-Way SLI / 2-Way CrossFireX / LucidLogix Virtu MVP support, four SATA 6Gb/s ports, four USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.0 header, all the proprietary features mentioned on the previous pages.

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