ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Review: Redefining the ITX Gaming PC
Mini-ITX motherboards are stripped down variants of their full sized counterparts, doing away with non-essential expansion options and using "good enough" components. In recent times ASUS has dabbled in small form factor systems with great success – their Republic of Gamers GENE series of mATX motherboards has a cult following of enthusiast builders. The P8Z77-I Deluxe, paired with the latest Ivy Bridge processors, represents the motherboard giant's latest salvo for the mindshare of performance ITX system buyers.
Package and Bundle
The P8Z77-I Deluxe – Overall a very functional layout with the standout item being the 8-pin EPS connector and vertically fitted daughterboard for the voltage regulators. Traditionally, ITX motherboards have been fitted with the bare minimum of power circuitry due to space and budget constriants, ruling out the possibility of high TDP operation.
At the I/O panel area, we get a generous eight USB ports (Four of them USB 3.0), triple display connectivity (single HDMI, DP, DVI-D), Gigabit LAN, Wifi/Bluetooth 4.0 connectors, two eSATA 3GB/s and buttons for actuating Clear CMOS/BIOS Flackback functions. Although there are only three audio jacks at the rear, 8-channel audio can still be achieved if the side speakers are connected to the front panel jacks.
Onboard SATA comes directly from the Z77 PCH, with the white ports for 6Gb/s operation.
No obvious anamolies underneath – and we have the soldering points of a full PCIe 3.0 x16 slot. Actually instead of Z77, ASUS could have used a stripped down/marginally less expensive Z75 PCH instead since there is no SLi/CrossFireX action here.
Although this is not something you'll see on most ITX setups, the mounting of a 140mm Thermalright Archon CPU tower was not obstructed by the VRM daughterboard.
Depending on the size of the enclosure, we can fit a dual slot graphics card like the HD 7970 (the ASUS board does come with Lucid MVP for fps boosting voodoo). Clearance from the CPU socket is pretty good too, even with a large heatsink used here..