Cynically speaking, Z77 motherboards are just refined versions of their P67/Z68 predecessors, giving motherboard vendors a chance to build on on existing innovations and eradicate notorious design flaws, particularly in the UEFI BIOS firmware and electrical engineering department. Today we review a refined and feature packed offering in ASUS's P8Z77-V Deluxe, and run benchmarks with an Ivy Bridge i7-3770K processor at 4.8GHz against two other contenders.
ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe is an ATX sized Socket 1155 motherboard that is fitted with the latest Intel Z77 "Panther Point" PCH (Platform Controller Hub), optimized for the also newly released 3rd generation "Ivy Bridge" Core i5/i7 processors. The product positioning of the "Deluxe" is of the higher end mainstream (entailing more bells and whistles), just below the Republic of Gamers enthusiast boards and the upcoming "Premium" SKU that has 4-way multi-GPU support, bundled mSATA SSD and onboard Thunderbolt support.
Over at the external I/O panel, we see a plethora of USB ports (10), six of them being USB 3.0 (UASP capable). Besides the dual Gigabit Ethernet (Intel and Realtek solutions) and 6Gb/s eSATA, we get the usual 7.1 channel integrated audio and an Optical S/PDIF out. On the integrated display output front we get full-sized HDMI 1.4a and DisplayPort 1.1A connectors, and regretably no more space to add another connector for three simultaneous displays. One interesting gimmick on recent ASUS boards is the "USB Bios Flashback" capability, allowing the user to move between BIOS releases stored on a thumbdrive without the need to install a CPU or memory.
Accessories and Documentation – a Wi-Fi 802.11 AGBN + Bluetooth 4.0 (Broadcom based) module can be installed at the I/O panel and wired with two low-profile antennas.
Here we have the Z77 Express "Panther Point" PCH block diagram, which is more or less a tweaked Z68 PCH with the addition of native USB 3.0 support and Rapid Start/Smart Connect technologies.