ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe Review
At the business end of things, the CPU is supported by an overwhelming 20-phase of power (16 GPU + 4 iGPU), fed by an 8-pin EPS connector and managed by two proprietary DIGI+ PWMs and their energy saving EPU chip to allow for precise voltage control and stable overclocks. A pair of adequately sized heatsinks (screwed-on) are used to keep the MOSFETs cool for high efficiency operation. ASUS has been one of the only motherboard makers recently to steer clear of any unfortunate (fire) controversy in this area due to the meticulous thermal protection engineering involved. A LOTES CPU socket is employed on this board, although we prefer the noticably more rigid/durable ones used on their higher end Republic of Gamers boards.
Clearance between the CPU socket and the first PCIe x16 slot is ample, allowing the use of large heatsink towers such as the Thermalright Silver Arrow below.
Over at the memory slots there are another two power phases serviced by another discreet Digi+ PWM. The MEMOK! watchdog button to fix DRAM boot related failures is carried over from their previous boards. ASUS claims that their "T-Topology" electrical trace design allow for better DRAM overclocks when all slots are filled, and in our preliminary testing we've generally got better memory performance from this board relative to the rest.
We were a tad disappointed that there were only eight SATA ports (two SATA3.0 and four SATA 2.0 from Intel Z77 PCH augmented by other two 6Gb/s ports from an Marvell 9128 controller), considering that its direct competitors in its price bracket either have more ports or mSATA slot.
At the bottom of the board we were pleased to see a PORT-80 diagostic LED and power/reset backlit switches. The CMOS reset is also an easily accessible red button, which is more user-friendly compared to fumbling with a jumper in tight spaces. There is also a set of pinouts marked "TB_HEADER" for the upcoming Thunderbolt expansion module will be sold separately from the motherboard.
Both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPUs have 16 PCIe signal lanes, with the latter having PCIe 3.0 support for doubled potential link transfer bandwidth. Up to three-way AMD CrossFireX operation (2-way for Nvidia's SLi) is supported on this board but only the topmost PCIe x16 slot is electrically capable of full x16 operation on its own. Four PCIe 2.0 x1 slots are wired from the Z77 PCH and there is no legacy PCI slot.
ASUS went with a pair of ASM1042 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 controllers, well vaunted for its best in class performance. Network wise is a mixed bag, with the board designers opting for a decent Intel 82579V Gigabit PHY but a cost-cut Realtek 8111F controller for the secondary LAN. Another Realtek chip is used in the form of ALC898 audio codec – we wish that more expensive boards like the P8Z77-V Deluxe implemented something more audiophille, preferably from ASUS's own excellent Xonar solutions.