IMG 0894 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

Officially announced at Computex last week, the ThunderboltEX PCIe expansion card (and its dual port version) brings single port 10Gbps Thunderbolt connectivity to some of the existing ASUS Intel 7-series, and even incoming AMD AM3+ motherboards. It arrived at our labs today so we took a quick look at how it worked.

Based on Intel's DSL3310 Cactus Ridge 2C host controller, the ThunderboltEX card plugs into a PCIe x4 slot and has a cable to interface with the TB_HEADER pinout (board power and BIOS plug-n-pray events) on select ASUS Z77/H77 or upcoming AM3+ motherboards. Another full-sized DisplayPort interconnect cable is provided to (optionally) encapsulate DP signals from the graphics card output with the Thunderbolt data streams.

IMG 0898 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

IMG 0894 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

IMG 0899 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

IMG 0895 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

IMG 0914 2 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

IMG 0901 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

IMG 0902 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

IMG 0909 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

IMG 0913 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

Upon installation of the card, a new Thunderbolt menu appears in the Maximus V GENE's UEFi BIOS, allowing for adjustments to memory space reservation options which comes into play when resolving daisy chain hot plug detection issues.  Intel engineers say a good BIOS should assist Windows 7 with PCIe hot-plug by pre-allocating requited resources at boot stage, or else subsequent hot plugged devices will be unusable and marked with a “yellow bang” error code of 12 (lack of resources) in the Device Manager until next complete re-enumeration (i.e reboot).

120615195714 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

120615195718 First Look: ASUS ThunderboltEX PCIe Upgrade Card

We will post usage experiences and performance figures together with our upcoming two-part LN2 review of the Maximus V GENE!