We know many of you have been waiting for quite some time to get your hands on one of the very soon to launch – and already available in some countries – Intel 7-series chipset based motherboards. As such we thought it would be helpful to give a bit of an overview as to the pricing of some of the new boards and compare what you get for your money.
We won't be going into any specifications as such here, especially as most, if not all of the upcoming boards are already listed at the respective manufacturers website. Instead we want to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay for the various boards and pick out a few models that appear to be good value for money based on the pricing information we've found. The pricing is from a range of European online retailers and most models should be cheaper in the US market, but about the same elsewhere in the world, or at least not any more expensive with a few exceptions.
Starting off with the B75 chipset which isn't really intended for general consumers, yet have proven fairly popular among the motherboard makers due to its attractive price point, most boards are priced somewhere between €60 (US$79/S$99) and €75 (US$99/S$125) which seems quite reasonable. Keep in mind that the B75 chipset is limited to a single SATA 6Gbps port, but it still has the full set of four USB 3.0 ports and it also has native PCI support which might be important for some users. The B75 chipset also supports Rapid Start and Smart Connect technology for those that are interested in taking advantage of these features, although there's no support for Smart Response.
Moving up a step we have the H77 chipset and the cheapest boards start out at around €70 (US$92/S$116), but some are quite pricey like Intel's DG77KC at €105 (US$138/S$174) which is a lot of money to pay for a motherboard that isn't exactly mind blowing in terms of features. Something like Asus' P8H77-V at €90 (US$118/S$149) would be a lot more attractive in this case, as you get the same kind of features for a fair bit less money. Of course, if you don't need a DisplayPort connector, there are a lot more options to choose from, although in all fairness we'd expect most buyers in this market segment to go for a mATX model.
As for the little loved Z75 chipset we've only managed to find pricing for two boards and it's very likely that these are the only two Z75 models that will be available at launch. This is the only consumer desktop chipset that doesn't support features like Smart Response and Rapid Start, but it does allow for overclocking and the use of a pair of graphics card in a dual x8 PCI Express 3.0 configuration, so we're a little perplexed at the poor uptake by the board makers. However, if what we're hearing about the price difference between the Z75 and Z77 being smaller than the list prices, then we can sort of understand the argument from the board makers' side. As such only ASRock and Biostar offers up a model each, with ASRock coming in at around €80 (US$105/S$133) and Biostar surprisingly being about €10 (US$13/S$17) more expensive, although oddly enough neither manufacturer has implemented support for dual x8 PCI Express configurations and has instead chosen to go with a x16/x4 setup.
This takes us to the Z77 chipset which we'd imagine most DIY users will be getting for their systems if they can afford to. Compared to the current Z68 chipset, the more affordable Z77 models aren't that much more expensive as the cheapest boards are available for around €85 (US$112/S$141) whereas the cheapest Z68 models are less than €10 cheaper and many models from the same manufacturer being priced at nearly the same price point. As an example, Gigabyte's Z77M-D3H is priced exactly the same as its Z68M-D2H which it's replacing. In this specific case you gain USB 3.0 connectivity thanks to native support in the chipset and you don't really end up losing anything.
Higher-end models are of course going to set you back a pretty penny as they always do, but oddly enough the two most expensive models are from Intel and MSI. That said, Asus has as yet to launch its Maximus V Formula which is likely to end up being one of the more expensive models and we haven't managed to find any pricing for Gigabyte's G1 models which should end up being fairly expensive as well. Intel is apparently hoping that some foolish punters are going to be willing to drop €220 (US$289/S$365) on its DZ77GA model, or about €25 more than its current DZ68BC board. MSI on the other hand is asking for a whopping €270 (US$355/S$447) for its Thunderbolt equipped Z77A-GD80 motherboard, a price premium that we have a feeling very few people are going to be willing to pay.
Out of the four big Taiwanese motherboard makers, Gigabyte seems to be the company that is most consistent on pricing compared to its current products, although due to some changes in its line-up some SKUs have been upgraded and aren't directly comparable to older models within the same SKU. Everyone else seems to be charging a nice premium for their new models, with Intel seemingly having the largest premium tucked onto its boards. In some cases you do get a lot of extra features for your money and one such example is Asus' P8Z77-V Deluxe that comes with an on board Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card which surely adds some extra cost compared to its Z68 sibling. Do keep in mind that this is not MSRP pricing, nor is it what we'd expect the boards to sell for in a months' time, but it's an indicator of what you can expect to pay at launch.