dz77re 75k 2 Intels first Thunderbolt equipped motherboard nearly here

We have to say that Intel's first Thunderbolt equipped motherboard is something of an anti-climax, as the DZ77RE-75K is nigh on identical to the DZ77GA-70K, although we spotted at least one change beyond the Thunderbolt port. On top of that, it's also quite an expensive motherboard, more so than MSI's Z77A-GD80.

We have to say that Intel's first Thunderbolt equipped motherboard is something of an anti-climax, as the DZ77RE-75K is nigh on identical to the DZ77GA-70K, although we spotted at least one change beyond the Thunderbolt port. On top of that, it's also quite an expensive motherboard, more so than MSI's Z77A-GD80.

So the major difference between the DZ77RE-75K and it's more affordable sibling, the DZ77GA-70K is the inclusion of a mini DisplayPort connector which is also the standard interface for Thunderbolt and of course the Cactus Ridge Thunderbolt chip. Sadly Intel cheaped out on it first Thunderbolt motherboard and used the DSL3310 – or L3310L as it's referred to in the manual – which only offers the equivalent bandwidth of two PCI Express lanes. In other words, don't expect full Thunderbolt performance from this board, as it won't deliver it.

dz77re 75k 1 Intels first Thunderbolt equipped motherboard nearly here

The second change is that due to the addition of the Thunderbolt interface, the bottom PCI Express x4 slot on the DZ77GA-70K is now a PCI Express x1 slot on the DZ77RE-75K. We should also point out that it's now being routed via the PLX PCI Express bridge, rather than being directly connected to the chipset, despite the fact that the Thunderbolt chip is only really using two PCI Express lanes. It's possible that this is due to at least in part the lack of a PCI Express x2 interface, but it's highly unlikely, as there's no reason as to why Intel would have to use all four lanes to connect the DSL3310 if it only requires two, so either the Thunderbolt chipset actually uses up four lanes for its physical board interface, or Intel has just taken the easy route out.

dz77re 75k 2 Intels first Thunderbolt equipped motherboard nearly here

Price wise we found the DZ77RE-75K listed for CA$312 (S$399) in Canada and around €260 (S$420) in Europe, or some €15 more than MSI's Z77A-GD80. Admittedly we don't know what MSI will bundle with its board and Intel does offer a good bundle with a 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 2.1 module and it also sports more USB 3.0 ports, a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports, FireWire and eSATA, but we'll wait and see which Thunderbolt chip MSI has used to make any comparisons between the two boards. We're also expecting Thunderbolt products from both Asus and Gigabyte at Computex in a couple of weeks' time and admittedly Intel is still cheaper than Asus with its P8Z77-V Premium which is currently listed at a wallet cringing €400 (S$650).

Source: Intel