pure platinum z77 2 Sapphires Pure Platinum Z77 motherboard pictured

With less than a week to go until the official launch of Intel's new 7-series chipset, the first pictures of Sapphires upcoming Pure Platinum Z77 motherboard has appeared and one thing is certain, it's not the same board as the one that was touted as the Pure Black Z77 back at CES in January. The Pure Platinum Z77 appears to be a different breed of motherboard compared to what Sapphire has come up with to date and one of the first boards from the company that we'd seriously consider owning.

With less than a week to go until the official launch of Intel's new 7-series chipset, the first pictures of Sapphires upcoming Pure Platinum Z77 motherboard has appeared and one thing is certain, it's not the same board as the one that was touted as the Pure Black Z77 back at CES in January. The Pure Platinum Z77 appears to be a different breed of motherboard compared to what Sapphire has come up with to date and one of the first boards from the company that we'd seriously consider owning.

This time around it's the little things that make a big impact and compared to the Pure Platinum Z68 it almost looks like Sapphire has found itself some new engineers. For starters the board mostly use regular chokes instead of the ones with small heatsinks cut out of the top, alongside various other changes to the general PCB layout. Visually the biggest change is the heatsinks and we have to give credit where credit is due, as the new heatsinks look so much better than what Sapphire has used to date. The MOSFET heatsinks are connected via a small heatpipe, whereas the chipset heatsink appears to be screwed in place rather than using plastic push-pins.

pure platinum z77 1 Sapphires Pure Platinum Z77 motherboard pictured

Sadly the colour scheme is still fairly un-coordinated and could do with some work, but it's really a minor issue. The Pure Platinum Z77 sports a rather unusual slot layout, as it has no less than four x16 PCI Express slots, yet it doesn't have a bridge chip of any kind. This is done by splitting the 16 lanes from the CPU into a x8, x4, x4 configuration for the three blue slots and the grey slot is connected via four lanes to the chipset. The board also has two x1 PCI Express slots, but these are inaccessible if more than two graphics cards are being used.

The only reason this kind of configuration works is because the board has very few peripheral chipsets. In fact, we've only been able to spot two. Unlike its previous motherboards, the Pure Platinum Z77 sports a Qualcomm Atheros Ethernet controller, but Sapphire has also kitted out the board with one of the new Killer NIC E2200's, the same chip used by Gigabyte on its G1.Sniper 3 board. The board also sports the standard six SATA ports, four USB 3.0 ports and whatever else comes courtesy of the Intel chipset. Sapphire has added a POST80 debug LED, Voltage readout points, power, reset and clear CMOS buttons and a manual BIOS switch.

pure platinum z77 2 Sapphires Pure Platinum Z77 motherboard pictured

The rear ports are made up out of a PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports, 7.1-channel audio, an optical S/PDIF out and a DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI and D-sub connector.

The people from Sapphire we spoke to at CeBIT didn't sound too optimistic about Sapphire's upcoming motherboard models, but the Pure Platinum Z77 is a big step in the right direction for the company. It's not a mind blowing product, but it's at least a competitive product that has been given a much needed facelift in terms of the heatsink design. We'll have to wait and see what else the company has in store for us, but we know that they're working on at least a B75 motherboard and potentially also that Pure Black Z77 model, although we have a feeling that might have been canned by now.