ASUS SABERTOOTH Z77 Motherboard
Looking over the top we can see just how the Thermal Armor looks which covers almost every part of the board. It makes for an extremely unique design overall and we'll move in a bit closer to see some of the main features that the SABERTOOTH Z77 brings to the table.
Looking at the expansion side of things you can see we've got three PCIe x1 slots along with three PCI x16 slots. As usual the bottom most black slot is wired for only x4 while the other two run in x8 if a card is in each slot. If you're using only one video card in the top slot then it will as always run at x16. This is the typical design we see out of Z77 boards when they move to a three x16 slot setup.
Across the bottom of the board you can see a fairly standard header setup with three USB 2.0 headers present, two four pin fan headers and the main front panel header sitting on the right side which can be used in conjunction with the EZ connectors included in the box.
Turning the corner you can see on the far right in green we've got a USB 3.0 header while to the left we've got a total of eight SATA ports. The four black ones are SATA II which run off the Intel Z77m while the two brown ones are running off the same chipset, but are SATA III. The far left white ones are also SATA III as well, but these two run off the ASMedia ASM1061 controller.
Moving to the top half of the board we get a closer look at the Thermal Armor around the memory slots along with a look at the four DDR3 slots that support up to 32GB of DDR3 ranging from 1333MHz to 1866MHz officially. Higher is possibly via overclocking in the BIOS, though. We can also see the main 24-pin ATX power connector, another fan header and the MemOK! button which is used to help with any memory issues that may occur.
Moving across the top you can see the standard 8-pin CPU power connector while here we also see a bucketload of fan headers. Looking above you can see we've got a total of four present here.
When we talk about a clean CPU area I don't think we've seen one that looks cleaner than the SABERTOOTH Z77 thanks to the Thermal Armor design. Looking above you can see the whole setup looks fantastic. Towards the left you can see a place for one of the included fans to help airflow while at the top near the I/O side of things you can see where another fan can be inserted. For the most part you'll probably find yourself wanting to avoid the installation of the fans as no one is really a "fan" of these smaller ones which have a tendency to be louder due to their size. We'd always opt for a silent solution over one with added noise, but that's up to you.
The I/O department starts off with four USB 2.0 ports and then a large gap which shows where the fan would be installed that we just spoke about. Here we've also got the BIOS Flashback button, next to that we've got two eSATA connectors running off the ASM1061 controller and two USB 3.0 connectors above that.
Moving across again we've got a couple of display outputs in the form of a DisplayPort and HDMI connector along with an optical out port that runs off the Realtek ALC892 HD audio codec. Continuing along we've got two more USB 3.0 connectors, Gigabit networking via the Intel 82579V controller and six auxiliary connectors running off the same Realtek ALC892 audio codec.
While normally here we'd get into the BIOS side of things we need to quickly take a closer look at the Dust Defenders. Looking above you can see we've got the PCIe ones in place along with our RAM ones. I'm a big fan of them as they help make an already clean board look even cleaner, especially in the event you're using a case that has a window.