ASUS P8Z77-V PREMIUM Motherboard
Having a look at the ASUS P8Z77-V PREMIUM you can see at first glance the design is very similar to other higher end ASUS boards which put us with a gloss black PCB and a blue color scheme throughout the board.
Checking out the expansion slot setup you can see we've got two PCIe x1 slots and four PCIe x16 slots - they're not all running at x16. It's not as bad as you'd think it would be, though. Thanks to the inclusion of the PLX PEX 8747 chip dual card setups are offered at x16 / x16 instead of the standard x8 / x8 setup we see on Z77 boards generally.
If you go down the path of three cards you'll have an x16 / x8 / x8 setup instead of what generally is a x8 / x4 / x4 one. Finally if you throw a fourth card into the mix they'll all be running at x8. Normally we simply don't see 4-way options on most motherboards.
Moving across the bottom of the board you can see on the far left we've got the SPIDF Out header along with a power and reset button. Next to that we have the EPU and TPU switches followed up by a LED DEBUG reader and a small Clear CMOS button. We finally finish up with two USB 2.0 headers, a single fan header and the main front panel header.
While the inclusion of an mSATA port isn't all that uncommon on high-end Z77 options, the inclusion of an mSATA drive in that mSATA port is definitely a rare inclusion. ASUS has opted for the inclusion of a 32GB SATAII mSATA drive from LiteOn. The drive isn't to be used for your Windows install, but instead used in conjunction with a normal hard drive in making use of Intel Smart Response and Rapid Start technology. We'll actually cover our thoughts on the inclusion of this when we wrap everything up in our final thoughts. For now, though, the inclusion of the mSATA drive is certainly something new and helps ASUS stand out from the crowd.
Moving around the corner you can see the back of the mSATA port along with a total of eight SATA ports. Starting from the left we've got two SATA II ports in light blue and two SATA III ports in while. These four ports all run of the Intel Z77 chipset. As for the other four dark blue ports, they are all SATA III and run off the Marvell PCIe 9230 controller.
Heading towards the top of the motherboard you can see four DDR3 DIMM slots. We've got support for up to 32GB of DDR3 running at speeds ranging from 1066MHz DDR to 2800MHz DDR via overclocking.
Towards the right hand side you can see the TPM header which has been moved from its usual position across the bottom of the board due to it being so busy there. Just above that we've got the MemOK! switch. The main 24-pin ATX power connector is located here and next to that we've got a USB 3.0 header along with a third SATA II port that is running off the Intel Z77 chip.
Moving around to the top of the board you can see the main 8-pin CPU power connector and to the right you can see we've got two fan headers. As we move back a little you can see the CPU area, which like most these days is extremely clean. The highlight here is the heatsink and in typical ASUS quality, it's built extremely well and you can see it's bolted in via multiple locations.
Leaving the motherboard with the I/O side of things you can see starting from the left we've got two of the four USB 3.0 ports that are present and below that we've got two eSATA 6Gb/s ports that run off the ASMedia controller. Moving across you can see a single Thunderbolt connector while we've got video out options via HDMI and DisplayPort. Above these we've also got an optical port that runs off the Realtek ALC898 HD chip, which also takes care of the six auxiliary ports down the other end of our I/O panel.
Moving across we've got two USB 2.0 ports and two Gigabit networking ports. Both ports are controlled by Intel controllers; one is the 82579V while the other is the 82583. Finally here we can also see the USB BIOS Flashback button, an ASUS specific featured designed to make flashing the BIOS extremely easy.