Intel Z87 Chipset
While the new 8 Series chipset is split into five different variations including the B85, H87, Q85, Q87 and Z87, our focus today will be on the higher-end Z87, as that's what most the boards we'll be looking at will use. Before we take a closer look at the specifics, let's just take a moment to see how the newer 8 Series chipset compares to the last generation 7 Series.
Looking above you can see starting from the top we've got I/O flexibility on the new 8 series chipset. As for USB ports, the same 14 are offered, but the new 8 Series offers six USB 3.0 ports up from four. You can also see that all USB ports are controlled by the xHCI verse just the four USB3 ports on the last generation board.
Like the USB ports you can see that the total number of SATA ports between both chipsets are the same, but the new 8 Series offers up to six SATA III instead of just two. PCIe on both chipsets are the same and you can see that legacy PCI has finally been removed from the chipset. You can also see that Digital Displays have now been moved from the processor with the latest generation.
Moving away from the general difference between the chipsets and having a look at the map you can see just what exactly we're dealing with when it comes to what the processor handles and what the chipset itself handles.
Looking above you can see the processor handles the PCIe lanes in a number of combinations including one x16 slots, two x8 slots or one x8 and two x4 ones. Below that you can see that the display is now running off the CPU, while the right side shows the memory support up to 1600MHz DDR officially.
As for the Z87 chipset, it handles a further 8x PCIe slot, 14x USB 2.0 and up to 6x USB 3.0 ports, Intel's Integrated Gigabit MAC and Ethernet connection, Intel HD Audio, 6x SATA ports and eSATA. From a technology standpoint you can see that Intel Rapid Storage Technology, Smart Connected, Rapid Start and Extreme Tuning are all supported by the chipset, but are optional extras.