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ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini-ITX (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review

We had a look at a Z77 Mini-ITX from ASRock the other day and today we check out what ASUS is offering.
@TweakTown
Published Thu, Jul 26 2012 11:26 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 36 IMAGES

The other day we got the opportunity to look at the ASRock Z77E-ITX and we found ourselves extremely impressed with what we could get out of a Mini-ITX based motherboard in terms of out of the box performance and overclocking performance.

With the board grabbing our interest so strongly we've moved straight over to the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe which also carries the same Mini-ITX form factor that we loved from the ASRock motherboard. With such a strong reputation for quality motherboards, we're going to find out today if this reputation transitions into the Mini-ITX offering and if it can perform as strong as some of the larger ATX offerings.

With the recently released BitFenix Prodigy being snapped up quickly by customers it's become clear that we're seeing a strong move in the Mini-ITX sector as we see the ability to fit large dual slot video cards in these small systems. As always, though, there are a few things we've got to do with the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard.

The first thing we're going to do is take a look at the package and cover some of the main highlights that ASUS mention on the box before we move into the box itself and see just what's going on with the bundle. From there we'll move onto the board itself before we move into the BIOS.

Once we've gone over the BIOS we'll move into the testbed side of things and cover the boards that will be in our graphs today before we move into the overclocking side of things to see just what kind of MHz we can get out of this tiny Mini-ITX based motherboard. Then it's going to be all about performance as we move into the benchmarking side of things.

Package

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Looking at the front of the box we can see that we've got PCIe 3.0 support along with a number of ASUS exclusive features which are expanded with the two big features being Wi-Fi GO! and USB 3.0 Boost technology. You can also see the main specification table, but we'll cover that when we take a closer look at the board.

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Moving inside the box we haven't got a huge bundle with a user guide, two SATA 6G cables, two SATA 3G cables, an extender for the main header, I/O backplate and a couple of antennas for the onboard Wi-Fi which we'll look at in just a moment.

ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Motherboard

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Looking at the motherboard you can see we get a really good idea of what's going on and we've got that typical black and blue color scheme that's present on a number of other ASUS based motherboards. Let's move in a little closer to see just what exactly is going on with the P8Z77-I Deluxe.

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Moving to the bottom of the board we can see that there's an absolute heap going on starting with the single PCIe 3.0 x16 slot across the bottom. To the left hand side of that you can see a USB 3.0 header, Mini PCIe WiFi card that offer us 802.11 a / b / g / n and next to that we can see two USB 2.0 headers. Also going on around here we can see four SATA ports in the form of two SATA 3G ones and two SATA 6G ones that all run off the Intel Z77 chipset.

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Turning the corner we can see two DIMM slots which support up to 16GB of DDR3 with speeds ranging from 1333MHz DDR to 2400MHz DDR via overclocking. Below that we can see the main 24-pin ATX power connector and on the right side we can see the 8-pin CPU power connector. On the far left side we have our main front panel header which works well with the included extender that's in the bundle.

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Moving around to the CPU area we've got a bit of a different setup going on here. You can see that ASUS move the power side of things to a separate PCB that sits separate and supports the DIGI+ VRM setup. Moving this off your typical location you can see we've got a very clean setup around the actual CPU area. How this affects heat and other performance is going to be interesting and we'll check that out in just a moment.

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Moving over to the I/O side of things you can see we've got four USB 2.0 ports followed up by a HDMI and DisplayPort along with an optical port that runs off the Realtek ALC898 HD codec. Moving across we've got another video out connector in the form of a Single-Link DVI port and above that a place for our two antennas that are included in the bundle. Next up we've got two USB 3.0 ports and above that gigabit networking via the Intel 82579V controller.

We've got a further two USB 3.0 ports and below that you can see two USB eSATA 3G ports that also run off the Intel Z77 chipset like the internal SATA ports. Next to that we've got two little buttons; the bottom one will reset the CMOS and above that we have our USB Flashback button while on the far right we've got three Auxiliary connectors.

BIOS

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Like most ASUS motherboards we enter the BIOS in EZ Mode which gives us a few basic options. Like always, though, we'll move straight into advanced mode which gives us all our main options which we'll take a closer look at now.

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As always if you're heading into the BIOS you're probably going in to look at the overclocking side of things. This is done under the Ai Tweaker section on ASUS motherboards. Even though we're dealing with a Mini-ITX motherboard, you can see we've still got a strong lineup of options that should provide a strong overclock.

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Moving through the rest of the BIOS we don't have any real surprises which can be seen clearly under the Advanced, Monitor, Boot and Tool sections. Under the Tool section of the BIOS you can see that we can setup our O.C. Profiles and also go into EZ Flash 2 which makes flashing a whole lot easier.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital, MemoRight and Corsair.

On the hardware side of things we really don't see anything different in our testbed and everything is really covered in the above image. Because of that we'll move straight into the boards that we'll be using in our graphs here today outside of the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe which will be running at both stock and overclocked speeds.

Alongside the ASUS offering we've also got the ASRock Mini-ITX Z77E-ITX motherboard we recently looked at along with the larger Z77 Extreme6 offering from ASRock. To round out our collection of boards here today we've also got the ASRock X79 Extreme4 and ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z.

Before we get into the performance we want to quickly go over the overclocking side of things to see just what kind of performance we're able to get out of the board. Starting off with the multiplier we changed that to 46x to help push our CPU to an even 4.6GHz. We got into Windows with no problem and we started to do a few things and everything was okay.

With that looking good we headed back into the BIOS and moved to a 47x multiplier, but we didn't experience the same luck. Because of that we headed back into the BIOS and moved to 46x and messed around with the BCLK a little. Not having much luck we decided to settle on 46x.

ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini-ITX (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

Someway through our testing we started to get some stability issues so we had to head back into the BIOS and we moved down to a 45x multiplier, which as you can see above resulted in an even 4.5GHz, which is represented in our graphs here today.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Starting off with Hyper Pi we can see that this ASUS offering comes in a little faster and overclocking brings a really nice boost in performance. AIDA64 performance is similar between the two Mini-ITX boards, but we can see L3 Cache numbers are slightly up on the ASUS offering.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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PCMark 7 performance is again slightly up out of the box while we can see that MediaEspresso performance is really strong out of the box when compared to our other boards. On the overclocking side of things we see performance is improved as always with some real-world benefits being seen under MediaEspresso.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 performance lines as you'd expect with our ASUS board with USB 2.0 numbers line up with the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z while our USB 3.0 numbers line up with all our other motherboards.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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Looking at SSD performance we can see that this ASUS offering looks very good which isn't uncommon as quite often we see ASUS boards perform a bit stronger on the SSD front.

AIDA64 is strong across the board and while HD Tune Pro sees that the minimum is a little lower, the average and maximum is up.

Memory Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Memory performance is similar between the Mini-ITX boards at stock while we again see again that boost performance with the best gains being seen in the write department.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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3DMark 11 and Metro 2033 sees typical performance at stock while overclocked sees a boost in the Performance preset while Metro 2033 sees an extra couple of FPS across the board.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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On the power front we can see that the numbers are pretty similar with not much difference between all of the Z77 offerings.

Core Temperature

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On the temperature side of things we can see the numbers look pretty strong with all of our Z77 based motherboards looking pretty close.

When overclocked we see that idle numbers don't change too much while load of course jumps up due to the extra voltage, but it's still at a really good level.

Final Thoughts

I think the first thing we need to cover is the overclocking side of things. With the ASRock Z77E-ITX we saw that board get our 3770k up to a solid 4.79GHz while on the other hand the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe came in at only 4.5GHz today. While this does make the ASRock offering look more attractive from an overclocking standpoint, there's one important factor.

At 4.79GHz we saw our 3770k CPU hit 104c during load. While our system was rock solid the whole time, this just isn't a temperature you'd want to have your CPU running at every time you did something that was intensive. On the other hand the 4.5GHz we got out of the ASUS offering today is still a very strong overclock and at load we see our CPU get into only the 70s.

When it comes to the overall design of the board the ASUS offering also feels a little cleaner. The DIGI+ VRM card helps make the board look a bit neater and the placement of the 8-pin CPU connector by the side of the board near the 24-pin ATX power connector also helps make for a really clean setup.

Out of the box performance on the ASUS offering is also slightly stronger across the board in a number of areas. It's nothing major, but you can see it's consistent under a lot of our benchmarks and you can't deny that if you want the fastest board out of the box, the ASUS offering does manage to sneak out ahead in a couple of areas.

The P8Z77-I Deluxe isn't without its flaws, though. At $199.99, this isn't just an expensive Mini-ITX motherboard, but an expensive motherboard period. It comes in at $50 more than the ASRock offering and lacks the mSATA connectivity seen on the ASRock offering.

The motherboard is all quality, though, and it feels so polished from top to bottom with everything just looking and feeling great. As always the BIOS is also one of the nicest to use on the market and if you've used a ASUS BIOS in recent times, you should have no issues at all working your way around.

Mini-ITX motherboards continue to be limited when it comes to options. The awesome news, though, is that while we don't have a lot of options on the market, we're seeing awesome quality motherboards from companies that carry a large amount of features while packing some awesome performance in this small size setup.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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