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ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review

It's been a while since we've seen an ASUS board, but today we're checking out the P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Fri, Mar 22 2013 8:30 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Package

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Sitting in a dark corner of my office for the last few months have been a couple of motherboards that all have one thing in common. One of the main features on the board is the inclusion of Thunderbolt. As time went on, though, it seemed that not a whole lot was happening with this technology.

We're not talking about boards that have been sitting around for days or a few weeks. We're talking about months. I don't want to say it felt pointless testing these boards without a proper Thunderbolt device, but it's clearly one of the main features being offered so it seemed like it should be tested.

Nothing is happening, though, for Thunderbolt. We hear word that the approval process is a pain, Windows drivers that work are few and far between, devices generally speaking are pretty rare and the ones that do work don't offer any better support than USB 3.0 because of the fact they support just a single SSD. To really make use of Thunderbolt you want to have a device that has two or three SSD drives in RAID 0 - something that can take advantage of the bandwidth and really show how superior it is over USB 3.0.

The problem is while these devices do exist, they've never been a pleasure to deal with. The Promise Pegasus R6, a device that would be absolutely perfect for testing Thunderbolt, has never been graced with strong Windows drivers. You can see our initial testing with it on the MSI Z77A-GD80 last year. That R6 was also only on temporary loan and no company is jumping at a chance to send us a $1,200 6-bay RAID enclosure. The problem is if you plug this device into an OSX based computer you're up and running with no issues. Plug it into a Windows based one, though (our platform of choice for testing), and be prepared for big headaches.

So, with that all said, we found ourselves just biting the bullet and checking out the motherboards with the first one being the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt. We'll of course follow our standard review setup which means we'll start off with the package. Once we've done that we'll take a closer look at the motherboard itself before moving into the BIOS, test system and the overclocking side of things before we finally get stuck into the performance of the board.

Package

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It's been a while since we've looked at an ASUS motherboard box, but nothing much has really changed. The front of the box has the model number clearly and is plastered in logos showing off some of the main features including Thunderbolt, Wi-Fi, Easy BIOS flash, Smart DIGI+ and Virtu MVP to name some of the main ones.

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Turning over the back you can see we go into more detail on some of the main features. The left gives us a break down on the motherboard itself while the right hand side expands on the Thunderbolt technology on offer, the SMART DIGI+ Power Control, Fan Xpert 2 and Wi-Fi GO!.

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Moving inside the box we've got a bunch of manuals covering the board and some of the main features again. Along with them we've got a driver CD, four SATA cables, SLI bridge and main I/O cover.

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Rounding off the bundle we've got the Wi-Fi GO! 802.11 b/g/n card with antenna, along with a two port USB header and eSATA port and EZ Connectors to help plugging in your headers simpler.

ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt Motherboard

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You can see we've got a black PCB, which we love to see. As for the rest goes, we've got a dark / light blue setup, which we're not the biggest fans of. When it comes to ASUS boards we can't deny the red and black conversation on the ROG-based boards are indeed the ones that grab our attention the most.

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Along with two legacy PCI slots you can see we've also got two PCIe x1 slots. Along with that we've got three PCI x16 slots to round off the expansion side of things. As for those x16 the top most one is wired at x16 while the other two are wired at x8. If you opt for a two card setup it will be x8 / x8, while if you use all three the slots will run at x8 / x4 / x4.

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Heading across the bottom of the board it's very much the same old procedure for the most part. You can see the TPM header along with an impressive five USB 2.0 headers. Between these headers we have the USB BIOS Flashback button, while the far right gives us the main front panel header.

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Turning the corner you can see the TPU and EPU button along with a Serial Port header. SATA ports come in the form of eight with the four light blue ones being SATA II running off the Z77 chipset, while the two white ones are SATA III running off the same chipset. The final two dark blue ones are also SATA III, but these particular ones run off the ASMedia controller.

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Heading towards the top of the board you can see four DIMM slots offering support for up to 32GB of DDR3 ranging from 1066MHz DDR all the way to 2600MHz DDR via overclocking. Below these we have the main 24-pin ATX power connector with the MEM OK! switch on the right and a USB 3.0 header along with two fan headers on the left hand side.

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Moving around to the CPU area you can see the 8-pin CPU power connector towards the top of the board and a fairly nice looking heatsink setup around the CPU socket. Like most boards these days the overall setup around here is pretty clean and apart from the heatsinks there's generally not a whole lot more to see.

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Finishing up with the I/O side of things you can see a combo PS/2 port along with four USB 3.0 connectors. We've got an optical out port that goes with the six auxiliary ports that run off the Realtek ALC892 HD chip. Video out options include HDMI, DVI and VGA - lacking DisplayPort. Gigabit networking is provided by the Intel 82579V controller and finally on the far right you can see a single Thunderbolt port.

BIOS

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Getting into the BIOS for the first time you're greeted with "EZ Mode". You can't do too much here and the chances are if you're in the BIOS you'll probably want to jump into the advanced section. This can be done by going to the top right corner of the screen or hitting F7.

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Once in the advanced area of the BIOS it's all familiar territory. If you're going to be overclocking, you'll head straight over to the Ai Tweaker section of the BIOS. Here we've got all the normal BCLK and multiplier options along with a strong lineup of voltage options all in one place, which is great. What we really love, though, is that when you're adjusting the voltages we go through a number of color stages showing us what's safe and what isn't.

You start with white or black depending on if the number is highlighted or not. You then move into yellow, followed by purple before we finally hit red. Of course depending on the kind of cooling you have will depend on what you can go to. You can with confidence, though, feel pretty confortable setting the voltages in the yellow area or early purple if you're on stronger cooling.

Moving throughout the rest of the BIOS you've got all the normal options with the last screen offering the ability to flash to the latest BIOS and save O.C. Profiles. It's been ages since we've looked at an ASUS BIOS and we're again reminded why it's one of our favorites to use.

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.

Along with the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt running at both stock and overclocked speeds, we also have the ASRock Z77 OC Formula, GIGABYTE Z77X-UD4H and ASUS Maximus IV GENE. Along with those we've also got the recently looked at C606 based GIGABYTE X79S-UP5-WiFi.

When it came to the overclocking side of things we jumped into the advanced area of the BIOS and went straight to the Ai Tweaker section. We adjusted our CPU multiplier to 47x, which tends to be the maximum option for our particular 3770k chip, and then went onto adjust the voltages as needed.

We saved our settings, rebooted the PC and got into Windows without an issue. We started a Media Espresso encode and completed it with no problem at all. Hoping for a little bit more performance, but not really expecting it, we headed back into the BIOS and started to adjust the BCLK a little.

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We moved our CPU from around 4724MHz to 4775MHz via the BCLK and while all settings allowed us into Windows, none of them were stable. In the end we had to settle with the 100 BCLK and the 47x multiplier bringing us in at 4.7GHz.This is what we would call an above average overclock with a lot of boards coming in around the 4.6 - 4.65GHz mark. Few boards have managed to move past the 4.7GHz mark and complete a Media Espresso encode, which is always the best benchmark for us when it comes to testing stability.

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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Out of the box the performance of the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt is extremely strong.

You can see stock numbers have it ahead of the competition in pretty much all tests. Over 30 seconds separates the fastest board here which is the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt and the slowest one under Hyper Pi. Overclocking as always brings with it a nice boost in performance, and you can see under Hyper Pi, we're almost able to break into the 11 minute mark, when overclocked.

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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Out of the box we again see very strong performance come from the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt. It's faster than our other setups again at stock and separating the fastest and slowest board here is a gap of over 400 points.

Overclocked then also sees a massive boost under PCMark 7 coming in at 6499 PCMarks. MediaEspresso continues the trends also with the board performing faster than our other offerings at stock and even more so when overclocked.

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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Looking at the performance of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 devices you can see nothing out of the ordinary. Saying that let's see what's going on with SSD performance on the next page.

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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ASUS SSD performance has always been really strong and here is no different. We've got some great numbers under both HD Tune Pro and AIDA64, seeing it sneak ahead of the competition at times.

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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Across the board we can see out of the box memory performance is just that little bit quicker again on the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt. Overclocking as you'd expect boosts those numbers a little more.

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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Gaming performance between all boards doesn't really show much change. We see a little bit of movement under the Performance preset when overclocked, but nothing you'd get all that excited about.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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Looking at the power draw numbers you can see idle is a little higher. We put the extra couple of watts down to fluctuation. Load numbers are identical with two other boards and three watts higher than the lowest one.

Considering out of the box performance is consistently ahead, these are some impressive numbers. Of course overclocking brings some extra power draw due to the increase in volts, but at load we're talking just about 10%.

Core Temperature

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Heat numbers at load are pretty similar for stock performance and at idle sit in the middle of the pack at low 30s. Overclocking does little to the idle heat, but you can see at load we're tipping just over 80c. Overall, though, this isn't a bad number at all considering the solid 4.7GHz clock speed.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

Over at Newegg you'll see the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt listed for $239.99 which lines it up exactly with the MSI Z77A-GD80 that also offers Thunderbolt. The main difference, though, is that at the moment you can get a $30 rebate on the ASUS board bringing it down to $209.99.

Compared to other Thunderbolt boards this pricing is around the middle of the pack. The cheapest option comes from MSI in the form of the Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt with a $144.99 price tag, while the ASUS ROG based Maximus V Extreme carries a hefty $368.99 price tag.

The normal ASUS P8Z77-V Pro will cost you $199.99 at the moment and with normally a $40 difference being seen, we'd suggest you really think about if you want to get the Thunderbolt board as that $40 price difference equates to the board costing 20% more. With the current rebate offer, though, the extra 5% makes it an a lot more attractive option. For an extra $10, there's really no reason to not pick up the Thunderbolt board.

If you're someone who is looking at holding on to your PC for the next three to five years we'd recommend you go down the path of a Thunderbolt board. If you're in that 18 month - three year gap, though, let your wallet and bank balance decide. Thunderbolt should be the next big thing for bandwidth, but it's clearly going to take time - longer than we thought it would.

Moving away from the Thunderbolt aspect of the board, though, this is just a fantastic option that hits at an awesome price point. $209.99 for a board that packs Intel powered Gigabit networking, 8-Channel Audio, multiple video outs and a strong expansion slot line up make for a great all round motherboard.

Not only that, but out of the box performance is exceptionally strong on the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt - stronger than the other Z77 boards we tested here today. Thrown in with this great performance is a strong bundle that brings Wi-Fi to the table via the Wi-Fi GO! add on and everything else you'll need to get up and running.

ASUS as you'd hope and expect has put together a great motherboard here and there's no denying that if you're looking at spending this kind of money, it's a great option. With the current rebate offer we'd highly recommend spending the extra $10 for Thunderbolt option. Even if you don't use it now, it could be a more attractive option when reselling the board if you keep it for only 12 - 18 months as you get bitten by the upgrade bug that seems to constantly hit.

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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.

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