Review of the motherboard ASUS P8Z77-V PRO / THUNDERBOLT

Considered the new product by ASUS – is one of the first motherboards equipped with the controller Thunderbolt. High-speed bus designed by Intel, has double the bandwidth than USB 3.0, while it can be used to connect various peripherals such as external storage or display device. Let’s see what else, besides the presence of progressive interface, we will remember in ASUS P8Z77-PRO V / Thunderbolt motherboard.

Design and layout

ASUS P8Z77-V PRO

In recent years, all leading motherboard manufacturers had formed certain visual appearance of models, because the device belongs to the workshop of a brand is very easy to predict even though the logo. Traditional black PCB, connectors, cramped and dark blue and white colors, radiators with a complex profile and the old-school LED supply voltage duty. There is no doubt that we see another design by ASUS. The board belongs to the line P8Z77 and as easy to guess from the name, based on chipset Intel Z77 Express.
The layout of the ASUS P8Z77-V PRO device is quite dense. Despite the fact that in this case, a full-ATX, free space on the board quite a bit – PCB liberally spiced with various additional controllers. Unlike devices Republic of Gamers Series motherboard is not replete with designer delights, however, the model does not look frankly boring. There prevails a practical rational approach, and in terms of technical equipment ASUS P8Z77-V PRO / THUNDERBOLT very representative.

The power system Smart DIGI + with two separate digital controllers can adjust the parameters of the power subsystem processor and memory, depending on the mode of the platform. Additional power components are cooled sufficiently with massive aluminium radiators, and the height of the cooler design is relatively small, because of problems with the installation of overall cooler should arise. PWM is part of the components on the reverse side of the PCB. They also covered with aluminium fins to increase heat dissipation area.

Four slots for memory modules for ease of installation modules are equipped with one-sided clamps and allow increasing the total amount of RAM 32 GB.

The existing set of expansion slots can be considered optimal, three full-length slots PCI-E x16, a pair of PCI-E x1 and two PCI. In this case, takes into account the interests of both owners of the modern periphery, and those who do not want to part with the already seasoned, but no less valuable expansion cards.
For full-slot PCI-E, it should be noted that the third (bottom) connector can be activated only if the system uses a processor family Ivy Bridge. In this configuration will use the mode 3-Way CrossFireX with three cards on chips from AMD. For the same number of cards with the NVIDIA GPU board did not formally considered is, since the involvement of the three slots PCI-E x16 available bus bandwidth will be allocated under the scheme x8-x4-x4, which, according to Californians, may be insufficient for in the 3-Way SLI. This restriction is more a marketing nature, especially when you consider that it is a PCI-E 3.0, which has twice the data transfer rate than the second generation of tires.

Disk subsystem allows you to connect up to eight drives. The chipset provides two SATA 6 Gb / c and four SATA 3Gb / c, with an additional controller ASMedia ASM1061 see a couple of SATA 6 Gb / c. Connectors are oriented parallel to the plane of the PCB, which allows to connect the interface cables even when the overall card.

Even for well-equipped motherboards based on Intel Z77 presence of an additional controller USB 3.0 – a common practice. In this case, two port-speed bus that provides ASMedia ASM 1042, will certainly not superfluous. The advantage of fees can be considered, and a Gigabit Ethernet Controller Intel 82539V.

We should also note the presence of adapter, Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n – ASUS Wi-Fi GO!. The compact expansion card is installed in a special connector, located at the edge of board close to the interface panel. To enhance the transmission / reception, you can connect an external antenna.

ASUS P8Z77-V PRO / THUNDERBOLT is a set of brand development, characteristic of the line P8Z77. Starting from the already familiar tools to break up the complex and TPU to reduce energy consumption EPU, finishing tool for the primary memory timings MemOK!, Increasing the current system of charging devices on the USB (USB Charger +) and a unique function of the firmware update from a flash drive USB BIOS Flashback.
At first glance, the interface panel cannot be considered too intense. Universal PS / 2, four-port USB 3.0, three video outputs – HDMI, DVI, VGA, Optical S / PDIF, the socket and connectors for speakers. Well, that was originally included a panel with two additional USB 2.0 ports and connectors eSATA. It is likely you will need is already at the stage of installing the operating system from an external drive or flash drive. Two of the four USB 3.0 on the rear panel are served an additional controller, so before you install the appropriate drivers, they are nothing more than decorative elements.
Special attention is given the presence of terminal Thunderbolt. Inconspicuous connector looks identical to that used for the Mini DisplayPort, nestled just below the block of audio.

Completion

As expected PRO-version, the device has an extended delivery. In addition to the board in a box you can find detailed guidance booklet describing the main proprietary technologies, CD with drivers, four cables SATA, interface plug, Wi-Fi antenna, expansion card ASUS Wi-Fi GO! (Controller Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n) a panel with two USB 2.0 ports and one eSATA, CrossFireX bridge, as well as the panel Q-Connector to connect the hull of buttons and indicators.
Thunderbolt

ASUS P8Z77-V PRO

An important feature of this board, which is reflected even in the name of the model is to support the Thunderbolt. Designed by Intel interface in general is a symbiosis of two protocols – PCI-Express and DisplayPort. The capacity of bi-directional tires – 10 GB / s in both directions. The interface was very versatile, since it allows you to connect to all kinds of storage and display devices, and to do consistently, and without loss of performance.

The first devices that have received support for Thunderbolt, computers have become of Apple, announced in early 2011. More recently begun to integrate the controllers on the motherboard platform PC – it’s time for a mass distribution of the interface.

Thunderbolt work in practice, it has been checked with the help of an external drive WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo.

This is one of the few available in the market of consumer devices, suggesting a connection with the Thunderbolt. As we mentioned earlier, historically, be the first to support high-speed bus computers were Apple. Surely this is the main reason why the drive was originally a file system HFS +. Branded utility WD Drive Utilities also is offered only in the version for Mac OS X. For owners of the systems on Windows, this is not such a big problem, but it has to be addressed in the forehead by the operating system.

At the rear of the unit, in addition to connectors for connecting an external power supply, there are two connectors Thunderbolt. One (any) is used to connect to a PC, the second – for another device with an interface Thunderbolt.

ASUS P8Z77-V PRO

In the drive a pair of 2-TB WD WD20EURS belonging economical line from 5400 rev / min. In My Book Thunderbolt Duo is no active cooling, because even in active mode, the drive runs very quietly. The downside of this approach is the Medal of the increased heating drives. After a lengthy load HDD temperature rose to 50-53 degrees (in a room of about 25 C). For technical specifications is quite acceptable values, but I would like to drive is still working in a more gentle temperature.

The presence in the My Book Thunderbolt Duo two physical drives makes it possible to configure the drive to work in RAID 0, RAID 1 or JBOD. In this case, most of all we were interested in the most high-speed mode sequence. After creating a RAID 0, the linear read / write speed external drive was at 220-230 MB / s. In the case of an external drive, a solid container such figures may not be too impressive, but definitely encouraging. When using data mirroring (RAID 1), these figures are reduced to 110-115 MB / s. In this case we are talking about physical capacity hard drives. C being connected by SATA drives in similar modes show very similar results. You can say that the external interface is not a limitation. At the same time low latency Thunderbolt produces good results not only in the linear transfers, but also other diverse algorithms using the drive.

The main disadvantage of making a Thunderbolt – a very high price. For example, considered the drive from WD is estimated at $ 600. For external storage capacity of 4 GB total is very serious. At the same time still need to add $ 50-60 to buy the interface cable not included. Such costs currently can justify, perhaps, only an urgent need for capacious and high-speed external drive that is used, for example, when installing the video.

Rather than the support for Thunderbolt, the ASUS P8Z77-V PRO motherboard is a very balanced solution to a high level. At the logical structure and usability of ASUS graphics UEFI we repeatedly have stressed. And in this case have nothing to add.

ASUS P8Z77-V PRO motherboard has a handy software tool for managing many additional features – AI Suite II. Managing a visual and intuitive, in addition, many options are provided with detailed descriptions, for the curious users will not have to study the capabilities of the platform by the educated bet.

We note the work function TurboV, which allows one-click increase system performance. The frequency of the test Core i7-3770K after a single reboot was increased to just over 4.2 GHz. Not bad for a system of automatic overclocking. In manual mode, managed to force the CPU to the maximum for our instance of 4.8 GHz.

ASUS P8Z77-V PRO / THUNDERBOLT although it has no distinct signs of devices the most daring overclockers, with the possibilities of tuning the system is all right. If you do not plan to use the card to open the stand, then you are unlikely to upset too much the lack of buttons Power / Reset the PCB, as well as traditional jumper to clear CMOS.

Results

ASUS P8Z77-V PRO / Thunderbolt – A solid model worthy of framing. The already highly functional controller board additionally armed with a Thunderbolt. At the moment, given the low prevalence of devices to use this interface, support for the corresponding bus is hardly a thing of prime necessity. Rather, it is for the future. Considerable potential in Thunderbolt, and an increase in systems equipped with this interface, probably will increase the number of devices that can be connected with it, and the cost of such decisions will inevitably decline. Therefore, if the system is not acquired for a year or two, but in the long run you may need, such as high-speed external storage, the controller board with Thunderbolt – justified choice. If you are already firmly convinced that the need for the interface in the foreseeable future, certainly not there, you can look in the usual strontium PRO’s that Opportunity is practically no different from the modification to the Thunderbolt, but it will cost $ 30 cheaper. It was all about the ASUS P8Z77-V PRO motherboard and its almost every feature.

Pros:
+ Well equipped and functional
+ Improved Power Subsystem
+ The program complex AI Suite II
+ Advanced supplied
+ The presence of the module Wi-Fi GO!
+ Integrated high-speed bus Thunderbolt

ASUS P8Z77-V PRO Cons:

– Four USB ports on the rear panel
– Relatively high price