The board has the same blue theme as the P8Z68-V Pro motherboard from our Fractal R3 build . There is also a blue LED in the chipset heat sink that lights up which is a nice touch. If you are running a discrete graphics card, (and it would be a crime not to with this motherboard), then the bright blue ASUS logo may be obscured but the glow is still visible.
The heat pipes and heat sinks are well proportioned and didn't get in the way when doing a system build with this board. It's also worth noting that there is clearance behind the top PCIe x1 slot on the motherboard for a standard length PCIe Card. The layout has been well thought out and the ASUS designers have managed to fit a lot of technology onto this platform without making it look over crowded.
In our build, we were able to easily fit an ASUS Xonar DX sound card in the top slot and the GTX 670 in the PCIe 16x slot immediately below it.
As all full size Z77 motherboards, there are 4 DDR3 memory slots. These can take up to 32GB of RAM and have only one locking clip on the side to worry about. It's worth checking the ASUS QVL list to make sure that the memory you intend to use is compatible but we didn't notice any obvious omissions from the list when we looked. It's also good to see the use of 100% Japanese solid capacitors and on a board at the upper end of the price range it should be expected.
The TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) switch and MemOK buttons can be found in the top right corner of the board. The MemOK! button can be used to help resolve memory issues but we didn't need it so we can't really comment on how well it works. The TPU switch is a way of automatically overclocking the CPU without needing to go into the BIOS but we will test that a little later on.
The USB 3 header is in the usual place for a Z77 board and the only thing we would say here applies to most Z77 motherboards at the moment. We wish the USB 3 internal header was angled flat/90 degrees so that the cable for the front USB3 ports could go in from the side of the motherboard like the SATA ports. This is a really minor gripe and applies to every Z77 board we've seen so far.
There are 8 SATA ports - 2xSATAIII 6Gb/s ports (grey), 4 SATAII 3Gb/s ports (blue) from the Z77 chipset and 2 SATAIII 6Gb/s (navy blue) ports from the Marvel PCIe 9128 SATA controller.
The Z77 chipset supports RAID 0,1,5,10, whilst the Marvell Controlled supports RAID 0, 1.
When it comes to Fan connectors, ASUS really came to the party. While there is a dedicated 4 pin CPU fan connector, an optional 4-pin connector sits right next to it at the top edge of the motherboard. We were able to plug in our pair of Noctua NF-F12 fans fitted to our H100 cooler and control them as one 'unit' through the software despite them being on 2 different physical connections. The designers have also spread another 4 fan points around the board which was also really useful - we'll come back to these later when we look at the Fan Xpert 2 software.
Along the bottom edge of the P8Z77-V Deluxe we find the usual front panel connections, USB, and Audio. These are well placed and make cable routing neat and simple. There are also power and reset switches along the bottom edge, the ASUS Q-Code display, Clear CMOS button and EPU switch. These switches are of limited use once your build is setup and your rig squared away ready for gaming but during the build and initial testing phase, these features can be really convenient.
Back in the day of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, we depended on counting beeps to troubleshoot errors but the ASUS Q-Code display gives you a code to look up in the manual. Nice.
Quad SLI and Quad Crossfire are supported but only with 2 Dual GPU cards. SLI, Crossfire, and 3 way crossfire are also supported. The Lucid Virtu MVP technology allows you to plug your monitor into the motherboard video headers but still use the power from the discrete GPU. Whilst this worked a treat for us, it still felt really strange seeing our $500 graphics card working overtime without anything connected to the video ports on the back of it.
The PCIe slot layout includes:
- 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16, x8)
- 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black)
- 4 x PCIe 2.0 x1
The spacing of the 2 PCIe 3.0/2.0 slots will allow for 2 dual slot graphics cards to be used with a 1 slot gap in between.
The PLX PEX8608 chip can be found in the middle of the board under the PCIE 16x slot. This chip provides the motherboard with switching capabilities that allow you to use all of the features without having to manually disable anything or compromise. On 1155 boards without a PLX chip (so not this one!), that PCIE 4x slot might be physically there, but if you want to use it, you will need to disable some of the other features on the motherboard that use the PCIE lanes.
Although there is a TB (Thunderbolt) header present we don't have either an add-on card to plug into it or a Thunderbolt device to test it with. It's there but at this stage, and sadly, of little value.
Last and most certainly least - we'd like to point out something that we couldn't find on the board. Older technology that we never use. On a board like this, we were glad to see the available space taken up with modern technology and the legacy items like the older PCI slots, PS/2 mouse and keyboard port plus the VGA port left out. We hunted through our bone yard of old stuff and found:
- a PCI sound card that isn't supported under the current versions of windows
- a SCSI card for a tape drive without any tapes
- and a TV Tuner card that is analogue
None of the above components should be seen in the same build as this motherboard - ever. If you are going to pay a premium price, you want to get as many features and gadgetry as possible, not shell out for long obsolete connectivity.
Our Test Configuration consisted of:
- Intel i7-3770K
- at stock settings
- 16GB DDR3 1600 Corsair Vengeance Low Profile memory
- Corsair H100 cooler with 2x Noctua NF-F12
- 240GB SanDISK Extreme SSD
- ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe Motherboard
- Corsair AX-850W PSU
- Gigabyte GTX 670 OC Windforce 3 graphics card
- ASUS Xonar DX sound card
- Cooler Master STORM STRYKER case