ASUS Fan Xpert 2
This was a feature that we were really eager to test. I'm one of those people that are more sensitive to noise than average. When I build a rig, I want it to perform but I also want it to be quiet. The ASUS Fan Xpert 2 software allows you to run your fans in either an auto tuning mode or in a fixed RPM mode.
We liked how you could set different profiles and rename the fans. The stock profile is really well balanced and when paired with the Noctua fans, it provides a barely audible setup. We attached the H100 pump speed connector to one of the fan headers on the motherboard (using the 1 wire adapter) and renamed the fan via Fan Xpert 2 to say "H100 Pump" - this meant that we could monitor it without needing to remember what fan header it was connected to. you can also identity the location of the fan and it gets a graphical representation.
The Fan Xpert 2 software also controlled both the CPU and CPU_OPT fan headers as one device which mean that the H100 fans were kept in sync.
The software is able to determine the capabilities of the fan during a test cycle so you can set thresholds linked to temperatures and have the PC quiet when idle and have it ramp up when under load.
Fan Xpert 2 is easily our pick of the ASUS software package available here
The AI Suite II is useful and ties all the application in well together. AI Probe II is a handy monitoring tool, allowing you to set alerts and alarms on voltage, temperature and fan speeds. We only set the alert for our H100 pump and had to disable the alerts on our NF-F12 fans because they spin so slowly when the CPU is idle.
The UEFI BIOS was one of the other reasons we chose an ASUS board this time around. Our previous experience with the P8-Z68-V Pro /Gen 3 was a positive one and it was easy to navigate. We also wanted to confirm that we didn't have any issues with our Logitech G110 keyboard or Corsair M60 mouse being recognised by the UEFI.
Overclocking on the P8Z77-V Deluxe couldn't be much easier. If you sort of know what you're doing, you can overclock via the UEFI or the TurboV EVO windows application.
We tested overclocking on this board using Windows 7 64 bit with the TurboV EVO software and was flawless.
Our i7 3770K hit:
We also tested the physical TPU switch on the top right corner of the motherboard.
Temperatures with our 'customised' H100/NF-F12 combination were respectable and we probably could have overclocked it higher again. As with most CPUs, the luck of the silicon lottery as to if you get a good overclocker or not. For the average gamer, these overclocking results with delta CPU temperatures in the mid to high 50's would be considered a good day at the office. See our H100 and NF-F12 PART II reviews for the full details.
Simply switching the TPU switch on the mother board to "on" gave us a 4.2GHz overclock at 1.15v with the temperatures in the normal range. Whilst it was so easy and a nice mild overclock, we liked the ASUS TurboV EVO solution better. If you want to overclock but you're not keen on fiddling with multipliers etc, then the TPU switch is your new best friend here.
What is this and why is it cool?
SMART DIGI+ allows you to change the power draw of your system in a way that we haven't seen before. The software gives you the choice of how many Watts you want your CPU to use and lets you either save the planet and potentially your wallet or increase your and system performance and carbon footprint.
It doesn't stop there, DIGI+ Power control allows you to tweak the CPU power settings further and is aimed at overclockers and enthusiasts. You can also have increased control over the DRAM settings. See the interface shots below.
Other features worth mentioning are:
Ai Charger+ will apparently charge devices that support BC 1.1 up to 3 times faster than a standard USB port. A quick search on Google reveals that the BC 1.1 stands for Battery Charging Specification 1.1 and allows compatible devices to draw up to 1800mA when charging without using data, up to 1500mA in low speed data transfer mode and up to 900mA when transferring data at high speed. In comparison, between 100mA and 500mA can be drawn from an older USB port that doesn't support BC 1.1
USB Charger+ will charge USB devices even if the PC is hybernating, in a sleep state or turned off. It will also charge devices up to 3 times faster than a standard USB connection due to a dedicated onboard controller.
ASUS SSD Caching
We didn't test this out because our SSD is the boot drive but in future reviews, we plan to give this a whirl on other boards that support it. The ASUS SSD Caching means you can pair a mechanical HDD with an SSD without rebooting to cache files and increase performance. So maybe there's a bit more life in that old 1TB Samsung F3 yet, besides, my Steam library is over 300GB and I don't play everything.
The SSD Caching works via the Marvell ports, requiring both one SSD and one mechanical HDD to be connected to the Marvell (navy blue) SATA ports.
USB 3.0 Boost
The USB 3 ports support UASP (USB Attached SCSI protocol) which means that the data transfer speed can be increased by up to 170% of a standard USB 3 connection if your device is compatible.