In early April Intel unveiled its new LGA1155 chipsets and by the end of the same month the new Ivy Bridge CPU family was introduced as well. We dedicated our special Core i7-3770K review to those events. It goes without saying that, being the major developer and manufacturer of CPUs and chipsets, Intel knows virtually everything about them and has got a lot of in-depth documentation on its websites. Unfortunately, notwithstanding the regular visitor surveys and the recent redesign which helped give the sites a more modern appearance, it is still extremely hard to find anything specific there. For example, when you want to learn the differences between the new Z77 Express, Z75 Express and H77 Express chipsets, the comparison system will inform you that they are in fact identical except for their price! We'd be excited about that if we were mainboard manufacturers, yet we are still curious where this price differentiation comes from. And, as a personal remark, people who build such unfriendly websites even have the cheek to tell you what browser to use. They don’t like Opera, for example. But we're digressing from the topic of this review.
The point is that the chipsets are indeed very similar even if you compare the new 7 series (the Panther Point family) with their Cougar Point predecessors.
The top-of-the-line Intel Z77 Express offers the full selection of capabilities. It provides the most flexible way of splitting up the CPU-integrated PCI Express lanes: 1x16, 2x8 or 1x8 + 2x4. The Intel Z75 Express doesn't support Intel Smart Response and can only use 16 PCIe lanes as 1x16 or 2x8. The Intel H77 Express cannot split the PCI Express lanes up at all and lacks any CPU overclocking capabilities.
Although older mainboards based on the 6 series chipsets are perfectly compatible with the new Ivy Bridge CPUs, we are going to write a series of reviews of the most functional products based on the Intel Z77 Express. We’ll start out with ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe.
Packaging and Accessories
As is typical of ASUS's top-end products, the packaging of the P8Z77-V Deluxe has a flip-back cover, so you can take a look at the mainboard through a large window. The design of the box is conventional for ASUS, too. The product name and a few logotypes are on the front of the box. On the back of the box and under the flip-back cover we can see a picture of the mainboard, a list of its specs and a brief description of its key features.
Inside, the mainboard is wrapped in an antistatic pack. The following accessories can be found underneath it:
- Six SATA cables with metal L-shaped connector locks. Two pairs are specifically designed for SATA 6 Gbps devices (with white inserts in the connectors);
- A flexible bridge for two-way Nvidia SLI graphics configurations;
- Wi-Fi GO! module;
- Two Wi-Fi ring antennas;
- I/O Shield for the back panel;
- “Asus Q-Connector Kit” including adapters for easy connection of the system case front panel buttons and indicators and a USB 2.0 port;
- User manual;
- Brochure with brief assembly instructions in multiple languages;
- Wi-Fi GO! module manual;
- “Powered by Asus” sticker;
- DVD disk with software and drivers.