The recent CPU, chipset and platform releases from Intel have happened without much fanfare. The clock rate of the Ivy Bridge series hasn’t increased much over their predecessors’ and there are very few changes in the microarchitecture except for the revised integrated graphics core. As a result, the new CPUs are about as fast as the previous series but, due to the reduced CPU die size and the different thermal interface between the die and the heat-spreading cap, they are hotter and, consequently, overclock less successfully than their predecessors, although we might have expected the opposite outcome from the die shrink. The additional problem is that there is no test tool capable of proving that an Ivy Bridge configuration is stable. High-load tests like LinX or Prime95 do not guarantee anything anymore. There is only one point on which the new CPUs are undoubtedly better than the older ones. Their default voltage is about 1 volts, which is 20% lower compared to the Sandy Bridge series. Thus, you may want to prefer a newer CPU just because it’s more economical.
As opposed to CPUs, mainboards with old 6 series chipsets are still viable. The USB 3.0 interface available in Intel’s new chipsets was long ago implemented by means of additional controllers, so there is in fact no difference between the older and newer mainboards in terms of functionality. But of course, we will be now reviewing the newer products with 7 series chipsets, with the Intel Z77 Express in the first place.
Opening our new series of reviews, the ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe made a very good impression. It is a well-designed mainboard with all modern interfaces, including wireless ones, and a good selection of accessories. It’s got a user-friendly BIOS with lots of flexible settings. We have no doubt it will be competitive against other brands’ mainboards we are going to review in the near future. The only aspect the P8Z77-V Deluxe may be inferior to other products in is its power consumption. Notwithstanding the advanced digital power system and exclusive power-saving technologies, ASUS mainboards often need more power than their counterparts from other manufacturers. The difference is small but you should be aware of it. On the other hand, ASUS mainboards have a unique advantage in the form of the ASUS AI Suite II software bundle which includes all manner of exclusive tools for various purposes. No other mainboard maker offers such extensive support for its products on the software side, so this is yet another reason to prefer mainboards from ASUS.
Summing up everything just said, we would like to award Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe with our Editor’s Choice title for being a great Intel Z77 Express based LGA 1155 mainboard for enthusiasts: