Articles: Mainboards

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PCB Design and Functionality

The ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe has a classic component layout. Besides being easy to use, this mainboard just looks good.

Its digital power system SMART DIGI+, combined with Dual Intelligent Processors 3 (TPU or TurboV Processing Unit and EPU or Energy Processing Unit), provides stable power to every mainboard component and offers very flexible setup opportunities. The CPU voltage regulator has 20 phases, four of which are allotted for the integrated graphics core. There are two heatsinks on the hottest components, a heat pipe connecting one of them to the auxiliary central heatsink. The latter is rather an indication of the product's high status than a real necessity. The heatsinks are not very hot even at high loads and at overclocked settings but all of them, including the chipset one, are securely fastened with screws. The mainboard’s four DIMM slots can take in up to 32 gigabytes of DDR3 SDRAM. The Intel Z77 Express is declared to support memory frequencies up to 1600 MHz. ASUS specifies a max memory frequency of 2800 MHz for this mainboard but the frequency range available in the BIOS goes all the way from 800 up to 3200 MHz.

The mainboard’s slots and connectors are conveniently color-coded. There are two PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots (blue and white) for expansion cards. Their speed formula is 1x16 or 2x8. There is also one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (black) at x4 speed and four PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots. The Intel Z77 Express chipset is responsible for the four blue-colored Serial ATA 3 Gbit/s ports as well as for the two white-colored SATA 6 Gbit/s ports. An additional controller Marvell 88SE9128 adds two more SATA 6 Gbit/s ports (the dark-blue connectors). Now let’s take a look at the mainboard’s back panel.

The back panel of Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe mainboard has the following ports and connectors:

  • Four USB 2.0 ports, another four ports are laid out as two onboard pin-connectors;
  • WiFi/Bluetooth 4.0 module;
  • Six USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors), four of which are implemented via two ASMedia ASM1042 controllers. Another two ports and one more internal pin-connector for two additional USB 3.0 ports are provided by Intel Z77 Express chipset;
  • Two eSATA 6 Gbps ports implemented via ASMedia ASM1061 controller;
  • Optical S/PDIF and six analogue audio-jacks provided by eight-channel Realtek ALC898 codec;
  • HDMI and DisplayPort video outs;
  •  “USB BIOS Flash back” button;
  • Two local network ports (network adapters are built on Gigabit Intel 82579V and Realtek RTL8111F network controllers).

The Wi-Fi GO! module is now based on a Broadcom chipset that supports IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n and both frequency bands (2.4 and 5 GHz). The USB BIOS Flashback button is part of the namesake technology for updating the mainboard's BIOS in an easiest way possible: you don’t even have to assemble your computer besides connecting the mainboard to a PSU, so you won’t have any incompatibility issues with newest CPUs. There are only two and compact video connectors at the back: HDMI and DisplayPort. That’s good because top-end mainboards are generally used with discrete graphics cards and numerous video connectors just take up useful space on their back panel.

Like other ASUS mainboards, the P8Z77-V Deluxe uses conveniently wide Q-Slot latches on the graphics card slots and one-sided Q-DIMM latches on the memory slots. Besides the abovementioned USB BIOS Flashback and the highlighted Power and Reset, there are two more buttons on the back panel: MemOK! that allows the mainboard to successfully boot up in case of memory-related problems and Clear CMOS for resetting BIOS parameters.

The Q-LED indicators will help you quickly determine at what stage the boot-up process has stalled. The TPU switch can be used to overclock the CPU automatically while the EPU switch enables power-saving operation modes. The P8Z77-V Deluxe offers two 4-pin connectors for CPU coolers and four connectors for system fans.

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