Our review series dedicated to mainboards in Intel Z77 Express chipset is far from over. We still have a few very interesting products in the pipeline, but at this time there seems to be a small gap, which must be filled. Here I would like to remind you that the entire seventh series chipset family known under “Panther Point” code name includes fourteen different chips. Among them there are many chipsets for mobile devices, a few for business applications, and for the home desktop systems there is Intel Z77 Express, of course, and two more products: Intel H77 Express and Intel Z75 Express. Only the top chipset of the three boasts the complete functionality. One of its key advantages is that it allows flexibly distributing the PCI Express lanes in the processor bus. Namely, they may be configured as 1x16, 2x8 or 1x8 and 2x4. Intel Z75 Express chipset doesn’t support Intel Smart Response technology, and 16 PCI-E lanes may be used entirely for a discrete graphics accelerator, or may be split equally between two of them. Intel H77 Express chipset is unable to share the PCI-E lanes at all and has no CPU overclocking functionality.
There are a lot of Intel H77 Express based mainboards in the market today, but I doubt that a review of such a product could be popular. When someone is putting together a system with basic functionality, the mainboard form-factor, connectivity and price become the primary determinative factors. Of course, the brand also matters to some extent, but there is no real need to surf through multiple mainboard reviews, because all the basic information about these products is available on the manufacturer/retailer web-site. Moreover, a mainboard without any overclocking-friendly features will obviously lose in any type of comparison. However, if we take an Intel Z75 Express based mainboards, things may take a different turn. We won’t really suffer from the lack of Intel Smart Response technology, because we have long switched to SSD. The chipset’s ability to distribute the processor PCI Express lanes only between two graphics card slots also won’t be an issue, because we run our tests with only one graphics card anyway. However, it would be very interesting to see how well this board could overclock processors and memory and compare its performance and power consumption against those of Intel Z77 Express based mainboards.
So, we made our mind that the next mainboard review will be of an Intel Z75 Express based mainboard. And you can definitely imagine how surprised we were when it turned out that our plans were practically impossible to execute! I think it would be safe to say that there are practically no mainboards on this chipset out there these days. We searched through the web-sites of all largest mainboard makers, such as ASRock, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, but didn’t see even one single model. But the most remarkable thing is that we didn’t find any mainboards like that even among Intel’s own products. The development and production of a new chipset require substantial financial investments. So, why would they work on a chipset, which won’t be used even by the chipset maker themselves? Our search led to some announcements of mainboards like that from Biostar and Foxconn, but we were unable to find any of these products in the retail channel in time.
However, we didn’t mourn the absence of Intel Z75 Express based mainboards for too long. Whether the development and manufacturing of this particular chipset was reasonable at all is not really our concern, it is up to Intel to figure this out. As for us, we found an extremely interesting mainboard – Asus P8Z77-V LX, which could have easily been built on Intel Z75 Express, but in reality is based on Intel Z77 Express chipset, even though it doesn’t utilize all of its extensive functionality. So, our today’s review will be dedicated to this particular mainboard.