ASUS P8Z77-V Premium Review: A Bentley Among Motherboardsby Ian Cutress on August 13, 2012 10:30 AM EST
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ASUS P8Z77-V Premium BIOS
The ASUS graphical BIOS interface is now steadfast in a reviewers mind. It utilizes a dual system of an ‘EZ’ (that is ee-zee rather than the British ee-zed) mode and an advanced mode to tailor the options to the type of user. When a user enters the BIOS, the EZ mode should be presented.
The EZ mode screen is a single interface which contains key valuable information – the name of the motherboard, the version of the BIOS, the CPU model and speed, the memory size and speed, temperatures, voltages, fan speeds, system modes and a boot priority. This is all key information that any system builder, or problem solver, would love the instant we get into the BIOS, so kudos to ASUS for providing this interface. Within the scope of the graphical BIOS, it would be possible to include innovative ways to display this data.
The EZ mode screen allows users to select one of three performance modes - energy saving, normal, or boost. The boost function performs the OC Tuner or 'Fast' overclock settings, as described in the Overclocking section. In addition we have the boot priority menu, were users can slide the device of their choice as first boot device. The Boot Menu allows users to boot from a specific device for just that boot (useful for reviewers installing new OS from USB stick), and the shortcut/Advanced options will take a user to the Advanced Mode menus.
The Advanced Mode menus are more akin to the typical BIOS interface that prevailed before Sandy Bridge and the P67 chipset. With the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium, the first screen in this mode has some more data related to the system, but the main point of the advanced mode is the overclocking section, AI Tweaker:
As you can see in the images above, we have selected XMP, which causes MultiCore Enhancement to be enabled. This MultiCore Enhancement option lets the processor use the top turbo mode of the processor at all times, giving (at stock) a small performance boost under heavily multithreaded workloads.
AI Tweaker contains all the main tools for normal overclocking - the CPU multiplier is adjustable (1-Core Ratio Limit option), as well as the memory and the voltages. In order to change the load line calibration, navigate to the DIGI+ Power Control Menu:
Memory timings can also be adjusted through the DRAM Timing Control menu:
Users can double check to see how the GPU lanes are configured on their multi-GPU setups by navigating to Advanced -> System Agent Configuration -> NB PCIe Configuration:
The Thunderbolt options for the Premium also have their own menu. I did notice that in the beta release BIOS I had with this board compared to the BIOS we are using for this review (1401) that some of these options are different. However, with the 1401 BIOS, ASUS give various options related to the TB port and explanations with them:
Always of note on an ASUS motherboard is the depth of the fan controls that are available. In the BIOS, we have the in-depth options for the fans in the form of Q-Control, which gives either preset profiles or manual adjustment in terms of percentages of fan power and temperatures - something which other motherboards sometimes refuse to do. All the fan headers are controllable through the BIOS. However, with the graphical BIOS being what it is, I would like to see some sort of graphical representation of the fan speeds (similar to that done in the OS) and gradients.
ASUS also offer a BIOS Flash Utility in the BIOS, for users wishing to download the latest BIOS via USB stick on a different machine. The ASUS P8Z77-V Premium also supports USB BIOS Flashback, where users can update the BIOS without the need for a CPU, a video card or memory.
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Phynaz - Monday, August 13, 2012 - linkAnd so are the handful of people that would spend $450 on a motherboard.
Samus - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - linkI spent $300 on my Asus P6T (socket 1366) in December 08. I still use it today, only upgrading it with a USB 3.0 PCIe card and from a GTX285 to a GTX570, keeping it 'current'.
The i7-950 and 12GB of triple-channel DDR3 keep it competitive with the upper 90% of computers made today, so I feel it was a completely worthy investment.
Who else can honestly say they've had a computer for four years and have upgraded virtually nothing aside from the video card and still have performance competitive with the fastest computers sold today?
Visual - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - linkUm, pretty much everyone that bought any kind of quad core?
Mobo has always had almost zero effect on performance to begin with, CPUs have been faster than most people need them be in the last decade or so, GPU is the only thing that matters.
This mobo is not expencive because it has any pluses in performance, but because of the extra frills and features it has... which are only worth it if you actually use them. I don't think I will need most of them currently, and can add them on to any computer if I decide to use them later on. So this mobo is not worth it for me.
pandemonium - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - linkThis is pretty silly, since A LOT rides on which CPU you're using and how overclocked it is. GPUs are DEFINITELY NOT the only thing that matters and this has been proven through hundreds of reviews and comparisons all over the net.
BytesMage - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - linkNever crazy. My last build was 4 years ago. 790i SLI Ultra. I've kept him alive with GPU upgrades from 9800Gx2 in 2008 to GTX 580 3gb x2 in 2011, Memory upgrades from 4gb to 8gb. This extends life yes, but you get to the point of no return and then have to build again. I am at that place now. Mobo is very important. It is the ground floor on which everything else must stand. I have had a bad Mobo in past and can tell you that it does not matter what GPU you have if your mobo is poo. I want a feature rich, stable, OC able board with plenty of room for expansion. Price is what you pay for this. Well worth it. Why is it that no one moans (much) at $600.00 GPu but they do at $450.00 MB???? It is what it is. Where I see bad pricing is SSDs $500-600 big ones for a 512gb....
Menetlaus - Monday, August 13, 2012 - linkI don't understand the inclusion of the 32GB mSATA SSD with this motherboard, even more so at the $450 price point.
As the article says, anyone paying that kind of cash can easily afford a bigger and faster SSD and the 32GB is barely enough for a Win 7 install. The only way I really see it being beneficial is if it came pre-configured to work as cache (using intel rapid storage tech or similar) but there would be no way for them to know which drive to speed up as there is no point in caching a fast SSD if one was installed as the OS drive.
I really like that is has a mSATA port to allow a user to install a small form SSD, but including a 32GB drive these days is simply too small for a standalone drive and the configuration to get intel RST or similar working is not for the novice user (or so I've heard).
cjs150 - Monday, August 13, 2012 - linkI agree the mSATA seems a frivolous extra although I would give two reasons; 1. Not big enough, 128Gb mSATA would be nice though 2. only SATA 3G, the latest mSATA cards are SATA 6G but sadly not got a board to support this yet.
If this is a true premium board mSATA should be SATA 6G then it would be truely quick
ASUSTechMKT - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - linkthe current mSATA spec only supports 3G as it is required to be linked to the 3G PCH port per Intel specification. Additionally see the feedback above regarding the 32GB mSATA module. Lastly a larger capacity mSATA would have considerably increased the cost which was already high especially considering all the logic some covered and some not covered in the review.
Also would not in our analysis overall usage of mSATA is very low for users in the desktop space due to higher cost compared to standard 2.5inch SSDs. This is also why we integrated the solution to ensure a fully usable out of box solution for SSD caching.
AnnihilatorX - Monday, August 13, 2012 - linkThe 32GB SSD may be aimed at the Intel Smart Response SSD Caching Technology for a larger mechanical HDD.
One may also use it for a Linux partition I guess?
If I am to buy this, I may sell the mSATA. I wonder how much that will fetch.
Azethoth - Monday, August 13, 2012 - linkYeah, I added a REVODRIVE 3 X2 (240GB SSD) to my Z77 build. It cost about as much as this motherboard but it doesn't need a puny 32GB cache to slow it down. My media is already on a NAS so 240GB is all I need for OS, software development and games.
However next year I will definitely buy the premium LGA 2011 version, hopefully it comes with a 64GB SSD so I can add a backup drive under it.