Asus P8Z77-V Pro

If you need a little more than the average punter, put this board on your watch list.


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CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


A step up from the P8Z77-V LK Bob, Asus' P8Z77-V Pro, at first glance, looks like it will appeal to most people, and is a reasonably attractive board at that. In our minds, that makes it a Steve.

Connectivity

  • Web page: Asus
  • Form factor: ATX (305x244mm)
  • Chipset: Intel Z77
  • External USB: 4 x 3.0 (Asmedia 1042), 2 x USB 2.0
  • Internal USB: 8 x 2.0, 4 x 3.0 (Intel)
  • SATA 6Gbps: 2 x Intel, 2 x AsMedia 1061
  • SATA 3Gbps: 4 x Intel
  • PCI-E: x16: 1 | x8: 1 | x4: 1 | x1: 2
  • PCI: 2
  • E-SATA: None
  • Video: DVI, VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort
  • Audio: TOSLink, 7.1 Realtek ALC892
  • Ethernet: 1Gbps Intel
  • Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz Atheros AR9485

Steve's got usual trappings that Bob and Gigabyte's Z77X-UD3H Sergio also have, given he's a Z77 fellow. A pair of 6Gbps SATA ports and four 3Gbps SATA ports that are Intel powered, for starters. You won't be surprised to find a PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot here, nor the four DIMM slots, although slightly different is that only one side of the RAM slots has a retention clip. The other has a tab of metal inside that simply clicks into place to hold the RAM solidly when you push down. To release, you'll need to pull up from the retention clip side, instead of evenly.

The other slots are exactly the same as the P8Z77-V LK — two other physical x16 slots (although they're rated at PCI-E 3.0 x8 and PCI-E 2.0 x4 electrically), a pair of PCI slots and two PCI-E 2.0 1x slots.

I'm special, honest!

So let's see what makes Steve unique. An additional pair of 6Gbps SATA ports, powered by the ASMedia 1061 controller, for a start. A pair of ASMedia 1042 chips power the four USB 3.0 ports at the back, leaving Intel to power the two internal headers — this is frustrating when it comes to Windows installation, as none of the USB 3.0 ports will work until after driver installation — you'll have to use the two USB 2.0 ports instead. Which is fine, unless your keyboard and mouse combo takes up three USB ports, as ours does.

Those two USB 2.0 ports at the rear are complemented with another eight supplied by header, although Asus only includes a single bracket with two USB 2.0 ports (and an eSATA port). Still, it's a single bracket more than some. There's also a single riser module for a USB 2.0 header (for quite old cases that don't use the standard plug) and your front panel wiring, which is a godsend for wiring up your case power/reset button, hard drive light and otherwise.

There's also a Thunderbolt header, although Asus doesn't include anything that resembles a port. To enable it, you'll need to purchase the after-market Thunderbolt EX adapter. It's not pretty and requires more cables than you'd think would be strictly necessary, but if you want it, the upgrade option is there. If you want Thunderbolt built in, you'll have to opt for the Premium or Pro/Thunderbolt versions of the board.

A split PS/2 port, HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, VGA, Intel gigabit Ethernet and Realtek's ALC892 5.1 audio, in both 3.5mm and TOSLink forms, complete the ports at the back. Asus provides its own driver for this, which has some nice touches, like auto-muting the rear audio outputs when the front panel headphone jack is plugged in.

There's also space for an Atheros AR9485 2.4GHz wireless card, which Asus supplies with an odd looking white antenna that has a circular base and stick up bit.

You need to remove the screw at the bottom, slot it into the motherboard, then re-screw to install the wireless.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CNET)

Steve's physical switches don't include a power or reset button: that's all done by the front panel header. Instead, you get dipswitches by the name of EPU and TPU, and pushbuttons for MemOK! and BIOS_FBLK. EPU attempts to minimise power draw on certain components and save money/energy, while TPU tries to overclock your CPU safely (both can also be switched through software). MemOK! tries to auto-configure the motherboard for your memory, and BIOS_FBLK is BIOS Flashback, allowing you to rewrite your BIOS with just a USB key, power supply and the motherboard. No CPU or RAM is required.

If you want to clear the CMOS, you'll have to go hunting for the only jumper on the board (hint: it's next to front panel case pins).

We initially had some stability and blue screen issues with our set-up, which were thankfully resolved by applying the 1206 BIOS update.

The software

For the most part, the software's identical to Bob, and well presented. Here's what we previously said about the software package:

Worthy of a mention is Asus' software. Rather than bundle a series of disparate utilities, the company has managed to bundle them all together into something called AI Suite II, which works rather well.


Asus' software bundle is quite well designed.
(Screenshot by Craig Simms)

Among other things, firmware updating is built in here. Maybe it's our region of the world, but we can't ever remember Asus' firmware updater successfully downloading new firmware to install — we've always had to download it through the website first, then flash locally. Nothing has changed on that front here.

There's also overclocking and monitoring options here, should you choose to play with overclocking. If you don't want to tweak manually, there's also a big fat button on it that says "Auto Tuning", which makes the acoustic profile of Bob's fans sound like T-Pain.

We kid, although that would be amusing for all of two seconds. Instead, it gives you access to "Fast" and "Extreme" auto overclocking profiles for your CPU, integrated GPU and RAM. Restarting the machine as many times as is necessary to score the best overclock it can.

There is a new tool in Wi-Fi Go — there's nothing groundbreaking here, but some may find the features useful.

The most interesting work with your mobile phone or tablet, allowing either remote desktop, remote mouse/keyboard control or motion control from the device in question.

The value question

Motherboard pricing is quite tight — Gigabyte here is quite competitive with its UD3H, and you can even get a wireless version of the board for less than Asus' board. The P8Z77-V Pro is more kitted out though, with an extra USB 2.0 header, another pair of 6Gbps SATA ports and an Intel-powered gigabit port that might be enough to tempt people away. If you need a little more than the average punter, put this board on your watch list.

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NitroWare.net posted a comment   
Australia

Your comments about the USB3 ports are debatable. The Intel 7 series USB3 has a 'feature' in that it will work as native Intel USB 2.0 without additional driver.

At launch time Intel claimed their USB 3 is better than others as its true USB2/3 in hardware and dosnt rely on a firmware/driver to 'work'. This was a reason why they took so long to switch to the newer USB standard

Other popular USB 3 require a firmware/driver solution and will not work at all in USB 1.0,2 or 3 without - especially AMD, NEC, ETron, ASmedia. Driver/firmware updates are important for these chips.

I do not know why any other vendor does not have this feature, complexity and the need to make a chip smaller than a thumbnail likely.

The reason why a driver is needed is Windows does not have a generic driver for USB3. A generic driver for USB2 and 1 are present in since late versions of Windows XP

Microsoft has spoken how they have rewritten their USB drivers for Windows 8 especially for USB 3 but which chips they will support remains to be soon.

The blue ports at the rear do work as USB 2 using the standard windows driver. This specific board does not have many rear USB ports as the display outputs take space up so every port counts.

Breifly, power users can upgrade the Wi-Fi if they are brave but are not supposed to at all, the antenna is magnetic and asus will officially fast charge different brands of mobile phones including droid and kindle not just apple.

Gigabyte and other boards do have Jack muting and there is a variant of the Pro with a thunderbolt port on the back panel should you want an affordable board with onboard thunderbolt.

 

Craig Simms posted a reply   
Australia

There's no debate to be had -- the blue ports at the rear are not powered by Intel, they are controlled by the ASMedia 1042. They do not work without a driver installed. I see I accidentally left in a sentence that identified two of the rear ports as Intel -- this is not the case. Intel USB is only supplied via header.

I mention the Pro/Thunderbolt board in the review.

 

NitroWare.net posted a reply   
Australia

I own this board, my post above is based on when I set it up for I did not initially install the USB 3 driver to test the Intel functionalilty by using a USB thumbdrive on the Intel USB3 port.

I had to use the thumbdrive to load other drivers and apps on as the LAN is not supported in-box by Windows 7 and to load the ASUS software on as the test system did not have optical drive.

According to the manual the front panel has two Intel and two ASmedia and the rear has two Intel and two Asmedia

page 'x' of the manual E7198_P8Z77-V_PRO.pdf as follows

2 x ASmedia USB 3.0 - support ASUS USB 3 boost
2x USB3 midboard for front panel (blue)
2x USB3 back panel (blue)

Intel Z77 Express Chipset - support ASUS USB 3 boost
2x USB3 midboard for front panel (blue)
2x USB3 back panel (blue)

Manual page 2-2 mobo diagram shows the location of the internal header
Bottom left USB3_E34 (6)
Mid Right USB3_34 (6)

Page 2-42 shows the back panel

USB3 Ports E1/E2 under the PS2 port
USB3 ports 1/2 under the LAN

Ports 1/2 support USB Charger and BIOS flashback

Other boards such as the enthusiast oriented Asrock Z68 Fatalilty have four rear blue ports and two front ports all powered from the ASmedia USB3 ports and hubs.

Divided USB3 ports is not an issue for those who install all the drivers from the CD but some DIYers may not install all drivers or for product reviews. Equalilty is the best solution.

Finding a consumer oriented mainstream case with four front USB 3.0 is another matter...

 

Im Batman posted a comment   
Australia

motherboards are such unusual beasts... i find them hard to choose, as there is are so many variations and variants from just one manufacturer that i find it nigh on impossible to evaluate and compare them all. I normally give up and then convince myself that PC can survive another year.

You are right, that thunderbolt adaptor is far from simplistic, verging on the ridiculous.
Is that thunderbolt header dual purpose... is it capable of handling another card or something?? Its pretty clunky if it just for the adaptor

 

Craig Simms posted a reply   
Australia

As far as I'm aware it's for the Asus adapter only.




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User Reviews / Comments  Asus P8Z77-V Pro

  • NitroWare.net

    NitroWare.net

    "Your comments about the USB3 ports are debatable. The Intel 7 series USB3 has a 'feature' in that it will work as native Intel USB 2.0 without additional driver.

    At launch time Intel c..."

  • Im Batman

    Im Batman

    "motherboards are such unusual beasts... i find them hard to choose, as there is are so many variations and variants from just one manufacturer that i find it nigh on impossible to evaluate and comp..."

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