LGA2011 boards have always occupied the luxury side of town, whereas LGA1155 has been pretty blue collar. Not anymore. Asus’s new P8Z77-V Premium pretty much shatters the idea that LGA1155 boards are low rent.
The Asus P8Z77-V Premium comes fully loaded with features, including Wi-Fi antennas.
How swanky is it? This Z77 board is brimming with every bell, whistle, and horn available. Obviously, Thunderbolt is here, in the form of a single Thunderbolt port using Intel’s “Cactus Ridge” DSL3310 second-gen Tbolt controller. Asus also equips the board with a PLX8747 PCIe 3.0 switch chip, so the board is able to run up to four GPUs. Boards without a bridge chip are normally constrained to two GPUs, and some boards switch off components too.
Want more? There’s also the excellent Asus fan controls, a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module, a secondary Marvell SATA 6Gb/s with four ports, and a 32GB Lite-On SSD in the mSATA slot, in addition to the two Gigabit ports running Intel silicon. There’s so much hardware jammed onto this board, it takes an afternoon just to go through the UEFI settings.
Performance of the board is quite good, especially with the “free” mSATA SSD used for caching (which we did for our testing).
So how much does all this hardware cost? A lot. At $450, the P8Z77-V Premium is the most expensive Z77 board we’ve reviewed. And unfortunately, not all the features make sense to us. The mSATA, for example, isn’t useful for anything beyond caching due to its size. But will someone who runs a 4x GPU setup and Thunderbolt really be running a hard disk as his or her primary boot device?
For the most part, you have to have particular needs to want the P8Z77-V Premium. Obviously, just wanting the most tricked-out Z77 board on the market is one need. The other is more practical: You need to run more than three GPUs and you must have Thunderbolt. Frankly, without those specific needs, we think it would be more fiscally prudent to buy a non-Premium version of the P8Z77-V and add the optional Thunderbolt card.
Don’t get us wrong, the P8Z77-V Premium is fully loaded, stable, and the fastest-booting Z77 board we’ve tested yet (it’ll go from cold to OS in 17 seconds in Windows 8) but most folks will likely find it just too much motherboard for too much money.
Asus P8Z77-V Premium
Every feature known to man; incredibly fast boot; very advanced UEFI.
Pricey; mSATA drive doesn’t make sense for a high-end build.
Asus P8Z77-V Premium
Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP4 TH
3DMark 11 Overall
PCMark 7 Overall
PCMark 7 Lightweight
PCMark 7 Productivity
Valve Particle (fps)
SiSoft Sandra 2012 (GB/s)
SATA 6Gb/s read (MB/s)
SATA 6Gb/s write (MB/s)
USB 3.0 Read (MB/s)
USB 3.0 Write (MB/s)
Auto Overclock (GHz)
Best scores are bolded. We used a Core i7-3770K, 8GB of DDR3/1866 set at DDR3/1600, a WD Raptor 150, 64-bit Windows 7 Professional, and a GeForce GTX 580 in all of our motherboards. SATA 6Gb/s speeds were measured with CrystalDiskMark 3.01 and an OWC Mercury Extreme SSD. USB 3.0 speeds were measured with CrystalDiskMark and a Patriot Wildfire SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure using an Asmedia controller. 32GB compliance was measured with four 8GB DDR3 modules. The P8Z77-V Premium board was tested in SSD-caching mode.