Asus P8Z77-V Pro £155
3rd May 2012 | 10:13
An update to our favourite Z68 board in Z77 flavours. Mmm, tasty
Introduction and benchmarks
Of all the Z68 boards that stalked through our labs in the last generation the Asus P8Z68-V Pro was one of our all-time favourites. This Asus P8Z77-V Pro update promises much in the same vein of price/performance metrics and with a serious feature set to boot.
This Z77 flavour of Asus' special Intel sauce is another well laid out slice of black and blue styling with more than enough features to cater for all but the very enthusiastic enthusiasts.
This £150/$225 board is designed for the discerning user that wants to be able to do pretty much everything with his machine, rather than just specialise in a few key areas.
That's not to say it's lacking in any department, as much as the Sabertooth and RoG boards are overclocking monsters this Asus P8Z77-V Pro is certainly no slouch.
We're certain that with some serious tweaking and voltage-messing you could push the higher-end Asus boards over the 4.8GHz we've seen as the limit for the Intel Core i7 3770K, but this little bargain board matches that speed with consummate ease.
Socket - Intel LGA 1155
Chipset - Intel Z77
Graphics support - 2x PCIe 3.0 x16, 1x PCIe 2.0 x16, Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX
Memory - Dual channel DDR3
High speed interfaces - 8x USB 3.0, 4x SATA 6Gbps
It's a close run thing between the Asus and Gigabyte boards, but at stock speeds the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H has the edge, if only by a hair's breadth.
Thanks to the higher default Turbo we experience with these boards it pushed them ahead of the other competing Z77s.
When it came to the overclocking though Asus took back its crown, shading the Gigabyte board in Cinebench with scores of 9.69 vs. 9.65. As we say, shading.
But when you think the top-end desktop chip, the hexcore Intel Core i7 3960X hits 10.54, the Asus board with the Ivy Bridge CPU getting within 0.85 of a mark is impressive for a quad-core.
CPU rendering performance
CPU encoding performance
As much as we like to talk about the extras you can get out of the Asus Sabertooth Z77 and the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H, it's not all about the overclocking performance. This is especially true because most users of the more standard boards, like the Asus P8Z77-V Pro without the crazy heatpipes and over-the-top frippery of the RoG brand, simply aren't going to bother with the overclocking palaver.
Most of us just want to know if we can expect decent numbers out of our board without invalidating the warranty by questing after big frequency numbers.
And this board is certainly capable of offering that.
By dint of it running the Intel Core i7 3770K at 3.9GHz, how ever many cores a primary application is using, it posts impressive Cinebench and X264 numbers. And it also almost tops our charts for the World in Conflict benchmark.
When it's running the Ivy Bridge default spec of 3.7GHz in multi-threaded applications though it falls short of even the Intel board.
Lucky it runs quick out of the box then…
Only the similarly-clocked Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H managed to best it in the gaming terms though, in both WiC and Shogun 2. Sadly, for Asus, the Gigabyte board also has a slight edge in those Cinebench and X264 tests.
Considering Asus has held sway over its Taiwanese neighbour in recent times that's rather a surprise. The Gigabyte board is though more expensive, but then only by around a tenner.
Where Asus does win out though is in the BIOS.
The Intel board may have it's sparkly new Visual BIOS, but the ASRock and Gigabyte boards have their, much less funky, takes on the UEFI BIOS. Of them all though it's the Asus that wins through a combination of ease-of-use and impressive functionality.
It's not a perfect motherboard though, our biggest issue being with the lack of USB ports on the backplate.
With only six ports, two USB 2.0 and four USB 3.0, you're in trouble if you've got a host of peripherals to plug in. Asus does supply a secondary backplate with another pair of USB 3.0 ports on it, but if you want access to the rest of onboard USB you'll need more extensions for your chassis.
Still, it's a well-priced board that posts some impressive stock performance numbers. It's also the fastest of our launch boards when it comes to overclocking too, besting even the UD5H at 4.8GHz.
A steal at £150/$225.
Ivy Bridge: What you need to know
Intel Core i7 3770K review
Intel Core i5 3570K review
The really impressive thing about the Asus P8Z77-V Pro is the fact that, despite its relatively diminutive price-tag, it can easily hold its own against the best its siblings and competitors can muster.
When you compare it against the likes of Intel's own Z77 and the bargainous ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional, it's definitely ahead of the curve.
Our main issue with the motherboard though is that because it's trying to be the very essence of all-round performance it's got every display output it can manage. That means there's very little space left over on the backplate for USB connectivity.
There are more headers on the board for break-out USB connections, such as through the PC chassis, but out of the box there are very few on the motherboard ready to use.
An excellent all-round motherboard, that's only really let down by a lack of USB connectivity out of the box.