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ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Bundled Applications

Included Applications

  • AI Suite II
  • TurboV EVO
  • DIGI+ VRM
  • EPU
  • Fan XPert
  • Probe II
  • Sensor Recorder
  • Ai Charger+
  • USB 3.0 Boost
  • Wi-Fi GO!
  • USB Charger+
  • USB BIOS Flashback Wizard
  • Network iControl
  • ASUS Update
  • MyLogo2
  • LucidLogix Virtu MVP
  • Norton Internet Security 2012 trial-ware

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The Ai Suite II application is a bundling mechanism for all the included ASUS-designed utilities, providing a centralized panel from which to access and run the applets. Overclocking can be done via the TurboV EVO and DIGI+ VRM applets, while the EPU, Fan Xpert, Probe II, and Sensor Recorder applets can be used for board power conservation control and monitoring. The Ai Charger + and USB Charger+ applets configure the USB port for optimized fast-charging of Apple-specific or generic USB-based devices. The USB 3.0 Boot applet supercharges your USB 3.0 ports, allowing for enhanced read and write performance with the amount of performance gain based on the USB 3.0 device in use. The USB BIOS Flashback Wizard creates a BIOS file that can be used in conjunction with the BIOS Flashback functionality built into the board to re-flash the BIOS without the need for booting. This is functionality that I wish more motherboard vendors would embrace because it is easier than you think to corrupt a BIOS. Normally, the board is toast if you cannot boot into the BIOS or reset it successfully. This BIOS Flashback function gives you another option and has saved my bacon in at least one instance in the recent past.

USB 3.0 Boost

The USB 3.0 Boost utility is another interesting applet from ASUS that will actually increase the performance for USB 3.0 connected hard drives in one of two methods - Turbo mode or UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) mode. Turbo mode uses an optimized BOT (bulk-only transfer) algorithm to speed up non-UASP supported devices with higher speed returns on reads rather than writes. UASP mode is a different method of bulk transfer for USB 3.0 connections that increases transfer speeds through the use of parallel simultaneous packet transfers, requiring the use of specialized hardware on both the sending and receiving ends. Turbo mode does not require this specialized hardware, but does not have the dramatic speed increases that UASP supports.

Per our sources at ASUS, Turbo mode can be explained as follows:

Optimized BOT, as you can guess from the name, does not have the luxury of UASP advances and relies on the standard BOT protocol currently used by all USB 3.0 devices. This means it may not help to further improve the transfer performance when multiple files were transferred at the same time, however, it still delivers a noticeable performance gain in USB 3.0 data reads with the ASUS Turbo Mode. This is thanks to its improvements in data streaming, where much of the round trip time between command phases is reduced. The other advantage of having the ASUS Turbo Mode is the fact that it supports all USB devices understanding the SCSI command, rather than restricting the support to UASP enabled devices only, making it more accessible for most users.

Per our sources at ASUS, UASP mode can be explained as follows:

The adoption of the SCSI Protocol in USB 3.0 provides its users with the advantage of having better data throughput than traditional BOT (Bulk-Only Transfer) protocol, all thanks to its streaming architecture as well as the improved queuing (NCQ support) and task management, which eliminated much of the round trip time between USB commands, so more commands can be sent simultaneously. Moreover, thanks to the multi-tasking aware architecture, the performance is further enhanced when multiple transfers occur.
The downside of UASP is that the receiving device (Flash drive/external hard drive etc) must also be UASP enabled for the protocol to work. This requires checking your peripherals before purchase. However since UASP is an industry standard, the device support for ASUS UASP implementation is not restricted to a particular controller manufacturer or device type, so the overall number of peripherals available should undoubtedly grow.

Ai Suite Applets

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TurboV EVO, Manual Mode tab

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TurboV EVO, Auto Tuning tab

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DIGI+ VRM

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DIGI+ VRM, page 2

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EPU

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EPU, Configuration page

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Fan Xpert

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Probe II, Voltage tab

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Probe II, Temperature tab

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Probe II, Fan Speed tab

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Probe II, Preference tab

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Sensor Recorder

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Ai Charger+

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USB Charger+

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USB 3.0 Boost, Turbo mode device connected

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USB 3.0 Boost, UASP mode device connected

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USB BIOS Flashback Wizard

April 5, 2013 | 11:17 AM - Posted by pdjblum

Well done. It is so rare that a reviewer actually lists all the bios settings used to attain a stable overclock. Thanks so much for that.

April 7, 2013 | 03:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

More Sata ports and I would have been sold!

April 7, 2013 | 06:02 PM - Posted by onehourleft (not verified)

Good work Morry! I have this motherboard and I have to agree with your assessment. I'll be water cooling it this summer including the VRM daughter board. I'm excited to see what the overclock will be and I think your review will be helpful.

April 8, 2013 | 09:50 PM - Posted by hoxlund

Love the review. Solid performer. What I think is the most feature packed mini-itx mobo. Looking to throw together this motherboard inside a prodigy case.

April 9, 2013 | 10:15 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Does this have clearance for a Noctua DH14 heatsink? It's the big air cooler.

I'm considering a mini-itx gaming build and would love to stick with this cooler :).

April 9, 2013 | 12:12 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

You should not have a problem with the Noctua coolers and that board - the socket has a massive amount of space around it (the pictures don't do that justice unfortunately).

Also, more information about the fit of the Noctua cooler in this thread:

http://www.overclock.net/t/1281628/plan-on-new-rig

April 9, 2013 | 05:12 PM - Posted by icebug

Nice review, I am planning on getting this to use with my NCASE M1 case when it launches this summer!

May 1, 2013 | 09:36 AM - Posted by AbSoluTc (not verified)

Lol. I ran across this review while searching for mATX reviews. This seems to be the best MOBO in the class. I too am watching the NCASE M1 develop and will be buying it when it releases. Such a sleek case. Really can't wait to get my hands on it.

June 22, 2013 | 11:14 PM - Posted by castl3bravo (not verified)

The ASUS BIOS process, from my experience, isn't rock solid. It has a tendancy to get corrupted which, in my case, caused the on board Intel GPU to disappear and the CPU ratio to get stuck at 42.

Here is some of the drama people are going through.

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2314371&page=1

If your ASUS BIOS starts going sideways you'll want to start google someone named Coderush.

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