ASUS P8Z77 WS Workstation Z77 Motherboard Review
Features, Layout, and Bundled Accessories
Features, Layout, and Bundled Accessories
Courtesy of ASUS
- Gen3 4-Way CrossFireX™ and Geforce® SLI™
- Built-in Dual Intel Server-Class Gigabit LAN
- WS 3-color LED - Instant O.C Status Checking with 3-color LED
- Server-level Compatibility - Server-level Compatibility with RAID card and Lan card
- LucidLogix Virtu MVP - Up to 60% Hybrid Graphics Boost and 3X Faster Video Conversion
- PCIe 3.0 Ready
- TPU with SMART DIGI+
- ASUS SSD Caching
- USB 3.0 Boost - Faster USB 3.0 Transmission with UASP
- Fan Xpert 2 - Optimizes the Speed of All Fans for the Ultimate Cool and Quiet
- USB BIOS Flashback - Simple Plug & Press - Hardware-based BIOS Flashback
- Network iControl - Real-time Network Bandwidth Control
- ASUS UEFI BIOS
- DTS Connect
- DTS UltraPC II
The ASUS P8Z77 WS presents a sleek and uncluttered appearance with an impressive amount of features and integrated components offered. While the board offers no onboard legacy PCI or IDE ports, it makes up for that with the amount of PCI Express x16, PCI-Express x1, USB, and SATA ports integrated into its design.
The back of the P8Z77 WS board is mostly clear of components with the standard LGA1155 backplate present to secure the CPU socket.
The board’s rear panel assembly contains the following ports: hybrid PS/2 port, 4 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports (2 ASMedia controlled ports and 2 Intel Z77 chipset controlled ports), 2 eSATA ports, 2 Intel GigE NIC ports, a DVI-D video port, an optical digital audio output port, a USB BIOS flash-back button, and 6 analogue audio ports. The ASMedia controlled USB 3.0 ports are just above the red-colored eSATA ports, while the Intel Z77 chipset controlled USB 3.0 ports are adjacent to the analogue audio ports.
The P8Z77 WS motherboard hosts a total of 4 onboard PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots and 2 PCI-Express x1 slots. With the help of the LucidLogix Virtu MVP chipset, the board offers support for up to 4-way NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFire configuration. With a single or two PCI-Express x16 video cards seated, the board supports full x16 bandwidth on both slots. With three PCI-Express x16 video cards seated, the board supports x16 bandwidth on the primary slot and x8 bandwidth on the secondary and tertiary slots. With all PCI-Express x16 slots filled, the board supports x8 bandwidth for all slots. The two questionable layout decisions on ASUS’ part are in this zone of the motherboard – the lack of a usable PCI-Express x1 slot with all video card slots populated and the placement of the CMOS battery. If video cards are populating all PCI-Express x16 slots, the available PCI-Express x1 slots will be inaccessible due to the card’s coolers covering the space. A better layout decision would have been to leave at least one PCI-Express slot accessible with placement in the first card position next to the LucidLogix chipset. The CMOS battery is accessible as long as you do not populate a card into the PCI-Express x16 tertiary slot. If you have a card populated in slot 3, then you would need to remove the card from the system to access the CMOS battery.
To add additional appeal to the board, ASUS included an LED illuminated logo in between the secondary and tertiary PCI-Express x16 slots. This logo changes color depending on the board state. A red color means the board is overclocked, a white color means the board is running at stock settings, and a green color means the board is in power saving mode.
Along the outside left edge of the board, ASUS chose to place power and reset buttons. In close proximity to these buttons are the onboard USB 2.0 headers (blue colored), the serial port header (white colored), the IEEE 1394 header (black colored), and the S/PDIF output header.
In the lower left corner of the board, the P8Z77 WS houses a 2-digit diagnostic display, as well as a USB 2.0 port, a trusted platform module (TPM) header, an energy processing unit (EPU) switch, and the front panel header. The diagnostic display can be helpful for troubleshooting board initialization issues by matching the display code with the table given in the user manual.
For SATA drive support, the P8Z77 WS hosts a total of 8 onboard SATA ports. The 4 light-blue colored ports are SATA II ports controlled by the Intel Z77 chipset. The 2 white colored ports are SATA III ports controlled by the Intel X77 chipset. The 2 blue colored ports are SATA III ports controlled by the Marvell chipset. The Intel Z77 controlled ports support RAID 0, 1, and 5, while the Marvell controlled ports support RAID 0 and 1 only.
The board’s 4 DDR3 memory slots are located in the lower right of PCB, along with the USB 3.0 header, the 24-pin ATX power connector, the MOLEX-style EZ_PLUG power connector, the MemOK! button, and the TurboV Processing Unit (TPU) switch. The primary memory slots are the blue colored slots, with dual channel memory mode enabled when modules are seated in both like-colored slots. The board itself supports up to 32GB of memory with support module speeds of 2600MHz, 2400MHz, 2200MHz, 1866MHz, 1600MHz, 1333MHz, and 1066MHz. Note that memory speeds above 1600MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. The EZ_PLUG power connector can be used to supply extra power to the PCI-Express bus directly from the PSU when using multiple video cards in the board.
The CPU socket uses the standard Intel LGA 1155 style design for the CPU heat sink, with adequate room surrounding the socket for use of larger heat sinks or waterblocks. The board’s power circuitry and the LucidLogix MVP chipset are covered by large aluminum heat sinks and connected by a heat-pipe mechanism surrounding the CPU socket on three sides. As you can see from the picture, the board supports a 20-phase power system for the CPU through the use of the onboard digital MOSFETs.
ASUS chose to include the standard accessory pack that you would see bundled with most of their boards.
The accessory package included a total of eight SATA cables with a dual headed MOLEX power converter cable as well. The black-colored cables are rated for 6 GB/s operation, while the red-colored cables are rated for 3 GB/s operation.
The board comes standard with two rear bracket assemblies, one adding a serial port to the system and the other adding additional USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 ports.
The bundled Q-Connector kit includes connectors of the front panel header as well as a USB 2.0 header. These connectors allow for easier use of the typically hard to reach headers on the board.
For multi-gpu use, ASUS includes a 2-way AMD CrossFire connector and both 2-way and 3-way NVIDIA SLI connectors.
The included user manual and install DVD give all the information and drivers needed to get the board up and running in as efficient a manner as possible. ASUS also chose to include ASUS and LucidLogix Virtu branded case stickers.