titleIntel has officially announced their newest chipset for socket 1155, the Z77. With H61, H67, P67, and Z68 chipsets still on the market, it may seem bewildering that Intel would introduce yet another beast to the field. In addition, Z77 is one of six new chipsets introduced in Intel's new 7 series chipset, Panther Point. What does the Panther have to offer that its predecessors did not? Though Intel may have just announced Z77, we've had our hands on sample boards for the past several weeks, putting them to the LanOC test, and we can finally share what we've found. We'll start with Intel's own Z77 board, the DZ77GA-70K as well as coverage of the Panther Point chipsets.

Product Name: Intel DZ77GA-70K

Review Sample Provided by: Intel

Preview by: Wes and Adam

Pictures by: Wes

 

Intel 7 Series Chipset (Panther Point) Details

As discussed before, one of the largest differences between the 6 and 7 series is support for USB 3.0, which looking at the table below we see up to 14 USB ports available on both series, with the 7 series including up to 4 USB 3.0 ports as opposed to straight 2.0 on the predecessor. What this translates to is a faster communication from chipset to processor. Though we've seen USB 3.0 on boards previous to the launch of Panther Point, they were made possible through use of a third-party controller. When a controller is involved, it creates a middle-man of sorts, requiring that controller to communicate with the chipset, which then communicates to the processor. Those four USB 3.0 ports supported directly on the chipset can skip that third step and talk directly to the processor, which means faster performance.

Item

6 Series

7 Series

CPU Support

Sandy Bridge  

Sandy Bridge

CPU I/F

DMI 2.0

DMI 2.0

Package

MB: 25 x 25 mm, DT: 27 x 27 mm

MB: 25 x 25 mm, DT: 27 x 27 mm

USB

14 USB 2.0

14 USB Ports (Up to 4 USB 3.0 )

PCIe

8 PCIe 2.0

8 PCIe 2.0

Storage

2 SATA Gen 3, RAID, 4 SATA Gen 2

2 SATA Gen 3, RAID, 4 SATA Gen 2

PCI

DT: 4 slots

DT: PCI on B/Q skus only

Display I/Fs

VGA, LVDS, DP, HDMI (w/ cost reduced LS), Wireless Display

VGA, LVDS, DP, HDMI (w/ cost reduced .LS), Wireless Display

Display Pipes

Dual Independent. Display Digital I/Fs

Three Independent. DisplayDigital I/Fs

Security

PAVP

PAVP

Manageability & FW

ME 7.0

ME 8.0

iRST

10.0 and 10.5 (Intelligent caching and Optical Read Ahead)

11.0 w/Intelligent caching

LAN

GbE MAC

GbE MAC

Integ. Clock

Yes

Yes

Along with the Z77 chipset, which is featured on the board we are previewing here, Panther Point will introduce five other SKU's to complete the 7 series. As you can see below, these are classified between mainstream, corporate, and the full-featured Z77. There are a few small differences between the 6 SKUs, including performance tuning available on only those SKUs targeted for, as you may have guessed, performance: the Z75 and Z77.

Features

H77

Z75

Z77

B75

Q75

Q77

Processor Support / Socket

LGA 1155

LGA 1155

LGA 1155

LGA 1155

LGA 1155

LGA 1155

CPU Performance Tuning

-

X1

X1

-

-

-

Processor Graphics Overclocking

X

X

X

X

X

X

Switchable Graphics (Dynamic Muxless Solution)2

X

X

X

X

X

X

Built-in Visuals

X

X

X

X

X

X

Intel® Rapid Storage Technology 11

X

X

X

X

X3

X

Intel® RST Smart Response Technology4

X

-

X

-

-

X

Intel® Smart Connect Technology

X

X

X

X

X

X

Intel® Rapid Start Technology

X

X

X

X

X

X

Intel® Wireless Display /Music

X

X

X

X

X

X

3 Independent Displays

X

X

X

X

X

X

Intel® Active Management Technology 8.0

-

-

-

-

-

X

Intel Standard Manageability

-

-

-

-

X5

X5

Intel® ME Firmware 8.0 SKU6

1.5MB

1.5MB

1.5MB

5MB

5MB

5MB

2012 vPro

-

-

-

-

-

X

2012 SIPP7

-

-

-

-

X

X

PCIe Configuration

1X16

1X16 or 2X8

1X16 or 2X8 or 1X8 +2X4

1X16

1X16

1X16

Total USB Ports (Max USB3 Ports)

14 (4)

14 (4)

14 (4)

12 (4)

14 (4)

14 (4)

PCI Express 2.0 (5 GT/s)

8

8

8

8

8

8

Legacy PCI

-

-

-

X

X

X

SATA Ports (Max# 6Gb/s)

6(2)

6(2)

6(2)

6(1)

6(1)

6 (2)

Regardless of the SKU, all of the 7 series not only supports USB 3.0, but all support a maximum of four ports, with the small business B75 chipset two USB 2.0 short of the rest. Though the 7 series chipset is capable of PCI Express 3.0, the speed is limited to PCI Express 2.0 while using Sandy Bridge based processors. Similarly, each SKU has at least one available SATA 6.0Gb/s ports, while the majority of the chipset, including H77, Z75, and Z77 support two, with four left for SATA 3.0Gb/s.

 

chip3

chip2

 

In addition to the newly added 7 series SKUs, the chipset is also backwards compatible with processors that worked with the 6 series chipset; in other words Sandy Bridge based CPUs.

The chipsets also included a few new software features, such as Intel's Smart Response Technology, Rapid Start Technology, and Smart Connect, which adapt to the user's behavior as well as aid in over all response and resume from hibernation or stand-by.

chip1


Specifications

Form factor

ATX

AA# (Altered Assembly)

G30742-XXX

BIOS ID string

GZZ7710H.86A with Intel Fast Boot Technology

Processor

At product launch, this Intel® Desktop Board DZ77GA-70K supports:

View all compatible Intel® processor numbers

Memory

  • •Four 240-pin DDR3 SDRAM Dual Inline Memory Module (DIMM) sockets
  • •Support for DDR3 1600+ /1333 /1066 MHz DIMMs
  • •Support for up to 32 GB of system memory
  • Tested system memory

Chipset

Graphics

  • •Intel® HD Graphics, HDMI*
  • •Two PCI Express* 3.0 x16 connectors (one x8 electrical)
  • •Supports ATI CrossFireX* and NVIDIA SLI*

Audio

Intel® High Definition Audio (Intel® HD Audio) subsystem in the following configuration:

  • •10-channel (7.1 + 2 independent multi-streaming) audio subsystem with six analog audio outputs w/optical S/PDIF out port
  • •Supports Dolby* Home Theatre V4

LAN support

Dual Gigabit (10/100/1000 Mb/s) LAN subsystems using the Intel® 82579V Gigabit Ethernet Controller

Peripheral interfaces

  • •Eight SuperSpeedUSB 3.0 ports (4 external/4 header)
  • •Ten USB 2.0 ports (4 external (2 Hi-Current/Fast Charging) / 6 internal)
  • •Four Serial ATA 6.0 Gb/s ports, one eSATA 6.0 Gb/s
  • •Four Serial ATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
  • •Two IEEE 1394a ports/headers (1 external/1 header)
  • •Consumer infrared receiver and emitter

Expansion capabilities

  • •Two PCI Express* 3.0 x16 connectors (one x8 electrical)
  • •Two PCI Express 2.0 x 1 connectors
  • •One PCI Express 2.0 x 4 connector
  • •Two PCI Conventional* bus connectors

Packaging
Intel is fairly straight forward with the marketing of their enthusiast Z77 board, the large Intel skull occupying most of the real estate on the front accompanied by a list of features such as PCI Express 3.0 and the included USB 3.0 module. On the reverse side we find an action shot with call-outs encircling the board. Intel has packed a lot of information here, as well as a few additional photos of the extras included inside.

The box opens in typical clam-shell style, the board safely wrapped in anti-ESD material and resting atop a cardboard insert. Underneath you'll find the cove of accessories that include the standard rear I/O cover and SLI bridge. Intel has also included two very nice extras. The first is a front panel USB 3.0 module that mounts in any external 3.5” drive bay and provides two USB 3.0 ports. This is a great option not only for cases lacking 3.0, but also as an option to expand the number of ports for those that do, since Intel has provided two headers on the DZ77GA board.

The second extra is a Bluetooth 2.1/Wi-Fi-802.11b/g/n module. This piece of hardware connects with a provided cable to any USB header on the motherboard. As you may have guessed, it then provides wireless and Bluetooth capabilities.

Finally, just as we saw with the Intel DX79SI motherboard, Intel has included a nice cloth mouse pad featuring the iconic enthusiast skull graphic.

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Board Layout

It’s clear even at first glance that this is an Intel extreme motherboard just by seeing their Intel Extreme skull facing you as you dig into the packaging. This board looks a lot like the last Intel board we had on the test bench, the Intel DX79SI. The main difference being the size of that previously mentioned skull. This time around it’s a little bit smaller, supporting the X79 as their enthusiast platform and Z77 being the new mainstream. Even so, with that skull on the board, this thing is bound to have a few surprises in store.

image 10

Starting in the top left behind the rear I/O panel we have an 8 pin CPU power connection. It looks a little lonely up their but that should give you more than enough room for clearance when hooking up that sometimes troublesome connection.

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On the top right portion of the board you can see the four blue and black DDR3 dimm slots as well as two four pin fan headers along the top. These are two of a total of four PWM fan headers on the board, with each standing out in a red color. You also have the standard 24 pin power connection in black with power and reset buttons just below. I love this placement for using these buttons in a case sometimes, long video cards and wire management are rarely in the way.

image 15

A little farther down the right side you have a whole collection of SATA ports, eight in total. There are three different colors breaking down both connection speed and controller used. Six of the eight ports are run on the built in control, two being SATA 3(blue) and the other four SATA 2(black) with two additional ports running on a Marvell 88SE9172 chipset(grey). Also tucked just below the SATA connections is the boards onboard diagnostic LED.

image 14

The bottom right of the board is very busy and packed full of different headers. You have a small SPDIF header towards the middle, two blue USB 3.0 headers, and three USB 2.0 headers lined up. One of the three USB  2.0 headers is a high power connection and is marked yellow in color, perfect for charging your tablets and devices. In the far right corner all of your front I/O connections are together and nicely labeled by color to help make connection easier. Last but not least you have a small clear CMOS jumper that is yellow in color. This header is questionable in location because a long video card in that second PCIe slot could make getting your hand in there a little difficult.

image 13

After seeing the bottom right corner of the board the bottom left seems almost empty without all of the headers. Considering that some PCIe devices might be taking up this space, this is a good thing. You still have one PWM fan header and you also have your audio header, but the rest of the space is taken up by an array of LED’s that show you where you are in your boot cycle. This is great for helping diagnose a hardware issue as well as hang-up’s in overclocking. It’s nice to see that Intel included this!

image 12

Here is the breakdown for slots for the DZ77GA-70K

PCIe x1

PCIe x16/8

PCIe x1

PCI

PCIe x8

PCI

PCI x4

This is an interesting layout considering the two legacy PCI slots but its also understandable because of the limited number of PCI lanes that socket 1155 allows. Intel gave enough room for you to have space between two GPU’s or you can use that space to use a PCI  device while still sporting two video cards. On top of that you can ALSO run one PCIe x1 card and one PCIe x4 card along with your two dual slot GPU’s and the PCI slot. That’s a very useful layout giving you three different slot types even with two GPU’s in place.

image 11

The rear I/O panel layout is absolutely filled to the brim. A good example of this is the HDMI port being tucked in sideways. A good portion of the ports are different USB variations with a total of 8 USB ports not counting the USB/eSATA port. Of those USB ports four are USB 2.0 and the four blue plugs are all USB 3.0. They did still manage to slip in a legacy PS2 connection for those Model M fan’s and you have a fairly standard audio configuration as well with a 5 port plus optical. Intel packed two full gigabit NIC’s running on their their Intel® 82579V Gigabit Ethernet Controller. Last but not least they have included a clear CMOS button on the rear, if this doesn’t show you how serious Intel is about overclocking nothing will!

image 21

Even though this is a new chipset, there aren’t any changes as far as the socket is concerned. With backwards compatability with older Socket 1155 CPU’s this isn’t really a surprise. At least we don’t have any special two spring designs with this one, unlike socket 2011.

image 17

The black PCB Intel went with is proof that everyone loves the flat black look. It is the go to color for anyone looking to make an enthusiast board, if you are a manufacture looking to go with another color you really better make sure it’s going to go with your theme. Everyone likes black simply because it blends in with the black interiors we see with most cases now.

image 1


Cooling

Going with the blue and black theme on this board and all of their Extreme boards Intel plastered all of the DZ77GA-70K’s cooling in the colors. The two heatsinks around the CPU socket both are blue anodized aluminum with the larger of the two having a black placard mounted to it showing off the boards name and Extreme moniker. Between the two they will have no trouble keeping this board’s voltage regulation cool, especially the larger heatsink. The other 1/3 of the cooling for the DZ77GA-70K is down near the bottom right. I mentioned this before because of the Intel Extreme skull on it. This is more of a heat spreader than a heatsink yet still does a good job of helping with both cooling and styling on the board. The mesh painted in blue is a nice touch, helping it match the previous extreme board we had in the office while also being unique.

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To Be Cotinued...
Please look for full coverage coming soon! 

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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Lersar's Avatar
Lersar replied the topic: #24687 19 Apr 2012 08:47
First of many Intel Z77 previews and reviews!
garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #24689 19 Apr 2012 08:58
For those of you who have been wondering why we havnt been posting many reviews over the last few weeks. This is why. Expect to see a flood of board previews and reviews upcoming.
Lersar's Avatar
Lersar replied the topic: #24690 19 Apr 2012 09:32
Soooo many motherboards

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