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