Intel DZ77GA-70K Z77 Motherboard: Waiting for Ivy Bridge

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Intel DZ77GA-70K: Waiting for Ivy Bridge

April 17, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Intel DZ77GA-70K
LGA1155 ATX Motherboard
Manufacturer
Intel
Street Price
US$240

Like many CPU architecture releases in the past, Intel's LGA2011 platform instantly relegated its predecessor, LGA1155, to mainstream status. While many PC enthusiasts yearn for the unparalleled speed of Sandy Bridge Extreme, the limited increase in performance and heavy price premium over good old vanilla Sandy Bridge isn't particularly appealing. Per dollar and per watt, the current lineup of Sandy Bridge chips deliver a relatively high level of performance.

Our guess is most LGA1155 users are satisfied with what they have, not that there are many upgrade options. The current Sandy Bridge headliner, the Core i7-2700K, is only 100 MHz faster than the i7-2600K that debuted with the first crop of LGA1155 CPUs in January 2011. That will change later this month with the official launch of Ivy Bridge, but in the meantime, a new series of motherboards to accompany the new processor has been released.


Z77 chipset block diagram.

Z77 is the new flagship chipset for LGA1155, designed to take full advantage of Ivy Bridge's capabilities, and it is thankfully backwards compatible with current Sandy Bridge processors. Many series 6 (H67/P67/Z68/etc.) motherboards are also forward-compatible with Ivy Bridge chips but require a BIOS/UEFI update (see your motherboard manufacturer's website for details).

Compared to Z68, Z77 delivers four main changes. The PCI Express lanes provided by the CPU have been upgraded to the version 3.0 specification, doubling the per-lane bandwidth to 1 GB/s (this sounds impressive but keep in mind the fastest current graphics cards don't utilize all the bandwidth provided by PCI-E 2.0). USB 3.0 has been pretty much standard in mid-to-high end Sandy Bridge boards but Intel has finally added a native controller. Z77 allows users to use three simultaneous displays, but only with an Ivy Bridge CPU. Finally, PCI support has been left behind, though manufacturers have the option of adding it back using a separate controller chip.


Chipset comparison.

Similar to series 6, there are a total of three series 7 consumer chipsets. H77 is the most basic and like H67, lacks the lax multiplier overclocking options of its two big brothers and is limited to a single PCI-E 16x slot. Z75 is the middle child with overclocking capability but without Intel's Smart Response (SSD caching) ability. Z77 has it all and the unique option to divvy up the PCI-E 3.0 lanes in a 8x/4x/4x configuration (presumably if the manufacturer wants to add a Thunderbolt controller).

Intel DZ77GA-70K : Specifications
(from the product web page)
Form factor ATX
AA# (Altered Assembly) G30742-XXX
Processor At product launch, this Intel® Desktop Board DZ77GA-70K supports the following LGA1155 socket processors:
• Intel® Core™ i7 -K series
• 2nd and 3rd Generation Core™ i7 series
• 2nd and 3rd Generation Core™ i5 series
• 2nd and 3rd Generation Core™ i3 series
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
Chipset Intel® Z77 Express Chipset
Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST) for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10
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 SuperSpeed USB 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

Our first Z77 sample board is the Intel DZ77GA-70K, a high-end model currently selling for approximately US$240. The board is flush with features including a 10-channel integrated audio chip, two Intel gigabit ethernet controllers, eight USB 3.0 ports (four external, four internal), two USB 2.0 fast charging ports, four SATA and one eSATA 6 Gbps connectors, FireWire, an IR receiver/emitter, and two PCI-E 16x slots (WiFi and Bluetooth (2.1+EDR) connectivity are also included though it's not currently listed in the official specifications for some reason).


The box.


Accessories.

Like previous members of Intel's "Extreme" motherboard lineup, the skull logo is featured prominently on the box art. This time it also makes an appearance on a thin, oversized mousepad, part of the accessory package. Also included is a USB 3.0 bracket, a CrossFire/SLI bridge, and an internal USB WiFi/Bluetooth module with adhesive on the back to stick it somewhere inside the case. Retail versions of the motherboard should also ship with four UV-reactive SATA cables and a driver disc.



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