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Asus P8Z77-V Pro: Xpert Fan Control for LGA1155

Asus P8Z77-V Pro: Xpert Fan Control for LGA1155

May 7, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Asus P8Z77-V Pro

LGA1155 ATX Motherboard
Manufacturer
Asus
Street Price
US$220

An updated set of chipsets was recently pushed out by Intel to compliment the new Ivy Bridge processors for LGA1155. Series 7 brings some minor improvements to the platform including PCI Express 3.0, a native USB 3.0 controller, and the ability to use triple displays with the improved integrated graphics of Ivy Bridge. Though not necessary to enjoy the main benefits of Ivy/Sandy Bridge, the superb CPU performance and energy efficiency, the high-end Z77 consumer chipset is a must to take advantage of all that the platform has to offer. Like the previous flagship Z68 chipset, Z77 allows heavy multiplier overclocking, utilizing small SSDs as hard drive cache, and ability to use integrated graphics features like Quick Sync video encoding while running a discrete graphics card.



The Asus P8Z77-V Pro.

The Asus P8Z77-V Pro has all these things, along with a laundry list of other features befitting a high-end motherboard. The first Z77 board we reviewed, the Intel DZ77GA-70K, was similar in this regard, but its versatile fan control system was what stood out most to us. Not to be outdone, the P8Z77-V Pro is equipped with FAN Xpert 2, the newest version of Asus' fan control utility which is available only on select models. FAN Xpert 2 promises users an easy-to-use interface to customize and make full use of the board's five independently controllable fan headers, the most of any board we've encountered thus far.



Accessories.

The Asus P8Z77-V Pro package is fairly comprehensive. Along with the obligatory SATA cables, I/O shield, manual, and driver CD, Asus includes a 802.11n adapter with external antenna, a SLI/CrossFireX bridge, a rear USB 3.0/eSATA breakout panel, and their famous Q-connectors that make plugging in the tiny cables from the front panel infinitely easier.

Asus P8Z77-V Pro : Specifications

(from the product
web page
)
CPU

Intel® Socket 1155 for 3rd/2nd Generation Processors

Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU

Supports Intel® 32 nm CPU

Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0

* The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types.

Chipset Intel® Z77
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2600(O.C.) / 2400(O.C.) / 2200(O.C.) / 2133(O.C.) / 2000(O.C.) / 1866(O.C.) / 1800(O.C.) / 1600 / 1333 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory

Dual Channel Memory Architecture

Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)

* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.

* Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
Graphic Integrated Graphics Processor

Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DVI/RGB/DisplayPort ports

- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz

- Supports DVI with max. Resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz

- Supports RGB with max. Resolution 2048 x 1536 @ 75 Hz

- Supports DisplayPort with max. Resolution 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz

Supports Intel® HD Graphics, InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology *1

Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology

Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ Technology

Supports LucidLogix® Virtu™ MVP Technology *2
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8) *3

1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black)

2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 *4

2 x PCI
Storage Intel® Z77 chipset :

2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray

4 x SATA 3Gb/s port(s), blue

Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10

Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology *5

ASMedia® PCIe SATA controller : *6

2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), navy blue
LAN Intel® 82579V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)

Intel® LAN- Dual interconnect between the Integrated LAN controller and Physical Layer (PHY)
Wireless Data Network Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n

Supports single band frequency 2.4GHz
Audio Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC

- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking

Audio Feature :

- Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound

- DTS Ultra PC II

- DTS Connect

- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller : *7

4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)

Intel® Z77 chipset : *7

4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)

Intel® Z77 chipset :

10 x USB 2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, black, 8 at mid-board)
Overclocking Features Overclocking Protection :

- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 3 - SMART DIGI+ Power Control :

SMART DIGI+ :


- Smart DIGI+ Key- quickly delivers higher VRM frequency, voltage and current for superior CPU/iGPU/DRAM overclocking performance with one switch.

- Smart CPU Power Level (Intel® VRD 12.5 Future Power Design)- provides the best digital power saving conditions.

ASUS TPU :

- Auto Tuning

- TurboV

- GPU Boost

- TPU switch

ASUS EPU :

- EPU

- EPU switch

ASUS Digital Power Design :

- Industry leading Digital 16 Phase Power Design

(12 -phase for CPU, 4 -phase for iGPU)

- Industry leading Digital 2 Phase DRAM Power Design

- CPU Power Utility

- DRAM Power Utility

ASUS Wi-Fi GO!

- Wi-Fi GO! Function: DLNA Media Hub, Smart Motion Control, Remote Desktop, Remote Keyboard & Mouse, File Transfer, Capture & Send *8

- Wi-Fi GO! Remote for portable Smartphone/Tablet, supporting iOS & Android systems

- Wi-Fi Engine for network sharing and connection: Client Mode, AP Mode

ASUS Exclusive Features :

- USB BIOS Flashback

- MemOK!

- AI Suite II

- Ai Charger+

- USB Charger+

- Anti-Surge

- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface

- Network iControl

- USB 3.0 Boost

- Disk Unlocker

ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :

- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-sink solution

- ASUS Fan Xpert 2

ASUS EZ DIY :

- ASUS O.C. Tuner

- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3

- ASUS EZ Flash 2

ASUS Q-Design :

- ASUS Q-Shield

- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)

- ASUS Q-Slot

- ASUS Q-DIMM

- ASUS Q-Connector
Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)

1 x DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 x DisplayPort

1 x HDMI

1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)

4 x USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

6 x Audio jack(s)

1 x WLAN connector(s) for ASUS wireless module
Internal I/O Ports 2 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)

4 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 8 USB 2.0 port(s)

4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)

4 x SATA 3Gb/s connector(s)

1 x CPU Fan connector(s)

4 x Chassis Fan connector(s)

1 x Optional Fan connector(s)

1 x S/PDIF out header(s)

1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)

1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)

1 x System panel(s)

1 x MemOK! button(s)

1 x TPU switch(es)

1 x EPU switch(Es)

1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)

1 x USB BIOS Flashback button(s)
Accessories User's manual

ASUS Q-Shield

2 x SATA 3Gb/s cable(s)

2 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)

1 x SLI bridge(s)

1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)

1 x 2-port USB 2.0 and eSATA module(s)

1 x ASUS Wi-Fi GO! card(s)

1 x Wi-Fi Ring Moving Antenna(s)
BIOS 64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS,

ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3, F12 PrintScreen, F3 Shortcut Function and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information
Manageability WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, PXE
Support Disc Drivers

ASUS Utilities

ASUS Update

Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor ATX Form Factor

12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
Note *1: With 2 PCIex16 graphics card.

*2: LucidLogix Virtu MVP supports Windows 7 operating systems.

*3: PCIe 3.0 speed is supported by Intel® 3rd generation Core™ processors.

*4: The PCIe x1_2 shares bandwidth with SATA6G_E12. SATA6G_E12 is enabled by default for system resource optimization.

*5: Supports on Intel® Core™ processor family with Windows 7 operating systems.

*6: These SATA ports are for data hard drivers only. ATAPI devices are not supported.

*7-1: Supports ASUS USB 3.0 Boost UASP Mode.

*7-2: The USB 3.0 ports only support Windows® 7 or later versions.

*8: Available with V1.01.00 or later.

*9: Due to Intel® chipset limitation, P8Z77, P8H77 and P8B75 series motherboards do not support Windows® Vista operating system.

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The P8Z77-V Pro shares a similar appearance as most of Asus' previous Sandy Bridge series 6 motherboards, making it difficult to distinguish. The black PCB with mainly blue slots and heatsinks is quite familiar to us by now and the layout follows the same blueprint as the board's predecessors.



The P8Z77-V Pro is outfitted with three PCI-E 16x 3.0 slots (8x/8x/4x when all three used in tandem) for SLI/CrossFireX operation. The board is well equipped for storage, hosting eight side-facing SATA ports, 4 x 3 Gbps and 2 x 6 Gbps from the native Intel controller, and an additional 2 x 6 Gbps ports powered by a secondary ASMedia controller.



USB support is well-represented with four USB 3.0 ports at the back, and two internal headers (the light blue, oblong connectors on the far left and right of the above image) for an additional four ports. Like the SATA ports, the workload is split between a native Intel controller and an ASMedia add-on controller. There are also four onboard USB 2.0 headers and two ports on the back, bringing the total number of possible 2.0 connectors to 10.



The VRM heatsinks are less fanciful than on the P8P67 series, with broad fins pointing straight up rather than thin strips bent outwards. They are quite low as is the current fashion, measuring 27 mm from the surface of the PCB so as not to get in the way of third party CPU heatsinks. The board uses a 12+4 phase power design.



Heatspreaders are present on the trace side of the motherboard as well to help cool the VRMs.



On the P8Z77-V Pro's back panel, multiple video outputs (DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and VGA) and an extra two USB 3.0 ports have taken the place of FireWire and eSATA connectors which were almost ubiquitous on older high-end models (you can adapt one internal SATA connector to eSATA using the included breakout panel). Also notable are the USB 2.0 ports which support charging higher power devices.



Asus also provides a WiFi adapter that plugs into a header near the rear USB 2.0 ports. An external antenna with a magnetized base and an ~80 cm cable is included though we didn't find the range to be any better than most integrated solutions, even with the antenna placed well above the test platform.

BIOS/UEFI

The P8Z77-V Pro's UEFI sports the same mouse-enabled interface as Asus' series 6 boards. The advanced mode has a clean, well-laid out UI, and being a Z77 motherboard, there are many options with regards to voltage and frequency manipulation.





Available AI Tweaker settings.


UEFI/BIOS Frequency/Voltage Summary: Asus P8Z77-V Pro
Setting
Options
BCLK/PEG Frequency 80 to 300 MHz
Turbo Ratio Up to 65
CPU Voltage Offset +/- 0.005 to +/- 0.635 V
CPU Manual Voltage 0.800 to 1.920 V
VCCSA Voltage 0.800 to 1.700 V (0.925 V default)
CPU PLL Voltage 1.200 to 2.200 V (1.813 V default)
PCH Voltage 0.800 to 1.700 V (1.062 V default)
Memory Frequency 800, 1066, 1333, 1600, 1866, 2133, 2400 MHz
DRAM Voltage 0.800 to 1.920 V
iGPU Max. Frequency Up to 3000 MHz
iGPU Offset Voltage +/- 0.005 to +/- 0.635 V
iGPU Manual Voltage 0.800 to 1.920 V

The voltage options offered are typical for a board of this type with high upper limits. The CPU, integrated GPU, and memory can be pumped up to an 1.92 V, far more than what most enthusiasts would ever dream of using. The BCLK frequency tops out at 300 MHz which is completely unnecessary as the clock generator is tied to other peripherals like the SATA bus. All but the slightest adjustments can cause data corruption and general instability.



The hardware monitor menu in the UEFI reports the usual CPU and motherboard temperatures along with the fan speeds of all six fan headers.





Fan control options.

The new Fan Xpert 2 is one of the most exciting OS-level utilities of the higher-end models of the P8Z77 series, but things are much simpler at the UEFI level. Fan control is handled in a similar fashion to previous Asus motherboards with fixed, automatic, or manual settings. However, BIOS fan control is still much improved over previous boards, as there are five controllable PWM headers, rather than two or three. Also, each individual header can be controlled independently where as previously all the Chassis fans were grouped together under one setting.

TEST METHODOLOGY

Test Setup:



Test configuration device listing.



Measurement and Analysis Tools

Video Test Clip



1080p | 24fps | ~22mbps

H.264: Crash is a 1080p x264 clip encoded from the
Blu-ray version of an science fiction film. It features the aftermath
of a helicopter crash. It has an unusually high bitrate for video of this type.


Estimating DC Power

The following power efficiency figures were obtained for the
Seasonic SS-400ET used in our test system:

Seasonic SS-400ET Test Results
DC Output (W)
21.2
41.6
60.2
81.9
104.7
124.1
145.2
AC Input (W)
32.0
58.0
78.0
102.0
128.0
150.0
175.0
Efficiency
66.3%
71.7%
77.1%
80.3%
81.8%
82.8%
83.0%

This data is enough to give us a very good estimate of DC demand in our test
system. We extrapolate the DC power output from the measured AC power input
based on this data. We won't go through the math; it's easy enough to figure
out for yourself if you really want to.

Testing Procedures

If available, the latest motherboard BIOS is installed prior to testing. Certain services/features
like Indexing, Superfetch, System Restore, and Windows Defender are disabled
to prevent them from causing spikes in CPU/HDD usage. We also make note if energy
saving features like Cool'n'Quiet/SpeedStep or S3 suspend-to-RAM do not function
properly. If a WiFi adapter is present, it is disabled unless the system lacks wired ethernet.

Our main test procedure is designed to determine the overall system power consumption
at various states (measured using a Seasonic Power Angel). To stress CPUs we
use either Prime95 (large FFTs setting) or CPUBurn depending on which produces higher system power consumption. To stress the IGP, we use FurMark, an OpenGL benchmarking and stability testing utility. Power consumption during playback of high definition video is also recorded.

Operating Voltage

Before we start, we present the operating voltages of our Core i5-2500K provided by some of the motherboards compared today. Higher voltages don't necessarily equate to higher power consumption, but in many cases there is a correlation.

TEST RESULTS

Power Consumption

Note: WiFi adapter disabled during power testing.

PCs employed for personal use typically set idle or are tasked with simple operations for long stretches of time. This makes the power consumption during these situations often more critical than when the system is on load.

When idle and under light load, the P8Z77-V Pro isn't particularly energy efficient, edging out only P67 motherboards from Gigabyte and Asus paired with a discrete graphics card. It used 3~4W more than the first Z77 board we reviewed, the Intel DZ77GA-70K.

On load, the P8Z77-V Pro becomes much more frugal, turning the tables on the DZ77GA-70K by the same margin as in the light load test. The board employs a more sophisticated power regulation system which is typically found on enthusiast class models to make power consumption more efficient in the face of high frequencies and voltages.

The difference is noticeable when we look at the amount of energy pulled from the AUX12V/EPS12V connector. On full load, 75% of the DZ77GA-70K's system power consumption was delivered from 8-pin port compared to 66% for the P8Z77-V Pro.

The power consumption figures using an Ivy Bridge processor mirror those we got with Sandy Bridge. The P8Z77-V Pro is more efficient on load, the DZ77GA-70K at idle.

FAN Xpert 2

Currently only four motherboards in Asus' entire lineup supports the latest version of their fan speed utility, FAN Xpert 2. This new and improved high-end feature is one of the key selling points for the P8Z77 WS, P8Z77-V Pro, P8Z77-V Deluxe, and the cheapest model, the US$200 P8Z77-V.



The FAN Xpert 2 screen looks similar to the previous iteration with fan information taking up the majority of the space on the left with sensor readings ever present on the right side. As the board has five independently controllable headers, the two item drop down menu has been replaced with a clickable dots for each fan.


To make proper use of FAN Xpert, the fan tuning option is used first. The utility methodically spins each fan up and down determining its minimum/maximum speed. This is useful even if you use the same fan model for all the case fans as there is always some level of variation.



The fan speed analysis can be presented in a table but the graph option is more appealing to eye. For this particular fan, the controllable range is 38% and above. Going below this seems possible, but it looks like the fan utility determines the minimum speed at which a fan will start reliably, which is a bit of safety margin. Old hands at SPCR know that once a fan is spinning, the speed can usually dialed down to even lower than the fan can start at reliably, but keeping at this speed is risky: When the system is turned off at such a low speed, the fan won't start when the system is powered up again. This intelligence appears to be embedded in FAN Xpert 2!



As the board can power up to six fans, it's easy to forget which fan is connected to which header once it's mounted inside a case. The confusion is short-lived though thanks to this nifty option that isolates each fan one by one.



You can then name each fan header and if that's not enough to differentiate them, you can also assign it a position in the case to act as an additional visual aid.



If you prefer static control, use the RPM Fix Mode and drag the line down to the desired speed. The red dotted line represents the cutoff point, the fan's minimum speed.



For dynamic control, Smart Mode lets you adjust the fan speed curve to your liking according to the CPU temperature. You can also change how fast the speeds react depending on whether it's increasing or decreasing.

Overall, FAN Xpert 2 is incredibly comprehensive, with the only notable missing feature being the ability to make fans react to temperature sensors other than the CPU. This is one area where Intel is superior, or at least the DZ77GA-70K. Its four fan headers can be set to respond to any of the board's four internal sensors (CPU, PCH, VRM, and RAM). Our favorite third party fan utility, SpeedFan, also has this ability, but it doesn't currently work on the P8Z77-V Pro (only temperature sensors are detected, no fan speed sensors or controls are available).

Cooling

To test the board's cooling, we stress the CPU for ~15 minutes with Prime95/CPU Burn. Temperatures of the boards' chipset and VRM heatsinks (if applicable) are recorded using a spot thermometer. The highest temperatures are taken for comparison.

As the P8Z77-V Pro has an impressively sized PCH heatsink, it was hardly shocking that the hottest temperature reading we measured was just 18°C above ambient, substantially lower than the other boards compared above. The same can't be said for the VRM heatsinks, even with the heatspreaders on the trace side of the motherboard lending a helping hand. It's a bit surprising considering how energy efficient the board is on load.

Boot Time

To test boot time we optimize the BIOS menu by setting the hard drive and other delays set to minimum, taking care not to disable common functionality like USB support, POST messages, etc. and measure the time it takes to reach the Windows loading screen (we stop here because this is the point where the O/S drive speed becomes a factor).

The P8Z77-V Pro's boot delay was about average for an LGA1155 board, getting to the Windows loading screen in just over 14 seconds.

USB 3.0 Performance

In addition to the native support provided by the Z77 chipset, the P8Z77-V Pro has a secondary ASMedia USB 3.0 controller. They performed similarly in a large file transfer test from
a USB 3.0-connected WD VelociRaptor
600GB
to an internal drive. AI Suite has a featured called "USB 3.0 Boost" that Asus claims increases USB 3.0 performance but we found it didn't make any difference.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Asus P8Z77-V Pro is one of the rare premium motherboards that gives us little to complain about. The feature-set is stacked, naturally, with SLI/CrossFireX support, four video outputs, eight SATA ports (eSATA via an included breakout panel), two USB 3.0 controllers with internal headers, an Atheros based wireless NIC, and an Intel powered gigabit ethernet adapter. Like Asus' series 6 line, the UEFI options are expansive but the fan control capabilities have been vastly improved.

The presence of five independently controllable headers is great on its own, and FAN Xpert 2 adds more than just a cherry on top at the O/S level. The utility allows users to identify and name fans, scan each one to find their controllable ranges, and then adjust their speed/temperature curves accordingly. The only thing that could improve it is the ability to respond to temperatures other than the CPU. Intel's DZ77GA-70K can do this at the UEFI level, but the interface isn't as straightforward being text only, and controls four fans rather than five.

The only issue we had with the board was somewhat high idle power consumption, something we encountered with both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors. The Intel DZ77GA-70K used 3~4 watts less, but Intel brand boards always seem to use less idle power than their partners' models utilizing the same chipset. The P8Z77-V Pro makes up for this by being more efficient on load, useful if the machine it's used in is worked hard most of the time, presumably while overclocked.

The Asus P8Z77-V Pro is also priced similarly to the Intel DZ77GA-70K, at about US$220. Of the two, the Asus board offers better value and overall appeal. Its multiple video outputs allows the use of dual/triple displays using the integrated graphics chip, its wireless adapter has an external antenna and doesn't take up a USB header, it has an additional USB 3.0 controller, and FAN Xpert 2 is a pleasure to use. The Intel board has a few extra features like FireWire, a second gigabit ethernet port, a front-mounted USB 3.0 panel, extra temperature sensors, physical power, reset, and BIOS recovery buttons, but we imagine the tradeoff is well worth it for many users.

Our thanks to Asus for the P8Z77-V Pro motherboard sample.

It's rare for us to bestow an award for a motherboard. In fact, it's never been done here before. After all, just how much noise-relevance does a motherboard have? In this case, however, especially with FAN Xpert 2, it's a natural. >



Asus P8Z77-V Pro is Recommended by SPCR

* * *

Articles of Related Interest

Intel Core i7-3770 Ivy Bridge CPU

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

Intel
Sandy Bridge Extreme: Core i7-3960X LGA2011 Processor


Gigabyte
A75M-UD2H Mainstream FM1 Motherboard


Asus
P8H67-I Deluxe Mini-ITX Motherboard


Zotac H67-ITX: Sandy Bridge for Mini-ITX

* * *

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