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ASUS Technical Summit: Intel 7 Series Motherboards
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Date: Mar 06, 2012
Section:Motherboards
Author: Seth Colaner
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Intro and Features
ASUS, ever the gracious hosts, had us out to Dallas, TX recently to show us the company’s upcoming motherboard series and let us play with some test systems to see if we could break them. (Full disclosure: We did. But we fixed them, we think.)

There is much we learned there that we can’t yet discuss (suffice it to say you’ll want to stay tuned for more on Intel's 3rd generation Core series processors and 7-series chipset), but we can tell you all about the new line of ASUS motherboards based on Intel’s Z77 series chipset.



ASUS’ strategy of late has been simple but effective: start with something that is rock stable and just works, then build on it, and allow for extensive fine-tuning. Thus, these motherboards will share many of the features and functions of recent ASUS offerings while sporting some new enhancements. Here’s a brief overview of some of the ASUS Z77 motherboard features.



Dual Intelligent Processor with SMART DIGI+ Power Control -
With this 7-series chipset, ASUS is debuting the next generation of their Dual Intelligent Processor with SMART DIGI+ Power Control across its entire lineup. The new features expand on Dual Intelligent Processor by including all-digital controls for more than just the CPU and memory, as well as real-time controls.


Most of the Happy ASUS Intel 7 Series Motherboard Family



Further, although Fan Xpert gives users incredibly precise control over fan speeds, Fan Expert II takes it to a new level. Fan Xpert II can detect all the fans connected to the board and optimize the speed for all of them. Then, the user can adjust each one, renaming them and setting custom configurations. The tool also has three presets built in--Silent, Standard, and Turbo--for an easy, automatic configuration.


ASUS Wi-Fi GO! is an interesting new feature; all the new boards will have 802.11n WiFi built in. Wi-Fi GO! facilitates bi-directional DLNA streaming, Internet sharing across multiple devices, swapping data between devices, and even remote control capabilities with a connected mobile device.

Finally, the motherboard's on board LAN interface features Network iControl, which lets you manage packet priority, traffic shaping, and bandwidth. The lineup will also include features you already know, such as USB 3.0 Boost, USB BIOS Flashback, USB Charger+ (which now works on all standard USB 2.0 devices instead of Apple devices only), ASUS SSD Caching, DTS Ultra PC II and DTS Connect audio, and tweaks to AI Suite II.
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Meet the Family
P8Z77 V-Series: Standard, Pro, Deluxe, Etc.
We've given you some insight with respect to the channel lineup of new ASUS Z77 boards, but below are pictures of some of the more prominent family members.

         
Left to Right: Standard, Pro, and mPro Version ASUS 7-Series Motherboards

Sabertooth Z77
You’ll notice right away from the photos that the Sabertooth’s Thermal Armor has been designed to cover almost the entire dang board. It even has removable covers for the DIMM slots, expansion slots, and USB headers, to keep dust out.



There are copper lanes running all throughout the board to conduct and wick heat away from critical components, and the PCB has extra holes for convection too.

    

ASUS also employs a health monitoring feature they call "Thermal Radar" which has some tweaks, perhaps most notably “Fan Overtime”, which is a feature that allows the fans to keep blowing even after the system shuts down to expel built-up heat. All of this, of course, is designed to prolong the life of the components.

ASUS Workstation Series
ASUS’ workstation boards are basically server-class components, designed for reliability, extended uptime and number-crunching, although they should satisfy power users as well. They support 3- and 4-way graphics, server-grade processors, and ECC RAM, and they have server-grade LAN components on board as well, with NIC teaming capabilities.

    

There’s no built-in WiFi module (nor would you need one really in this class of board), but there is an onboard internal USB port that’s designed for keeping dongles safe; instead of leaving a dongle sticking out of a port on the front or back of a case where it can be stolen or accidentally broken, you can simply connect it to a port inside the case.

RoG Maximus V Series
The latest in their RoG line of ASUS motherboards, the Maximus V series, consists of the Extreme, Formula, and the tiny Gene (an mATX board).

RoG boards have some extra special features (or souped-up versions of other features) apart from the other boards, and these include Extreme Engine Digi+II; SupremeFX III audio (although the Formula has SupremeFX IV); USB BIOS Flashback; RoG Connect, which is an overclocking tool that lets you remotely change settings at the hardware level, with no Windows software; and RoG ProbeIT, which allows users to check voltages with a multimeter directly on the board.

    
ASUS Maximus V Formula Z77 Motherboard - A Republic of Gamers Series Product

The boards also have a mini-PCIe cradle, which is designed for everything from mSATA SSD caching to WiFi modules via PCI-E 2.0 or USB 2.0. The cradle (which sits next to the back I/O ports and is pictured above) grants you some nice options for expansion beyond what's typically expected.

These RoG boards have some heavy-duty cooling solutions, the centerpiece of which is the Fusion Thermal System. Simply put, there are both water channels and heat pipes that run through the heatsinks, leaving the user to implement water or air cooling as preferred or needed.

Other RoG features include: ThunderFX, an external sound cars that allows you to use one headset with multiple devices, RoG Exchange, a social site where users can submit their OC profiles and view and download those others post, and MemTweakIt, an easy way to overclock and validate your scores.

    
ASUS Maximus V Gene mATX Motherboard, Also an ASUS RoG Empowered Beast

That about wraps up our coverage of what ASUS had to show us at their technical summit last week.  Look for more information about these motherboards, the underlying 7-series chipset, and upcoming 3rd generation Intel Core processors in the weeks ahead as we continue our coverage of Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge processor and supporting platform products.




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