|A member of the Funky Media Group|
|Review: ASRock Z77-Professional Motherboard|
|Posted by Ed Smith|
|Saturday, 07 April 2012 22:00|
Page 5 of 12
Photos, The Z77 Professional in Detail
First a few overview shots, then we'll get down to the ICs. Fair warning: When I say detail, I mean detail.
I see 775 CPU heatsink mounting holes along with the 1155 holes. Awesome. I also only see five MOSFET drivers, there may be more under the MOSFET heatsink though.
There're certainly a lot of inductors, so depending on how you count "phases" there probably are 24 (16+8) claimed. Marketing (all companies) call a MOSFET pair and inductor a phase. Personally I call a phase a MOSFET pair and inductor that is out of phase with it's compatriots a phase. If you have four MOSFET drivers driving eight MOSFET/inductor pairs I think you have four phases, not eight. I may just be feeling pedantic though.
If you look at the traces on the motherboard you can see that the inductors are paired, that drops the 18+6 to 9+3. With pairs like this you don't get the ripple control of more separate phases, but you do get the current handling ability.
Next up, PCIe/PCI slots!
Three x16 connectors, the top one is wired for x16 and has switches (IC switches, not mechanical switches) to donate eight of those lanes to the second slot if a card is installed in said second slot. The bottom slot is a x4 that is wired to the PCH. We also get two PCI slots and two PCIe x1 slots (also wired to the PCH). Next to the battery we also see an unpopulated place for a mini-PCIe connector. Maybe for a semi-built-in tiny SSD for Intel RST? Also worth noting is that with three slots, only two of which feed into the CPU, you're going to have a hard time running quad SLI/CFX unless you're using GPUs like the GTX590 or HD6990.
The only issue is that it will be rather difficult to release A GPU in the top PCIe slot due to how close the "NB" heatsink is to the slot. My fingers are too large to fit in the gap, I have to use a chopstick to release the GPU.
DDR3-2800+? Wow. I don't have any ram that goes that high, nor will my 2600k's memory controller go that high as far as I know. The upcoming Third Generation Core i CPUs are said to have very good memory controllers, so odds are they are what are being used for DDR3-2800 type speeds. Pretty juicy ram power section there, too. I'm not really a fan of the sort of clip used to secure the ram on the left side, but it isn't a big deal.
Six USB3 ports, five USB2 ports, one USB Fatal1ty port, HDMI and DisplayPorts, a Clear CMOS button, a mouse/keyboard PS2 port, two Gigabit network ports, Firewire, eSATA3, normal audio output and SPDIF optical audio output. That is one hell of a rear IO panel. Yes the board is warped, no it does not matter.
Speaking of IO, we'll tour the rest of the IO bits on the board now.
CPU power plug is on the top of the board, may or may not be a better spot than in the corner where most boards have it. If you have a large tower heatsink this placement is not an improvement, if you're using something more compact it is rather nice. We also get two CPU fan headers, one PWM and one non-PWM. I like this.
ATX24P power connector, USB3 header (in case six ports isn't enough!) and an IDE/PATA header. I'm torn between saying "What the hell are IDE and floppy headers doing here?" and "Holy *(#&%@ THIS IS AWESOME". I'm leaning towards the second, though I really have no clue what I'll use them for. The placement of the USB3 header is dubious at best, though it makes sense if you're using the 3.5" front panel bay adapter.
Along the bottom is the front panel audio, COM serial port, floppy drive port (really), IRDA port, Firewire port, a PWM fan header, two USB2 ports, a non-PWM fan header, the front panel button/LED connector, the POST LEDs, the BIOS chip and just to the north are power/reset buttons.
Last for the ports section are the SATA ports, red are SATA3 and black are SATA2.
The sticker is on the ports it suggests you use, they are the ports controlled by the Z77 PCH. One of the non-PCH red ports is shared with the rear IO panel's eSATA3 port.