What's New in Ivy Bridge CPUs and the Z77 Motherboard Platform?

The Intel DZ77GA-70K (Intel Z77) Motherboard

The Intel DZ77GA-70K (Intel Z77) Motherboard

For those of you who have been following developments of the new Ivy Bridge processors and 7-series motherboards closely, you would know that we have already previewed a handful of Z77 motherboards in the past few weeks. For those who have yet to check out our previews, here's the list of boards:

Today, we'll be taking a look at how a reference Z77 motherboards looks like and it comes in the form of the Intel DZ77GA-70K. The motherboard comes from Intel's "Extreme" lineup, which means it was designed with enthusiasts in mind. Aesthetically, it doesn’t look much different from any 6-series board. And like most Intel reference boards, it looks more simple and less decorated than those from its partners. Of note, the heatsinks are more compact and less dominant.

Here’s a quick look at the Intel reference board.

Intel follows the tradition of their past extreme boards by adopting a black and blue color scheme.

There's much space around the CPU socket, which should make installing large aftermarket coolers easy.

The DIMM slots are well placed and shouldn't hinder your graphics card. There's four of them so handling up to 32GB of memory is easily possible.

A look at the rear connectors. You get two high-speed USB 2.0 ports, two regular USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, FireWire port, an HDMI port for display output, two RJ45 Ethernet connectors, and quite oddly, a PS/2 port for legacy mouse and keyboard devices. It's surprising to find dual LAN ports on an Intel motherboard, but sadly there's no Thunderbolt port from the proponent of the standard.

Apart from the four USB 3.0 ports at the rear, another four more can be enabled via these two headers.

If you are wondering why this board can support up to eight USB 3.0 ports, it is thanks to this Genesys Logic GL3520 USB 3.0 hub controller.

The DZ77GA-70K comes with two PCIe x8 3.0 slots, but if you don’t have an Ivy Bridge processor installed, it will run at PCI 2.0 speeds. That aside, the reference board also provides one PCIe 2.0 x4 slot, two PCIe 2.0 x1 slot and two regular PCI slots.

There’s eight SATA ports. The two blue ones are SATA 6Gbps compliant provided for by the chipset, while the four black ones are SATA 3Gbps ones also provided by the chipset. The two gray ones on the left are additional SATA 6Gbps ports provided by a Marvell 88SE9172 SATA controller.