ASUS P8Z77-V LE PLUS Motherboard Review

Regardless of what one’s budget might be for a Z77 platform system build, ASUS surely has an offering that will fit. At last count, there are no less than 20 choices to be had within the ASUS Z77 lineup. Within the Z77 platform, ASUS has done a great job of mixing up features to offer a solution that fits almost any consumer’s desire. In fact, you can find many offerings in the same price range that differ only by the features included on them. Today, we’ll be looking at one such mid-level offering, the P8Z77-V LE PLUS. So, let’s have a look at what ASUS has packed into this Z77 offering!

Specifications And Features

As is common place with ASUS motherboards, the list of specifications is a long one. The list below is courtesy of ASUS.

ASUS P8Z77-V LE PLUS Specifications
CPU Intel® Socket 1155 for 3rd/2nd Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® 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.
* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list
Chipset Intel® Z77
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 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
Maximum shared memory of 1696 MB
Supports Intel® HD Graphics, InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology *1
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, blue) *3
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black) *4
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
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
Marvell® PCIe SATA 6Gb/s controller : *6
1 x eSATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
1 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), navy blue
LAN Realtek® 8111F, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Audio Realtek® ALC889 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
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports 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)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller : *7
2 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue)
Overclocking Features Overclocking Protection :
-
ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features
ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New 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 Hybrid Processor – TPU :
- Auto Tuning
- TurboV
- GPU Boost
- TPU switch
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
- EPU switch
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 8 Phase Power Design
(6 -phase for CPU, 2 -phase for iGPU)
- Industry leading Digital 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
- CPU Power Utility
- DRAM Power Utility
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- USB BIOS Flashback
- MemOK!
- AI Suite II
- Ai Charger+
- USB Charger+
- Anti-Surge
- Low EMI Solution
- ESD Guards
- 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 & MOS Heatsink
- ASUS Fan Xpert+
ASUS EZ DIY :
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS MyLogo 2
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-Slot
100% All High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors
 Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DVI
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)
 Internal I/O Ports 1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
4 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 8 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
3 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
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
I/O Shield
2 x SATA 3Gb/s cable(s)
2 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
BIOS 64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3, F12 PrintScreen Function, F3 Shortcut Function and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information
Manageability WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, WOR by PME, PXE
Support Disc Drivers
ASUS Utilities
ASUS Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
*Notes *1: *Disable PCIe x1_1 and PCIe x1_2 slots and manual set the PCIe x16_3 to x4 mode in BIOS when configure CrossFireX™ with dual graphics cards.
*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 x16_3 slot shares bandwidth with PCIe x1_1 slot, PCIe x1_2 slot. The default setting is x2 mode. Go to the BIOS setup to change the settings.
*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: The USB 3.0 ports only support Windows® 7 or later versions.
*7-2: Supports ASUS USB 3.0 Boost UASP Mode.
*8: Due to Intel® chipset limitation, P8Z77, P8H77 and P8B75 series motherboards do not support Windows® Vista operating system.

The marketing folks at ASUS do a good job of letting potential buyers know what features they can look forward to when purchasing one of their products. In typical ASUS style, the feature list is more than plentiful. ASUS has implemented a couple of new hardware and software designs directly related to the Windows 8 experience. The Fast Boot feature is a combination of hardware and software designs that shorten boot times. The ASUS Boot Setting utility can be used to take advantage of these designs and allows for customizing what happens during the boot process. Whatever you choose to happen will remain active until such time as you change them. While these features are most commonly associated with Windows 8, earlier versions of Windows can benefit too.

All images are courtesy of ASUS – Click on any image for a larger view.

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No Z77 platform motherboard would be complete without making sure everything the Z77 platform offers is present and accounted for. SSD Caching, PCIe 3.0 support, and native USB3.0 support are just some of what the Z77 Platform offers.

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ASUS is very proud of their DIGI+ Power Control and Smart DIGI+, and with good reason. Either from within the UEFI BIOS or from the desktop, you have complete control of the power delivery. Whether you’re looking to push the system to the limit or obtain the maximum power efficiency possible, you have everything at your disposal to make it happen. The Dual Processors 3 feature is a hardware IC based design that incorporates the Energy Processing Unit (EPU) and the TurboV processing Unit (TPU). The EPU works in conjunction with the Digital PWM for regulating and managing voltages and other VRM response and loading aspects. The TPU provides extended and enhanced voltage control as well as hardware monitoring.

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The items listed under ASUS Exclusive Features pertain mostly to software, which we’ll go over later in the review. They do make mention of the UEFI BIOS and a few of the more unique aspects it brings to the table. ASUS UEFI BIOS has adopted the .CAP container format for all current platforms, which will ensure seamless performance and functionality for Windows 8.

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LucidLogix Virtu MVP is fully supported on the P8Z77-V LE PLUS. This can be used to combine the performance of a discrete graphics card with the fast computing capabilities of the iGPU built into a processor. Obviously, it’s much more detailed than that little snippet; so if you care to read about it in greater detail, follow this link.

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Design Philosophy

Quality is of the utmost importance to ASUS, and they want you to know about some of the designs they implement that separate them from the competition. The below pictures represent just some of the things ASUS does to ensure durability and reliability.

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Packaging And First Look

Taking a look at the packaging, we find the box front displays lots of ASUS branding and a host of icons describing many of the features. The back of the box goes into greater detail on the features and specifications, which is nice for potential buyers that can actually hold the box before purchasing. The box sides are all identical, other than one side having a brief multilingual feature list.

Box Front

Box Front

Three Sides Are Like This

Three Sides Are Like This

Multilingual Side

Multilingual Side

Box Rear

Box Rear

After opening the box, you’ll find the motherboard wrapped in an anti-static bag sitting at the very top. On the left side, the cardboard bed is folded to make a home for the SATA cables. Below the cardboard bed is where you’ll find the rest of the accessories. The accessory bundle may not be the most populated you’ve ever seen, but it’s plenty adequate.

Included Accessories

  • User Guide
  • Case Badge
  • Driver/Software DVD
  • Flexible SLI Bridge
  • I/O Shield
  • 4 X 6 GB/s SATA Cables (90° at one end)

Box Top Opened

Box Top Opened

Out of Bag

Out of Bag

Accessories Below

Accessories Below

Accessories Laid Out

Accessories Laid Out

Photo Op

Below is a quick tour via pictures. A brown PCB with light blue, dark blue, black, silver and white accents. Interesting choice!

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A Closer Look/Under The Hood

Let’s dive in and find out what makes this motherboard tick, shall we? Beginning at the bottom of the motherboard, we have the front panel audio connector with the digital audio connector (S/PDIF out) just above it. Moving to the right, we have the serial port, Thunderbolt header, and two of the four USB 2.0 headers. The Thunderbolt header will be used with the ThunderboltEX add on card, once it becomes available. Farther to the right are the other two USB 2.0 headers, the BIOS Flashback button, the front panel connectors, and the CLRTC jumper. The BIOS Flashback button allows you to recover a corrupt BIOS by flashing with only standby power present. You don’t even have to have any hardware installed to use the BIOS Flashback feature, except for the PSU.

Bottom Left Area

Bottom Left Area

Bottom Right Area

Bottom Right Area

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Heading up the right side of the P8Z77-V LE PLUS, we first land at the SATA ports. There are seven SATA ports located in this area. The two gray ports are SATA 6 GB/s, and the four light blue are SATA 3 GB/s. All six ports in this group are native to the Z77 chipset. The dark blue SATA port is another SATA 6 GB/s port provided by a Marvell controller, which also handles the eSATA port at the back of the motherboard. Above the SATA port area is where the USB 3.0 header, 24-pin ATX power connector, and the MemOK! button are located. If you run into a memory compatibility issue keeping the system from properly booting, you can try using the MemOK! feature to automatically configure the memory to a bootable state. This can be especially helpful if you are trying to run mismatched modules or failing memory. The MemOK! button can also double as a “semi-clear CMOS” as well. The term “semi” is used because it will only clear items related to clock speeds and voltages. Also viewable here is the first of four fan headers (1X CPU and 3X System).

Right Side Lower Area

Right Side Lower Area

SATA Ports Up CLose

SATA Ports Up CLose

Right Side Upper Area

Right Side Upper Area

The top side of the board is home to two more fan headers, the TPU and EPU switches, and the 8-pin CPU AUX 12 V power connector. Enabling the TPU switch will execute a quick hardware based overclock. If you prefer to overclock manually, then leave the switch disabled. The EPU switch will execute a hardware based under-volt to the CPU. This will not affect performance and only impacts the voltage to the CPU. This is intended for those users who run their systems at stock speeds and are looking to improve thermal performance and power consumption. Further technical explanation of what TPU and EPU can do behind the scenes was provided by ASUS:

  • TPU – Is a hardware IC implemented to provide extended and enhanced voltage control and hardware monitoring. In addition, it enables special command parameters that link into MemOK!
  • EPU – Is a hardware IC implemented that works in conjunction with our Digital PWM for regulation and management of voltages and aspects of VRM response and loading.

Top Right Side

Top Right Side

Top Left Side

Top Left Side

At the left side of the motherboard, we have the well populated I/O area at the top and an open area that is home to many of the onboard integrated ICs. We’ll have a closer look at the ICs a bit later. For something a little different this time around, let the pictures do the explaining of the I/O area!

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Left Side Top Overhead View

Left Side Top Overhead View

Left Side Lower Area

Left Side Lower Area

Left Side Upper Area - I/O Connections

Left Side Upper Area – I/O Connections

As we look at the PCIe/PCI slots, we find three PCIe x16, two PCIe x1, and two PCI slots. A single graphics card will run at x16 speed if installed in either of the top two PCIe slots. A video card installed in both of the top two PCIe slots will run at x8x8 speeds. The top two PCIe slots also support PCIe generations 3.0. The bottom most PCIe slot supports PCIe generation 2.0 and PCIe x1 and x4 speeds. Having two PCI slots in conjunction with the PS/2 port at the I/O area is ASUS’ way of trying to ease the migration cost from older systems. With these options made available, the user has the opportunity to bring older components to a new platform, thus holding down costs.

The four DDR3 DIMM slots support a total system capacity of 32 GB and speeds that range from 2400 MHz (OC) down to 1066 MHz.

The CPU socket area should impose no restrictions on your choice of cooling. There is plenty of unobstructed area for just about any air cooler I can think of. As always, keep memory height in mind if you choose a solution that overhangs the DIMM slot area. CPU water blocks of all kinds should work here as well.

PCIe/PCI Slots

PCIe/PCI Slots

DIMM Slots

DIMM Slots

CPU Socket Area

CPU Socket Area

ASMedia has been called on to provide several functions of the motherboard. For additional USB 3.0 connectivity at the back panel, the ASMedia ASM1042 IC is used. For the TMDS link function (think HDMI and DVI), the ASM1442 IC has been called to duty. For PCIe switching capabilities, there are four ASM1480 ICs to handle that function. Finally, the ASM 1083 IC is used to bridge legacy parallel bus devices to the more advanced PCI Express interface.

ASM1042 IC

ASM1042 IC

ASM1442 IC

ASM1442 IC

ASM1083 IC

ASM1083 IC

ASM1480 ICs

ASM1480 ICs

For LAN and audio capabilities, Realtek is the vendor of choice. The Gigabit LAN controller is the RTL8111F, and the 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC is provided via ALC889 audio controller.

Realtek LAN Controller

Realtek LAN Controller

Realtek Audio Controller

Realtek Audio Controller

The Nuvoton NCT6779D is responsible for many of the Super I/O functions. The NCT6779D monitors several critical parameters in PC hardware, including power supply voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures. We’re used to seeing Winbond BIOS chips on most ASUS motherboards, but here we see the use of a cFeon EN25F64 chip.

Nuvoton Super I/O IC

Nuvoton Super I/O IC

cFeon BIOS Chip

cFeon BIOS Chip

Providing a dual digital VRM implementation for CPU and memory, we find two DIGI+ VRM controllers on the motherboard. When we get to the UEFI BIOS tour, you will see how these two controllers offer complete control over power delivery. The Dual Processors 3 feature is comprised of the EPU and TPU hardware based ICs.

DIGI+ CPU VRM Control

DIGI+ CPU VRM Control

DIGI+ Memory VRM Control

DIGI+ Memory VRM Control

TurboV Processor

TurboV Processor

There are two heatsinks on the P8Z77-V LE PLUS, one over the Z77 PCH and the other over the MOSFETS. The 8-phase digital power design breaks down to six phases for the CPU and two for the iGPU. Additionally, there are two more digital power phases dedicated to the memory. Once the heatsinks were removed, all the target points were found to have excellent contact with the TIM and heatsinks. You might also notice in the picture below, the 5K solid capacitors that are used throughout the motherboard. This is an improvement from the standard 2K capacitors found on many motherboards.

Power Delivery

8-Phase (6+2) Power Delivery

MOSFET Heatsink Thermal Pad Contact

MOSFET Heatsink Thermal Pad Contact

MOSFETs Exposed

MOSFETs Exposed

PCH Heatsink

PCH Heatsink

PCH Exposed

PCH Exposed

Heatsinks Top Side

Heatsinks Top Side

Heatsink Bottom Side

Heatsink Bottom Side

5K Solid Capacitors

5K Solid Capacitors

The UEFI BIOS

The first time you enter the UEFI BIOS, you will land on the EZ Mode main screen, which presents some monitoring information and a few system performance and boot priority controls. From here, you can press F3 to view the table of contents menu that will take you straight to the page you select. Alternatively, if you want to go to into the Advanced Mode, simply press the F7 key. There is a setting in BIOS you can change that will bypass EZ Mode altogether and take you straight to Advanced Mode when entering the UEFI BIOS.

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Once inside the Advanced Mode, you will land at the Main tab. Here you get basic system information and the ability to set the date and time. The Security sub-menu has the options for setting BIOS level passwords.

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The Ai Tweaker tab has all the overclocking, power controls, voltage options, and memory settings anyone could ever ask for. There are four sub-menus that can be used to set an automatic overclock, adjust a slew of memory timings, and configure the CPU management options. The DIGI+ Power Control sub-menu gives the user complete control of LLC, voltage frequencies, current capabilities, and the ability to control the power phases. If you are not an overclocker, you’ll find everything you need to fine tune the system for desired thermal performance and power efficiency. I took a boat load of screen shots, so you can see the options at your disposal within these four sub-menus. The first group of pictures below has a voltage availability table to show you the minimum and maximum voltages that can be manually set. The color heading corresponds with the level of risk associated with setting voltages to that level. As you peruse the images below, have a look at the far right column for a brief explanation from ASUS. If you have any other questions, please ask in the forums!

Ai Tweaker Main Page

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Available Voltage Ranges

Available Voltage Ranges

OC Tuner Sub-menu

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DRAM Timing Control

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CPU Power Management

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DIGI+ Power Control

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The Advanced tab has eight sub-menus dealing mostly with system configuration options. Most of these items are pretty standard across most motherboard offerings out there. Here are screenshots of all the available options.

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The Monitor tab is where you can have a quick look at temperatures, fan speeds, and voltages in real time. This is also where the Q-Fan controls are located, which allow for setting fan speeds for each of the onboard fan headers. There are three preset fan profiles you can use (standard, silent, and turbo), or you can choose the manual option. If you choose the manual option, you can control the fan duty cycles to correspond with customizable upper and lower temperature thresholds

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The Boot tab is pretty common stuff found on most newer platform motherboards. If you want to bypass the EZ Mode screen when first entering BIOS, this is where you can do it.

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The Tool tab contains three sub-menus that contain EZ Flash 2 Utility, O.C. Profile, and SPD Information. For updating the BIOS, EZ Flash 2 is an extremely easy way to do so. Just put the BIOS file on a USB stick, plug it in, and go. The O.C. Profile is where you can save up to eight profiles. You also have the ability to save profiles to a USB drive, which in reality means you can save as many profiles as you like. The SPD Information sub-menu gives you all the SPD/XMP profile information on the memory you have installed.

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The Exit tab has an option to return to the EZ Mode interface or decide how you want to leave the UEFI BIOS. I wish ASUS would put “Save Changes & Reset” at the top of the exit list of options. This would accommodate us old school keyboard users that fly right through this area thinking they saved their settings, only to realize they actually loaded the optimized defaults.

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Included Software

AI Suite II is bundled with the P8Z77-V LE PLUS, and it’s packed with useful tools and utilities. Once installed, you will see an icon in the taskbar that can be used to launch the menu bar. Clicking the buttons on the menu bar gives you quick access to the different utilities.

The Auto Tuning button takes you directly to the TurboV EVO area where you can apply an automatic overclock, or click the Manual Mode tab to do it manually.

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The DIGI+ Power Control Utility has the Smart DIGI+ feature allowing for optimized VRM frequencies, voltages, and current at the press of a button. From there, it will take you directly to Turbo V EVO where you can adjust ratios. If you prefer to set these values manually, then you can enter the CPU Power Control or DRAM Power Control areas where you’ll have control over these power options.

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The EPU utility will satisfy the user looking for optimal energy efficiency. There is an Auto setting, High Performance setting, and Max. Power Saving setting that can all be customized to your liking.

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FAN Xpert+ is used for controlling fan speed based upon temperatures and works with all the fan headers on the motherboard. There are four preloaded profiles, or you can create your own. You can also test any fan to find the RPM it will run at given the power percentage delivered to it.

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Probe II is a complete monitoring utility that can also alert you of problems based on customizable thresholds.

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Sensor recorder can be used to monitor real time voltage, temperatures, and fan speeds in a graph format over time. You also have the option to record and log a graph of any or all of these voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds.

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Ai Charger+ is said to charge BC 1.1 compatible devices up to three times faster than standard USB charging. USB Charger+ is another device charging utility included in the AI Suite II software package. USB Charger+ has the ability to charge a device while the computer is in sleep mode, hibernation, or even turned off.

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USB 3.0 Boost can speed up the transfer rate of an attached USB 3.0 device. If you have a USB 3.0 device that meets the UASP protocol, you should see some pretty nice performance gains.

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Network iControl gives the user the ability to set bandwidth priority to any program that connects to the internet. In a single click, you can prioritize network traffic for the application you’re currently using or set up favorite profiles to run at specific times to maximize network bandwidth, all through the user interface.

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USB BIOS Flashback has the ability to automatically check for BIOS updates on a schedule of your choosing and then save the file to a USB storage device. The USB device can then be used to flash the BIOS via the BIOS Flashback button on the motherboard.

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MyLogo can create a custom boot logo from any image you like. The utility will automatically convert an image to the appropriate size/format and then program a bios file with the new image.

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ASUS Update is a Windows-based BIOS flashing utility that can search and download from the internet the latest BIOS file. You can also use this utility to flash from an existing file already saved on your computer. With the other terrific options ASUS provides for BIOS flashing, this would be my last choice for performing the flashing procedure. Flashing from the Windows environment is inherently more risky than the other methods ASUS provides.

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The System Information utility gives you quick access to motherboard, CPU, and the Memory SPD/XMP profile information.

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Overclocking And Benchmarks

Test System

ASUS P8Z77-V LE Plus
Intel i7 3770K CPU (Overclockers Approved!)
G.Skill F3-2400C10D-16GTX TridentX 2X8 Gb DDR3 2400 Mhz Kit
Sapphire HD 7770 GHZ Edition Vapor-X (Overclockers Approved!)
OCZ Veertex 2 240 Gb SSD
Swiftech Apogee HD CPU Water Block – 3X120 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump
Corsair HX1050 PSU

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Test Bed

Ready For Action

Test Bed – Right Side View

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Test Bed – Left Side View

Comparison Motherboards

For comparison, we have the following Z77 based samples:

ASRock Z77 Extreme4
BIOSTAR Z77X Hi-Fi
ASUS Maximus V Formula
ASUS P8Z77-V LE PLUS

All of the above boards are tested at stock CPU speed and again with a 4.8 GHz overclock. The memory was set to its rated 2400 MHz speed with the timings/voltage set manually in BIOS. Before we dive into the benchmarks, let’s make sure we’re stable at stock and the 4.8 GHz overclock. We’ll use a 15 minute run of AIDA64′s System Stability Test at stock speed and a 20 minute run at the overclocked speed to check stability.

First is the stock speed stability test, which I didn’t expect any problems with, and none were had. The 4.8 GHz stability test also went off without a hitch. A bump in CPU voltage to 1.3 V and LLC to 75% and I was off and running.

Stock Stability Test

Stock Stability Test

4.8 GHz Stability Test

4.8 GHz Stability Test

As we enter the benchmark phase of the review, please keep in mind that the stock CPU speeds for the two ASUS boards are higher than the other two motherboards. With the ASUS boards left at their stock settings in BIOS, they register 3.9 GHz. The other two boards will be at 3.5 GHz at stock and rely on the turbo function to get to 3.9 GHz, which doesn’t always happen with all benchmarks. So, the stock benchmarks will be skewed somewhat in ASUS’ favor, but the overclocked benchmarks are a completely level playing field. For those that do not overclock, you will enjoy the “stock” speed increase without any interaction on your part.

We’ll start off with SuperPI 1M and 32M. At stock speed, the MVF was slightly ahead, but the P8Z77-V LE PLUS was very close. When overclocked, three boards had identical 1M times and the P8Z77-V LE PLUS came out on top here. The 32M times were also very close, except for the BIOSTAR’s result.

SuperPI 1m/32M Stock Results

SuperPI 1M/32M Stock Results

SuperPI 1M/32M Overclocked Results

SuperPI 1M/32M Overclocked Results

WPrime 32M and 1024M were not too kind to the ASUS boards. The BIOSTAR hung tough at stock speeds and actually came out ahead of the two ASUS boards. When overclocked, the same pecking order prevailed.

WPrime 32M/1024M Stock Results

WPrime 32M/1024M Stock Results

WPrime 32M/1024M Overclocked Results

WPrime 32M/1024M Overclocked Results

For a CPU rendering test, I ran Cinebench R10 and 11.5. At stock, the two ASUS boards duked it out with the P8Z77-V LE PLUS coming out on top in the R10 xCPU test. The MVF bested the field in the R10 1CPU test. The Cinebench R11.5 again had the MVF on top by a slim margin. When overclocked, the BIOSTAR came out on top in the R10 xCPU test, but the ASUS boards won the battle in the 1CPU test. The Cinebench R11.5 test goes to the MVF, but the other three boards were not far behind.

Cinebench Stock Results

Cinebench Stock Results

Cinebench Overclocked Results

Cinebench Overclocked Results

The next benchmark is AIDA64′s Cache & Memory test, which benchmarks memory, L1, L2, and L3 cache. Within that group of tests, we get results for read, write, copy, and latency. The large amount of recorded data would take a long time to narrate… too long! So, at the risk of boring you to tears, I’ll provide the graphs for you to sift through. The first set of graphs are the stock speed results. All you’re really looking for in these test results is something that might indicate a problem, but nothing jumps out at me. The P8Z77-V LE PLUS performed admirably across the board.

Stock Memory Test Results

Stock Memory Test Results

L1 Cache Stock Test Results

L1 Cache Stock Test Results

L2 Cache Stock Results

L2 Cache Stock Results

L3 Stock Test Results

L3 Stock Test Results

… And the Overclocked results

Memory Overclocked Results

Memory Overclocked Results

L1 Cache Overclocked Results

L1 Cache Overclocked Results

L2 Cache Overclocked Results

L2 Cache Overclocked Results

L3 Cache Overclocked Results

L3 Cache Overclocked Results

The last benchmark Is MaxxMem, which also tests memory. At stock, the P8Z77-V LE PLUS actually had sightly better scores than the MVF. The same held true in the overclocked test, except for the latency score.

MaxxMem Stock Results

MaxxMem Stock Results

MaxxMem Overclocked Results

MaxxMem Overclocked Results

All in all, a pretty darn nice showing by the P8Z77-V LE PLUS in the benchmark testing. It even managed to beat out the MVF in a few benchmarks… Now that’s some bang for the buck!

Pushing The Limits

Now to my favorite part of the review process, pushing the limits! I didn’t expect to get much past 5.0 GHz, but not because of the motherboard. My i7 3770K CPU hits a brick wall at 5.0 GHz, even when you apply a dangerous voltage level to it. It’s been that way since the day I got it and has reacted the same on many different Z77 motherboards.

I did manage to get things pretty stable at 5.0 GHz and was able to complete all the benchmarks I tried out. SuperPI 1M, WPrime 32M, MaxxMem, AIDA64 Memory & Cache, and both Cinebench versions all completed easily. I did have to push the voltage to 1.5 V in order to complete Cinebench R11.5, but that’s expected given how demanding that benchmark is.

SuperPI 1M @ 5.0 GHz

SuperPI 1M @ 5.0 GHz

WPrime 32M @ 5.0 GHz

WPrime 32M @ 5.0 GHz

MaxxMem @ 5.0 GHz

MaxxMem @ 5.0 GHz

AIDA64 Cache & Mem @ 5.0 GHz

AIDA64 Cache & Mem @ 5.0 GHz

Cinebench R10 @ 5.0 GHz

Cinebench R10 @ 5.0 GHz

Cinebench R11.5 @ 5.0 GHz

Cinebench R11.5 @ 5.0 GHz

I thought I’d give 5.1 GHz a try, and low and behold, I made it to the desktop! Certainly not a record breaking achievement, but for this CPU… it’s an improvement! About all I could get to finish was another run of SuperPI 1M because everything else fell flat on its face!

SuperPI 1M @ 5.1 GHz

SuperPI 1M @ 5.1 GHz

Conclusion

Versatility is the key when it comes to the P8Z77-V LE PLUS. The board is a good fit for enthusiast level users or those simply wanting to upgrade to a newer platform. The upgrade path is made easy with the inclusion of two PCI slots and the P/S2 combo port, which makes migrating older parts very doable and reduces cost. If you like pushing your system to maximum performance levels or want maximum energy efficiency, you’ll find all the tools you need to accomplish your goal. Not only is the UEFI BIOS loaded with everything you need, but the AI Suite II software allows you to meet your goals right from the desktop. The TPU and EPU Dual Processors 3 feature, coupled with the terrific DIGI+ controls, make for a great user experience. You can take full control of all overclocking and power efficiency aspects, or you can let the motherboard do it for you automatically.

Currently, the P8Z77-V LE PLUS is available for $144.99 at Newegg and comes with a $20.00 rebate, for a final cost of $124.99. Even without the rebate, the price is great for everything this board has to offer. Price, performance, great software package, and yes…. versatility make this board easy to recommend if you’re considering a jump into the Z77 platform.

Overclockers_clear_approvedClick the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

-Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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9 Comments:

jnewegger23's Avatar
I have a usb 3.0 card reader in the pci slot next to the first pcie 3.0 slot. I was thinking when I finally buy my awesome gpu (gtx 780 classified) will it run at x16 (single; we'll worry about sli later) if placed in the 2nd (white/grey) pcie 3.0 slot? I know that the 3rd pcie slot (black) is only 2.0. I want to make sure if you could help me find this out, I'd really appreciate it! Thanks!

Justin
MattNo5ss's Avatar
To get PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16, you need the GPU in the first PCIe x16 slot which will cover the PCIe x1 slot below it (green box). Since you said the USB3.0 card is in a slot beside the first PCIe x16 slot, that means it's a PCIe x1 card. So, you can move the USB3.0 card to any of the PCIe slots (red boxes).

130534
box bundy's Avatar
sorry to hijack. can you use PCIe x1 sized cards in a x16 slot? Is that what this is saying?
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Yes, you can put a PCIe x1 card into a PCIe x16 slot. With your USB 3.0 card, you will want to put it in the very bottom PCIe x16 slot, so it keeps the GPU's slot running at 16x instead of splitting it to 8x (which would happen if you put the USB 3.0 card in slot 5).
jnewegger23's Avatar
@mattno5ss Thank you so much! I guess you learn something new everyday. I had no idea you could do that! I will make sure to just move the usb card then!
jnewegger23's Avatar
@hokiealumnus Wow! That's also good to know. So to be clear, if I didn't move the usb card reader and did place a single gpu in the 2nd pcie slot (or as in mattno5ss's diagram slot no. 5) that it would be running at x16 or x8? I don't see why it would but I'm not arguing just haven't had a board with multiple pcie slots before and I can't really find the literature on this. Any further confirmation will be appreciated. Worst case is I will find out the hard way but I don't mind moving the reader card, just curious at this point!
Thanks!
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Boot into bios. In the extreme tweaker menu see if this board has GPU.dimm POST in there somewhere. That will let you know what the GPU is running. Personally, I would move the USB card and put the GPU in the first slot.
MattNo5ss's Avatar
Only the first PCIe x16 slot can run at x16. Based on the following picture from the review, the other PCIe x16 slots are x8 electrically. There really isn't much of a difference in running in x16 vs x8, either will work fine.

jnewegger23's Avatar
You guys are all awesome! Again, much thanks! I'm looking forward to installing the gpu when I get it in the next pay check or two!
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