Asus P8Z77 WS Reviewccokeman -
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First and foremost we know that when motherboards have the same parts installed that they are going to deliver results within a specific performance envelope. That being said the ASUS P8Z77 motherboard I have tested delivered excellent results when compared to another Z77 chipset motherboard in terms of just raw performance. Once you peel away the performance layers you have to look at the build process and the feature set used for the P8Z77 WS. As a workstation product you can guess that the feature set is decidedly oriented towards a business class environment. To that end ASUS has an initiative called 24x24 where the boards are targeted for use 24 hours a day for a solid 24 months to allow the consumer to have a a reliable platform long term.
Workstation features that make this board are PCIe Gen 3 four way CrossfireX or SLI that can offer improved graphics performance over a Gen 2 four way setup for the professional user with a side benefit of allowing for incredible gaming performance with that same PCIe Gen 3 two, three, or four way GPU configuration. A Dual Intel server class Gigabit LAN is used to reduce CPU overhead ergo reducing power consumption and improving productivity by giving those CPU cycles back to the programs that need them. In addition to the professional grade features you get all that ASUS has to offer in the P8Z77 product stack from ASUS New Smart Digi+ power design that works hand in hand with the TurboV Processing Unit. This design incorporates digital controls for the CPU and GPU with a third for the DRAM using a 16+4 phase VRM. Intel® VRD 12.5 specification is met and allows the user to set a specific power envelope that the processor will run at to save on power consumption. This featured part of the Smart Digi+ design has a pair of options as well as being user configurable.
Further down the features list you have Hybrid graphics technology from Lucid Logix, PCIe 3.0, USB 3.0 Boost that provides tangible benefits, ASUS SSD caching for a one click setup of a caching drive, Fan Xpert2 for the ultimate in cooling control, USB BIOS Flashback for again a one push flash of the BIOS without even having the CPU installed, and ASUS UEFI BIOS that is so far the best implementation on the market in that it is easy to use, using a mouse for navigation works, and everything is clickable. It just works.
The performance delivered by the P8Z77 WS is within the expectations based on the installed hardware. That being said the ease with which you can improve the board's performance is as simple as point and click. Manually tuning or using ASUS TurboV Evo tool you can overclock on this board as easy as any in the ASUS P8Z77 arsenal. By using TurboV EVO in AI Suite II the board and software set up a perfectly stable 4.42GHz speed on my clock speed challenged Core i7 3770K. Manual tuning was a bit more rewarding as it usually is at 4.6GHz. While I had the opportunity I even dropped in a couple different sets of DRAM to see just what kind of capability this board had without the specialized tuning options available on the Maximus V Gene. True to form from ASUS I was able to match what the M5G would deliver in terms of memory speeds of up to 2666MHz. Even if you get out of bounds when pushing the limits ASUS overclocking recovery is a thing of beauty. Worst case so far was a complete power down to allow for a successful post and boot back into the BIOS, with all of your settings intact.
Price wise the P8Z77 WS is not going to be your bargain bin value leader at $339. For that amount of money you get a full featured socket 1155 board that supports both Second and Third generation Core series processors and is going to deliver long term performance for both the professional and the enthusiast.
- Feature set
- Three-four way graphics