Intel Third Generation Core i7 3770K Reviewccokeman -
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The DZ77GA-70K is Intel's offering for a full-size enthusiast ATX motherboard using the Z77 PCH. It is compatible with both Second and Third Generation Core series processors using the LGA 1155 socket. The blue and black theme has been standard for Intel Extreme series boards over the past few launches. The back side of the PCB is bare, save for the CPU socket retention back plate.
I/O connectivity includes a PS/2 port for mouse or keyboard use, a pair of high current USB 2.0 ports (yellow), a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a single IEEE1394 port, one 6.0 Gb/s eSATA port, the Back to BIOS button, a pair of Intel Gigabit LAN ports, four USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI 1.4a port that supports Lucid Logix Virtu, and the Realtek ALC898-controlled HD sound with optical S/PDIF output. Expansion capabilities include a pair of 16x PCIe 3.0 slots, which support dual graphics cards in CrossfireX or SLI configurations. When run with a single card, the top slot runs at 16x electrically and 2 x 8x with both slots populated. It is noteworthy that these slots only run at PCIe 3.0 speeds with a Third Generation processor installed. There are also two 1x PCIe slots, 2 PCI 2.0 slots, and a single 4x slot.
Across the bottom of the board is the IEEE1394 header, a chassis fan header, Diagnostic LEDs, S/PDIF output header, two USB Super Speed 3.0 front panel headers, a high current USB 2.0 header, two standard USB 2.0 headers, and the front panel IO connections. The IR input and output headers are just above the USB 2.0 ports, with the Debug LED above the front panel connection.
There are a total of eight SATA connections on the right side of the PCB: two gray SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports through a Marvel 88SE9172 controller, four SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports from the Intel Z77 Express Chipset, and two blue SATA 6.0 Gb/s port also fed by the Intel Z77 Express Chipset; the latter two comes with Intel® Rapid Storage Technology RAID support. Further up are the onboard power and reset buttons, a 24-pin ATX power connection, a chassis fan header, and four memory slots which, in total, support up to 32 GB of DDR3 1600 MHz memory in a dual-channel configuration.
Across the top of the PCB are chassis and CPU fan headers, the VRM heat sink, LEDs to show power phase load, and the 8 pin EATX power connector. The CPU socket area has a lot of hardware around it, in the form of capacitors and chokes, but they should not present any concerns when mounting large air-cooled or even liquid-cooled solutions such as the Corsair H100.
The DZ77GA-70K has several large heat sinks on board to transfer the thermal load from the VRM circuits and Z77 PCH to the air traveling through the chassis. The two sinks around the CPU socket are cooled by airflow from the CPU cooling solution, while the skull-covered sink on the Z77 PCH is passively cooled. Even so, it sits right under any large discrete video card, blocking most of the airflow from a front panel chassis fan.
After having tested a few Z77 PCH-based boards with a Second Generation Core i7 2600K, it's time to see what we can do with a Third Generation Core i7 processor. Let's see if this Intel Extreme offering can deliver excellent performance with the full feature set that it has.