Sapphire Pure Platinum Z77K Reviewccokeman - May 20, 2012
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Built for use with Intel's Second and Third Generation Core series processors including the Core i7 3770K, the Sapphire Pure Platinum Z77K is a full ATX form factor motherboard. It is equipped with Intel's Z77 chipset and LGA 1155 socket and four DIMM slots capable of holding up to 32GB of DDR3 memory. The layout is fairly standard for the package with heatpipe interconnected heat sinks around the LGA 1155 socket and PCIe 16x slots laid out to accommodate a Quad Crossfire video solution. The back side of the black (brown) PCB sows the heat sinks are held on with screws. Looking closer at the PCIe slots you can see that electrically all but the top slot are 8x or less.
External I/O connectivity includes from left to right a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a multifunction PS/2 port, Optical SPDI/F port, an HDMI 1.4 and a single DisplayPort 1.1 port, VGA and SL-DVI connections for use with Lucidlogix software to integrate the Intel HD Graphics and a discrete card into the complete video solution, two RJ-45 Gigabit LAN ports (one of which is Killer e2200 controlled), a pair of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports and the Realtek ALC892 8 channel HD Audio ports. Expansion slots include four 16x PCIe slots that operate at 16x8/8x4x. Three of these are PCIe 3.0 while the bottom is PCIe2.0 compliant running at 4x. In between the 16x slots are a pair of PCIe 1x slots.
Along the bottom of the PCB are additional features that start with a 4-pin Molex power connection to deliver additional current to the PCIe slots when multiple graphics cards are used. Next up is a COM header, chassis fan header, Clear CMOS button, Large Reset and Power buttons, the BIOS selection switch, system fan header, 3x USB 2.0 headers and the USB 3.0 header. The Dual BIOS switch is useful for recovering from a corrupt BIOS or bad BIOS flash.
Starting up the righthand side of the PCB is the debug LED that displays codes useful for diagnosing a boot failure, the front panel connection, six Z77 controlled SATA ports with the black ports being SATA 3Gbps while the red are the 6Gbps ports with RAID 0, 1,5,10 supported. Further up the PCB are a fan header, the 24pin ATX power connection, CMOS battery and another fan header. Memory support is limited to 32GB max at officially supported speeds of DDR3 800/1066/1333/1600+. The 1600+ being whatever you can get from your modules of course.
The top of the PCB has a set of voltage check point that allow the user to verify voltages that are applied in the BIOS. CPU Vcore, integrated graphics, memory, memory controller, chipset, PLL and system agent voltages are ones that can be checked and verified. Further down is the CPU fan header, solid capacitors, one of the two heat sinks for the VRM circuit and the 8-pin EATX auxiliary CPU power supply connection.
The Z77 chipset is built for use with socket 1155 Second and Third generation Intel processors. The socket areas is slightly congested with solid capacitors but still leaves enough room to install large heat sinks for cooling. Black Diamond chokes are used as part of the what looks like a 12 phase VRM system. A LOTES socket retention mechanism in black chrome is used to hold the CPU in the socket. The heat sink package used on the Pure Platinum Z77K consists of a pair of heat pipe connected sinks over the CPU VRM circuit and a low profile finned heat sink over the Z77 PCH. The fins are oriented so that incoming air from the front chassis fan runs through the heat sink rather than over it.
The Pure Platinum Z77K has the tools to enable some spirited overclocking and is well laid out to accommodate multiple graphics cards. Enthusiast friendly accessories like the Dual BIOS switch mean some thought was put into making this board ready for the enthusiast segment of the market.