|ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD mini-ITX Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 14 November 2012|
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Closer Look: P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD
The tiny box lets us know that this motherboard is "Windows 8 Ready", "PCIe 3.0 Ready", and I suppose is good for something called "MiniMax Home Entertainment Center." But honestly, this board is overkill for an HTPC. ASUS has two versions of the P8Z77-I mini ITX motherboard: the P8Z77-I Deluxe and the P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD, the version we received for review. This version supports Intel's "WiDi" Wireless Display Technology, meaning that if you have a television, projector, or monitor equipped to receive WiDi, you can easily transmit your display to the receiver without using a cable. Sadly we had no WiDi devices available for this review.
ASUS includes a manual, WiFi and Bluetooth antennas, SATA cables, a driver CD, some mysterious extra screws, a "Q Cable" front panel connector cable conceptually similar to the "Q Connectors" on other ASUS motherboards, and an I/O plate.
The mini ITX form factor places severe constraints on space, and the crowded layout of the P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD is a consequence of this. There's simply no room for right-angled SATA connectors, or even another SATA controller, so instead of six or eight connectors at the edge of the board, you get four vertical connectors near the front. Near the back of the board you can see the USB 3.0 header, two USB 2.0 headers, and the front panel audio connector just at the rear of the single PCI-E slot. The 24- and 8-pin ATX connectors just fit on the front of the board.
The back panel of a mini ITX is the same size as the back panel on a standard ATX board, so there's plenty of room for the connections. Starting at the left, we have four USB 2.0 ports, a S/PDIF port on top of the HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs, the Bluetooth and WiFi antenna connectors above the DVI video output, Ethernet, four USB 3.0 connectors, two (red) eSata ports, a Clear CMOS and USB BIOS Flashback button, and three analog audio ports.
Here's where ASUS got kinky: there's not enough room on a mini ITX motherboard for the kind of robust power supply that's needed to support serious overclocking...so ASUS went vertical. Their "DIGI+ VRM for ITX" board stands vertically at the upper edge of the board. At the left of this image you can see the board's two four-pin PWM fan headers, one for the CPU fan and one for a chassis fan.
With so little space on the board, you're going to have to be satisfied with four SATA ports. The white ports are the two SATA 6G ports courtesy of the Z77 chipset. Just to the right of the SATA ports you can see the removable BIOS chip.
You might be getting the feeling that this isn't just another mini ITX motherboard. Let's take a look at ASUS' added features.