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ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD mini-ITX Motherboard E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards
Written by David Ramsey   
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD mini-ITX Motherboard
Closer Look: P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD
P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD Proprietary Features
P8Z88-I Deluxe/WD UEFI
P8Z77-I UEFI: AI Tweaker
Mini ITX Bundled Software
Bundled Software Continued
Motherboard Testing Methodology
AIDA64 Benchmarks
SPECviewperf 11 Tests
Power Efficiency Tests
Mini ITX Overclocking
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD Final Thoughts

I have to admire ASUS for producing this board. Although we've seen a lot of action in the micro ATX and mini ITX form factors of late, with innovative new motherboards and cases, the fact is that the vast majority of motherboard sales are full sized ATX boards. And (especially in the mini ITX world) the people that buy these motherboards almost always have HTPC or small home server use in mind. And if that's what you're looking for, there are much less expensive mini ITX motherboards available.

The feature set of this board is amazing: aside from the hardware expandability limitations imposed by the mini ITX form factor, you're giving up almost nothing in comparison with ASUS' own micro ATX and full ATX motherboards. The feature set is so extensive it would require a much longer review to cover them all in details; you can see the complete feature list on ASUS' web site.

If youv'e never built a mini ITX system before, keep this in mind: with a single PCI-E x16 slot, only four SATA ports, and two memory slots, your options are very limited compared to an ATX or even a micro ATX board. Still, few enthusiasts need more than a single video card if they're not running multiple monitors, and 2x8GB memory kits are actually slightly cheaper than 4x4GB kits at Newegg just now (of course memory prices are very volatile, so your mileage may vary).

asus_p8z77i_deluxe_wd_testbed.jpg

The board's value is enhanced by ASUS' robust suite of utility software and premium features like DTS Ultra PC II sound via an ALC898 chip. If you're interested in this board, you want to build a small system (otherwise you'd be looking at micro ATX or larger motherboards) and you want it to be high performance (otherwise you'd be looking at less expensive motherboards). That said, you'll want to choose your case and power supply carefully: most mini ITX enclosures won't accommodate enthusiast level CPU coolers, for example.

I have only two real criticisms of this board. The first, paradoxically, is one of its strongest features: the Digi+ VRM for ITX riser board that extends vertically from the edge of the motherboard. If your CPU cooler requires screwing fasteners down from the component side of the board, you may not be able to reach the two screws nearest this board. For example, it's impossible to install a SilverStone SST-NT06-E cooler because of this. Even the Prolimatech Super Mega cooler I used here has less than a millimeter of cleareance. ASUS says that their board layout places the CPU socket further from the PCI-E slot than competing mini ITX boards, which actually allows larger coolers, but in any case you'll still want to check whatever cooler you use before getting too far into your build.

My second criticism is the price. At an MSRP of $200, this board is $40-$60 more expensive than many of ASUS' own similarly featured micro ATX and full ATX Z77 motherboards. Of course, there are reasons for this, such as the 8-layer PCB that forms the basis of the product (most motherboards are 6-layer). Making things smaller costs money; that's just the way it is. You can save $15 by getting the non-WD version for $185.00. Still, you really have to want to build a small system to justify the cost of this board.

P8Z77-I Conclusion

If you want to build a high performance mini ITX system, this is definitely the board for you. ASUS has squeezed more features and functionality into this board than I would have believed possible, and the performance of the board showed that nothing was sacrificed (performance-wise) to do so.

The performance of this board is exceptional, fully the equal of ASUS' larger Z77 motherboards. But there's more than just CPU performance, and the USB 3.0 Boost feature makes the most of your USB 3.0 devices, especially if you have those that support UASP.

The color scheme is ASUS standard black and blue (black and red being reserved for the Republic of Gamers series). There's not as much branding and logos on this board simply because there's almost no space for it, but since a cooler and video card will cover most of the board anyway, its appearance is irrelevant.

The construction quality is up to ASUS' usual high standards. The use of an 8-layer PCB is unusual in the mini ITX world, and ASUS claims that this enabled them to optimize trace routing (especially to the DIMM slots) for the best performance. It's one of those things you don't see, but it's there.

Functionality is the board's strongest point. Most LGA1155 mini ITX boards are based on the less capable H77 chipset; ASUS' choice of the top-end Z77 chipset enables them to provide most of the features you'll find on a full sized ATX motherboard, with the obvious exception of PCI-E and DIMM slots. AI Suite II remains as versatile and capable as it is on ASUS' larger offerings.

As for value... well, that's kind of an either/or proposition. For the Deluxe/WD model it's $200 (Newegg/Amazon), or Deluxe non-WD version is $185 (Newegg/Amazon), which makes this board is significantly more expensive than equally capable, if larger, Z77 boards from ASUS and other vendors. You're paying for small size, and you either really need it (in which case it's worth it), or you don't (in which case it's not).

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Baddest mini ITX motherboard out there.
+ DIGI+ VRM and TurboV Evo support ATX-level overclocks.
+ Most of the features and functionality of much larger motherboards.
+ WiFi, Bluetooth built in

Cons:

- DIGI+ VRM for ITX riser board blocks some coolers.
- Expensive enthusiast-level product.

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.50
  • Appearance: 9.00
  • Construction: 9.75
  • Functionality: 9.75
  • Value: 8.50

Final Score: 9.3 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

Benchmark Reviews invites you to leave constructive feedback below, or ask questions in our Discussion Forum.

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Comments 

 
# RE: ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD mini-ITX Motherboardkzinti1 2012-12-26 00:34
WOW! What a nice little board!
I'd like to build one of these just like yours, except for using a spare GTX 690.
Any idea what case to use to house this system? I've never even seen these small boards in person so I have no idea where to start in choosing a case. I guess I could just use a test stand, but it's dusty here at the beach and I really need an enclosure that can handle the Super-Mega cpu cooler. Probably be best to go with an external water system but they're not very portable.
Very good review. It's really got me jazzed!
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# RE: RE: ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD mini-ITX Motherboardwhynotv2 2012-12-26 06:31
Thermaltake and CoolerMaster both make Mini-ITX cases. Not sure if they have one that will allow the use of a large cpu cooler however.
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# RE: RE: ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD mini-ITX MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2012-12-26 08:49
I've reviewed three cases recently that would be a good fit for this board: the Cooler Master 120, and the SilverStone SUGO SG09 and SG08. Check 'em out in our Cases section.
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# Asus p8z77-i DeluxeDavo 2012-12-26 18:54
Will also work fine in Silverstone FT03. I plan to use this mobo, 3570K and an H80i as the basis for my living room Home theatre/Gaming rig.
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# RE: ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD mini-ITX Motherboardkzinti1 2012-12-26 19:21
Thaks for the recommendations everybody. I'd be using it as a tiny overclocking rig.
My computer room looks like a small graveyard full of black obelisks.
This is the 21st century, there's really no need for these giant OC & gaming rigs any longer. Not if these tiny mobo's are as good as reported.
I just hope Intel gets nowhere, fast, with their new mobo's with the soldered on cpu's.
They could end up being the death of overclocking just to save some electricity.
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# Very, very nice reviewDave 2013-03-19 07:53
I was trolling the web for a review of this board and I can honestly say that this is one of the best, most comprehensive component reviews I've ever read. Very, very nice work here sir. I think the only thing you failed to cover is the onboard audio. I'd like to have seen something on that with regard to quality (especially versus a pci-E card), but great work nonetheless. Thanks for sharing this information.
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# RE: ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD mini-ITX MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2013-03-19 08:29
The onboard sound is handled by the ubiquitous Realtek ALC-898 chip. Onboard sound has gotten good enough for all but the audiophiles these days; still, someone using this board to build an HTPC might want to put a sound card in the single slot. Myself, I put in a video card.
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