Asus P8Z77-V Premium review

And in the Asus corner...

Asus P8Z77-V Premium
Asus P8Z77-V Premium

TechRadar Verdict

Pros

  • +

    Great feature set

  • +

    Four PCIe 3.0 slots

  • +

    Good OC chops

  • +

    32GB mSATA SSD

Cons

  • -

    Single Thunderbolt port

  • -

    Pricey

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The battle between Asus and Gigabyte has traditionally been a heavyweight contest, though in recent years it's become more of a ritualised beating, as the Asus boards have consistently out-punched Gigabyte at every level.

With the release of Intel's Ivy Bridge setup and the Z77 platform, however, Gigabyte has made a dramatic return to form. Now the head-to-head is once more a battle of the giants, and nowhere more so than between the two premium Z77 motherboards we're checking out.

They are both around the £250 mark - a fortune compared to most of the fairly reasonable Z77 boards we've previously tested - and come with more ringing and whistly things than you could shake a thin piece of dead tree at. They also both come with connections for the new Intel/Apple love child, Thunderbolt.

Lightning Thunder

Where the Gigabyte board has a pair of connections for the new interface, this Premium effort from Asus has just a single port on the rear. Still, it shouldn't have trouble rocking triple-screen configurations, with HDMI and full DisplayPort connectors alongside that Thunderbolt socket.

Benchmarks

CPU rendering performance
Cinebench R11.5: Index score: Higher is better
GIGABYTE Z77X-UP5TH: 7.90
ASUS P8Z77-V PREMIUM: 7.97

Gaming performance
Batman: AC: Frames per second: Higher is better
GIGABYTE Z77X-UP5TH: 190
ASUS P8Z77-V PREMIUM: 177

Thunderbolt performance
AS SSD: Megabytes per second: Higher is better
GIGABYTE Z77X-UP5TH: 428
ASUS P8Z77-V PREMIUM: 447
GIGABYTE Z77X-UP5TH: 278
ASUS P8Z77-V PREMIUM: 294

The Asus board also seems happier running Thunderbolt, as it managed faster data transfer benchmarks in our storage tests. We used a pair of Intel's SSD 330 drives in a RAID 0 array to make best use of the available bandwidth. In both the maximum read/write and sequential read/write tests, the Asus board posted faster results - but not by much.

On the 4K random test though, which is more of an indication of general Windows responsiveness, the Asus board's write speed is 14MB/s higher. That's a big difference in 4K random terms.

Sadly for the Asus board, its usual dominance of gaming benchmarks has been undone by the superior performance of the top-end Gigabyte Z77. It was a similar situation with the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H, and shows just how much the opposition has caught up.

Usual service is resumed with regards to overclocking though, as this board gave us a solid 4.85GHz clock speed on our i7-3770K. That's only a shade quicker than the Gigabyte's 4.79GHz, but still makes a difference.

Another trick the Asus mobo has up its silicon sleeve is the volume of PCIe 3.0 slots. With four full x16 connections, this board will happily rock the four-way SLI world. Sure, it'll get cramped with four GPUs, but you're only going to be covering the power and reset buttons with the fourth card, and with your chassis closed that makes no difference at all.

It comes with a 32GB mSATA SSD too, allowing you to pair up a traditional hard drive with the speedier SSD to give it a boost. The Gigabyte board has the same slot, but doesn't ship with flash memory for the Smart Response lovin'.

It's a tough call between these Asus and Gigabyte boards. The Asus has a little more in the feature set, but the Gigabyte has excellent gaming performance chops. For the money the Asus is probably better value, but it's a close run thing.