Asus P8Z77-M review: Asus P8Z77-M

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There's a PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot for graphics, but don't be fooled by the physical x16 slot next to it: it's electrically only PCI-E 2.0 x4. The slot that never dies, PCI, is still included here, and if you happen to be one of the lucky few who actually possess a PCI-E x1 card, Asus has you sorted.

Physical buttons are limited to just "MemOK!" (which attempts to auto-configure RAM values to get around compatibility issues) and BIOS flashback (which lets you upload firmware with just a USB stick, power and motherboard). CMOS clear is still only offered by jumper at this level, so be prepared to get fiddly if you overclock perhaps a little too much.

As a smaller board, Larry only features three fan headers in addition to the CPU fan header, so if you want to get your cooling freak on, you'll have to power straight from PSU. To our ever-repeating amazement (just imagine an infinite reflection of a shocked person in a hall of mirrors), there's a COM header here. We didn't pick mATX to be enough of a legacy favourite that it justified supporting serial ports, but, if you happen to need one and have limited physical space to stick your board, then Asus has got you covered. Once you buy the accessory separately, anyway.

Lay it all out

CPU clearance is generally good; however, the eight-pin power connector will likely be overhung by a tower cooler, and thus could be fiddly — if possible, you'll want to connect the power cable there before mounting the board, lest Larry hears some choice words sent in his general direction. Due to the tight confines of an mATX board, our graphics card only had about 5mm between it and our test Cooler Master Hyper 612 cooler. More of an issue was the fact that this tightness makes it impossible to hit the release tab for the graphics card — you'll need to remove RAM in order to navigate your fingers around. Given the similar layout, we suspect that even the Maximus V Gene will have the same issue.

The cramped conditions mean that removing a graphics card could be an affair for a contortionist.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CNET)

Larry does support CrossFire (interestingly, SLI isn't mentioned — that seems to be reserved for the Pro model), but, if you've got a pair of dual slot cards, they're going to get immensely cosy and generate quite a bit of heat together. If you're serious about going dual card, we'd suggest you get a bigger board for better airflow. Or, if you're of that particular ilk of strange, overclocking entities, strap a low-profile water cooler to it.

What it says on the box

There's a tendency among hardware reviewers to use the word "solid" as a stand-in for something with no surprises, that does the job it's asked to do and has no real peaks but no real troughs, either. Larry is "solid" — a little board that will likely see you through to the end, if the features satisfy your checklist of needs.