Allow us to introduce Bob. Bob's real name is the Asus' P8Z77-V LK, but Bob is significantly easier to remember.
- Web page: Asus
- Form factor: ATX (305x224mm)
- Chipset: Intel Z77
- External USB: 2 x 3.0 (Intel), 2 x 3.0 (Asmedia 1042), 2 x USB 2.0
- Internal USB: 8 x 2.0, 2 x 3.0
- SATA 6Gbps: 2 x Intel
- SATA 3Gbps: 4 x Intel
- PCI-E: x16: 1 | x8: 1 | x4: 1 | x1: 2
- PCI: 2
- E-SATA: None
- Video: DVI, VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort
- Audio: TOSLink, 7.1 Realtek ALC892
- Ethernet: 1Gbps Realtek RTL8111F
Bob is an entry-level to mid-range board, as is evidenced by its brown colour, which we swear was left back in the 90s, along with green.
At the price Bob is going for, some of the trappings of civilisation have been stripped. There's no push button for power, reset or CMOS clear, for instance.
You do get a MemOK! button, which attempts to auto-configure the motherboard for potential memory incompatibilities, and a physical switch for GPU Boost, which overclocks the integrated GPU in real time. There's another physical switch for EPU (Energy Processing Unit), which detects power requirements of your components and attempts to minimise draw. It's likely to have minimal impact on your yearly bill, but every little bit helps.
You'll still need to clear Bob's CMOS using a jumper, which isn't marked in any fashion on the board. It is the only visible jumper on the board, but throwing noobies a bone outside of the manual is always welcome.
Playing slots like Vegas
There's three physical PCI-E x16 slots along the board, although, in these days of limited bandwidth, these are rated electrically at PCI-E 3.0 x16, PCI-E 3.0 x8 and PCI-E 2.0 x4 the further you get away from the CPU. If you use the x8 slot, then your x16 slot will drop to x8 speed as well.
For all but the hardest of the hardcore, this isn't even remotely an issue. PCI-E 3.0 at x8 provides plenty of bandwidth, even if you're running a dual graphics card set-up.
Most people will be fine with the slot complement.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CNET)
Since Bob sits at the lower end of the economic chain, there's a pair of PCI-E 2.0 x1 ports and a pair of legacy PCI ports, controlled by the ASMedia 1083 for the long-cycle upgrade crowd.
Port port port port
Now make like Missy Elliot, put your thang down, flip it and reverse it. You'll find four USB 3.0 ports here: two the requisite Intel, two from an ASMedia 1042 chip. As you may have guessed from the name, ASMedia is an Asus subsidiary. This doesn't give it exclusive hold over ASMedia chips; EVGA's certifiably insane Classified SR-X uses the very same controller for its USB 3.0 ports.
The Intel USB ports are situated to the left of the Ethernet port — useful information, as the ASMedia ports won't work until you've installed drivers for them. The Ethernet port runs off Realtek's RTL8111F and is gigabit capable.
There's also two USB 2.0 ports, a split PS/2 port for when Things Go Horribly Horribly Wrong, and a picnic basket of video ports — DVI, VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort. Audio is provided by the Realtek's ALC892; it gives you six 3.5mm jacks to play with and TOSLink.