Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5 GHz Ivy Bridge Review

Intel DZ77GA-70K Extreme Series Board:

Intel provided us with their all new Z77 based DZ77GA-70K Extreme series motherboard to accompany the Ivy Bridge processor. Like all other Z77 based motherboard, it supports all Ivy Bridge processors right out-of-the-box. Let’s have a quick look at it before we move onto the processor testing.

Intel DZ77GA-70K comes in a simple black box with large skull aligned to the right side of the box. There isn’t much on the front of the box apart from a couple of main features. Back of the box lists almost all the features and specifications of the motherboard. Its packaging is enough to give you an idea that the product inside is something solid and something you can count on.

As you’d expect from Intel, the board is pretty simple and straight in terms of design. It uses Intel’s signature black and blue theme with a skull on the Z77 PCH heatsink. Even though it’s an expensive board but it doesn’t have any characteristics that expensive boards usually boast. The heatsinks are simple and small. They are attached to the board with push-pins. There isn’t any nonsense going on the motherboard, which is what one can expect from Intel.

The socket area is surrounded by low profile heatsinks which are at safe distance from the socket itself. There shouldn’t be any clearance issues. Intel implemented an 8+4 phase digital power design for the CPU on this motherboard. Voltage regulation is done by CHiL CHL8328 controller.

For memory, Intel DZ77GA-70K comes with four DDR3 DIMM slots which support up to 32 GB of DDR3 memory in dual channel mode. In case of two stick, blue slots should be used.

In terms of expansion slots, this motherboard comes with two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (blue ones) which support SLI and Crossfire in x8/x8 mode. As these slots are controlled by CPU so they’ll only work in PCI Express 3.0 mode if an ‘Ivy Bridge’ CPU is installed while in-case of ‘Sandy Bridge’ CPU, they’ll work as PCI Express 2.0 mode. Other slots include three PCI Express x1 slots, two legacy PCI slots (driven by ITE IT8892E) and PCI Express x4 slot. Intel is using a PLX PEX8608 which provides 8 extra PCI Express lanes to accommodate the PCI Express x4 slot, gigabit Ethernet and two extra SATA III ports. This chip automatically switches the PCI lanes to the device that needs them.

For storage connectivity, Intel DZ77GA-70K comes with a total of eight SATA ports. Four are SATA II 3 Gb/s (black ports) while rest four are SATA III 6 Gb/s; two of them come from Intel Z77 PCH (blue ports), other two come from Marvell 88SE9172 controller (grey ports).

Other on-board options include three USB 2.0 headers, two USB 3.0 header, debug LED display and power/reset buttons. A FireWire header is also present on-board to be used at the front panel; it’s driven by Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A. The front panel HD audio header is driven by Realtek ALC898.

Moving to the back panel I/O, we see a single PS/2 port which is shared by mouse and keyboard. There are four USB 2.0 ports; yellow ones are high-current ones. There is a FireWire port, an eSATA 6 Gb/s ports, four USB 3.0 ports, clear CMOS button, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, an HDMI port, optical SPDIF port and 7.1 channel HD audio.

Intel DZ77GA-70K comes with one of the most sophisticated UEFI implementation and design we’ve seen so far. It’s extremely well organized and powerful. Its shows your graphs for fan and temperature readings and with simply sliding a slider you can easily overclock your CPU to 4.5 GHz. Most of the motherboard increases the voltage a bit too much with auto overclocking options but it was in decent range with Intel motherboard.

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