ECS, Gigabyte & Intel Z77 Motherboard Preview

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Sunday, April 8th, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (
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Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Today marks an important step in the evolution of the Intel 3rd generation core architecture, as we are finally able to officially release details regarding the Panther Point chipset.

When comparing the Panther Point chipset (also known as Z77) to its predecessor, the Z68 Express, we can see some noticeable difference but for the most part both are actually very similar. Where the Z77 chipset differs is its native USB 3.0 support, along with updated data management features, intelligent caching, improved power consumption, and new Lucidlogix technologies. Most importantly though, Z77-based motherboards will be the first to feature native support for Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge processors. However, those details will have to wait for a few more weeks because today's launch focuses only on Panther Point; we are still a few weeks away from the official Ivy launch.

As you can see from the block diagram above, the Z77 chipset's PCIe lanes are still integrated into the CPU and run at a full x16 with one card, and x8/x8 in a dual card configuration. Additionally, the Z77 chipset supports three independent displays, so unlike the previous generation chipset most boards in the Panther Point family should have up to three video outputs on built-in. The chipset can also support up to four native USB 3.0 ports and 10 USB 2.0 ports, and DDR3 memory up to 1600MHz.

The chipset also has optional support for Intel Rapid Storage and Responsiveness technologies, but it will be up the indvidual motherboard manufacturers to enable this.

Over the last few weeks we have been sent various Z77 based motherboards from ECS, Gigabyte and Intel. In today’s preview we are going to take a quick look at the new boards, but we will be holding off on releasing any Ivy Bridge performance results for a few more weeks when the time is finally right to bring you our full reviews. The three motherboards include the ECS Z77H2-AX. Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H, and the reference Intel DZ77GA-70K. Each of these motherboards takes a different approach to the Panther Point chipset by including their own unique feature-set, design, thermal solution and accessories.

As you can see, all the boards are high-end and feature robust expansions options while utilizing the latest technology designs from their respective companies. The ECS board for instance uses the manufacturer's new gold plated design which provides better contact for the add-on components, increases the lifespan for the board all giving it an exceptional, sleek visual style. The Gigabyte board on the other hand utilizes their Ultra Durable 4 design, which is the evolution from Ultra Durable 3. Like its predecessor, the new design utilizes larger amounts of copper throughout the PCB, but it goes even further by integrating a new glass fabric that provides better protection against high temperatures, humidity, electric discharge and power failure.

While each of these boards are different, they all have one thing in common: they are designed for the upcoming Ivy Bridge processors. That alone makes the launch of the Z77 chipset exciting, and we can't wait to share the in-depth details and performance analysis with you.


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