Intel DZ77GA-70K

The DZ77GA-70K is part of Intel's Extreme Desktop series, making it the company's flagship Z77 board. At $240 it's one of the most expensive Z77 solution money can buy, but it's hard to say why, because it's not really any one feature in particular.

The board is equipped with two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots which are color coded blue and support both CrossFireX and SLI. The secondary PCIe 3.0 x16 slot is hard wired to deliver x8 bandwidth as the Z77 chipset limits dual card configurations to x8/x8.

There are four DDR3 DIMM slots and Intel has color coded bank A and bank B to avoid confusion. Whereas other manufacturers have talked about overclocked memory frequencies, Intel unsurprisingly only advertises the default frequencies of 1066/1333 and 1600MHz, though that's not to say the board can't go higher when overclocked.

Complementing the Z77's six SATA ports (two 6Gb/s), Intel includes a Marvell 6Gb/s controller that can handle four SATA 6Gb/s ports, though the DZ77GA-70K only uses three: two are onboard near the Z77's SATA ports and one is on the I/O panel.

Network connectivity comes from a pair of Intel Gigabit Ethernet controllers, the WG82579LM and WG82574L. This is probably the best Gigabit network configuration we've seen from a Z77 motherboard so far and it's the same setup used by the high-end DX79SI.

The board's audio comes from the Realtek ALC898, which offers 7.1 channel sound with THX TruStudio and Premium Blu-ray -- the same solution used by the Asrock Z77 Extreme6.

The DZ77GA-70K provides 10 USB 2.0 ports, four of which are available on the I/O panel, while six can be connected via three onboard headers. There are also eight USB 3.0 ports, four on the I/O panel and four are accessible via two headers. Intel used a pair of Genesys Logic GL3520 hubs to turn the Z77's four USB 3.0 ports into eight.

The DZ77GA-70K also features two FireWire ports with one on the I/O panel and the other via header. Both are driven by a Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A which uses the PCI bus. Since the Z77 doesn't support legacy PCI, Intel has included the ITE IT8892E chip to drive a pair of PCI slots.

Though it's not the most creative looking board, the DZ77GA-70K is more of a no nonsense kind of product and that's what we've come to expect from Intel's motherboard division.

Not only is the hardware in order, but Intel's UEFI BIOS is among the best we've seen. We missed UEFI on the DX79SI, but it seems the wait was worthwhile as the DZ77GA-70K's implementation extremely polished and crams loads of options into an easily navigable, first class interface