The Intel Z77 chipset will be released in April, but we had the privilege of getting the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 for a “first look” article. It will be a mainstream socket LGA1155 motherboard targeted to the forthcoming “Ivy Bridge” processors (third-generation Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors) and also supporting the current “Sandy Bridge” models (second-generation Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors). Let’s see what the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 will have to offer.
The Intel Z77 will be an upgraded version of the Z68 chipset with the same basic features (Intel Smart Response Technology and Virtu video switching technology), plus native support to four USB 3.0 ports. It will also include the addition of two new technologies: Smart Connect (allowing the computer to receive emails and refresh webpages while it is in sleep mode) and Rapid Start (faster boot times).
In addition, the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 supports the Virtu Universal MVP, which allows you to combine the performance of the integrated graphics processor available in the CPU with the performance of any video card installed. This is similar to what occurs with the Hybrid SLI and ATI Hybrid Graphics technologies, with the notable difference of not being limited to GPUs from a specific manufacturer.
ASRock has already announced seven different motherboard models based on the Intel Z77 chipset. In the table below, we compare their main specifications.
|Specification||Fatal1ty Z77 Professional||Fatal1ty Z77 Professional-M||Fatal1ty Z77 Performance||Z77 Extreme6||Z77 Extreme4||Z77 Extreme4-M||Z77 Pro4|
|PCI Express x16||3 x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)||3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)||2 (x16/x4)||3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)||2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)||3 x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)||2 (x16/x4)|
|PCI Express x1||1||1||1||1||2||1||1|
|Mini PCI Express||0||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Price||USD 235||NA||NA||USD 175||USD 155||NA||USD 130|
In Figure 1, you see the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 motherboard.