Pros: Easy to overclocked and stable motherboard
Cons: Already obsolete because the introduction of the fourth-generation
Here’s my review on the midprice full ATX, ASUS P8Z77 V LE Plus motherboard that allows for overclocking your unlocked K series Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processor. Because the controllers for the PCI express as well as the memory is on the processor and not the motherboard, when using a Sandy Bridge processor the PCI express is operated as version 2 and the memory from the point of view of the processor is at 1333 MHz. On the other hand using an Ivy Bridge processor the PCI express bus operates at twice the speed on version 3 and native support for 1600 MHz memory speed. For this build, I’ve used an existing processor which is the second generation Sandy Bridge Intel i7 2600 K that I’ve purchased a year and half ago stripped from my previous build. Also, I’ve stripped the other components such as The 550 Antec TruePower four 12 V rails power supply, the 3 hard drives, SSD, the oversize CPU heatsink, 120 mm CPU fan, and a 120 mm front intake fan a new good ventilation gamer case incorporating four large fans. The maximum stable overclocking that I was able to achieve using in the oversized aftermarket air cooler heatsink is 4.9 GHz with a peak under 100% load at 78°C with Hyperthreading on, based on my observation with my rig. Running at this clock speed the performance increase was about 50% more over the default running at 3.4 GHz with up to 3.9 GHz Turbo based on benchmarking. When running under a light load the system default to 1.6 GHz to conserve power. Due to the recent introduction of the fourth generation Haswell socket 1150 CPU from Intel which isn’t compatible with this motherboard. So when starting from scratch, it’s best to purchase a motherboard that features the new Z 87 chipset along with a K series fourth-generation CPU. If you want to overclock your processor, do not purchase a motherboard that features the H 87 chipset.
Here’s are the components for this build:
The Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case.
550 Antec TruePower power supply.
ASUS P8Z77 V LE Plus motherboard.
Two 8 GB sticks of Crucial DDR 3 Ballistix 1600 CL9 low profile 1.35 volt memory.
Cooler Master hyper 212 EVO CPU cooler with four heat pipes.
10,000 RPM Western Digital 300 GB Velociraptor hard drive as the boot drive.
32 GB SanDisk Express cache SSD to speed up the boot hard drive.
2 TB 7200 RPM Western Digital Black Series hard drive for storage.
1 TB 7200 RPM Seagate hard drive for additional storage.
MSI N460 SE graphics card that allows for GPU overclocking using their software.
2000 RPM PWM 120 mm Cooler Master fan which is the same fan on the CPU heatsink mounted on the back as exhausts.
2000 RPM 120 mm generic fan that only has three terminals instead of four with the tachometer use as the front intake fan.
1300 RPM Arctic F-14 PWM high-performance 140 mm case fan mounted on the top of the computer case as exhausts.
the fourth case fan which also has three terminals taken from the back of the case and remounted on the lower left side panel as an intake fan to cool the graphics card connected in parallel with top exhausts fan on the same motherboard header.
This motherboard uses the Z 77 chipset that has many features which allows for overclocking as well as onboard graphics which I don’t care to use. It has native support for 1600 MHz dual channel DDR 3 memory. The chipset itself supports four USB 3 ports, like the mid-60 series chipsets 2 SATA III plus 4 SATA II ports for a total of six SATA ports. But this board has additional two SATA III ports supported by a third-party Marvell SATA 3 chipset with one port next to the other six on the board and one E SATA on the back panel. The E SATA port on the back panel works when you plug in an external E SATA hard drive but the one on the motherboard header only works before Windows boot. I try it out by hooking up a petitioned SATA hard drive before starting up the computer and see of Windows recognize it and it Does not recognize it. But yet when using a petitioning software on a CD, it was able to petition the drive under DOS when connected to this header. It also has eight USB 2 in header form and 2 on the back panel there are also two USB 3 ports as one blue header next to the 24 pin motherboard plug to connect the front panel. It also utilize a six phase digital voltage regulator circuit that supplies power to the CPU as well as a two phase one for the onboard GPU. This Asus motherboard utilize an UEFI Bios that allows the use of the mouse. Speaking of the bios, it’s very easy to upgrade the bios on this motherboard. Simply download the bios file and save it on a USB jump drive. Restart your computer and go into the bios by hitting the Delete button, go to Tools from there Select Asus EZ 2 Flash Utility and then follow the instruction to reflash your bio. The bios can also be reflash to the motherboard using nothing but the power supply, monitor and motherboard. To do this, plug-in the jump drive with the bio file on the back USB port with the greens rectangle, connect the monitor to the onboard port and then push and hold a little black button at the bottom of the motherboard next to the USB header port three seconds and then let go. Be sure to let it finish completely before disconnecting power. This method may be the only way to upgrade the bios after a flash failure from a previous attempt.
What I like most about this board that it allows for automatic overclocking utilizing the included software AL Suite under Windows. It sets the overclocked speeds in the bios by rebooting the computer. The overclocked setting is based on the available cooling and CPU of the system. So if you have better components you will get a higher overclocked as a result. Using Turbo V EVO the computer automatically settle on 4.83 GHz with a core voltage setting of 1.44 volts which I felt was little bit on the high side. Under heavy load of 100% the core temperature rose to 85°C. I’ve decided to experiment with setting the core voltage down a bit while keeping the same clock speed to see what will happen. My final stable setting at this clock speed is 1.365 volts. With this setting the temperature rose no higher than 75°C while keeping the same speed. The automatic setting also increase the BCL K frequency to 103 MHz which I felt might be a bit high instead of 100 MHz. Because this also increased the frequency of the PCI express bus as well as the SATA bus which cause instability. So I decided to manually dial back the frequency to 100 MHz by rebooting and then going into the bios. And then increase the multiplier to 49 to obtain 4.9 GHz. After some experimentation, I’ve decided to dial back the default for every day use at 4.5 GHz and set the CPU core voltage down to 1.275 V in the bios. At this setting at maximum load the core temperature does not go higher than 65°C. After booting back into Windows and using Turbo V EVO , under manual configuration I’ve configure the computer under this software with a setting of 4.9 GHz and a core voltage of 1.365 volts. This setting can be manually set when desire that once the computer reboots it would revert back to the setting that was program in the bios. Under this setting and that maximum load the temperature reached as high as 78°C with all of the fans running almost full creating a moderate roaring noise. At this setting, the computer is about 50% faster than stock speeds. Another useful feature about this Asus motherboard is that it allows for rapid charging by supplying up to 1 ½ A to your other gadgets such as phones, tablet PC from the back USB 3 ports. In order to use this feature, plug-in your device to the back USB3 port, you have to open AL Suite, go to USB Charger +,select your device and then enable. A similar procedure is also require to use USB 3 boost. This motherboard also is capable of running 2 graphics cards but has three graphics card slots, a RAID array and has four fan headers that are 4 pin PWM ones. One extremely nice feature is that the fans can be custom set to operate at a very low speed under light load and then speed up as needed to cool down the system. The speed control also works with fans that doesn’t have PWM built-in. When connecting a single fan to the header, it need to be a three terminal one with tachometer in order for it to work. When connecting 2 fans of this type to a single header, the second fan should only be connected without the tachometer third terminal. On the other hand when connecting 2 PWM fans to a single header, to avoid confusing the controller be sure to not to connect the tachometer output of both fans. The tachometer output is the third terminal. I had my system fans set to run very quiet speed under light load conditions. There are many features that this system offers that I haven’t gotten at chance to test out at this time such as the two switches at the top of the motherboard. I did try the switch on the left side which provide always on, automatic overclocking of the system based on conditions at the time. I believe the switch on the right-hand side is to overclocked the onboard graphics which I did not use.
Overall I am quite happy with the performance of this motherboard. I will update this review as I learn more about the system and I will review some of the components that went into this build. I would highly recommend this motherboard as a replacement for someone who’s already own a previous generation unlocked K-series i7 or i5 CPU that wants to upgrade their motherboard. As I have mentioned earlier for a new build, go with the fourth-generation Intel Haswell.