With Intel's next generation processors firmly on the horizon, we should also turn to what motherboards will be on offer when we have the opportunity to root around in our pockets to invest in an next generation system.  With appropriate vendor support, 6-series motherboards will support these new processors with little more than a BIOS update, however to get the most out of the new processor, we have to look at the new range of motherboards about to hit the market.  This brief look at some of them is by no means an exhaustive list, however we would like to know what you find most interesting and would like to be reviewed over the next few months.

7-Series Chipsets

As with all of Intel’s major chipset releases, we have the opportunity to pick from a wide range of models to suit different needs, price points, or even business models.  With Sandy Bridge, we also had distinct segregation – H67 had IGP but no overclocking, P67 did not have IGP but overclocked, and Z68 had both.  Thankfully this time all the new chipsets have IGP outputs to take advantage of the IGP, and the main differences lie in PCIe configuration limitations and use of Intel’s Smart Response Technology:

Chipset Comparison
  Z77 Z75 H77 Z68 P67 H67
CPU Support IVB
LGA-1155
IVB
LGA-1155
IVB
LGA-1155
SNB/IVB
LGA-1155
SNB/IVB
LGA-1155
SNB/IVB
LGA-1155
CPU Overclocking Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
CPU PCIe Config 1 x16 or
2 x8 or
1 x8 + 2 x4
PCIe 3.0
1 x16 or
2 x8 PCIe 3.0
1 x16 PCIe 3.0 1 x16 or
2 x8 or
1 x8 + 2 x4
PCIe 3.0
1 x16 or
2 x8 PCIe 3.0
1 x16 PCIe 3.0
Processor Graphics Support Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Intel SRT (SSD caching) Yes No Yes Yes No No
RAID Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
USB 2.0 Ports (3.0) 14 (4) 14 (4) 14 (4) 14 14 14
SATA Total (Max Number of 6Gbps Ports) 6 (2) 6 (2) 6 (2) 6 (2) 6 (2) 6 (2)

The beauty of Ivy Bridge predominantly comes in the form of PCIe 3.0, which should alleviate many of the PCIe bus bandwidth bottlenecks in multi-GPU setups, and native USB 3.0 on board.  Some vendors may expand these features – PCIe lanes may be increased through a PCIe 3.0 PLX chip (similar to NF200 on X58), or third-party USB 3.0 controllers will be added to the boards.  In this brief look over some of the 7-series motherboards, we will see both in action.  However that PLX chip looks fairly expensive.

ASUS
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  • Meaker10 - Saturday, March 10, 2012 - link

    They come from the south bridge. Reply
  • danjw - Saturday, March 10, 2012 - link

    I would like to see reviews for the ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe and ASRock Z77 Pro4. Reply
  • tyrant.otter - Saturday, March 10, 2012 - link

    I'd really like to see a review of that ASUS Maximus V Gene. It looks like it would be an excellent replacement for my aging MSI x58m. I wonder though is there any advantage to using an SSD in the 'augmentation port' when I already have an SSD as the OS drive? I'm guessing any advantage would have to come from using PCIe instead of SATA. Reply
  • st.bone - Sunday, March 11, 2012 - link

    I would like to see Intel Desktop Boards, especially Intel DZ77RE the one that allegedly comes with thunderbolt, I live Intel Desktop Boards made by Intel, so i normally buy Intel boards not third party like the ones on the review, i find Intel boards stable and appealing than most of other venders, at list to me, simplicity is what i like about the boards Reply
  • risa2000 - Sunday, March 11, 2012 - link

    I am there with you. It would be good to have also Intel original boards on the list. I have been running many boards in the past (Gigabyte, ABit, ASUS), but since I moved to Intel boards (D975XBX, DH55HC recently) I feel like I found finally sweet spot.

    The main factor about Intel boards for me is usually integrated Intel NIC, decent sound, and conservative design.
    Reply
  • st.bone - Sunday, March 11, 2012 - link

    Thanks, it's nice to know there are others who appreciate.

    I have used various Motherboards in the past too (A SRock, ECS, Gigabyte, Mercury, ASUS, just but to mention a few)

    But ever since i moved to Intel Desktop Boards I've felt happier at home with them, my first Intel Desktop Board was D945GCCR, then Moved Shortly to D945GCNL, then a long line of others like DG33BU, DG35EC, DG43GT and currently on DH55HC.

    My Current setup is:

    Intel Desktop Board DH55HC
    Intel Processor Core i5 - 760
    Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1600Mhz kit 4 x 4GB
    1TB WD
    POV TGT Charged Nvidia GTX 460 1GB
    Inwin F430 Black Chassis
    FSP Everest PSU 600 Watts
    LG DVD-WR
    Display : Dell SX2210 22inch/21.5 visible area 1920 x 1080 Res
    Dell Keyboard
    Logitech M215 Wireless Mouse
    Sony Headphones
    Speakers Logitech Z906 5.1

    I would like to upgrade three major components come april
    1: Change Desktop Board to DZ77RE
    2; Change Processor to Core i7 3770K, Core i7 3770
    3: Change Graphics Card to AMD Radeon or Nvidia GeForce @ around $300 to 350 Max

    Please Anand do a review for the above components...
    Reply
  • dzlboats - Sunday, March 11, 2012 - link

    The deluxe version of P8Z77-V series has the best layout with extra usb ports and PCI slots removed for those that don't need PCI capability. My choice if offered would be a P8Z77-V(lite) without the 5.25 USB 3.0 panel and WiFi module since my Lancool PC-K9WX case has USB 3.0 ports built in and I don't have an immediate need for WiFi. The cost would be significantly lower also. Reply
  • orenlevy - Sunday, March 11, 2012 - link

    this is huge different from H77 to Z77 ddr 1600 vs ddr 2400+ Oc2800 Reply
  • ol1bit - Sunday, March 11, 2012 - link

    All I use my PC for anymore that need power is Games, and 80% of that is GFX... My I7 seems set for another 5 years of life, just like my e6600 did before.

    I think everyone is going to tablets/ smart phones etc.
    Reply
  • gentlearc - Monday, March 12, 2012 - link

    *grammar* Reply

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