Six Sub-£160 Z77 Motherboards, Benchmarked And Reviewed

ECS Z77H2-A2X

A universal sign of prosperity, ECS uses gold to highlight a wealth of features on its Z77H2-A2X. Packed with USB-based Bluetooth and Wi-Fi transceivers, an extra pair of USB 3.0 ports, and eSATA on the I/O panel, ECS hope to overwhelm all similarly-priced competitors.

With a mini PCIe slot along the front edge for hosting even more miniature (notebook sized) devices, the only thing really missing from the Z77H2-A2X is a third graphics card slot. The fact that most performance PC builders would not use a four-lane PCIe 2.0 slot for graphics should prevent this “missing” part from being missed, and the two slots present are still able to configure the CPU’s sixteen PCIe 3.0 lanes into x16/x0 or x8/x8 modes, depending on the number of cards present.

An extra SATA 6Gb/s controller ads two ports internally, but the Z77H2-A2X still has only six ports. The reason for this is that one of the chipset’s SATA 3Gb/s ports is used for eSATA, and another was designated for an mSATA slot that exists only in firmware.

The Z77H2-A2X has the internal power and reset buttons found on its ASRock and Biostar competitors, but bench testers who need to reset everything must rely on a jumper for CLR_CMOS. ECS also solders its firmware IC directly to the PCB, but at least the module has enough space to store user-specified configuration profiles in this model.

A row of Easy Measure points above the four DIMM slots allows aggressive or extremely cautious tuners to easily check core, DIMM, memory controller, and integrated graphics voltage with a meter.

We’re not sure why ECS chose to put one of its x1 slots directly beneath the top graphics slot while leaving the next slot empty, since most graphics coolers cover the second slot position, but rarely intrude upon the third. This appears to be a limitation of its PCIe switch placement, but that doesn’t explain why the current layout couldn’t have been transposed.

Limiting the Z77H2-A2X to only two PCIe x16 graphics cards allows ECS to put its USB 3.0 front-panel header on the bottom edge without the slot placement conflict that many of its competitors still face. On the other hand, the front-panel audio connector is still just a little too far back into the bottom-rear corner to allow easy cable reach for some cases.

Six SATA cables are enough to make this builder happy, along with the Z77H2-A2X’s front-panel USB 3.0 bay adapter, flexible SLI bridge, and internal Wi-Fi antenna.

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  • miguels
    I'm a bit new to this, but how can we start the pc if the motherboard doesn't have the power button?
    1
  • digdog
    on the bottom of the motherboard there's a set of headers (small pins) that connect to the various buttons on your pc case, one of which is the power-on button.
    1
  • mi1ez
    DigDogon the bottom of the motherboard there's a set of headers (small pins) that connect to the various buttons on your pc case, one of which is the power-on button.

    just short the 2 power button pins with a screwdriver.
    -2
  • miguels
    Quote:
    DigDog :
    on the bottom of the motherboard there's a set of headers (small pins) that connect to the various buttons on your pc case, one of which is the power-on button.


    just short the 2 power button pins with a screwdriver.


    Yeah, I know, but it says in the article that the Asus P8Z77-V Pro doesn't have a power button
    1
  • Anonymous
    usb3/sata3/wifi/bluetooth still very limited ...these r not cheap boards.......why????
    1
  • TheCereaKillerPT
    miguelsYeah, I know, but it says in the article that the Asus P8Z77-V Pro doesn't have a power button


    Yes , but there a set of headers were u can connect the cables that connet to the front / top of your case so that u can just click and that it . The ones that have a power button it's if u want to change parts like gpu and u don't want to put it in a case. Hope it helped :)
    0