ASUS and MSI launch their first Thunderbolt motherboards, tie for first ever

You wait for one Thunderbolt-compatible motherboard and then two decide to arrive on the same day. Going alphabetically, ASUS' P8Z77-V Premium is its first Intel-certified board to pack Thunderbolt and it's followed immediately by the P8Z77-V Pro / Thunderbolt. The connection will hook up to multiple storage drives or any Thunderbolt-friendly display -- it can be daisy-chained to up to six different devices. MSI's Z77A-GD80 packs a similarly complicated naming convention (although it's not yet certified by Intel) and like ASUS' offerings, will arrive with Intel's Z77 chipset ready to play nice with those new 22nm processors. Alongside storage and monitor support, MSI also throws in the extra nugget that it'll connect to a graphics card, if you're so inclined. The full technical breakdown on both motherboards is housed after the break.

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ASUS Launches First Intel® Thunderbolt™ Certified Motherboard

Fremont, CA (May 21, 2012) - Further demonstrating its market leading innovation and technological leadership, ASUS is proud to announce the launch of its P8Z77-V PREMIUM motherboard - the flagship of the P8Z77 Series and the first Intel certified motherboard in the market to offer the latest Thunderbolt connection interface. The PREMIUM designation has been reserved for only the best motherboards with the latest technologies, and the P8Z77-V PREMIUM maintains this standard. In addition to the onboard Thunderbolt connection on the P8Z77-V PREMIUM, ASUS also offers the same technology on the P8Z77-V PRO/THUNDERBOLT to give consumers a wider range of choices.

"Intel and ASUS have worked closely on the implementation of Thunderbolt™ technology onto Asus motherboards", said Jason Ziller, Intel's Director of Thunderbolt Marketing. "The P8Z77-V PREMIUM is the first Thunderbolt certified motherboard in the industry, a testament to its solid design and compatibility."

Thunderbolt onboard offering unmatched performance and functionality
Thunderbolt is a new, high-speed I/O technology designed for performance, simplicity and flexibility, with lightning fast transfer speeds that are twice that of USB 3.0 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. It offers simultaneous bi-directional 10Gbps transfer speeds over a single cable, with the flexibility to daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt-ready devices with a single connection as well as offering full display port support for a 7th Thunderbolt or display port equipped monitor. This allows for a clutter-free computing experience while offering unprecedented levels of performance. Users can connect multiple Thunderbolt-enabled external storage drives to a Thunderbolt-enabled display and transfer files while watching HD movies, all without experiencing any lag. In addition for content professional this connection has been designed form the ground up for multimedia offering low latency with highly accurate time synchronization for professional audio and video applications. PC enthusiast and gamers can take immediate advantage combining Thunderbolt and on-board Lucid Virtu MVP to enjoy top-notch graphics performance.

Strength through cooperation and expertise in design
With its long history of working with high tech vendors, ASUS is able to show its strength and commitment to innovation with a close relationship to three of the leading brands currently producing products with Thunderbolt technology, Elgato, LaCie, and PROMISE.

"Elgato is delighted to work with ASUS to bring the world's first portable Thunderbolt drive to Windows," says Markus Fest, Elgato's CEO. "The powerful combination of ASUS' new PREMIUM board technology and the Elgato Thunderbolt SSD dramatically outperforms state-of-the-art portable USB 3.0 or eSATA drives."

"LaCie is pleased to work with ASUS to showcase the power of Thunderbolt technology in a Windows environment," said Erwan Girard, Business Unit Manager for Professional Solutions, LaCie. "Our solutions will deliver the unprecedented speeds and advantages of this technology to PC demanding users, especially those working in digital media applications who continually strive for more performance."

PROMISE is a leading supplier of sophisticated RAID storage solutions catering to customers from the enterprise to SMB, as well as SOHO and digital home applications. They currently offer the world's first Thunderbolt enabled RAID storage solutions and have previously worked with ASUS to develop a diversified portfolio to meet customer's requirements.

In addition to this close partnership with these three vendors ASUS has work very close with Intel to ensure the most care is taken in offering the best implementation taking extra care to fine tune PCB and Trace Design and overall routing of the Thunderbolt implementation to offer the best performance, compatibility and overall functionality for this high speed connection.

Truly a premium motherboard with unmatched connectivity, functionality and features
The title of PREMIUM carries certain expectations, and as such, the P8Z77-V PREMIUM motherboard boasts several new features pushing pass the limitations of the Z77 chipset, such as true 4-way NVIDIA® SLI™ and 4-way AMD CrossFireX™ on the latest PCIe Gen 3.0 slots for maximum graphics performance. Also introduced is advanced SSD Caching II, allowing users to cache additional frequently used programs and files using multiple SSDs to instantly upgrade system performance. A 32GB mSATA based SSD is also onboard, enabling Intel® Smart Response and Rapid Start Technology™ for super-fast boot up and resume times. Network traffic is handled by a pair of Gigabit Intel LAN ports, ensuring high speed transfers for outstanding network performance. In addition in conjunction with ASUS' exclusive Network iControl users can customize their network performance to their specific usage. Rounding our connectivity the premium also features the fastest USB 3.0 implementation via USB 3.0 Boost support extending performance for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 devices.

Dedicated to providing the latest innovations, the P8Z77-V PREMIUM and P8Z77-V PRO/THUNDERBOLT provides users with the best and most complete solutions available, such as Dual Intelligent Processor 3 with SMART DIGI+ Power Control – the most advanced VRM design implementation for unmatched control and tuning to the VRM for maximum efficiency and performance and extended overclocking potential, Wi-Fi GO! for extended wireless functionality – DLNA serving or streaming, easy file transfer to mobile devices and remote desktop. These functions work alongside the on-board dual-band wireless as well as the newest Bluetooth 4.0 standard. Rounding out the advanced feature set is an unmatched level of fan controls offered within the UEFI or in Windows via the most advanced and robust fan controls of any motherboard via Fan Xpert 2. The P8Z77-V Premium truly affirms an unmatched attention to design detail and feature integration to position itself as a one of its kind Z77 chipset-based motherboard.

Available Models

Models

P8Z77-V PREMIUM

P8Z77-V PRO/THUNDERBOLT

CPU Socket

Intel® Socket 1155 for 3rd/2nd Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors

Chipset

Intel® Z77 Express Chipset

Memory

DDR3 2800(O.C.) MHz

DDR3 2600(O.C.) MHz

Digital CPU Power Design

Dual Intelligent Processors 3 - SMART DIGI+ Power Control

Digital 20-Phase Power
(16-Phase for CPU &
4-Phase for iGPU)

Digital 12-Phase Power
(8-Phase for CPU &
4-Phase for iGPU)

Digital DRAM Power Design

PCIex16 Slots

4*PCIe 3.0 x16

3*PCIe 3.0 x16;

Multi-GPU

4-Way CrossFireX™/SLI

CrossFireX™/SLI

Graphics

Thunderbolt/DisplayPort/HDMI

Thunderbolt/HDMI/DVI-D/RGB

Gb LAN

2 (Intel)

1 (Intel)

Wireless Connection

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Dual band 2.4/5GHz & Bluetooth v4.0

Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n

Audio

8-ch HD, DTS

8-ch HD, DTS

Storage

1*mSATA 3.0 Gb/s with 32GB SSD onboard
6*SATA 6Gb/s
3*SATA 3Gb/s
2*eSATA 6Gb/s

4*SATA 6Gb/s
4*SATA 3Gb/s
1*eSATA (with bracket support)

USB 3.0

6*USB 3.0 (4 ports at back panel, 2 ports at mid-board)

6*USB 3.0 (4 ports at back panel, 2 ports at mid-board)

TPU/EPU
(with onboard switch)

ASUS SSD Caching II

ASUS Wi-Fi GO!

ASUS Fan Xpert 2

USB BIOS Flashback

USB 3.0 Boost

Network iControl

LucidLogix Virtu MVP

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MSI debuts Z77A-GD80, the world's first mainboard with next-generation Thunderbolt transfer interface.

(Taipei - Taiwan) At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2012, world-renowned mainboard manufacturer MSI showcased the Z77A-GD80 mainboard, featuring the world's first mainboard with ThunderboltTM support. The leading technology on display in the Z77A-GD80 resulted in unprecedented interest and coverage by global media, and is now officially released today. The Z77A-GD80 is equipped with the newest Intel Z77 chipset with support for the new generation 22nm processors, and is equipped with the newest ThunderboltTM transfer interface. With ThunderboltTM, external device connectivity problems faced by high-end users are alleviated such as: poor data transfer rates, every device requiring an independent connection port, and transfer speed dropping low when sending and receiving files simultaneously due to lack of bandwidth, etc. The all new ThunderboltTM transfer technology provides an extremely large bi-direction 10Gbps bandwidth, which allows simultaneous connection of high resolution monitors, storage devices and even a graphics card. 8-channel audio signal is also supported, allowing multiple devices to be connected via a single cable. The Z77A-GD80 mainboard utilizes Military Class III components, which passed through 7 rigorous MIL-STD-810G standard tests and have also been certified by independent third-party laboratories, providing the best quality and stability. It is also equipped with the MSI's proprietary one-second overclocking OC Genie II and UEFI / Windows dual-graphical interface ClickBIOS II, allowing users to easily achieve high system performance with an easy operational experience.

The world's fastest external transfer technology - ThunderboltTM
The MSI Z77A-GD80 features the newest and fastest external connection technology – ThunderboltTM. It provides two-way bandwidth that reaches as high as 10Gbps and can also provide electric power for external devices. HD video content can be transferred within only a few seconds! The two-way and independent bandwidth design allows users to send and receive files simultaneously through the ThunderboltTM interface and not reduce the respective transfer speed. Additionally, only one cable connection is required from the computer to other external peripherals such as high-resolution monitors and large capacity external storage devices. 8-channel audio signals are also supported. Compared to the traditional interface which requires one connection cable to connect each device or multiple external hubs, ThunderboltTM can increase convenience and ease of connectivity, fully meeting the needs of professionals and high-end users.

Highest quality and stability – Military Class III components
Continuing MSI's commitment to the product's stability and durability, MSI's Z77A-GD80 also imported Military Class III components. In addition to importing Highly-conductive Polymerized Capacitors (Hi-c CAP), Super Ferrite Choke (SFC) and Solid Capacitors (Solid CAP), there is also the next generation DrMOS - DrMOS II. DrMOS II embedded with fully automatic dual-thermal protection; when the operating temperature reaches to about 115℃, an indicator on the motherboard will light up, warning the enthusiast to check MOSFET's cooling status; if the operating temperature reaches to about 130℃, the system will automatically power off, ensuring the motherboard will not be damaged from high temperature! These components all passed rigorous testing conducted by third party laboratories: extreme temperature, humidity, pressure, vibration and dropping; and have received the Military Class certification, making MSI's Military Class III components the synonym for the highest quality and stability.

Better performance increase and usage experience
MSI's exclusive OC Genie II technology only requires one second to generate amazing performance increase, and also release the CPU, iGPU and memory performance at the same time. It also maximizing under the most stable situation and considerably saving enthusiast's time for system adjustment. The brand new My OC Genie function allows users set the overclocking settings manually for better performance. Click BIOS II is the world's first system tool that integrated UEFI BIOS and Windows application programs; it allows you to adjust system settings under different environments through the mouse or even the LCD touch panel. MSI Z77A-GD80 supports not only the latest PCI Express Gen 3 standard to deliver a staggering 32GB/s of bandwidth, but the new generation 22nm processors; double that of the previous generation. It allows users enjoy the latest standard for better use experience.

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ASUS and MSI launch Thunderbolt motherboards, tie for first place