Biostar Hi-Fi Z77X gives audiophiles 7.1-channel analog sound, overpriced cables thankfully optional

There haven't been many choices in PC motherboards for audiophiles -- the 'real' kind that might see even a good dedicated sound card as slumming it. Biostar wants to fill that untapped niche with the Hi-Fi Z77X. Along with run-of-the-mill expansion for an Ivy Bridge- or Sandy Bridge-based desktop, the board's built-in 7.1-channel audio flaunts six 3.5mm analog jacks, an amp and the kind of exotic-sounding language that leads audio addicts to buy $2,000 cables they don't need. We're talking "metal-oxide film resistors" and "non-polarized electrolysis electric audio capacitors," here. Whether or not the changes have an appreciable impact on sound quality, listeners are ironically left out of S/PDIF audio, which exists only as a header on the board unless buyers spend a little more on parts. That said, if we assume the as yet unknown price isn't stereotypically high -- and that audiophiles don't mind a big, potentially noisy desktop as a home theater PC -- the Hi-Fi Z77x could be a treat for those who want to wring every nuance out of music and movie soundtracks.