You don’t always need to pay the highest price for the best possible chipset as shown by this affordable Z77 beastie. It might not have quite as many add-ons as its bigger brother but if you’re looking for raw performance with a minimum of fuss you’ve come to the right place.
We should point out that ASRock incorrectly advertises the power regulation on this motherboard as being a digital 8 + 4 Phase power configuration when in fact it’s an analogue 8 + 2 + 2 which is slightly inferior. This marketing mix-up appears to be shared by all of the ASRock 7 Series boards. However it’s unlikely this will matter to all but the liquid nitrogen overclocking crowd. These guys will probably appreciate the gold-coated capacitors which promise to deliver even longer life spans and the cleanest possible electrical supply.
Despite the Z77 chipset having the capability to run three full-length PCI-E slots this board only comes equipped with two. It’s fine for dual-GPU systems but you’ll need to pick another board if you want to run three. There’s a total of four SATA 6Gbps ports with the extra two delivered courtesy of the ASMedia ASM1061 controller. USB 3.0 connectivity has also been increased with another two on top of the four delivered by Intel’s chipset.
The full range of overclocking options are delivered via the easy-to-use UEFI BIOS which is where you’ll also find access to the ASRock Online Management Guard which allows for password-protected internet access.
If you’re looking for a fast backbone to your new Ivy Bridge system that has most of the fat trimmed out you can’t go wrong with this board. It delivers performance in spades all at a price that won’t cause your credit card to self-combust.
Available from ASRock retailing for $179.
APC rating: 9/10 (Editor’s Choice)