It is time from another universal port to try to dethrone USB as the standard. This time we have Intel Thunderbolt wanting to go toe to toe with USB 3.0. The first to bring this option to the enthusiast market is the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium, the first Thunderbolt certified motherboard technically.

Let’s get the basics out of the way. The ASUS P8Z77-V Premium is a top tier board for the Intel Ivy Bridge platform. This means you get the full list of checkbox options such as PCIe 3.0 slots, USB 3.0 connectivity, 4-way SLI/CrossfireX support, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module, and an ASUS package of great software. The base feature set is enough to be a top tier motherboard, but separate yourself from the pack you have do something a little different.

First the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium comes with SSD Caching II, which allows you to use more than one SSD as a cache drive. It even comes with a 32 GB mSATA based SSD on-board ready to be used as your primary cache drive. You can get the ASUS P8Z77 PRO/Thunderbolt with the full specs below, but does not come with the SSD Caching II, which should lower the price point if it was the Thunderbolt interface you were after.

I am sure Intel Thunderbolt will be one of the features you find on all top tier Intel motherboards. As many of you will recall, the simultaneous bi-directional 10 Gbps, single cable that can be daisy chained and fully support DisplayPort has been available on laptops and via add-on cards before; however, this is the first time it is certified and integrated into a motherboard.

I know the ASUS P8Z77-V and ASUS P8Z77 PRO will be great top tier motherboards, but I think companies should stop this “first” posting. It was annoying when everyone was doing it (still doing it) on forums and comment threads; “First” press releases are getting to be just as bad. I got at least 3 PR e-mails making the first claim with ASUS literally being first to send it. I chose their PR was because they are working with LaCie, PROMISE, and Elgato to produce products for the Thunderbolt interface. Doesn’t matter how awesome a feature is, if you have no reason or way to use it.

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ASUS Launches First Intel® Thunderbolt™ Certified Motherboard

— P8Z77-V PREMIUM the first Intel certified and Windows optimized motherboard in the industry to feature Thunderbolt technology —

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 10 Gbps 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.

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