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Mini-ITX Z77 motherboard previews

Mini-ITX Z77 Motherboard Previews


The tiny but increasingly popular motherboard form factor known as mini-ITX looks set go through something of a renaissance soon as the latest Intel Z77 chipset motherboards hit the shelves. Its current chipset, Z68, was by no means a disappointment as far as mini-ITX was concerned though - we had two interesting motherboards in the form of the Zotac Z68 Mini-ITX WiFi and ASRock Z68M-ITX/HT.

However, Asus in particular has been using its R&D might to produce what many small form factor fans are hoping to be one of the best enthusiast-orientated mini-ITX motherboards ever with its P8Z77-I Deluxe. It's a 10-Phase Digital Power Design-touting, fully featured motherboard, which appears to lack little in the way of features compared to other motherboards in the P8-series range, such as LucidLogix Virtu MVP, which allows you to combine the power of your CPU's onboard GPU and your discrete GPU in a king of hybrid SLI/Crossfire. That's while also cutting power to your discrete GPU when it's not needed, to save power.

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Perhaps the most interesting feature, though, is the Digi+ VRM daughter board which sits above the CPU socket, offering 10-phase power. That should mean it has the potential to be a great overclocking board too, as well as having a good EFI - something that can't really be said of Zotac and ASRock's Z68 offerings, which proved to be fairly limited.

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ASRock has also been hard at work with its mini-ITX motherboard. The Z77E-ITX offers many of the usual features, such as XFast RAM, XFast USB as well as Lucid Virtu Universal MVP, while the board itself will sport 6+2 power phases. The board also looks fantastic, but we hope ASRock has spent some time developing the EFI too, to ensure it comes with the full range of tweaking options compared to its Z68 model.

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Zotac has often been the sole trader when it comes to enthusiast mini-ITX boards, but it doesn't look like it will have the market all to itself this time. Its Z77ITX-A-E also looks very similar, if not identical to its Z68 offering, meaning it may not overclock any better than the latter. As with ASRock's Z68 mini-ITX motherboard, the Zotac Z68 Mini-ITX WiFi had a pretty dire EFI with little in the way of overclocking options so we hope to see better this time around.

There's no word on pricing yet, although we have sketchy reports of the Asus board coming in at around £160, with the ASRock model being a little cheaper.

So, are you thinking about ITX for your next PC? What do you think of these motherboards? Let us know in the forum...

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