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Biostar targets audiophiles with Hi-Fi Z77X motherboard

Biostar targets audiophiles with Hi-Fi Z77X motherboard

Biostar's Hi-Fi Z77X motherboard includes Puro Hi-Fi technology for, the company claims, audiophile-grade sound capabilities.

Motherboard maker Biostar has unveiled its latest creation, aimed at audiophiles and home-theatre PC (HTPC) enthusiasts: the Hi-Fi Z77X.

Based, as the name suggests, on Intel's Z77 chipset, the Hi-Fi Z77X ATX board supports all the usual Socket 1155 CPUs and includes native SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and dual-channel memory running at up to DDR3-2600 with 'overclocking mode' enabled. HDMI, DVI and VGA connections are included on-board for Intel CPUs with built-in graphics processors, while three PCI Express x16 slots - with one operating at x4, sadly - and three PCI Express 1x slots add extra connectivity. Gamers, meanwhile, will be pleased to hear that both Nvidia's SLI and AMD's CrossFire-X are supported.

As well as the aforementioned video outputs, the IO panel includes a single PS2 connector and four USB connections for mouse and keyboard, two USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, and six 3.5mm jacks for the on-board audio - and it's this latter feature that Biostar is focusing on with the Hi-Fi Z77X.

According to Biostar's product bumph, the board includes Puro Hi-Fi Technology: an integrated independent audio power design with built-in amplifier. Combined with a multi-layer PCB engineered specifically to block noise and 'non-polarised electrolysis electric audio capacitors' and 'hi-fi metal oxide film resistors' - so says Biostar, anyway - on each individual audio circuit, the result is a quality previously unavailable from on-board motherboard audio.

The system supports 192kHz 24-bit sample playback, and has analogue connections to a 7.1-speaker setup - offering, Biostar claims, 'real Blu-ray grade high-definition sound.' Combined with THX certification, it's a feature list that could have audiophiles sitting up and taking notice.

There is one strange lack in the motherboard's feature set, however: with Biostar focusing on home theatre and audiophile builds, it seems odd that the board only includes analogue audio outputs - there's no sign of an optical or coaxial S/PDIF port, meaning true audiophiles will need to break out the oxygen-free copper cable, ferrite chokes and other noise-reducing paraphernalia in order to link the Hi-Fi Z77X to their existing sound setup. The use of a full-size ATX form factor is also questionable: those using the Biostar Hi-Fi Z77X for a home theatre system would likely be better off with a mATX or even ITX board.

Pricing for the Hi-Fi Z77X has yet to be confirmed, with more details available on Biostar's website.

25 Comments

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asura 23rd July 2012, 13:02 Quote
"There is one strange lack in the motherboard's feature set, however: with Biostar focusing on home theatre and audiophile builds, it seems odd that the board only includes analogue audio outputs - there's no sign of an optical or coaxial S/PDIF port..."

...or of RCA sockets, always a disappointment that so few sound cards (Other than professional cards I can only think of one) are equipped with them. However,h it does have a HDMI socket, and presumably, as an audiophile product, it will be capable of outputting 7.1 to an AV amplifier, thereby negating the need for their fancy on-board amp and etcetera...

Or am I just being sceptical?
digitaldunc 23rd July 2012, 13:14 Quote
Kudos for doing something slightly different, but I would think any self respecting audiophile would go for a high end PCI-E card instead.

And yes, if you're talking SP/DIF passthrough or HDMI it doesn't matter anyway...
Er-El 23rd July 2012, 18:20 Quote
It's got an EFI BIOS so why does it also include a PS/2 port? :?
greigaitken 23rd July 2012, 19:01 Quote
upgrade law dictates that soundcards last 5x longer than a motherboard. so you pay the extra for for onboard hifi but lose it next time you upgrade. unless the extra costs 1/5 price of new sound card - its not a win
Elton 23rd July 2012, 20:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Er-El
It's got an EFI BIOS so why does it also include a PS/2 port? :?

N-Key Rollover.

In all seriousness, I find this an admirable effort, but BioStar aren't exactly known for their amazingly awesome motherobards. They're good in a pinch, but that's about it.

That said, I miss the old days of wacky colored mobos.
MiNiMaL_FuSS 23rd July 2012, 20:33 Quote
audiophile mobo = Sp/Dif RAW....nforce 2 had it for **** sake! why has sound on mobo's moved so far backwards!
zulu9812 23rd July 2012, 20:35 Quote
Decent onboard audio at last? Even ASUS's ROG motherboards have sucky on-board audio.
Elton 23rd July 2012, 21:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MiNiMaL_FuSS
audiophile mobo = Sp/Dif RAW....nforce 2 had it for **** sake! why has sound on mobo's moved so far backwards!

Cheaper manufacturing. You have now one large audio chipset maker: Realtek and the two competing companies being C-Media and parts of Creative.

Given that there's only about 3 well known audio chipset makers (C-media being the most advanced and ironically the least well known) it's no surprise we haven't advanced far yet.
Jipa 24th July 2012, 04:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitaldunc
Kudos for doing something slightly different, but I would think any self respecting audiophile would go for a high end PCI-E card instead.

And yes, if you're talking SP/DIF passthrough or HDMI it doesn't matter anyway...

Audiophiles go for an external DAC.
fluxtatic 24th July 2012, 06:54 Quote
Glad to see them going for a niche here, but...damn, they did it wrong. I bet they would have been better off making (or licensing) a discrete card, as Asus has done off and on with their ROG boards.

And even the higher-end Realtek doesn't exactly make me feel warmly towards it.

But, it being Biostar, it's likely to be fairly cheap. Too bad that applies in both senses of the word.

I could actually see a (very) niche market for something like this, but in mini-ITX - put it in a tiny case with a single SSD (or mSATA, even better) and screw all the audiophile BS - just make sure the board you build it on has HDMI or S/PDIF and bam! Cheap, simple build you can charge Monster Cable prices for. Damn, if I could get OS X for it, I could probably sell one to my boss (who trolled both the IT manager and myself by leaving "Mac for the Enterprise" marketing fluff on our desks - fluff which had come out of the packaging for the MBP he'd bought his wife.)
BD Hopkins 24th July 2012, 07:27 Quote
But can you make music on it digitally? DPC latency, anyone?
Bindibadgi 24th July 2012, 07:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by zulu9812
Decent onboard audio at last? Even ASUS's ROG motherboards have sucky on-board audio.

?

We now have SupremeFX III and IV that mirror or better Biostar's solution:

http://rog.asus.com/131512012/maximus-v-motherboards/what-is-supremefx-iv/ - 300Ohm headphone amp, 110dB SNR, ELNA caps, complete signal isolation, 1500uF buffer cap.

Not to forget that our M5F also comes with the option of ThunderFX (114dB SNR, 300Ohm headphone amp), and we also have 'ThunderBolt' (audio/LAN combo card) on selected models last year too.

Only the Extreme boards have basic audio as they aren't built for gaming; they are designed for OC or those people with budgets way beyond needing onboard audio.
Elton 24th July 2012, 08:45 Quote
To be fair, onboard audio has taken HUGE strides compared to it's inception. Sure you won't be getting the best, but you're getting some decent hardware.

Anyone remember VIA's attempts? Or god forbid some of RealTek's intial efforts? Yeesh.
Jaybles 24th July 2012, 09:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Er-El
It's got an EFI BIOS so why does it also include a PS/2 port? :?

I use a PS2 keyboard...
Gareth Halfacree 24th July 2012, 10:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaybles
I use a PS2 keyboard...
I use an AT keyboard, into an AT-to-PS/2 adapter, into a PS2-to-USB adapter. Which is kinda special, really.
Bindibadgi 24th July 2012, 11:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
I use an AT keyboard, into an AT-to-PS/2 adapter, into a PS2-to-USB adapter. Which is kinda special, really.

To be fair you're also building a ZM81. You didn't really leave the 80s did you?

;)
XXAOSICXX 24th July 2012, 11:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaybles
I use a PS2 keyboard...
I use an AT keyboard, into an AT-to-PS/2 adapter, into a PS2-to-USB adapter. Which is kinda special, really.

IT isn't special, Gareth...you are :p
[USRF]Obiwan 24th July 2012, 13:09 Quote
Audio enthusiast mobo should have eight 1/4" TSR, XLR input with phantom powe switch, spdif, AES50, midi, XLR main outputs.


oh wait....
Er-El 24th July 2012, 14:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaybles
I use a PS2 keyboard...
Why? N-key rollover?
Gareth Halfacree 24th July 2012, 14:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
To be fair you're also building a ZM81. You didn't really leave the 80s did you?
<looks around at the IBM Model M, ZX81, Commodore 64, 64C, 128, Atari 1040STe, 28in CRT, record player...> Apparently not, no.
Bindibadgi 25th July 2012, 02:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
IBM Model M, ZX81

I mixed these two and apparently made a new device
Gareth Halfacree 25th July 2012, 07:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
I mixed these two and apparently made a new device
If Clive had given the ZX81 a keyboard closer to that of the buckling-spring Model M, I reckon Acorn would have had a lot less interest in the Atom.
Jaybles 25th July 2012, 21:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Er-El
Why? N-key rollover?

Because it's the keyboard I have. :)
Lazarus Dark 27th July 2012, 02:57 Quote
Why the heck would an audiophile be using compressed audio over spdif anyway, and if you want digital audio out, then any board with hdmi does that just fine. I use analog surround from an xfi card direct to amps; while this mobo may have better audio than other mobo's, I think an "audiophile" would still use a card, or really, someone serious would use a card with external breakout box. Not really sure what market they think wants "audiophile" onboard audio
digitaldunc 27th July 2012, 12:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazarus Dark
Why the heck would an audiophile be using compressed audio over spdif anyway

I was under the impression SP/DIF audio was the raw uncompressed bitstream?
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