Nearly a year after the launch of Intel's Z68 Express Chipset, and a bit longer since the launch of the 2nd Generation Core i7 processor, Intel's tick-tock clock this time hits its tick phase for desktop chipsets, this time with the Intel Z77 Express. Intended to support future 3rd Generation Core i7 Processors (also known as Ivy Bridge, or IVB), the Intel Z77 chipset is meant to replace its older Z68 brother, offering all of the features of the past chipset, with a few new added extras, too.
Our first look at Intel's Z77 comes from none other than ECS, who has been a launch partner with TPU for all platforms since I started reviewing motherboards back in 2010. The ECS Z77H2-AX is another "Black Extreme Series" motherboard, which encompasses ECS's high-end series of products that I normally get as samples. The "Black Extreme Series" story revolves around twin dragons that torment humanity, and we can easily see this referenced in the many iterations of the "Black Extreme Series" logo. The boards under the "Black Extreme" moniker are built with this tale in mind, and serve as weapons against those fabled dragons, and I must say that ECS has definitely taken their extended experience in the industry to develop products that over time have morphed into some stellar overclocking weapons. The ECS Z77H2-AX isn't just any Z77 product, however, and it's not just any "Black Extreme Series" product either, sporting some features that may be shocking to many. I know they definitely surprised me, and it's not just all the gold everywhere that I'm talking about either!
3rd Gen Intel Core i7 processor family for the LGA 1155 Socket
3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots 2 x PCI slot 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s (Intel Z77) 2 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s (Intel Z77) 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s (Asmedia ASM1061) 2 x eSATA 6.0 Gb/s (Intel Z77)
1 x Realtek RTL8111E PCIe Gigabit LAN
6 x USB 2.0 ports (4 at back panel, 2 at front panel) 6 x USB 3.0 ports (4 at back panel, 2 at front panel) 2 x eSATA port 1 x RJ45 LAN connectors 1 x Audio port with 5 audio jacks 1 x SPDIF Output(Optical) 1 x BIOS Button 1 x WiFi Connector 1 x Bluetooth Connector