The Board - Layout
The Biostar Hi-Fi Z77X definitely has a stylized theme going on with its blue touches here and there all nicely matching up. The slots and PCB are black, which makes them melt into the background pretty easily. The rear of the Biostar Hi-Fi Z77X is pretty simple, but I noticed quite a few "cooling strips" with various VRM circuitries.
The socket of the Biostar Hi-Fi Z77X is pretty open on the right and the bottom, but the left and top are closely guarded by a bunch of capacitors that are lined up in rows. Flipping the board over, we can see the pins for all those bits and bobs near the close-by socket. There really is a lot of open area here; nothing would get in the way of mounting aftermarket coolers.
There are six total slots on the Biostar Hi-Fi Z77X: three PCIe x16 slots and three PCIe x1 slots. NO PCI slots on the Hi-Fi Z77X, which, to me, is a nice thing. There are four total DIMM slots on the Biostar Hi-Fi Z77X, slots that use clips on both ends. Quite a few board makers have adopted clips on one end of the DIMM slot, but I personally hate those clip-less ends and prefer what Biostar does here. Some things just shouldn't be changed.
The Biostar Hi-Fi Z77X's lower edge is pretty sparse when it comes to pin headers. It comes with standard IR, audio and COM-port headers, and a couple USB 2.0 headers. I noticed that the Biostar's Hi-Fi Z77X has a front-panel pin block that is color-coded, which is another nice touch that didn't have to be there.
What really amazes me about the Biostar Hi-Fi Z77X is that it only uses four layers for its PCB, which is quite the departure from other high-end boards that use eight or even ten layers. Likewise, the fan headers are few with just three in total, and only one of them is PWM-based.
The Biostar Hi-Fi Z77X's rear I/O section is just like the rest of the board: simple, but not overly so. I found a PS/2 keyboard port above a couple of USB 2.0 ports, three video outputs(DVI, HDMI, and VGA), standard audio ports, a LAN port, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, and two more USB 2.0 ports to round things out. I only found six headers for SATA support - all of which run off the Intel Z77 Express PCH. I noticed that Biostar labeled them pretty clearly too, something that quite a few other boards have not done, and that left even me confused!