The Board - Layout
The Biostar TZ77XE4 features a fairly standard layout, and a rather subtle color scheme with just a flash of red here and there on the heatsinks. Both the front and back of the board feature a simple layout without anything that stands out as overly flashy.
The area around the socket is relatively open, with the bottom and left areas around the socket having nearly no components at all, while the other two sides have the VRM coolers and some capacitors nearby, but not in such a way that is going to interfere with aftermarket cooling. Even insulation for sub-zero cooling looks fairly easy to me. The VRM coolers, as you can see in the first image, are actually primarily black, with just a top that is red, and this theme is carried on to the PCH cooler, shown in the second image above. It's also primarily black, with a thin red metal plate on top. And yes, it's red, and not orange.
The TZ77XE4 comes equipped with six expansion slots, three PCIe x16 slots, one PCIe x1 slot, and two PCI slots. The upper two PCIe x16 slots are PCIe Revision 3.0, with the top supporting a x16 electrical link that can be split to x8 links for the first and second slots, while the third slot, at the board's edge is only Revision 2.0, and features a x4 electrical link. There are four DIMM slots, seen in the second image above, each of which support DIMMs rated up to 2400 MHz with a total combined maximum capacity of 32 GB, or 8 GB per DIMM.
For internal SATA connectivity, I found eight SATA ports, four of which are SATA 6 Gb/s (two from the Intel Z77 PCH, and two from an Asmedia controller), while the remaining four are SATA 3 Gb/s, driven by the Intel Z77 PCH.
The rear I/O panel is just like the rest of the board, fairly simple, because most of it is taken up by the four display outputs, one each of DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and the last is analog VGA. There are four USB 2.0 ports, a couple of USB 3.0 ports, a PS/2 keyboard port, with eSATA, LAN, and analog audio rounding things out. I noticed a lack of a digital audio port, something that some users look for, but with HDMI and DisplayPort capable of carrying digital audio, it's a minor concern.
The bottom board edge has a standard collection of pin headers, with a fan port, audio, and serial I/O headers found near the left side. A couple of USB 2.0 ports, another fan port, and three onboard buttons are found on the right side, with the front panel block found on the far right edge. The buttons are for ON/OFF, RESET, and CMOS Clear, a good selection for those that use open case designs. There is also a USB 3.0 header here, but it's hidden just above the lower PCIe slot.