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Intel DZ77SL-50K

Seven Sub-$160 Z77 Express Motherboards, Reviewed
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Intel’s latest effort to establish itself as an enthusiast-oriented motherboard vendor comes from the amazingly low-priced DZ77SL-50K. The company knows that its customers don’t expect big features at this price, so it instead aims for budget-oriented enthusiasts with its reputation for stability and an overall clean aesthetic.

Intel’s famous Back to BIOS button is missing from this particular model, though overclockers will still find the setup jumper on the board’s top. Enabling it allows the motherboard to bypass current settings and boot using defaults, whereby users can enter UEFI, see the settings that prevented their system from starting up, and make any needed changes.

The scarcity of add-in features could have also made this a great board for white-box builders, except for its lack of DVI and VGA ports. The solder points for several of the board’s omitted features are easily seen in the above photo, while the below photo also shows the omitted serial and parallel ports used almost exclusively in commercial and industrial environments. We wouldn’t be surprised to see multiple variations of this PCB bearing different model names.

The DZ77SL-50K is one of only two products in today’s round-up expressly designed not to support high-bandwidth dual-card graphics arrays, as the cost of the associated PCIe switches would have prevented this from being the least-expensive product reviewed. Instead, we find an open-ended second-gen PCIe x4 slot, which supports the added length of a secondary PCIe x16 graphics card through that slotted end. The bandwidth may not be appropriate for games, but you could drop a secondary card in to add more monitor outputs.

Although it seems to be missing two SATA 3Gb/s ports from the Z77 chipset’s controller, those ports were simply moved: one to the I/O panel (eSATA) and the other to an outward-facing port located slightly behind the front-facing SATA 3Gb/s ports. That single outward-facing port could potentially be blocked by a long graphics card in the x4 slot, but we don’t think any experienced builder would put a big graphics card in such a low-bandwidth slot.

The same can be said of the internal USB 3.0 header, since it’s found between the PCIe x4 and first PCI slot. This could potentially be blocked by a single-slot graphics card, however, so we think that Intel could have thought that placement out a little better.

Some users trying to upgrade older systems will find the bottom-rear corner header for front-panel audio to be beyond the reach of their cables, and others may find that an older case's lower drive cage blocks access to the forward-facing SATA ports. But both issues were addressed a long ago by most chassis manufacturers and shouldn't be a problem for new builds.

Intel proves its environmental commitment by including only a basic installation sheet in the DZ77SL-50K kit, relying on the bundled software disc to hold the full-length manual. There definitely aren't any resources wasted on unneeded cables either, since the two included are required by most users to install one hard drive and one optical drive.

Display all 67 comments.
  • -3 Hide
    SpadeM , July 23, 2012 6:16 AM
    LAN performance .. ISC performance ... USB 3 .. well that's it then.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , July 23, 2012 8:48 AM
    SpadeMLAN performance .. ISC performance ... USB 3 .. well that's it then.
    Tom's Hardware has several controller comparisons, and publishes new ones frequently. So unless you think one of the boards has a broken controller, wysiwyg.

    The things that actually get screwed-up are typically related to the clock generator, multiplier control, memory timings and power options.
  • 0 Hide
    nikorr , July 23, 2012 9:54 AM
    I would place the ASRock and Gigabyte on the top as well : )

    Nice review.
  • 0 Hide
    jaquith , July 23, 2012 11:45 AM
    I always appreciate your Articles! :)  I know how much work you do to get them done.

    You're kidding - Biostar. I guess this article is not about the 'Best Sub-$160 Z77' MOBO's but about the best manufacturers sent you. The cheapest MOBO I recommend for the SB/IB (K) is the ASUS P8Z77-V which pops your 'unique' budget cap depending where you shop; found it here for $159.99 - http://www.gadgetneeds.net/asus-p8z77-v-atx-intel-motherboard/

    Interesting you didn't get an ASUS P8Z77-V LK ~$120 which offers SLI. The ASRock Z77 Extreme4 and Gigabyte Z77X-D3H for the price aren't bad.

    There's NO WAY I'm recommending Biostar in the forum, folks and myself would thing I've lost my mind.
  • 1 Hide
    jimishtar , July 23, 2012 11:47 AM
    It would be nice to see the CPU voltage for every board when overclocking.
  • 4 Hide
    Crashman , July 23, 2012 12:21 PM
    jimishtarIt would be nice to see the CPU voltage for every board when overclocking.
    1.25V
  • 0 Hide
    gorillagarrett , July 23, 2012 12:33 PM
    No peripherals performance tests? Those are the only tests that differentiate those motherboards from each other.

    Would really like to see how the UD3X Atheros Ethernet controller fares against the Intel and broadcom ones.
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , July 23, 2012 12:38 PM
    gorillagarrettNo peripherals performance tests? Those are the only tests that differentiate those motherboards from each other. Would really like to see how the UD3X Atheros Ethernet controller fares against the Intel and broadcom ones.
    I'll let the integrated controller guy know you'd like to see those parts compared :) 
  • 0 Hide
    gorillagarrett , July 23, 2012 12:42 PM
    Quote:
    I'll let the integrated controller guy know you'd like to see those parts compared


    Thank you!
  • -1 Hide
    rolli59 , July 23, 2012 1:34 PM
    I would have liked to see the Asus P8Z77V-LK version instead of the LX since it is better equipped.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , July 23, 2012 1:37 PM
    rolli59I would have liked to see the Asus P8Z77V-LK version instead of the LX since it is better equipped.
    It's also mentioned in the article. It was over $160 (at $165) when the comparison was set up.
  • 0 Hide
    nevertell , July 23, 2012 1:44 PM
    Why are there no DCP latency tests ? These differentiate the motherboards
    This is what differentiates them performance wise.
  • 0 Hide
    pacioli , July 23, 2012 3:33 PM
    Wow, Biostar...? I wonder what the longevity of that board is...
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , July 23, 2012 3:36 PM
    pacioliWow, Biostar...? I wonder what the longevity of that board is...
    It's hard to tell, but the last Biostar board I had in a system lasted 12 years before it got dismantled for its entire processor selection being too slow.
  • 0 Hide
    CaedenV , July 23, 2012 4:17 PM
    Nice to see a Mobo review where the charts are not all identical bars lol. It has been a long time sense the stock performance has had much of any variance between brands, and we are getting much more feature variety as well. I thought as more and more parts became integrated into the CPU that the bars would become more and more similar, and mainstream features would become more and more homogeneous.

    Also, I love the True Studio Pro software, if you are running digital audio it really makes any idea of a dedicated sound card a thing of the past. Every computer I build now either has True Studio Pro with the mobo, or I purchase the MB2 software suite, it makes such a difference if using headphones or quality speakers, and much less buggy that Creative's sound cards and driver issues that we all know and love.
  • -5 Hide
    jamie_1318 , July 23, 2012 4:18 PM
    On-motherboard start buttons are a useless feature. Anyone who could actually use it should know they can just short across the power switch header using any piece of metal.
  • 0 Hide
    delaro , July 23, 2012 4:28 PM
    At this point SATA 6GB, USB 3 and PCI-e 3.o should be a standered and not a side option.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , July 23, 2012 4:34 PM
    As good as Asus motherboards are - why do they include such poorly made I/O brackets? Even Biostar and ECS include ones that are better made than Asus does.
  • -2 Hide
    goinginstyle , July 23, 2012 5:06 PM
    Another comment about why the P8Z77V-LK board was not reviewed. I own this board now after a total disaster with one of the boards you awarded so why is it missing? The ASUS P8Z77V-LK was priced at $149.99 when I purchased it and is now $139.99 with a rebate down to $119.99 after a quick check this morning. Based on your comments about the Biostar and ASRock boards having additional features like SLI/CF or additional USB 3 ports it is hard to understand why this board was not reviewed. The P8Z77V-LE is priced at $165 not the LK board. As to the 4-dimm testing, did you try the DDR3-2666 ratio or is the test overclocking the 2400 ratio?
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , July 23, 2012 5:19 PM
    goinginstyleAnother comment about why the P8Z77V-LK board was not reviewed.
    Because it was priced at $165 two months ago when the invitations went out. End of story.
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