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Although Intel’s Z77 Express offers minor power reductions and management software updates, integrated USB 3.0 and the inclusion of Virtu MVP are the best reasons for users to care. But didn’t we miss something?
In a side-by-side comparison of third-party PCIe based and integrated Intel USB 3.0 controllers, we found that our drive’s ASM1051 adapter was the bottleneck. That means we’re going to need new test hardware before we add Intel’s USB 3.0 controller to our next controller comparison.
By moving USB 3.0 onto the chipset without reducing the number of available PCIe 2.0 lanes, Z77 allows manufacturers to stuff more devices onto their boards at lower cost. In many instances, this means they can even avoid expensive multi-lane PCIe bridges to bring us enthusiast-class features at mainstream prices. While we probably wouldn’t spend the money to upgrade from Z68, new system builders have nothing to lose and a few small things to gain by choosing a motherboard with Intel’s latest mainstream platform controller hub.