This week Asus introduced the very first motherboard sporting Intel's Thunderbolt 2 technology that provides up to 20 Gbit/s transfer speeds to connected Thunderbolt devices. Called the Z87-Deluxe/Quad, it's based on the new Intel Z87 chipset and is ready for the latest Intel Core "Haswell" processors.
The first-generation Thunderbolt standard uses four separate transfer channels: two upstream and two downstream, allowing for a maximum transfer rate of 10 Gbit/s. However Thunderbolt 2, which was revealed back in June, takes those same four channels and combines them into two 20 Gbit/s bi-directional channels, providing twice the bandwidth of the latest USB 3.1 spec – four times than the mainstream USB 3.0 spec.
"Together with DisplayPort 1.2 support, Thunderbolt 2 enables simultaneous delivery of extremely high-resolution video to the latest 4K/2K (4096 x 2160 and 3840×2160) displays while still offering communication with other bandwidth-hungry devices such as hard drives," the company said. "Additionally, the ASUS Z87-Deluxe/Quad's onboard HDMI port means that it can drive a total of three 4K UHD displays at once."
Asus said the new motherboard includes a number of exclusive Asus technologies such as Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-Way Optimization, an easy-to-use tuning tool that, with a single click, dynamically adjusts performance and cooling for reduced noise and increased efficiency. The board also uses the easy-to-read UEFI BIOS so that users can set up shortcuts and favorites for quick access to the options they use most.
The new motherboard also arrives with the NFC Express accessory for automating common PC tasks by simply tapping a supplied NFC tag or a NFC-compatible device to the box. Thus, NFC can be used to log into Windows, pass pictures and videos to and from NFC-enabled devices using the free Wi-Fi GO & NFC Remote apps, and even launch multiple applications to create a specific workflow. Users supposedly can even remotely control the PC by tapping on the NFC Express box.
"Z87-Deluxe/Quad has been subjected to a tremendous amount of compatibility, BIOS, as well as video/audio and other tests to verify its quality and design," said Joe Hsieh, ASUS Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Motherboard and Desktop System Business Unit. "Being the world's first certified motherboard for Thunderbolt 2 technology also means setting the standard for all of the upcoming products, which is something that ASUS has always done."
The motherboard specs include two Intel Thunderbolt 2 ports, one HDMI port, four DIMM slots, three PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 slots, ten SATA 3 ports (6 Gbit/s), eight USB 3.0 ports with USB 3.0 Boost, and eight USB 2.0 ports fitted for an ATX form factor.
Currently the actual release date and pricing is unknown, but Asus is selling the Z87-Deluxe/Dual version over on Newegg for $349.99 as a reference point.