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Intel’s Z77 Express And Lucidlogix MVP: New Features For Gamers

Z77 Express: USB 3.0 And Enhanced Manageability

Comprising its Ivy Bridge-based processors and Panther Point (Z77 Express) chipset components, Intel’s Maho Bay platform is one of the firm's worst-kept secrets. So much has been leaked ahead of today’s launch that the best any publisher can do is to validate known or suspected information.

Of course, we've been privy to the same information scattered about the Web for months now, including internal documents that say Intel’s Z77 Express is basically an updated and die-shrunken Z68 Express. Among the updates applied, an integrated USB 3.0 controller has perhaps the biggest impact on manufacturing costs and motherboard design. Four internally-accessible USB 3.0 ports can easily replace two of the third-party controllers found on most Z68 products.

Between the die shrink and integration of USB 3.0, we're even hoping for a modest drop in power consumption, most easily quantifiable in businesses with large groups of PCs to manage. And speaking of management, upgrades from Intel’s Management Engine 7.0 and Rapid Storage Technology 10.5 to versions 8.0 and 11.0, respectively, add features for remote system and data management.

Getting past the parts that make performance enthusiasts yawn, one big advantage for many Z77 motherboards comes not from Intel but Lucidlogix. Packed exclusively with new boards, the firm’s Virtu MVP software promises improved gaming performance for any graphics card. That probably sounds a little far-fetched to most enthusiasts, so we’re taking the extra time to examine it.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.