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Asus Touts “World's First” Thunderbolt 2 Motherboard

For connecting a peripheral to a computer, there's USB 3.0, and then there's Thunderbolt. Positioned as a sort of “professional” alternative to the former with higher bandwidth per port (10Gbit/s vs 5Gbit/s) and other amenities, Thunderbolt ports were initially exclusive to Apple's MacBooks. Due to both that and a high cost of cables, TB has had to contend with slow market growth of compatible peripherals, in contrast to USB 3.0, which nowadays enjoys popularity on par with older versions of its spec.

Regardless of this persisting debacle, PC enthusiasts with lots of money will soon be able to use all of the available Thunderbolt devices and faster future ones too, with the help of Asus. The popular Taiwanese maker of computer ware has updated its existing Z87-Deluxe/Dual motherboard's dual Thunderbolt ports to Thunderbolt 2, which boosts the per-port bandwidth to 20Gbit/s, and slapped on a new name: Z87-Deluxe/Quad.

 

The Quad, its box, and included accessories. The glossy black thing is the NFC boxThe Quad, its box, and included accessories. The glossy black thing is the NFC box


For those unfamiliar with the older model, an Intel Z87 chipset is present, alongside an LGA1150 socket for the latest Intel “Haswell” Core i7 processors, and four memory slots for up to 32GB of DDR3 memory. There are ten SATA 6Gbps ports, eight each of USB 3.0 and 2.0, two Gigabit wired LAN ports, 802.11ac WiFi support, an external NFC box to login by tapping your smartphone, a full compliment of PCIe 3.0 x16 slots for multi-videocard configurations, and... well, a bunch of other stuff. As one of Asus' top-end models, going over everything would take pages, so I'll just jump right into...

 

The loaded rear I/O panel. See the Thunderbolt ports?The loaded rear I/O panel. See the Thunderbolt ports?


...the Thunderbolt 2 support, which Asus is understandably quick to promote. Daisy-chaining allows one to plug twelve different peripherals into the two ports at once, “reducing the need for separate hubs and helping maintain a clutter-free workspace.” USB can't do this, of course. USB also can't be used to plug in big monitors. A total of “three 4K (4096x2160-pixel resolution) UHD displays” can be plugged into the Z87-Deluxe/Quad, with the third attached to the HDMI port, and that's apparently while having ten other TB devices attached.

But what kinds of devices can those be? Unfortunately, as stated earlier, the Thunderbolt peripheral market is growing at a sluggish pace. External storage arrays are numerous, along with speedy external SSDs. Things like TB-to-LAN adaptors are available too, but, as you might imagine, those are targeted at notebooks. With the 4K monitor support tied to integrated graphics, the people who will warm a stack of videocards on their Z87-Deluxe/Quad will, at least, be ready for the latest TB 2-supported devices as they come out, but initially not much other than those external drives.

 

Glamour shot with the WiFi antennaGlamour shot with the WiFi antenna


With all of that said, the older “/Dual” model goes for around $350 online, so you can expect the Z87-Deluxe/Quad version to be priced somewhere above that, by the time it comes available for purchase in a month or two. A very expensive motherboard for sure, but potentially worth it if you really want to future-proof PC (or raise your geek “cred,” I guess). (Via The Tech Report)

Rey M.L.
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