Asus' ultra-high-end Z87-Deluxe/Dual motherboard is pretty swanky. This $350 monster supports three-way graphics configs and boasts a staggering 10 6Gbps SATA ports and eight USB 3.0 connectors. It has wireless out the wazoo, including 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even NFC. Dual GigE controllers? Check. There's just one problem: the Thunderbolt implementation is so last year.
Well, good news. Asus has announced the Z87-Deluxe/Quad, which trades the first-gen Thunderbolt implementation of its predecessor for Intel's latest interconnect hotness. Thunderbolt 2, as it's known, combines the first-gen standard's dual 10Gbps channels into a single, 20Gbps pipe. The gen-two spec calls for only one channel per port, so the interface's aggregate bandwidth hasn't increased. However, individual devices have access to twice the bandwidth, which is a nice boost.
Thunderbolt 2 also adds support for 4K displays via DisplayPort 1.2. With two Thunderbolt ports onboard plus its own video outputs, the Z87-Deluxe/Quad can power three 4K monitors without the aid of a discrete graphics card. You will, of course, need some serious GPU horsepower to run games smoothly on a single 4K display, let alone a 25-megapixel surround config.
In the press release announcing the Quad, Asus VP and motherboard chief Joe Hsieh lauds the "tremendous amount" of compatibility testing that was undertaken to validate the board. The Z87-Deluxe/Quad is "the world's first motherboard certified for Thunderbolt 2," he says.
The sort of people who buy uber mobos probably aren't fazed by Thunderbolt's high cable costs, but they might be disappointed by the relatively thin selection of Windows-compatible devices. Apart from the handful of 4K displays out there right now, I'm not aware of any other products that can take advantage of Thunderbolt 2's fatter pipe. If you're going to spend more than three bills on a motherboard, though, it should have the latest and greatest version of everything.
Asus claims the Deluxe/Quad is the first Thunderbolt 2 motherboard, but the press release doesn't say when you'll be able to buy one or how much it'll cost. We've asked the company for clarification and will update this post when we get an answer.
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