Z87 GRYPHON Details
At the bottom left edge of the board is the SPDIF OUT digital audio connector, below which is the front panel audio connector. Just to the right of that is a connector for ASUS’ optional Thunderbolt add-in card, followed by a fan header, the Trusted Platform Module connector, and an LPC_DEBUG connector…whatever that is.
Moving to the right, we see two USB 2.0 connectors (four ports total), three thermal sensor connectors (plug-in thermal sensors are included with the optional GRYPHON Armor kit), the BIOS Flashback button, a fan header, the “DirectKey”, and last the front panel connector. Just above the front panel connector is the socketed BIOS chip. The “DirectKey” button forces the system to drop into the BIOS at boot time, handy if you’ve enabled “Fast boot”, which speeds up boot times but ignores the keyboard. And yes, it’s inconvenient to reach inside your case to do this, so ASUS provides two pins (to the left of the BIOS chip) for wiring up an external DirectKey button.
Like any motherboard, the GRYPHON Z87 uses a number of third-party chips: the venerable Realtek ALC892 audio chip makes an appearance, as does an ASMEDIA USB 3.0 controller. The Nuvoton NCT7802Y hardware monitor chip provides (probably) voltage/temp and other measurements, and the Probe chip…well, that one’s a mystery.
Another, much larger Nuvoton chip, the NCT6791D, provides additional hardware monitoring facilities, while ASUS’ own custom TurboV Processing Unit (TPU) chip allows some automatic performance enhancements. The EPU power-use tuning processor doesn’t appear on this motherboard…probably because they ran out of space.
As part of ASUS’ TUF family of motherboards, The Z87 GRYPHON is built extra tough: those pretty black metallic capacitors have passed MIL-STD tests for thermal shock, moisture resistance, salt spray, “solderability”, vibration, and mechanical shock, while the chokes and MOSFETs in the power supply have pass vibration, temperature, and thermal shock tests. ASUS even took pains to ensure the traces to the memory DIMM slots are all equal length, a feature they call “T Topology”. ASUS claims this can give you an extra 5% in memory overclocking.
Let’s check out the UEFI BIOS in the next section.