Intel Z87 Details
At the lower left edge of the board, we have a bright yellow front panel audio port, a bright blue FireWire ports, a red fan header, an SPDIF port, a line of boot progress LEDs, and a yellow USB 2.0 header.
Next are two black USB 2.0 ports, the four-digit POST code display, and the front panel header. Above the front panel header are an mSATA slot, a power LED, and a white Consumer IR header.
Intel implements some features with third-party silicon: an ITE Tech PCI-E to PCI bridge supports the single PCI slot, while a Nuvoton NCT6683D 8-bit “Super I/O” microcontroller chip provides sensor and fan monitoring and power control, among other capabilities (this new chip can do quite a bit, although it’s not obvious which capabilities Intel is using). A PEX8606 Gen 2 PCI-E switch provides an extra (virtual) 6 PCI-E lanes, and a Texas Instruments FireWire controller and an unlabeled Thunderbolt controller round out the list.
Intel festoons this board with indicator LEDs. First as a series of bicolor LEDs that light up in sequence as the boot process progresses. If the boot fails, looking at these LEDs gives you an initial place to start looking for the problem– a red LED indicates a problem, while a green LED indicates “all OK”. To the left of these LEDs are a blue SATA activity LED, and two red LEDs that will illuminate when the CPU or voltage regulators overheat.
Next is the four-digit POST code display. Presumably this will give valuable information about board status, POST problems, and the like, but since I have no documentation for the board, the meaning of things like “01 51” remain a mystery.
Last is a set of eight power phase LEDs that light up in sequence as more CPU power phases are activated. You can think of this as an “CPU activity indicator”, since the harder your CPU is working, the more of these LEDs are lit.
Let’s take a look at Intel’s “Visual BIOS” in the next section.