ASUS' Thunderbolt EX Upgrade Card for 7-series Motherboardsby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 5, 2012 6:41 PM EST
Only two members of ASUS' Z77 stack feature integrated Thunderbolt support: the P8Z77-V Premium and the P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt. As the interface is still fairly new and the controllers still relatively expensive, ASUS didn't want to burden the price of all of its 7-series motherboards by adding Thunderbolt across the lineup. Recognizing the value in supporting the interface however, ASUS offers a Thunderbolt upgrade path for many of its other 7-series boards.
If your board is in the table above under the Thunderbolt/EX supported header, then you'll be able to find one of these TB Headers on your motherboard. ASUS will sell you a Thunderbolt EX card that plugs into a PCIe slot (it's a physical/electrical x4 device), connects to this header, and plugs into the DisplayPort output on your mothebroard. The expansion card features a single Thunderbolt port that you can use after completing the requisite steps. The card itself is home to a single port, dual-channel Cactus Ridge Thunderbolt controller. The external routing of DisplayPort is necessary to provide DP pass-through functionality via the Thunderbolt port, but it does admittedly take away from the clean single cable appeal of native Thunderbolt.
ASUS hasn't announced pricing of the upgrade yet but it gives users who really want Thunderbolt on their ASUS board a chance to have it.
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ViRGE - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - linkAny idea what the system link connector is for? With PCIe x4 providing the PCIe lanes and the external DP connection providing DP passthrough, I'm a bit confused as to why a system link connector is also necessary.
iGo - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - linkEven I was wondering the same, I have Maximus V Gene board and recently tried out Sabertooth Z77 board for benchmarking. My source in Asus had indicated that there will be a Thunderbolt card enabling TB on these boards, but those TB_Header pins kinda baffled me as it was clearly indicated that the card would be PCIexpress based.
Also, last four images in the gallery are not loading for me...
Ryan Smith - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - linkThanks for the notice. The last 4 images have been fixed.
ajp_anton - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - linkAll I can think of is that the card simply won't work if it doesn't detect an approved ASUS motherboard.
Araemo - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - linkYeah... they had publicized the fact that the card plugged into PCIe and the TB header.. so I assumed the TB header was just a displayport header... but apparently it's something else.. Can't really think of what unless it's just additional power that PCIe x4 alone can't provide.
repoman27 - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - linkYeah, "System Link Connector" looks to be suspiciously like "Trusted Platform Module Connector".
dnd728 - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - linkASUS: "...The cards system link cable ensure full Thunderbolt functionality as well as ensures only compatible ASUS Z77 and H77 motherboards are supported..."
tumbleweed - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - linkOkay, so if I don't need to pass through the displayport signal to TB, do I need to connect my displayport port to the TB card?
repoman27 - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - linkI'd be willing to wager that it would work just fine for PCIe without the DP input hooked up.
Pazz - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - linkI'm also wondering the very same thing - if you don't require DisplayPort pass would the external cable still be necessary?
Anand, do you have any information from ASUS on this point?