Feature rich, with dual Thunderbolts.
Taking a look at the ATX sized board, the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP4 TH measures a modest 305 x 244mm, and can snugly fit into any mid-sized or larger chassis.
The CPU area is surrounded by 6 + 4 phase design covered by two modest heatsinks that will easily move around in their sockets with a little nudge. The area around the CPU is pretty much empty, allowing you to install a large sized cooler on your Ivy Bridge processor. Note also the mSATA port which can take an SSD and you can use that in tandem with Intel Smart Response for a faster system. Of course, using the mSATA port will render the SATA 2 (3Gbps) port 5 useless.
Moving down we see the 3x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, running at x8/x4/x4 speeds when all three slots are utilized. A closer look to the bottom left shows the Realtek ALC892 chipset; not the best version out there, but certainly good enough for basic audio needs.
Looking at the rear I/O panel we see that there’s no USB 2.0 port, instead all six ports are USB 3.0. In addition tot he P/S2 port, we see a VGA, DVI and HDMI port. Of course, the dual Thunderbolt ports can also be used to connect Thunderbolt or mini-Display monitors too.
Thanks to the dual Thunderbolt ports, you have the option to connect up to 12 Thunderbolt devices, daisy-chained together. A total of 3 monitors can also be connected at any one time. Connecting the Buffalo 500GB MiniStation gave read/ write speeds of 104/103 Mbps and WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo gave speeds of 120/119 Mbps respectvely. Exactly the results I achieved when running tests on our Thunderbolt equipped MacBook Pro Retina.