Asus and MSI are the first vendors out the door with Thunderbolt-equipped PC motherboards. The Asus P8Z77-V Premium, Asus P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt and MSI Z77A-GD80 all have the Intel I/O standard onboard; boasting a maximum bi-directional data transfer speed of up to 10Gb/s - around 20 times faster than USB 2.0.
The new motherboards also have the ability to daisy-chain up to six devices with a single cable while maintaining maximum throughput. In other words, users can connect multiple Thunderbolt-enabled external HDDs to a Thunderbolt-enabled display and transfer files without experiencing any lag.
Until now, the Thunderbolt standard has been limited to Apple's last Mac refresh and the odd monitor or external hard drive. The release of these motherboards from Asus and MSI could be the first step in making Thunderbolt a mainstream technology.
We were recently shown the MSI Z77A-GD80 during a visit to MSI's headquarters in Taipei, where its speed gains over USB 3.0 impressed us. However, we still have some concerns about the new technology; particularly when it comes to the price of Thunderbolt cables (read our analysis here).
We are currently in the process of testing the Asus P8Z77-V Premium, which in addition to Thunderbolt comes with an onboard 32GB SSD. Stay tuned for an overview of how it performs later today.