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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 08 > ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

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Republish review

10-08-2014


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ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION motherboard review and testing

Not so long ago we met an updated version of the first compact microATX model of ASUS TUF (The Ultimate Force) - ASUS GRYPHON Z87, namely ASUS GRYPHON Z97 which combines all the advantages of the series in the form of high-quality circuitry, a higher level of protection and reliability.

This time we will talk about its little improved version, which at first glance is exceptionally by expanded set of delivery that includes a protective cover, plugs for the ports and expansion slots, as well as an additional fan and a set of temperature sensors. Let's move on to the review of ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION and find out the differences between them.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION (rev 1.0)

Chipset

Intel Z97

SPU socket

Socket LGA1150

Supported CPUs

Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron 4th and 5th generation: Intel Haswell, Intel Haswell Refresh, Intel Devil`s Canyon, Intel Broadwell

Memory frequency

1866 / 1600 / 1333 / 1066 MHz

Memory support

4 x DDR3 DIMM-slots with memory support up to 32 GB

Expansion slots

2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16

1 х PCI Express 2.0 x16

x16

x8+х8

x8+x8+x4

1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

Disk subsystem

Intel Z97 chipset supports:

6 x SATA 6 Gb/s

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

LAN

1 x Intel WGI218V (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Realtek ALC892 codec

8-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power connectors

1x24-pin ATX main power connector

1x8-pin ATX12V power connector

Fans

2 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

4 x system fan connector (4-pin)

2 x additional fan connector (1x3-pin and 1x4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiator on the chipset

Aluminum radiators on power subsystem elements connected by nickel-plated heat pipe

External I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x DisplayPort

1 x DVI-D

1 x LAN (RJ45)

4 x USB 3.0

4 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

5 x audio jacks

Internal I/O

1 x USB 3.0 each with support of two USB 3.0 (19-pin)

2 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

6 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 х TPM socket

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x CMOS jumper

1 х MemOK! button

1 х USB BIOS Flashback button

1 х TB_HEADER socket

1 х DRCT socket

1 x socket group to connect thermal sensors

BIOS

64 Mb Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

PnP, ACPI 5.0, SM BIOS 2.7, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty brochure

Driver and utility disc

1 х set ASUS Q-Connectors

4 x SATA cables

1 х 2-Way NVIDIA SLI bridge

1 x set of plugs for ports and expansion slots 

1 х cooling system fan ASUS Thermal Armor

1 х set of thermal sensors

1 х intefcae panel plug

Form factor,

Dimensions

microATX

244 х 244 mm

Producer website

ASUS
Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available on support page

Packaging and content

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Motherboard ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION is shipped in a box of standard sizes, made of high quality cardboard and decorated in dark colors printing. Its design was developed in accordance with the design of the lineup ASUS TUF so it is quite strict. On the front side, in addition to the name of the board and of the manufacturer, you can find the logo of the above mentioned series. Also note the presence of the logo which announces the expansion of the five-year warranty.

In the bottom part there are references about support of OS Windows 8.1, technologies NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX, as well as the presence of the HDMI video output with the ability to display image with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD).

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

On the reverse side there are images of the motherboard, its interface panel, as well as the main characteristics. At the top you can find the key benefits of ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION:

  • ASUS Thermal Armor - a special cooling system that includes protective cover that covers almost the entire PCB as well as a fan that directs air flow inside of the case for more efficient heat removal from the core nodes and elements.
  • ASUS TUF Fortifier - on the back side of the motherboard there is a special plate of rigidity, which prevents damage of the PCB during installation and use of overall expansion cards and CPU cooling systems. In addition, it promotes drainage excess heat removal.
  • ASUS Thermal Radar 2 - due to the large number of temperature sensors, as well as for connection of additional thermal sensors the user gets the most complete and accurate information about the current state of the system.
  • ASUS Dust Defender – there is supplied set of plugs for all ports and expansion slots to prevent the ingress of dust.

Under the image of the interface panel you can see a number of icons that indicate the following features of new item:

  • TUF Components – circuitry of the motherboard corresponds to the highest quality standards. It is composed of solid capacitors TUF 10K Ti-Caps with increased five times lifetime and 20% increased the maximum allowable operating temperature, MOS transistors TUF MOSFET with low resistance of open channel and improved chokes TUF New Alloy Chokes which are characterized by lower temperatures and higher reliability.
  • DIGI + Power Control - used the power subsystem with a digital PWM controller provides accurate and stable operation.
  • ESD Guards - special fuses for increased protection against electrostatic discharges.
  • USB 3.0 Boost – the supports of protocol UASP is sued to speed USB 3.0 interface.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

The box with the ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION in addition to the usual CD with software, user guides and plug the interface board includes:

  • four SATA-cables;
  • certificate of quality;
  • a set of plugs for expansion slots;
  • set ASUS Q-Connectors, which greatly facilitates the process of connecting the front panel of the PC case;
  • a set of temperature sensors;
  • fan of cooling system ASUS TUF Thermal Armor;
  • 2-Way NVIDIA SLI bridge.

Design and features of the board

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Motherboard is made on the black PCB of microATX. Its surface is almost completely hidden from the user under special cover, which performs not only protection function, but also directs the air flow generated by the small fan on key components of the power subsystem. In addition, it beats the heat flows generated by the most productive components (graphics card, processor), not allowing them to fall on the surface of the board and increase temperature of circuitry.

As for the convenience of building the system based on ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION, thanks to the protective case the attractive elements are the most important items. The presence of optimally tailored slots facilitates quick and easy connection of all necessary components.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

On the reverse side there is a massive base plate ASUS TUF Fortifier, which aims to increase the rigidity of the structure and to prevent a possible break in the circuit board during installation of overall processor cooling system or massive graphics cards. In addition, it acts as a radiator ensuring removal of excess heat.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in sockets, S/PDIF Out, TPM port, two sockets of system fans, group of thermal sensor sockets, block TB_HEADER (to realize Thunderbolt interface), DRCT socket (allows to connect additional button to BIOS transition and place it on the front panel), as well as front panel leading-in socket. Additionally here are two leading-in sockets for activation of USB 2.0 ports. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: four are internal and four on the interface panel.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is presented by six SATA 6 Gb/s ports. There is a support of SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10. A chipset Intel Z97 provides the operation of above mentioned interfaces.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Main board ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION is equipped with four DIMM-slots for memory modules DDR3, which are equipped with latches only on one side. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. To implement it the modules must be installed either in the first and third or second and fourth slots. Modules operating at frequencies up to 1866 MHz in nominal mode are supported. Maximum memory capacity may be up to 32 GB which is enough for almost any tasks.

Also here is button MemOK! which allows you to automatically pick up the necessary parameters of the memory for a successful start.

Leading-in sockets with ports USB 3.0 is placed on right side of the board. Total number of USB 3.0 sockets is six: two are internal and four on the interface panel.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Cooling system of the product includes three aluminum radiators: one for heat removal from chipset Intel Z97 while the others cover elements of power subsystem. They are separated by nickel-plated heat pipe. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 43.2°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor elements power – 33.8°C.

As you can see, the preinstalled cooling system copes with the task and provides good thermal performance.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

As we’ve already mentioned, the motherboard ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION is equipped with eight built-in temperature sensors and three of them are included in the set of delivery and you can install on any component. Monitoring of the data is carried out by the utility ASUS Thermal Radar 2. During testing the following results were recorded:

Sensor name

Without installed supplied fan

With installed supplied fan

Vcore(back), °C

36

31

Vcore, °C

39

37

DRAM, °C

38

38

PCH, °C

44

44

PCIE1, °C

33

33

PCIE2, °C

33

33

Motherboard, °C

31

31

As you can see, the installation of supplied fan has a positive effect only on the temperature of the power subsystem components, thanks to the competent organization of air flows inside the casing.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Supplied utility ASUS Thermal Radar 2 allows you to optimize the cooling system by the automatic setup of supplied fan. After completion of this procedure it speed in idle mode was 2800 rpm and 6000 rpm at maximum load. The noise level at the maximum speed of rotation was clearly heard and was like a buzz. However, at a frequency of 4000 - 5000 rpm the fan operation was almost silent.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Processor power supply is performed via 8-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ASP1252 with integrated power consumption control subsystem DIGI+VRM.

All power components of CPU have high reliability level: solid capacitors TUF 10K Ti-Caps with increased lifespan and increase on 20% rated operating temperature, MOS-transistors TUF MOSFET with low resistance of open  channel, as well as improved chokes TUF New Alloy Chokes with lower temperature and increased reliability. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.       

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

To extend the functionality the motherboard ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION  has the same four slots:

  1. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (х16 or х8 mode);
  2. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  3. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (х8 mode);
  4. PCI Express 2.0 x16 (х4 mode);

The presence of three expansion slots PCI Express x16 theoretically allows you to set up to three graphics cards. Depending on the quantity of graphics accelerators the line between the slots are distributed according the following schemes: х16 / х8+х8 / х8+х8+х4. Taking into account the compact dimensions of the PCB, the installation of three graphics cards is only possible with single-slot coolers. If we consider more vital situations where the game system runs on one or two graphics cards, in this case it may be one three-slot or two double-slot solutions.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

If you decide to take advantage of the integrated on the CPU graphics core then you have three video outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort и DVI-D, switching is carried out by chip ASMedia ASM1442K.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Multi I/O capabilities are based on NUVOTON NCT6791D chip. 

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

In turn, the monitoring function is implemented by a separate controller ASUS TUF, which is responsible for the precise monitoring of temperature and fan speed, and also provides increased accuracy of the data measured by the pre-installed sensors.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

To support network connection there is a gigabit LAN-controller Intel WGI218V. And for software control of distribution and prioritization of network resources you can use utility ASUS Turbo LAN.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC892 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1. In addition, it can boast with the presence of a separate audio amplifier and the ability to play lossless-audio with a sampling frequency of 192 kHz and a resolution of 24 bits, and the presence of t S/PDIF out port on the interface panel. To achieve all of these indicators is possible through the use of design ASUS TUF Audio Design, which provides support for high-quality components and physical shielding of sound subsystem on the PCB of the motherboard.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Interface panel of ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION model contains the following ports:

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 х DVI-D;
  • 1 x DisplayPort;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 4 x USB 3.0;
  • 4 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 х optical S/PDIF out;
  • 5 x audio jacks.

This layout of interface panel can be called as excellent because it includes three video outputs, a large number of USB ports, connection of multichannel speaker system and optical audio jack. Also the product has a support of image output with resolution of 3840 х 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD).

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION has quite wide possibilities of organizing the cooling system inside the case. There are eight sockets to connect fans, two of them are used for cooling of CPU (4-pin) and other four are intended for system fans (4-pin) and two are used for additional fans (1x3-pin and 1x4-pin).

UEFI BIOS

Tested model uses modern preloader based on graphics interface UEFI. To provide the setting is possible via mouse control. It proposes two main scenarios of the usage.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

EZ Mode where all required settings are grouped in one screen and overclocking can be performed using EZ Tuning Wizard.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Or standard Advanced Mode where all settings should be done manually.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

All overclocking parameters are in section “Ai Tweaker”.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Frequency multiplier allows to set module connection speed within 800-3400MHz.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

If necessary you can get the access to memory delay adjustments.

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

Top increase the stability during overclocking you can use settings of digital power subsystem DIGI+VRM.  

Adjustments required to overclock and optimize the system:

Menu name

Range

Pitch

Initial BCLK Frequency

80,0 – 300,0

0,1

CPU Strap

100, 125, 167, 250

 

Memory Frequency

3400, 3200, 3000, 2933, 2800, 2666, 2600, 2400, 2200. 2133, 2000, 1866, 1800, 1600, 1400, 1333, 1066, 800

 

DRAM Timing

CAS Latency, RAS to CAS, RAS PRE Time, RAS ACT Time, DRAM COMMAND Mode, RAS to RAS Delay, REF Cycle Time, Write Recovery Time, READ to PRE Time, FOUR ACT WIN Time, WRITE to READ Delay, Write Latency

 

Min. CPU Cache Ratio Limit

8 – MAX

1

Max CPU Cache Ratio Limit

8 – MAX

1

Fixed CPU VRM Switching Frequency(KHz)

250 – 500

50

Long Duration Package Power Limit

1 – 4096

1

Package Power Time Window

1 - 127

1

Short Duration Package Power Limit

1 - 4096

1

CPU Integrated VR Current Limit

0,125 – 1023,875

0,125

Power Current Slope

Auto, Level -4 – Level 4

 

Power Current Offset

Auto, -100% - 100%

12,5%

Power Fast Ramp Response

0,00 – 1,50

0,001

Power Saving Level 1 Threshold

0 – 80

1

Power Saving Level 2 Threshold

0 – 50

1

Power Saving Level 3 Threshold

0 – 30

1

CPU Core Voltage Override

0,001 – 1,920

 

0,001

CPU Cache Voltage Override

0,001 – 1,920

0,001

CPU System Agent Voltage Offset

0,001 – 0,999

0,001

CPU Analog I/O Voltage Offset

0,001 – 0,999

0,001

CPU Digital I/O Voltage Offset

0,001 – 0,999

0,001

CPU Input Voltage

0,800 – 2,700

0,010

DRAM Voltage

1,20000 – 1,92000

0,00500

PCH Core Voltage

0,70000 – 1,50000

0,01250

PCH VLX Voltage

1,20000 – 2,00000

0,01250

VTTDDR Voltage

0,60000 – 1,00000

0,01250

DRAM CTRL REF Voltage

0,39500 – 0,63000

0,00500

DRAM DATA REF Voltage on CHA

0,39500 – 0,63000

0,00500

DRAM DATA REF Voltage on CHB

0,39500 – 0,63000

0,00500

Clock Crossing VBoot

0,10000 – 1,90000

0,00625

Clock Crossing Reset Voltage

0,10000 – 1,90000

0,00625

Clock Crossing Voltage

0,10000 – 1,90000

0,00625

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

ASUS GRYPHON Z97 ARMOR EDITION

“Monitor” section provides the access to information about CPU and chipset temperature, as well as rate of fan rotation. Using this section you can monitor voltage on CPU cores and power lines +12V, +5V and +3,3V. Note that the key parameters of RAM, main power lines and processor are displayed on the right side face which is available in all sections.

Also it is possible to take screenshots.  


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