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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 06 > ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

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Republish review

06-06-2014


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ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 motherboard review and testing

It is not a secret that motherboards with an increased level of reliability and protection are more demanded and they are easy to find a response in the hearts of the users. Confirmation of this fact is quite successful line of ASUS TUF (The Ultimate Force) which for several years is updated with new solutions.

Motherboard which will be discussed in this review ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 is quite logical and expected product in series ASUS TUF executed on a new flagship chipset Intel Z97, the main features of which were examined in the review of ASUS Z97-A. A new product has a number of proprietary features and benefits but first of all we offer to look at the table of the characteristics.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 (rev 1.03)

Chipset

Intel Z97

SPU socket

Socket LGA1150

Supported CPUs

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

Memory frequency

1866 / 1600 / 1333 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

3 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

Disk subsystem

Intel Z97 chipset supports:

6 x SATA 6 GB/s (4 standard + 2 compatible with SATA Express)

1 x SATA Express (compatible with 2 x SATA 6 GB/s)

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

ASMedia ASM 1061 controller supports:

2 x SATA 6 GB/s

LAN

1 x Intel WGI218V (10/100/1000 MB/s)

1 x Realtek 8111GR (10/100/1000 MB/s)

Sound subsystem

Realtek ALC1150 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)

3 x sockets for connection of additional fans (2 x 3-pin and 1 x 4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiator on the chipset

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

Two optional fans

External I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x DisplayPort

2 x LAN (RJ45)

4 x USB 3.0

4 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

5 x audio jacks

1 х USB BIOS Flashback button

Internal I/O

2 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 x SATA Express with ability to connect two SATA 6 GB/s

1 x 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!

1 x TB_HEADER socket

1 x DRCT socket

1 x group of sockets for thermal sensors connection

BIOS

64 MB Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

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

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty description booklet

Driver and utility disc

1 х set of ASUS Q-Connectors

4 x SATA cables

1 х 2-Way NVIDIA SLI bridge 

1 x set of faceplates for ports and expansion slots

2 x fans of ASUS Thermal Armor cooling system

1 x set of thermal sensors

1 х faceplate of interface panel

Form factor,

Dimensions

ATX

305 х 244 mm

Producer website

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

Packaging and content

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

The motherboard is shipped in a box of standard size made of high quality cardboard and decorated in dark colors. Its design is quite moderate and strict. On the front side, in addition to the name of the board and the manufacturer you can find logo of ASUS TUF (The Ultimate Force). Also note the presence of the logo that announces five-year warranty which is characteristic of all motherboards in this series.

In the lower part there are references about the support of Windows 8.1, NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX technologies 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 SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

On the reverse side there are images of the motherboard, its interface panel, as well as the main characteristics. The top part ahas the key benefits of ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1:

  • ASUS Thermal Armor - the special cooling system, which includes a protective casing covering almost the entire PCB and two fans directing the air flow inside the casing for more effective heat removal from core components and elements.
  • ASUS TUF Fortifier - on the back side of the motherboard there is a special rigidity plate which prevents damage to the PCB during installation and usage of overall expansion cards and cooling systems. In addition it promotes the removal of excess heat.
  • ASUS Thermal Radar 2 - due to the large number of temperature sensors, as well as the presence of additional thermal sensors the user gets the most complete and accurate information about the current state of the system. 
  • ASUS Dust Defender is set of plugs for all ports and expansion slots to prevent the ingress of dust

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

The box of ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1, in addition to the usual CD with software, user guides and plugs of interface panel, includes:

  • four SATA-cables;
  • quality certificate;
  • set of plugs for expansion slots;
  • set of ASUS Q-Connectors that facilitates connection process of PC case frontal panel;
  • set of thermal sensors;
  • two fans of ASUS TUF Thermal Armor cooling system;
  • NVIDIA SLI bridge.

Design and features of this board

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

The product is made on black ATX PCB. As you can see, the surface is completely hidden from the user under special protection cover, which performs not only protect function, but also directs the air flow generated by two small fans on key components of power supply system.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

On the reverse side there is a massive support plate which is designed to increase the rigidity of the structure and to prevent a possible break of PCB due to the installation of overall cooling system or massive graphics cards. In addition, it serves as a radiator ensuring removal of excess heat.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in sockets, , S/PDIF Out, TPM port, three sockets of system fans, the group of sockets for supplied thermal sensors, leading-in TB_HEADER to realize Thunderbolt interface, socket DRCT (allows to connect additional button for BIOS run and place it on frontal part of case), as well as front panel leading-in socket. Also here are: three USB 2.0 leading-in sockets and one USB 3.0.  Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: four are internal and four on the interface panel. As for USB 3.0, four internal and two external ports are operating due to chipset, while two additional external interfaces are realized by ASMedia ASM1042 controller.  

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is presented by six SATA 6 GB/s and one SATA Express port which is compatible with two connectors SATA 6 GB/s. There is a support of SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10. The operation of all interfaces except two SATA 6 GB/s is implemented by controller ASMedia ASM1061and provided by chipset Intel Z97. As you can see, near the SATA-ports there is a second internal connector USB 3.0, although usually it is located closer to the main power connector.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

Main board ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 is equipped with four DIMM-slots for memory modules DDR3, which are equipped with latches on one side only. 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 the nominal mode. Maximum memory capacity may be up to 32 GB which is enough for almost any tasks.

Also here is MemOK! Button which allows automatically selects the required RAM parameters.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

Cooling system of the product includes three aluminum radiators: one for heat removal from chipset Intel Z97 while two others cover elements of power subsystem. 

In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 38.3°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor elements power – 35.8°C.

The received results are characterized as good.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

As we have already mentioned, the motherboard ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 is equipped with eight built-in temperature sensors and three complete which you can install on any component of the system. Monitoring of the data is provided by the utility ASUS Thermal Radar 2. During the tests the following results were obtained:

Sensor name

Without the installed fans that can be found in the set of delivery

With installed fans

Vcore(back), °C

41

34

Vcore, °C

41

39

USB, °C

43

39

DRAM, °C

45

45

PCH, °C

47

41

PCIE1, °C

39

35

PCIE2, °C

40

36

Motherboard, °C

35

35

As you can see, the installation of packages fans is not a marketing ploy, but actually has a positive effect on most key components thanks to the competent organization of air flows inside the casing.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

As for fans, the maximum speed of the blades was 7500 rpm for 35 mm fan and 6300 rpm for 40 mm fans. Complete utility ASUS Thermal Radar 2 allows you to optimize the cooling system by automatic tuning.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

After completion of this procedure they were operated at 2500 rpm and 2800 rpm respectively. The noise level at maximum speeds of their blades (7500 rpm and 6300 rpm respectively) is clearly audible and more like a buzz. However, at a frequency of 4000 rpm the fans operate almost silently. That is at automatic speed of 2500 rpm and 2800 rpm they won’t disturb the acoustic comfort of the user.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

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 DIGI+VRM power consumption subsystem control.

All power components of CPU have high reliability level: solid capacitors TUF 10K Ti-Caps with 5 time improved life time and improved on 20% maximum permissible temperature, MOS transistor TUF MOSFET with low resistance level of open channel and improved reliability. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.    

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

To extend motherboard functionality the user has 6 slots:  

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

Two of the three PCI Express x16 slots are connected to the CPU and share all available 16 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, while the third uses only four chipset PCI Express 2.0 lines. At the same time, despite the use of chip-switch ASMedia ASM1184e connected to one PCI Express 2.0 and four output lines there is a slight lack of chipset lines. Therefore connector PCI Express 2.0 x16 shares bandwidth with the third slot PCI Express 2.0 x1 and two additional USB 3.0 ports on the interface panel. Thereafter by default it operates in x1 mode.

Additionally we note that even if you install two graphics cards with three slot cooling system you will still have access to one connector PCI Express x1.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

If you decide to take advantage of the integrated on the CPU graphics core then you have two video outputs: HDMI and DisplayPort, switching is carried out by chip ASMedia ASM 1442K.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

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

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

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

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

Two additional SATA 6 GB/s ports are implemented by controller ASMedia ASM1061.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

Two USB 3.0 connectors on the interface panel operate due to chip ASMedia ASM1042.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

To support network connections there are two GB LAN-controllers: Intel WGI218V and Realtek 8111GR.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC1150 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems. It can to play audio with signal/noise ratio at the level of 112 dB and provides a sound recording with ratio signal/noise 104 dB. Sound system boasts by the ability to play lossless-audio with sampling frequency of 192 kHz and resolution of 24-bit, and the presence of the port S/PDIF out on the interface panel. To achieve all of these indicators is possible through the use of design ASUS TUF Audio Design, which involves the support of high-quality components and physical shielding of audio subsystem on the PCB of the motherboard.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

Interface panel of ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 model contains the following ports:

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DisplayPort;
  • 2 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 4 x USB 3.0;
  • 4 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 х optical S/PDIF out;
  • 1 х USB BIOS Flashback button;
  • 5 x audio jacks.

This layout of interface panel can be called as excellent because it includes two video outputs, a large number of USB ports, convenient connection of multichannel acoustic and optical audio outputs and two network ports. Also here is a support of image displaying on screen with resolution 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD), as well as convenient update of BIOS from a USB flash drive using the corresponding button.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 has enough opportunities for the organization of cooling system inside the case. There are nine fan connectors, two of which are used for cooling the CPU (4-pin), the other four for system fans (4-pin) and three for additional packaged fans (2 x 3-pin and 1 x 4 pin).

UEFI BIOS
Motherboard ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 uses modern preloader based on graphics interface UEFI. The adjustments can be done via mouse. It offers two main scenarios.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

EZ Mode where all the necessary settings are grouped on one screen, and overclocking is carried out using the EZ Tuning Wizard.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

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

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

All overclocking settings can be found in “Ai Tweaker” section.

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

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

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

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

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

To increase the stability during overclocking process you can use the setting of DIGI+VRM digital subsystem control.

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 SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

 ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 

“Monitor” section provides the access to information about CPU and chipset temperature as well as rotation speed of installed fans. Additionally in this section you can check the voltage on CPU cores and power lines +12V, +5V and +3,3V.

Also it is possible to take screenshots.  


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