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Republish review

02-12-2014


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ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S motherboard: review and testing

In connection with the imminent onset of winter, in November 2014 ASUS has announced a limited version of the motherboard ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1, which has a new color scheme. Model ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S stands out by former PCB and white protective covers. Looking ahead, it is worth noting that the tested model is an excellent choice for lovers of modding and building of PC in a white body with transparent side panel, for example, Cooler Master CM Storm Stryker White.

The letter «S» in the title is an abbreviation of the name of the model code - «Sabranco» which it has in the process of development. It is a unique combination of words «Sabertooth» and «Branco», which is translated from Portuguese means "white color."

Let's see any further differences from the original model:

 

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

USB 3.0

inner/outer

4/4

4/4

USB 2.0

inner/outer

4/4

4/4

RAM

4 x DIMM

 Up to 32 GB

 4 x DIMM

Up to 32 GB

PCIe x16

3

x16

x8+x8

x8+x8+x4

3

x16

x8+x8

x8+x8+x4

PCIe x1

3

3

PCI

No

No

Video outputs

HDMI

DisplayPort

HDMI

DisplayPort

AUdio outputs

5
Optical S/PDIF-out

5
Optical S/PDIF-out

SATA 6 Gb/s

6

6

SATA Express

1

1

eSATA

No

No

M.2 (NGFF)

No

No

Thunderbolt

No

No

LAN

Intel WGI218V

Realtek 8111GR

Intel WGI218V

Realtek 8111GR

Wi-Fi

No

No

Bluetooth

No

No

Power phases

8

8

Format

ATX

ATX

As you can see, both models offer absolutely identical features, differing by design. In addition, we note the same excellent delivery sets, which include not only preset protective covers, but the two cooling fan ASUS TUF Thermal Armor, sets of temperature sensors, as well as protective plugs for expansion slots.

And now let's go straight to the review of the product in more details and explore all of its features.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S (rev 1.00)

Chipset

Intel Z97

CPU socket

Socket LGA1150

CPUs supported

Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron of thе 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 support of memory 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:

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

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

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

ASMedia ASM1061 controller supports:

2 x SATA 6 Gb/s

LAN

1 x Intel WGI28V (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

1 x Realtek 8111GR (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

 

Codec Realtek ALC1150

8-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power connectors

1 х 24-pin ATX main power connector

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power ATX12V

Fans

2 x CPU fan connectors (4-pin)

4 x system fan connectors (4-pin)

3 х additional fans connectors (2 х 3-pin and 1 х 4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum fan on the chipset

Aluminum fan on elements of power subsystem 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 button «USB BIOS Flashback»

Internal I/O

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

3 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

6 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x SATA Express with possibility to connect two SATA 6 Gb/s

1 х socket TPM

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 х S/PDIF Out

1 x CMOS

1 х button«MemOK!»

1 х socket TB_HEADER

1 х socket DRCT

1 x 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 disc

1 х set ASUS Q-Connectors

4 x SATA cables

1 х bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 х kit of plugs for ports and expansions slots

2 х cooling system fan ASUS Thermal Armor

1 х kit of thermal sensors

1 х interface panel plug

Form-factor, dimensions

ATX

305 х 244 mm

Producer website

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

Packaging and content

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

The novelty is shipped in a beautiful box of high quality cardboard, which is painted in white. On the front side, in addition to the name of the model and the manufacturer, you can find the logo of series ASUS TUF (The Ultimate Force), as well as references «Limited Edition», which points to the exclusivity of this model. Additionally, we note the presence of the logo about a five-year warranty, which is common to all series of motherboards ASUS TUF.

At the bottom are references about the support of OS Windows 8.1, technologies NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX, as well as the presence of HDMI video output with the ability to display image with a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD).

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

On the back side are images the motherboard and its interface board and the main characteristics. At the top are described the key benefits of ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S:

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

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

The box with ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S, in addition to the usual disk with software, user manual and a interface panel plug includes:

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

Note that the manufacturer has decided to equip the novelty with fans of black color but not the white. Perhaps, in the latter case design would look more harmonious, but it is not a significant drawback.

Design and features  

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

Unlike the original model, ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S is made on a white board. As you can see, its surface is almost completely hidden from the user under a special protective cover, which performs not only a protection function, but also directs the air flow generated by two small fans on the key components of the system power. Recall that cover ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 is gray, whereas in this case it is not only painted in white, but is different due to camouflage design.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

On the reverse side is a massive base plate also available in white, which is designed to increase the rigidity and prevent a possible fracture of the PCB due to the installation of the overall cooling system or massive graphics cards. In addition, it serves as a heat sink, providing removal of excess heat. Do note the inscription «Limited Edition» next to the logo of the series.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, S/PDIF out, TPM port, three system fans, kit of supplied thermal sensors, module TB_HEADER for realization of interface Thunderbolt, socket DRCT (allow to connect additional button to transfer to BIOS and put it on the case front panel), two ports SATA 6 Gb/s (realized by controller ASMedia ASM1061), as well as front panel leading-in socket. Do note three modules for activation of USB ports: two USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: four internal and four on the interface panel. As for USB 3.0, our internal and two external ports are operated due to the chipset, while two additional external interfaces are realized by controller ASMedia ASM1042.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

The capability of disk subsystem organization is performed by six ports SATA 6 Gb/s and one SATA Express which is compatible with two sockets SATA 6 Gb/s. Here is the support of arrays SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10. The operation of all interfaces except of two SATA 6 Gb/s realized due to controller ASMedia ASM1061, is provided by system logic Intel Z97.

Also note located near SATA-port the second internal connector USB 3.0, which is usually located closer to the main 24-pin power connector.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S motherboard is equipped with two DIMM-slots for memory modules of DDR3 standard. They are equipped with latches only on one side. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. For its implementation modules should be installed either into first and third or second and fourth slots. Memory boards operating at frequencies up to 1866 MHz are supported. The maximum memory capacity can reach 32GB and this value will be enough for almost all tasks.

In addition we want to pay your attention to Button “MemOK!”. It is a button used to adjust settings of RAM to enable system operation.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

Cooling system of the product consists of three aluminum radiators: one provides heat removal out of Intel Z97, while the others (connected by nickel-plated heat pipe) cover the elements of power subsystem. In the process of testing with added fans the temperature of radiator was only 38.9°C. As you can see the active cooling system ASUS TUF Thermal Armor perfectly copes with its main task.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

Motherboard ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S is equipped with eight built-in temperature sensors and three complete which can be installed on any component of the system by assigning meaningful names (e.g., “HDD temperature”, etc.). Monitoring of the data is provided by the utility ASUS Thermal Radar 2. In the process of testing the following results were recorded:

Sensor title

Without installed complete fans

With installed fans after setting of ASUS Thermal Tuning

With installed fans at maximum rotation speed

Vcore (back), °C

43

36

31

Vcore, °C

46

44

41

USB, °C

48

47

44

DRAM, °C

43

43

43

PCH, °C

45

45

45

PCIE1, °C

51

51

50

PCIE2, °C

45

45

45

Motherboard, °C

37

37

37

As you can see the installation of complete fans really positive effects on some of the key components thanks to the competent organization of the air flow inside the housing.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

As for the 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 of fans.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

After completion of this procedure they operated at a speed of 2650 rpm and 2150 rpm respectively.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

Processor power supply is performed via 8-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ASP1257 with integrated DIGI+ VRM power consumption subsystem control.

All power components of CPU have high reliability level: solid capacitors TUF 10K Ti-Caps with increased life time by 5 times and increased temperature resistance to 20%, MOS transistors TUF MOSFET with low resistance level of open channel, as well as improved chokes TUF New Alloy Chokes with lower temperature and increased reliability are used. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.       

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

To extend motherboard functionality the user has six slots:

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

As you can see, there are three connectors for graphics cards connection and only two of them are connected to processor. Accordingly, they share the 16 available lines of the standard PCI Express 3.0. In turn, the third slot is connected to a chipset and its bandwidth is limited by four lines PCI Express 2.0. It means that it can be used of graphics cards only in case with products based solutions AMD, as the NVIDIA does not support slots x4 organization of mode NVIDIA SLI.

Due to the lack of free chipset lines connector PCI Express 2.0 x16 shares bandwidth with one slot PCI Express 2.0 x1 (scheme «PCIe 2.0 x1_3») and two additional USB 3.0 ports on the interface panel (scheme «USB3 E1/2"). By default, it operates in mode x1 and when increasing its capacity to x4, the aforementioned connectors are unavailable.

Do note that even in the case of installation of two overall graphics cards with three slot cooling system you will still have access to the connector PCI Express x1.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

If you decided to take advantage of the integrated graphics core you have two modern video outputs: HDMI and DisplayPort navigated by chip ASMedia ASM 1442K.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

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

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

In turn, the monitoring function is implemented by separate microprocessor ASUS TUF, which is responsible for high-precision monitoring of temperature and fan speed, as well as it provides increased accuracy of the data measured by complete and pre-installed sensors on the motherboard.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

Two additional SATA 6 Gb/s ports are implemented using controller ASMedia ASM1061.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

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

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

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

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC1150 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems. It is able to play audio with S/N ratio at the level of 112 dB and provides a sound recording with S/N ratio of 104 dB. Additionally implemented sound system boasts of the ability to play lossless-audio with a sampling frequency of 192 kHz and resolution 24-bit, improved headphone support thanks to a special amplifier TI R4580I, as well as the presence of the port S/PDIF out on the interface panel. The achievement of all of these indicators became possible through the use of design ASUS TUF Audio Design, which provides support for high-quality components and physical shielding audio subsystem on the PCB of the motherboard.

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

Interface panel of ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S 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 button «USB BIOS Flashback»;
  • 5 x audio jacks.

This layout of the interface can be called perfect, because it includes two video outputs, a large number of USB ports, easy connection of multi-channel acoustic and optical audio and two LAN ports. Separately note support for display the image with a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD), as well as convenient firmware BIOS update from a USB flash drive using the appropriate button. 

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK S

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


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