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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 08 > ASUS Z97-AR

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Republish review

22-08-2014


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ASUS Z97-AR motherboard: review and performance testing

Motherboard ASUS Z97-AR is one of ASUS middle class solution. At the time of reviewing its average cost is about $ 190 dollars, which is almost identical to that discussed earlier ASUS Z97-A. Due to such close proximity of the two models, it will be interesting to compare their ability to select the optimal variant.

 

ASUS Z97-AR

ASUS Z97-A

USB 3.0

external/internal

4/2

4/2

USB 2.0

external/internal

2/6

2/6

RAM

4 x DIMM

 Up to 32 GB

 4 x DIMM

Up to 32 GB

PCIe 3.0 x16

2

2

PCIe 2.0 x16

1 (in mode х2)

1 (in mode х2)

PCIe x1

2

2

PCI

2

2

Line distribution schemes

х16

х8+х8

х8+х8+х2

х16

х8+х8

х8+х8+х2

Video outputs

HDMI

DisplayPort

HDMI

DisplayPort

DVI-D

D-Sub

Audio outputs

5
Optical S/PDIF-out

5
Optical S/PDIF-out

SATA 6 Gb/s

4

4

SATA Express

1

1

eSATA

No

No

M.2

(supported drive formats)

1

(2260/2280)

1

(2260/2280)

Thunderbolt

No

No

LAN

1

1

Wi-Fi

No

No

Bluetooth

No

No

Power phases

8

8

Format

ATX

ATX

As you can see, the differences between the two models are so minimal that it is clear their close price positioning. In fact, saving just a few dollars and select ASUS Z97-AR instead of ASUS Z97-A, you will lose two additional video outputs and one supplied SATA cable. The rest capabilities based on their specifications at first glance are identical. But let us have a closer look at the novelty.

ASUS Z97-AR

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

Z97-AR (rev 1.0)

Chipset

Intel Z97

CPU socket

Socket LGA1150

CPUs supported

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

3200* / 3100* / 3000* / 2933* / 2800* / 2666* / 2500* / 2400* / 2200* / 2133* / 2000* / 1866* / 1600 / 1333 MHz

(*OC)

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+x2

2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

2 x PCI

Disk subsystem

Intel Z97 chipset supports:

1 x M.2 (M.2 2260, M.2 2280)

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x SATA Express (compatible with 2 х 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

1 х 24-pin ATX main power connector

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power ATX12V

Fans

2 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

4 x system fan connector (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum fan on the chipset

Aluminum fan on elements of power subsystem

External I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x DisplayPort

1 x LAN (RJ45)

4 x USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

5 x audio jacks

1 х PS/2 (mouse or keyboard connection)

Internal I/O

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

3 x USB 2.0 each with support of 2 USB 2.0

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x SATA Express

1 х TPM socket

1 x COM

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x S/PDIF out

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 х «MemOK!» button

1 х DRCT socket

1 х module TB_HEADER

1 x power button

1 x switch «TPU»

1 x switch «EPU»

1 х switch «EZ XMP»

BIOS

64 Mb Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

PnP, ACPI 5.0, SM BIOS 2.8, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty description booklet

Driver disc

1 х set ASUS Q-Connectors

2 x SATA cables

1 х bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI

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 Z97-AR

ASUS Z97-AR motherboard is shipped in a standard cardboard box decorated with quality printing. A key element of the front side is the image of the round cooler with the support of technology Dual Intelligent Dual Intelligent Processors 5 with 5-Way Optimization. Additionally you can pay attention to the logo of the manufacturer, support of technologies NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX, operating system Windows 8.1, as well as DTS Connect and DTS UltraPC II audio technologies.  

ASUS Z97-AR

The reverse side traditionally has the diagrammatic representation of the motherboard, a brief list of its technical characteristics, as well as the key features and advantages of the products:

  • Dual Intelligent Processors 5 with 5-Way Optimization. The board is equipped with two chips: Energy Processing Unit – EPU and TurboV Processing Unit – TPU. 5th generation of such schemes operate together with digital power subsystem DIGI+VRM and technologies Fan Xpert 3 и TurboAPP that provides fine optimization of system operation depending on current users’ requirements. 
  • TurboLAN. Using kit software you can control PC network activity in real time and provide each program the access to network resources.
  • TurboAPP. Allows to choose a necessary performance level for separate application. ASUS ASUS AI Suite 3 software allows to adjust not only the performance but also choose a proper audio profile for each application and configure the prioritization of network traffic.
  • Crystal Sound 2. Preinstalled Realtek ALC892 audio codec realizes high playback quality of 8-channel sound.  To avoid interferences caused by electrostatics a special shielding technology EMI Protection Covering is used. To provide maximum sound quality special audio capacitors of Nichicon Company are applied. Also there is a support of technologies DTS technologies Connest and DTS Ultra PC II, and the presence of the S/PDIF out port on interface panel.
  • Remote GO! – a proprietary software for wireless PC connection to other digital devices. The aim is to realize four scenarios of their usage: synchronization of information with supported cloud storage, remote control, file transfer from one digital device to another one and the usage of mobile devices instead of keyboard and mouse.

ASUS Z97-AR

In the box you’ll find the most necessary accessories. Scope of supply includes:

  • driver disk;
  • user's manual;
  • two SATA-cables;
  • 2-Way NVIDIA SLI bridge;
  • interface panel plug.

Design and features  

ASUS Z97-AR

The product is performed on black printed circuit board of ATX format (305 x 244 mm). In contrast to the previously discussed ASUS Z97-A, with predominance dark and bronze shades, radiators of new item are painted in silver color, and a proprietary round cooler on the chipset is used.

Talking about the content and ease of building of the system, it is worth to note that all is performed at the highest level. Manufacturer tried to do everything necessary to improve the comfort of the building, namely: added DIMM-slots with latches on one side only and placed the SATA ports parallel to the surface of the PCB.

ASUS Z97-AR

On the reverse side of the board you can find the standard support plate of processor socket, as well as plastic mounting clips on the elements of the power subsystem, while the cooler on chipset is fixed with screws.

ASUS Z97-AR

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, S/PDIF out, COM ports, module TB_HEADER (to realize interface Thunderbolt), PC shutdown button, TPM socket, DRCT socket (allows to connect an additional button for BIOS and place it out the front case panel), one 4-pin socket to connect case fan as well as front panel leading-in socket. Also here are three leading-in sockets for USB 2.0 activation. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: six internal and two on the interface panel.

ASUS Z97-AR

Also here you can find two small switchers: “TPU” and “EPU”. The first has three conditions: “Off”, “1” (automatic system overclocking using increased multiple) and “2” (automatic system overclocking using increased frequency of system bus and CPU multiplier). The second one has two positions and is charged with activation of energy saving function (EPU).

ASUS Z97-AR

ASUS Z97-AR

The capability of disk subsystem organization is performed by M.2 socket (which support of format SSD-drive M.2 2260 и M.2 2280), four SATA 6 Gb/s ports and one SATA Express which is compatible with two SATA 6 Gb/s. All of them operate due to chipset. Here is the support of SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10. 

Due to lack of available chipset lines, interface M.2 (NGFF) shares bandwidth with slots PCI Express 2.0 x1, so their simultaneous use is not possible. By default, the port M.2 is disabled.

ASUS Z97-AR

ASUS Z97-AR motherboard is equipped with four DIMM-slots for memory modules of DDR3 standard which are equipped with latches on one side only. 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 from 1333 up to 1600 MHz in the nominal mode and up to 3200 MHz while overclocking 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 remove panel with USB 3.0 ports and MemOK! Button. It is a button used to adjust settings of RAM to enable system operation. Also here is “EZ XMP” switch used for activation of proper Intel XMP-profiles. 

As for the support of USB 3.0, the total number of such ports is six: four are external and two internal. All of them are realized by chipset.

ASUS Z97-AR

ASUS Z97-AR

Cooling system of the product consists of three aluminum radiators. The first provides heat removal out of Intel Z97, while the others cover the elements of power subsystem. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling - 34,4°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor elements power - 38°C.

The received results are characterized as good.

ASUS Z97-AR

ASUS Z97-AR

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 with increased life time on 2.5 times and chokes with ferrite core are used. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.     

ASUS Z97-AR

To extend motherboard functionality the user has seven slots:

  1. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  2. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (in mode х16 or х8);
  3. PCI;
  4. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  5. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (in mode х8);
  6. PCI;
  7. PCI Express 2.0 x16 (in mode х2).

Due to the support of NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFIreX technologies this configuration offers to organize graphics subsystem from one or two graphics cards. The third PCI Express x16 socket is connected to chipset and only two lines are used. That’s why it is not suitable for installation of graphics core. The arrangement of expansion slots will allow you to install two graphics card with three-slot cooling system.

ASUS Z97-AR

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 Z97-AR

Since chipset Intel Z97 Express does not support PCI bus, the functioning of the two respective connectors is realized with using a PCIE-PCI bridge based on the controller ASMedia ASM 1083.

ASUS Z97-AR

Multi I/O capabilities are based on NUVOTON NCT6791D chip which controls the operation of the system fans, COM and PS/2 ports, as well as provides the monitors.

ASUS Z97-AR

To support network connections there is GB LAN-controller Intel WGI218V. Network resource sharing and traffic can be realized by the proprietary TurboLAN utility.  

ASUS Z97-AR

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC892 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems and ahs several proprietary features (concept Crystal Sound 2).  It presupposes the presence of the protective cover on the audio codec to minimize the influence of electromagnetic interference, as well as special audio amplifier TI R4580I and Japanese audio capacitors to improve the quality of the reproduced sound. The area of the PCB with the sound path is shielded by a protective strip. Moreover, the left and right audio channels are on separate layers of the PCB.

ASUS Z97-AR

Interface panel of ASUS Z97-AR model contains the following ports:  

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DisplayPort;
  • 1 x PS/2 for mouse or keyboard connection;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 4 x USB 3.0;
  • 2 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 х optical S/PDIF out;
  • 5 x audio jacks.

This layout of interface panel can be considered as perfect because it includes two popular video outputs, a large number of USB ports, convenient connection of multichannel speakers, the use of peripherals with PS/2 interface, and an optical audio output. Also it is possible to put COM port using the internal connector on the back panel of PC.

ASUS Z97-AR

ASUS Z97-AR

The capability of organizing the cooling system inside the body at ASUS Z97-AR is very good. There are six 4-pin fan connectors, two of which are used for the cooling system CPU, while the other four are for system fans.

UEFI BIOS

Motherboard uses a modern pre-loader with UEFI basis. To provide the setting is possible using the mouse. It provides two usage scenarios. 

ASUS Z97-AR

ASUS Z97-AR

The first one is “EZ Mode”. All necessary settings are concentrated on one screen and overclocking is realized due to “EZ Tuning Wizard”.

ASUS Z97-AR

Or initial “Advanced Mode” where all setting should be manually performed.

ASUS Z97-AR

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

ASUS Z97-AR

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

ASUS Z97-AR

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

ASUS Z97-AR

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

BCLK Frequency

80,0 – 300,0

0,1

CPU Strap

100, 125, 166, 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

0,80000 – 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 Boot Voltage

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 Z97-AR

ASUS Z97-AR

“Monitor” section provides the access to information about CPU and chipset temperature as well as rotation speed of installed fans. To check the voltage on CPU cores and power lines +12V, +5V and +3,3V is possible from any section because this information is displayed on the right side face. Also it is possible to make screenshots in BIOS mode. 


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