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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 10 > ASUS Z97-C

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17-10-2014


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ASUS Z97-C motherboard: review and testing

Motherboard ASUS Z97-C is one of the solutions from the middle class of ASUS. A new product offers to the buyer rather wide range of advantages: excellent opportunities for the organization of the disk subsystem, the traditionally high quality of circuitry, support of overclocking memory modules, as well as a number of other improvements and proprietary technologies. But first, let's take a look at the complete list of its technical characteristics.

ASUS Z97-C

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

Z97-C (rev 1.0)

Chipset

Intel Z97

CPU socket

Socket LGA1150

CPUs supported

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

Memory frequency

3200* / 3100* / 3000* / 2933* / 2800* / 2666* / 2600* / 2400* / 2250* / 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

1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16

1 х PCI Express 2.0 x16

x16

x16+х4

2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

3 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

 

Codec Realtek ALC892

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

1 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

3 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 DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 x LAN (RJ45)

4 x USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0

6 x audio jacks

1 х PS/2 (mouse or keyboard connection)

Internal I/O

1 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

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x SATA Express

1 х socketTPM

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 x CMOS reset

1 х button «MemOK!»

1 х switch «GPU Boost»

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

2 x SATA cables

1 х interface panel plug

Form-factor, dimensions

ATX

305 х 218 mm

Producer website

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

Packaging and content

ASUS Z97-C

Motherboard ASUS Z97-C is shipped in the usual cardboard box, decorated with the graphic in a corporate style. A key element of the design of front panel is the image of round shape radiator, which is awarded by support of technology ASUS 5X Protection. Additionally, you can pay attention to the logo of the manufacturer, support of technology AMD CrossFireX, as well as the operating system Windows 8.1.

ASUS Z97-C

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:

  • ASUS 5X Protection - involves the use of digital power subsystem ASUS DIGI+ VRM, the protection of external interfaces, and memory modules from high current, high-quality solid capacitors with a lifespan of 5000 hours at 105°C, the steel interface panel with high resistance to corrosion processes.
  • ASUS Turbo LAN - using the bundled software, you can monitor the network activity of the PC in real time, as well as set each program the access priority to network resources.
  • SATA Express & M.2 - new product is equipped with support of interface SATA Express and M.2, which have a capacity of up to 10 Gb/s.
  • Crystal Sound 2 - preset audio codec Realtek ALC892, which uses a special amplifier TI R4580I, offers support of eight-channel sound. In order to avoid interference caused by electromagnetic interference, a special screening technology Audio Shielding is applied. To ensure maximum audio quality there are Japanese audio capacitors of company Nichicon. In addition, the left and right audio channels are performed on different layers of the PCB that accompanies minimize crosstalk.

ASUS Z97-C

In the box with the ASUS Z97-C we found quite a standard set of accessories for a budget model:

  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • user's manual;
  • two SATA cables;
  • interface board plug.

Design and features  

ASUS Z97-C

New product is made on dark brown PCB with size ATX (305 x 218 mm). The design of radiators traditionally has bronze shades that look very advantageous.

The layout of on-board elements is implemented at a high level, so you will not have problem with this aspect. The only thing you should take into consideration is the absence of mounting holes on the right side of the PCB, which is a consequence of its non-standard width. That is why you should be careful and do not to use excessive force when connecting the main power cable, memory slots and drives in two perpendicularly arranged SATA ports.

ASUS Z97-C

On the reverse side of the PCB, you can pay attention to the standard base plate of CPU socket, as well as the fact that both radiators are secured with plastic clips.

ASUS Z97-C

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, S/PDIF out, COM and TPM ports, CMOS, 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-C

ASUS Z97-C

ASUS Z97-C

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 SATA Express, so their simultaneous use is not possible.

ASUS Z97-C

ASUS Z97-C motherboard is equipped with two DIMM-slots for memory modules of DDR3 standard. 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.

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

ASUS Z97-C

Special attention is given to a small switch «GPU Boost», which is responsible for the acceleration of graphics subsystem which is integrated processor.

ASUS Z97-C

ASUS Z97-C

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

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 39.1°C;
  • power chokes – 51.5°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor power elements – 38.4°C.

The received results are characterized as good because there is a significant power reserve.  

ASUS Z97-C

ASUS Z97-C

Processor power supply is performed via 6-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-C

To extend motherboard functionality the user has seven slots:

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

As you can see, from two PCI Express x16 slots only one is connected to the processor which always uses 16 lines of the standard PCI Express 3.0, while the second socket is connected to the chipset and it has up to 4 lines of PCI Express 2.0. Due to support of technology AMD CrossFireX you can install two graphics cards in mode x16+x4, but this scheme is not optimal for realizing the potential of such a bond. Taking into account all the above said we can conclude that the motherboard is most suitable for the installation of only one graphics accelerator, while the second PCI Express x16 slot is more reasonable to use for other expansion cards.

Separately we note that the slots PCI Express 2.0x1 share lines with PCI Express 2.0 x16, so the carrying capacity of the latter is on default limited by mode x2.

ASUS Z97-C

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-C

If you decided to take advantage of the integrated graphics core you have three modern video outputs: HDMI DVI-D and D-Sub navigated by chip ASMedia ASM 1442K.

ASUS Z97-C

Multi I/O capabilities are based on NUVOTON NCT5538D chip which controls the operation of the system fans, COM and PS/2 ports, as well as provides the monitors.

ASUS Z97-C

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-C

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC892 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems and has several proprietary features (concept Crystal Sound 2).  It presupposes the presence of a 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-C

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

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x D-Sub;
  • 1 x PS/2 for mouse or keyboard connection;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 4 x USB 3.0;
  • 2 x USB 2.0;
  • 6 x audio jacks.

This layout of interface panel can be considered as good because it includes three 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-C

ASUS Z97-C

The capability of organizing the cooling system inside the body at ASUS Z97-C is quite standard. There are four 4-pin fan connectors, one of which is used for the cooling system CPU, while the other three are designed 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-C

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-C

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

ASUS Z97-C

All overclocking items are in section “AI Tweaker”. 

ASUS Z97-C

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

ASUS Z97-C

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

ASUS Z97-C

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:

Parameter

Menu name

Range

Pitch

System bus frequency

BCLK Frequency

80,0 – 300,0

0,1

 

CPU Strap

100, 125, 166, 250

 

RAM frequency

Memory Frequency

3400, 3200, 3000, 2933, 2800, 2666, 2600, 2400, 2200. 2133, 2000, 1866, 1800,

1600, 1400, 1333, 1066, 800

 

RAM timing

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

Operation PWM-controller frequency of CPU power converter

Fixed CPU VRM Switching Frequency(KHz)

200 – 350

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

CPU Input Voltage

0,800 – 2,700

0,010

RAM voltage

DRAM Voltage

1,185 – 1,800

0,005

Chipset voltage

PCH Core Voltage

0,735 – 1,500

0,01250

 

PCH VLX Voltage

1,185 – 2,135

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

ASUS Z97-C

ASUS Z97-C

“Monitor” section provides the access to information about CPU and chipset temperature. And to check the voltage on power lines +12V, +5V and +3,3V and other parameters 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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