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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 09 > ASUS Z97-K

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08-09-2014


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ASUS Z97-K motherboard: review and performance testing

Motherboard ASUS Z97-K is a solution of the average level which is designed primarily to build home systems or PC gaming with one graphics card. The solution has traditionally high performance, advanced features for organizing the disk subsystem (include interface M.2 with a carrying capacity of 10 Gb/s and six SATA 6 Gb/s ports), good configuration of interface panel (suit most users except for owners of multi-channel speakers), as well as a number of other features. But first of all we offer a look at the full specifications of the new item.

ASUS Z97-K

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

Z97-K (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* / 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

2 x PCI

Disk subsystem

Intel Z97 chipset supports:

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

6 x SATA 6 Gb/s

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

LAN

1 x Realtek 8111GR (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Realtek ALC887 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

1 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

2 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 D-Sub

1 x DVI-D

1 x LAN (RJ45)

4 x USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0

3 x audio jacks

2 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

6 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 х socket TPM

1 x COM

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x S/PDIF out

1 х CMOS

1 x set of front panel connectors

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-K

The novelty is shipped in thick cardboard traditional box, decorated with the graphic in the corporate style where most of the image is reserved for radiator of round shape.

As for the key information, in addition to names of the manufacturer and model of the device on the front side you will see branded concept 5X PROTECTION which includes:

  • Digital PWM controllers to control power subsystems of CPU and RAM, which are used in accordance with the original concept of DIGI+VRM.
  • Special fuses to increase protection against over-current and short-circuit current.
  • Protection against electrostatic discharges.
  • Japanese solid capacitors with increased 2.5 times life (up to 5000 hours at 105°C).
  • Reinforced construction of interface board, which is made of high quality stainless steel with a coating of chromium oxide. It has a high resistance to oxidation, which makes it three times more wear-resistant.

ASUS motherboards are tested according the compatibility with more than 1000 different components, such as processors, memory modules, graphics cards and others. A figure 7000+ indicates the total number of testing hours.

ASUS Z97-K

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:

  • Crystal Sound 2. Preinstalled Realtek ALC887 audio codec realizes high playback quality of 8-channel sound.  To provide maximum sound quality special audio capacitors of Nichicon Company are applied. The left and right audio channels are performed on the diverse textolite layers that provide the minimization of cross talks. 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.
  • TurboLAN. Using kit software you can control PC network activity in real time and provide each program the access to network resources.
  • M.2 – the product is equipped with a new interface M.2, which has a capacity of 10 Gb/s.
  • Fan Xpert 3 - intelligent fan control system, allowing to achieve effective cooling of the computer to an optimal level of noise.

ASUS Z97-K

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

  • driver disk;
  • user's manual;
  • two SATA-cables;
  • interface panel plug.

Design and features  

ASUS Z97-K

The basis for new item is dark brown printed circuit board with size ATX which is traditional for the middle-range solutions by ASUS. Due to the slightly non-standard dimensions of the PCB (305 x 218 mm), the motherboard has mounting holes on the right side, which together with the perpendicular SATA 6 Gb/ports s requires a particular care during building of the system. This is especially connects of the main power connector, which can be damaged during the connection circuit board with excessive force.

As for the design, it is traditional for the solutions of the mid-range: radiators are painted in a bronze color, and a key element of the design is a round-shaped cooler on the chipset.

ASUS Z97-K

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 two radiators of cooling system

ASUS Z97-K

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 reset, 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-K

ASUS Z97-K

ASUS Z97-K

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), six SATA 6 Gb/s ports. All of them operate due to system logic. 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 two slots SATA 6 GB/s (scheme SATA6G_5 and SATA6G_6) so their simultaneous use is not possible.

ASUS Z97-K

ASUS Z97-K 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. So, the total number of such ports is six: four are external and two internal. All of them are realized by chipset.

ASUS Z97-K

ASUS Z97-K

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 – 38.1°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor elements power - 46°C.

The received results are characterized as good.

ASUS Z97-K

ASUS Z97-K

Processor power supply is performed via 4-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 and chokes with ferrite core are used. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.     

ASUS Z97-K

To extend motherboard functionality the user has six slots:

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

As you can see, from two PCI Express x16 slots to the processor is connected to only the first one and it is recommended to install the graphics card, because it always uses all sixteen PCI Express 3.0 lines. As for the second connector, it is connected to the chipset, and its capacity is limited by four lines of PCI Express 2.0. Due to the support of AMD CrossFireX technology you can install a pair of graphics cards, but the pattern of distribution lines x16+x4 will not allow to realize the potential of such a bond.

Also note that the expansion slots PCI Express 2.0 x1 share bandwidth with PCI Express 2.0 x16, so by default it operates in mode x2.

ASUS Z97-K

If you decided to take advantage of the integrated graphics core you have three video outputs: HDMI, D-Sub and DVI-D navigated by chip ASMedia ASM1442K.

ASUS Z97-K

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-K

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 monitoring.  

ASUS Z97-K

To support network connections there is GB LAN-controller Realtek 8111GR. Network resource sharing and traffic can be realized by the proprietary TurboLAN utility.    

ASUS Z97-K

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC887 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems and has several proprietary features (concept Crystal Sound 2).  It presupposes the presence of 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-K

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

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

This layout of interface panel can be considered as good is not count the inconvenient connection of multichannel speaker system. The rest is excellent as it includes three popular video outputs, a large number of USB ports, 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-K

ASUS Z97-K

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

ASUS Z97-K

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-K

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

ASUS Z97-K

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

ASUS Z97-K

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

ASUS Z97-K

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

ASUS Z97-K

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

1,185 – 1,800

0,005

PCH Core Voltage

0,735 – 1,500

0,005

PCH VLX Voltage

1,185 – 2,135

0,005

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-K

ASUS Z97-K

“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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