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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 06 > ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

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Republish review

13-06-2014


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ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac) motherboard review and testing

Continuing our acquaintance with the new motherboards designed to work with Intel's processors for socket Socket LGA1150, we will talk about the new model from ASUS. We are talking about ASUS Z97-PRO (Wi-Fi ac), which is created in the ATX format based on flagship chipset Intel Z97.
With an average cost of 300 U.S. dollars, the product offers to the buyer wide list of advantages, such as an integrated two-way wireless interface module Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0, the traditionally high quality of circuitry, as well as a number of other improvements and proprietary technologies. But first of all let's look at a complete list of its technical characteristics.

 ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac) (rev 1.01)

Chipset

Intel Z97

SPU socket

Socket LGA1150

Supported CPUs

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* / 2600* / 2400* / 2200* / 2133* / 2000* / 1866* / 1600 / 1333 MHz

(*OS)

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

4 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

Memory support

Intel Z97 Chipset supports:

1 x M.2 (NGFF)

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 ASM1061 controller supports:

2 x SATA 6 GB/s

LAN

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

Wi-Fi

802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2,4 / 5 GHz)

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 4.0

Audio 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)

Cooling

Aluminum radiator on the chipset

Aluminum radiators on power subsystem elements

External I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x DisplayPort

1 x DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 x LAN (RJ45)

4 x USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

6 x audio jacks

2 x socket for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

1 х PS/2 (mouse and keyboard connection)

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 х TPM socket

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x S/PDIF out

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x CMOS jumper

1 х MemOK! button

1 х DRCT socket

1 х TB_HEADER module

1 x power button

1 x TPU switch

1 x EPU switch

1 х EZ_XMP switch

1 x USB BIOS Flashback button

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

Driver and utility disc

1 х set of ASUS Q-Connectors

4 x SATA cables

1 х 2-Way NVIDIA SLI bridge 

1 x combined Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antenna

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 Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

Motherboard ASUS Z97-PRO (Wi-Fi ac) is shipped in a standard cardboard box and decorated with quality printing. A key design element of the front side of the chipset is the image of cooling radiator with the support of technology Dual Intelligent Processors 5 with 5-Way Optimization. Additionally, you can pay attention to the logo of the manufacturer, the name of the chipset, and support of video technologies NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX, audio technologies DTS Connect and DTS UltraPC II and operating system Windows 8.1.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

On the reverse side of the package there is the image of the motherboard, its brief technical characteristics, as well as key features and benefits:

  • Dual Intelligent Processors 5 with 5-Way Optimization - motherboard is equipped with two smart chips: energy processor (Energy Processing Unit - EPU) and TurboV-processor (TurboV Processing Unit - TPU). The fifth generation of these chips work with a digital power system DIGI+VRM technology and Fan Xpert 3 and TurboAPP which allows detailed optimization of the system depending on the current needs of the user.
  • TurboAPP - allows you to select the required level of performance for each individual application. Firm software ASUS AI Suite III allows you to customize not only performance, but also to choose audio profile of each application, as well as configure network traffic prioritization.
  • Crystal Sound 2 - preinstalled on the motherboard audio codec Realtek ALC1150 which uses a special amplifier offers the support for eight-channel sound and provides audio playback with signal/noise ratio at the level of 112 dB. To avoid interference caused by electromagnetic interference aspecial technology shielding EMI Protection Covering is used. To maximize the quality of sound audio capacitors of Nichicon Company were used. Here is support of technologies DTS Conneсt and DTS Ultra PC II, and the presence of the port S/PDIF out on the interface panel.
  • TurboLAN - using the supplied software you can monitor network activity in real time, and set each program priority access to network resources.
  • Wi-Fi Go! - Integrated two-way wireless interface module Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 is capable to speeds up to 867 Mbit/s. This allows you to connect to wireless networks and use the PC as an access point for other multimedia devices. Optional there is a support of PC control function using a smartphone, exchange files between your computer and portable devices, synchronization of information between cloud storage and function Media Streamer. At the same time the support of two frequency ranges (2.4 and 5 GHz) allows you to use the first for web browsing, and the second to download qualitative HD-video.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

In the box with ASUS Z97-PRO (Wi-Fi ac) we found a very nice set of accessories:

  • User’s manual
  • Driver and utility disc
  • 1 х set of ASUS Q-Connectors
  • 4 x SATA cables
  • 1 х 2-Way NVIDIA SLI bridge 
  • 1 x combined Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antenna
  • 1 х faceplate of interface panel

 Design and features of the board

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

The product is made on black ATX PCB and differs by very pleasant decoration with the predominance of dark and bronze colors. Note the original form of the radiator for cooling the chipset, which became a symbol of the brand of ASUS motherboards.

 As for the layout, this point is made on the highest level: DIMM- slots are equipped with latches on one side only, while all key connectors and ports are located at the optimal positions, closer to the edges of the PCB.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

On the reverse side there is a support plate of processor socket, and all three radiators are securely fastened with screws.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in sockets, S/PDIF Out, module TB_HEADER (to realize interface Thunderbolt), buttons of power of PC and  USB BIOS Flashback, TPM port, LED-indicator, socket DRCT (allows to connect additional button to switch to BIOS and set it outside), as well as front panel leading-in socket. Additionally here are two leading-in sockets for activation of USB 2.0 ports and one for USB 3.0 port. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is six: four are internal and two on the interface panel. As for USB 3.0, there are eight pieces: four internal and two external ports are operating due to chipset, while two additional external interfaces are realized by ASMedia ASM1042 controller.  

Special attention is given two small switches: TPU and EPU. The first has three positions: "Off.", "1" (automatic overclocking by increasing the multiplier) and "2" (automatic overclocking by increasing the system bus frequency and CPU multiplier). Second tumbler has only two positions and is responsible for activating the power saving function (EPU).

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is presented by socket M.2 (formats SSD-drives M.2 2260 and M.2 2280 are supported), six SATA 6 GB/s and one SATA Express port which is compatible with two connectors SATA 6 GB/s. The operation of all interfaces is implemented by controller ASMedia ASM1061. There is a support of SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10.

Due to the lack of free chipset lines, interface M.2 (NGFF) shares the carrying capacity with SATA Express, that’s why its simultaneous usage is not possible.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

Main board ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac) 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 from 1333 to 1600 MHz in the nominal mode and up to 3200 MHz in overclocked mode are supported.  Maximum memory capacity may be up to 32 GB which is enough for almost any tasks.

It is important to note the second leading-in socket to connect the remote panel with ports USB 3.0, button MemOK! which allows automatically selects the required RAM and EZ XMP  switch parameters.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

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 – 36.5°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor elements power – 35.8°C.

The received results specify about high efficiency of installed cooling system and therefore about correct selection of materials and construction of the radiators.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

Processor power supply is performed via 12-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 with 2.5 time improved life time and chokes with ferrite core. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.    

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

To extend motherboard functionality the user has seven 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 2.0 x1;
  5. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х8);
  6. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  7. PCI Express 2.0 x16 (mode х4).

Due to the support of NVIDIA SLI technology and AMD CrossFireX this configuration offers the user to organize the graphics subsystem of one or two graphics cards. The third PCI Express x16 slot is connected to the chipset and can use up to four lines so it is better to use for the installation of other expansion cards. Separately we note that the location of the slots will allow easily install two graphics cards with three slot cooling system, and you will still have access to the one connector PCI Express 2.0 x1.

Due to the presence of several additional controllers there is a lack of free chipset lines, respectively there is a number of limitations. So slot PCI Express 2.0 x16 shares the lines with two USB 3.0 ports on the interface panel (scheme USB3_E12) and fourth slot PCI Express 2.0 x1 (scheme PCIe x1_4). By default, its capacity is limited only by one line. Also two slots PCI Express 2.0 x1 (scheme PCIe x1_2 and PCIe x1_3) are connected to the same line, therefore one of them (PCIe x1_2) is disabled by default, which is quite logical since access to it in most cases will be closed by cooling system of graphics card.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

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

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

Multi I/O capabilities are based on NUVOTON NCT6791D chip which controls system fans, PS/2 ports and provides the monitoring.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

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

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

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

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

To support network connections there is GB LAN-controller Intel WGI218V. Distribution of network resources and prioritization of traffic can realize a corporate utility TurboLAN.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC1150 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems. It has several proprietary features (concept Crystal Sound 2) which were described in the begging of the review.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

Interface panel of ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)model contains the following ports:

  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 4 x USB 3.0;
  • 2 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DisplayPort;
  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x D-Sub;
  • 1 x PS/2 for mouse or keyboard connection;
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF out;
  • 2 x sockets for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antenna;
  • 6 x audio jacks.

Set of outputs on the interface panel can be called the optimal because it includes everything you need: four video outputs, enough USB ports, as well as an integrated module Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.0 the main feature of which is the support of standard IEEE 802.11ac. According to official information it can provide data transmition at speeds up to 867 Mbit/s which is three times higher than standard IEEE 802.11n. At the same time support of two frequency ranges (2.4 and 5 GHz) allows you to use the first for web browsing, and the second to download HD-quality video. Also do not forget about the functions Cloud GO!, Remote Control and Media Streaming Hub, which greatly simplify file sharing on a home network between compatible devices.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

The possibilities of organizing the cooling inside system case are very good. There are six 4-pin fan connectors, two of which are used for the cooling system of CPU, while the other four are for system fans.

UEFI BIOS

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

Motherboard ASUS Z97-PRO (Wi-Fi ac) uses modern preloader based on graphics interface UEFI, to adjust them is possible via mouse. It offers two main scenarios of usage.

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

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

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

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

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

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

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

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

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

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

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

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, 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)

300 – 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 – 1,10000

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 Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

“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. The ability to monitor memory voltage is implemented in the right column which can be seen in other sections. Also it is possible to take screenshots.  


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