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::>Motherboards > 2015 > 06 > ASUS Z97-WS

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30-06-2015


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Motherboard ASUS Z97-WS: review and testing

As is well known, the controller PCI Express 3.0 integrated into processors Intel Socket LGA1150 supports only 16 lines with distribution under schemes х16, х8+х8 or х8+х4+х4. The model ASUS Z97-WS is perfect for users who want to organize a more powerful graphics subsystem. The company has equipped its product with chip-switch PLX PEX8747, providing more opportunities to build gaming PC. However, first things first, and first, let's take a look at the detailed specs.

ASUS Z97-WS

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

Z97-WS (rev 1.0)

Chipset

Intel Z97

CPU socket

Socket LGA1150

Supported processors

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

Memory frequency

3300* / 3200* / 3100* / 3000* / 2933* / 2800* / 2666* / 2600* / 2500* / 2400* / 2200* / 2133* / 2000* / 1866* / 1800* / 1600 / 1333 MHz

(*OC)

Memory support

4 x DDR3 DIMM-slots with support of memory up to 32 GB

Expansion slots

 

4 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16 / x16+x16 / x16+x8+x8 / x8+x8+x8+x8)

1 x PCI Express 2.0 x4

2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

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

ASMedia ASM1061 controller supports:

1 x eSATA 6 Gb/s

ASMedia ASM106SE controller supports:

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

LAN

1 x Intel WGI210AT (10/100/1000 Mb/s)

1 x Intel WGI218LM (10/100/1000 Mb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec Realtek ALC1150

8-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power

1 x 24-pin power socket ATX

2 x 8-pin power socket ATX12V

1 x 6-pin power socket ATX12V

Fans

2 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

4 x system fan connectors (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiators on chipset

Aluminum radiator on power subsystem elements, coupled with an additional heat pipe with additional  heat sink and the heat sink on the chip-switch PLX PEX8747

External I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x Mini DisplayPort

1 x DisplayPort

2 x LAN (RJ45)

6 x USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0

1 x eSATA 6 Gb/s

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

6 x audio jacks

1 х button «Q-Code Logger»

1 х button «USB BIOS Flashback»

Internal I/O

2 x USB 3.0, each with support of two USB USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0, each with support of two USB USB 2.0

1 x IEEE 1394a

1 х TPM

1 x COM

1 x Thunderbolt

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x S/PDIF out

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x CMOS

1 х «MemOK!»

1 х DRCT

1 х «Direct Key»

1 x «Power»

1 x «Reboot»

1 x «CMOS reset»

2 x diagnostic LED-indicator

1 x switch «TPU»

1 x switch «EPU»

1 х switch «EZ XMP»

1 х switch «DR_POWER»

1 x switch «CPU Over Voltage»

BIOS

64 Mb Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

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

Packaging

 

user manual

warranty card

disk with drives and documents

1 х set ASUS Q-Connectors

8 x SATA cables

1 х bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 х bridge 3-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 х bridge 4-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 х panel with port COM

1 x panel with two ports USB 2.0 and one IEEE 1394a

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

Package and content

ASUS Z97-WS

Motherboard ASUS Z97-WS is securely packed in a cardboard box decorated with the printing in the corporate style. The box has a flip-up cover. On the front side, in addition to the image of the radiator of cooling chipset, which contains the ability to install four video cards, you can find a support for technologies AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI, as well as the use of audio technologies DTS Connect and DTS UltraPC II.

ASUS Z97-WS

Under the hinged lid we found description of the key benefits of new product, namely:

  • Dual Intelligent Processors with 4 5-Way Optimization – the board is equipped with two smart chips: Energy Processing Unit - EPU and TurboV Processing Unit - TPU. The fourth generation of the chipset works in conjunction with a digital power system DIGI+ VRM and technologies, Fan Xpert and TurboAPP, which allows to fine-tune optimization of the system, depending on the current needs of the user.
  • SATA Express & M.2 - the novelty is equipped with two interfaces SATA Express and one M.2, the capacity of which reaches 10 Gb/s.
  • 12K Capacitors - the motherboard uses only Japanese solid capacitors with increased up to 12 000 hours of service life (at 105°C).

ASUS Z97-WS

On the reverse side of the box contains an image of the motherboard and a summary of its characteristics:

  • ASUS ProCool - power connectors provide secure cabling, reduced resistance and improved heat dissipation.
  • Thunderbolt Ready - using the expansion card ASUS ThunderboltEX II and the corresponding connector on the motherboard you get support for interface Thunderbolt 2 with bandwidth up to 20 Gb/s.
  • Dual Intel LAN - two network ports implemented by the controller of Intel, provide high speed data transfer with minimal delay.
  • ASUS Dr. Power – in real-time monitors the key indicators of the power supply and outputs to the desktop operating system information about detected problems.
  • Beat Thermal Chokes - inductors with increased stability, reliability and performance.
  • AI Suite 3 - proprietary software, with which you can fine-tune a number of system settings without entering the BIOS.
  • USB BIOS Flashback - provides firmware update of BIOS from flash drive by pressing the appropriate button on the interface panel.
  • Turbo LAN - using the bundled software it is possible to monitor activity of PC, and install each program priorities for access to network resources.

ASUS Z97-WS

ASUS Z97-WS

Package of ASUS Z97-WS is fully consistent with the high level of the motherboard and is as follows:

  • User's Guide
  • a guarantee brochure he;
  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • set ASUS Q-connectors;
  • eight SATA cable;
  • bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • bridge  3-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • bridge 4-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • panel with port COM;
  • panel with two USB 2.0 ports and one IEEE 1394a;
  • interface panel plug.

Design and features

ASUS Z97-WS

Design of ASUS Z97-WS is common to other models due to the use of the familiar black and yellow color scheme, but the novelty has a severe form of the elements of the cooling system. Note the radiator chipset, which provides a more solid look.

ASUS Z97-WS

As for the layout in spite of the large number of on-board elements, engineers managed to place them optimally. As a result, you will not have any problems with the building and further use of systems based on the tested model.

ASUS Z97-WS

As you can see, the manufacturer made sure that the installed graphics card does not interfere with the connection and disconnection of memory modules, equipping DIMM-slots with latches on only one side.

ASUS Z97-WS

Looking at the back of the ASUS Z97-WS, note the standard base plate of the socket and the fastening screws of the four radiator cooling system.

ASUS Z97-WS

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, S/PDIF out, ports IEEE 1394a, COM and TPM, two indicators of POST-codes; power and reset buttons; connector DRCT (allows you to connect an extra button to go into the BIOS and make it, for example, on the front panel of the case) and front panel connection module. Also here are two modules for additional USB 2.0 ports. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is six: four internal and two on the interface panel.

ASUS Z97-WS

ASUS Z97-WS

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is provided by socket M.2 (supported formats of SSD-drives M.2 2260 and M.2 2280), four ports SATA 6 Gb/s and two SATA Express, each of which is compatible with two SATA 6 Gb/s. There is support for arrays SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10.  

Since the Intel Z97 chipset is not able to ensure the work of all of the above interfaces, the operation of additional internal SATA Express and external eSATA controllers are used ASMedia ASM106SE and ASMedia ASM1061 respectively.

Due to lack of available chipset lines the interface M.2 shares bandwidth with one SATA Express (Scheme «SATAExpress_1»), therefore their simultaneous use is not possible.

ASUS Z97-WS

Main board ASUS Z97-WS is equipped with four DIMM-slots for memory modules DDR3, which can operate in dual-channel mode. The modules should be installed either into first and third or second and fourth slot. Modules operating at frequencies from 1333 to 1600 MHz in nominal mode and up to 3300 are supported. Maximum memory capacity may be up to 32 GB which is enough for all tasks.

Additionally note two modules for connecting remote panel with ports USB 3.0. In total, our sample has ten items: four external and one internal that operates due to chipset, and three internal and two external due to controllers ASMedia ASM1074 and ASMedia ASM1042АЕ.

ASUS Z97-WS

In the upper right corner of the PCB you can find: button «MemOK!» allowing automatically pick up the necessary parameters of the RAM to the successful launch of the system; switch «EZ XMP», which is used to activate the corresponding RAM Intel XMP-profile and switches «TPU» and «EPU». The first has three positions: "Off" "1" (automatic overclocking by increasing maultiplier) and "2" (automatic overclocking by increasing the FSB clock and CPU multiplier). The second switch has only two positions, and is responsible for the activation of the power-saving features (EPU).

ASUS Z97-WS

Note a switch «DR_POWER», which is responsible for the activation of function ASUS Dr. Power, which allows to monitor the state of power supply in real time and display it on the desktop of operating system.

ASUS Z97-WS

ASUS Z97-WS

Cooling system of the product includes four aluminum radiators: one covers the chipset, and the other three connected by heat pipe are used for cooling elements of the processor power subsystem and chip-switch PLX PEX8747. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling Intel Z97 – 38.1°C (during overclocking – 38.1°C);
  • additional upper radiator - 43,7 ° C (during overclocking – 46,2°C);
  • main radiator of cooling elements of the power subsystem - 50,2°C (during overclocking – 55,9°C);
  • cooling radiator of chip-switch - 47,2°C (during overclocking – 50,7°C).

These results clearly indicate the higher efficiency of the cooling system, indicating the proper selection of materials and design.

ASUS Z97-WS

ASUS Z97-WS

Processor power supply is performed via 8-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ASP1257. All power components of CPU have high reliability level: Japanese solid capacitors, chips Dr.MOS and chokes with ferrite core (Beat Thermal Chokes). Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding which will allow you to avoid any restrictions during extreme overclocking. Also there is an additional 6-pin connector, which will be useful when installing multiple graphics cards.

ASUS Z97-WS

To extend the functionality the motherboard ASUS Z97-WS has seven slots:

  1. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х16 or х8);
  2. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  3. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х8);
  4. PCI Express 2.0 x4;
  5. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х16 or х8);
  6. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  7. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х8).

As you can see, the new product offers excellent opportunities for the organization of the graphics subsystem. Due to the support of chip-switch PLX PEX8747, doubling the number of available lines of lines PCI Express 3.0, you can install up to four graphics cards in mode AMD CrossFireX or NVIDIA SLI. This line will be distributed according one of the schemes: х16 / х16+х16 / х16+х8+х8 / х8+х8+х8+х8.

ASUS Z97-WS

If you decided to take advantage of the integrated graphics core on the CPU, then you have three video outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort navigated by the chip ASMedia ASM1442K.

ASUS Z97-WS

ASUS Z97-WS

Five USB 3.0 connectors are controlled by controllers ASMedia ASM1042AE and ASMedia ASM1074.

ASUS Z97-WS

Optional interface SATA Express operates thanks to the controller ASMedia ASM106SE.

ASUS Z97-WS

In order to provide eSATA ports there is a controller ASMedia ASM1061 on the interface panel of the motherboard.

ASUS Z97-WS

IEEE1394 interface is implemented with a chip VIA VT6315N.

ASUS Z97-WS

ASUS Z97-WS

To support network connection there are two gigabit LAN-controllers Intel WGI210AT and Intel WGI218LM. A proprietary utility TurboLAN helps to manage network resources.

ASUS Z97-WS

Multi I/O capabilities are based on NUVOTON NCT6791D chip which controls the operation of system fans, port COMand provides the monitoring.

ASUS Z97-WS

The multiplexing of bus PCI Express 3.0 is realized due to chip-switch PLX PEX8747.

ASUS Z97-WS

Sound subsystem is based on 8-channel HAD codec Realtek ALC887 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 lets you record sound with S/N ratio of 104 dB. Realized sound system boasts of the ability to play lossless-audio with a sampling frequency of 192 kHz and 24-bit resolution, support for technologies DTS Ultra PC II, DTS DTS Ultra PC II, DTS Conneсt and BD Audio Layer Content Protection, as well as the presence of the port S/PDIF out on the interface panel.

ASUS Z97-WS

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

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x Mini DisplayPort;
  • 1 x DisplayPort;
  • 2 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 6 x USB 3.0;
  • 2 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 x eSATA 6 Gb/s;
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF out;
  • 6 x audio ports;
  • 1 x button «Q-Code Logger»;
  • 1 x button «USB BIOS Flashback».

Such a configuration can be considered very successful, given the large number of ports USB, the eSATA, a good set of actual video outputs, the presence of the two network interfaces, and convenient connection of multi-channel speakers. Note that there are two bundled expansion cards that allow you to make two ports USB 2.0, one IEEE 1394 and one COM. Also don’t forget about the convenient procedure to update the BIOS firmware using flash drive thanks to the button «USB BIOS Flashback». As for the «Q-Code Logger», this function is used to diagnose a computer. Just plug the USB-flash drive and click on «Q-Code Logger».

ASUS Z97-WS

ASUS Z97-WS

ASUS Z97-WS has quite standard features for organizing cooling system inside the case. There are six 4-pin fan connectors, two of which serve to cool the CPU, while the others are designed for system fan.

UEFI BIOS

Model uses modern preloader based on UEFI. To provide the setting is possible via mouse control

ASUS Z97-WS

ASUS Z97-WS

“EZ Mode” mode where all required settings are grouped in one screen and overclocking is realized due to utility «EZ Tuning Wizard».

ASUS Z97-WS

Or standard “Advanced Mode” mode where all settings should be done manually.

ASUS Z97-WS

All overclocking parameters are in section “Ai Tweaker”.

ASUS Z97-WS

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

ASUS Z97-WS

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

ASUS Z97-WS

Top increase the stability during overclocking you can use settings of digital power subsystem DIGI+ VRM.   

Adjustments required to overclock and optimize the system:

Parameter

Menu

Range

Step

System bus frequency

BCLK Frequency

80,0 – 300,0

0,1

 

CPU Strap

100, 125, 166, 250

 

RAM frequency

Memory Frequency

800 – 3400

 

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

PWM-controller frequency of CPU power converter  

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

CPU Input Voltage

0,800 – 2,700

0,010

RAM voltage

DRAM Voltage

1,20000 – 1,92000

0,00500

Chipset voltage

PCH Core Voltage

0,70000 – 1,80000

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

 

PLL Termination Voltage

1,00000 – 2,50000

0,01250

ASUS Z97-WS

ASUS Z97-WS

“Monitor” section provides the access to information about temperature of CPU, module VRM and chipset. You can monitor the voltage on the +12V, + V and +3.3V rails, as well as some other parameters from any section, as this information is constantly displayed on the right sidebar. Also it is possible to take screenshots.  


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