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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 06 > ASUS Z97I-PLUS

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16-06-2014


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ASUS Z97I-PLUS motherboard review

The new motherboard ASUS Z97I-PLUS is a very interesting and functional combination of compact Mini-ITX size, wireless interfaces Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0, and a good set of video outputs of flagship chipset Intel Z97. Considering all the above mentioned advantages, the novelty seems to us like a great solution to build compact systems of medium and high productivity levels. It is an excellent alternative to models of series ASUS ROG, which are oriented on overclockers and gamers. In turn, ASUS Z97I-PLUS is suitable for a wider audience thanks to a little more affordable cost, which at the time of review writing about 220 U.S. dollars.

Now let's examine all the features of the product and find out its weak spots and advantages.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

Z97I-PLUS (rev 1.03)

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* / 1800* / 1600 / 1333 MHz

(*OS)

Memory support

2 x DDR3 DIMM-slots with memory support up to 16 GB

Expansion slots

1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16

Disk subsystem

Intel Z97 chipset supports:

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

4 x SATA 6 GB/s

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

LAN

1 x Intel WGI218V (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Wi-Fi

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

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 4.0

Sound subsystem

Realtek ALC892 codec

8-cahnell sound

S/PDIF Out

Power connectors

1x24-pin ATX main power connector

1x8-pin ATX12V power connector

Fans

1 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

2 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-I

1 x D-Sub

1 x LAN (RJ45)

4 x USB 3.0

4 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

3 x audio jacks

1 х PS/2 (mouse and keyboard connection)

Internal I/O

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

1 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

4 x 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!

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 brochure

Driver and utility disc

1 х set of ASUS Q-Connectors

4 x SATA cables

1 x combined Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antenna

1 х faceplate of interface panel

Form factor,

Dimensions

Mini-ITX

170 х 170 mm

Producer website

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

Packaging and content       

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

Packaging of motherboard has compact dimensions, but it differs with great depth. Traditionally, the material is thick cardboard, decorated in corporate printing where most of the image is reserved for radiator of round shape.

As for key information, in addition to the manufacturer and model of the device on the right side is marked the concept 5X PROTECTION, which includes:

  • Digital PWM controllers to control CPU power subsystems and memory modules that are used in accordance with the original concept DIGI+VRM.  
  • Special safety devices for increased protection against overcurrent and short circuit current.
  • Protection against electrostatic discharge.
  • Japanese solid capacitors with increased 2.5 times life (up to 5000 hours at 105°C).
  • Reinforced construction of interface panel, which is made of stainless steel coated with chromium oxide. It has high resistance to oxidation which makes it three times more wear-resistant.

Note that the ASUS motherboards are tested for compatibility with more than 1000 different accessories, such as processors, memory modules, and other graphics. And figure of 7000+ indicates the total number of hours of testing.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

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

  • TurboLAN - using the supplied software you can monitor network activity in real time, and set each program priority access to network resources.
  • Audio - preinstalled on the motherboard audio codec Realtek ALC892 with special amplifier offers support for eight-channel sound to maximize the quality. Note that the wiring for each audio channel a separate layer in the PCB is used. Here is the support of technologies DTS Connest and DTS Ultra PC II and the presence of the port S/PDIF out on the interface panel.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

The box of ASUS Z97I-PLUS has the following set of accessories:

  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • user's guide;
  • four SATA-cables;
  • set of ASUS Q-Connectors;
  • combined Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antenna;
  • interface panel plug.

Design and features of the board

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

The product is made dark brown PCB with format Mini-ITX (170 x 170 mm). Strict design is slightly diluted with golden inclusions in the form of radiator of chipset cooling system and the power supply elements of processor.

Composition of all on-board components fully complies with compact form factor of PCB. For greater convenience DIMM-slots include a latch on one side only and expansion slot PCI Express 3.0 x16 equipped with very comfortable latch.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

On the reverse side, in addition to the standard support plate of CPU socket, it can be noted that the radiator on the elements of the power subsystem is fixed with screws, while the same item on the chipset is mounted using plastic spring-loaded clips.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

There is a connector M.2 implemented by the chipset that supports SSD-drives of formats M.2 M.2 2260 and 2280.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

In the bottom left corner of the PCB in addition to the preset support module of wireless interfaces Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0, there are: module for connecting the front panel audio jacks, S/PDIF out, CMOS jumper, block for activation USB of 2.0 ports, as well as MemOK! button. The last allows you automatically pick up the necessary parameters of the memory system for a successful start. 

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

Behind the interface panel there all three fan connectors as well as TPM port.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

In the bottom right corner are focused four SATA 6 GB/s slots, which are implemented using chipset Intel Z97. There is a support of SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10. Also note module to connect the front panel, connector for optional remote activation of a two USB 3.0-port. Total amount of USB 2.0 ports is six and the same amount of 3.0: two inner and four on the interface panel. All they function through a set of system logic. 

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

Main board ASUS Z97I-PLUS is equipped with two DIMM-slots for memory modules DDR3, which are equipped with latches on one side only. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. 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 16 GB which is enough for almost any tasks.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

Cooling system of the product includes two aluminum radiators: one for heat removal from chipset Intel Z97 while the second covers elements of power subsystem. 

In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 41.5°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor elements power – 40.8°C.

Despite the mounting method using plastic clips and low heat dissipation area of the radiator on the chipset, it copes with its job. The same can be said about the second radiator. As a result, the cooling system ASUS Z97I-PLUS especially taking into account its compact dimensions deserves a good rating.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

Processor power supply is performed via 6-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 Z97I-PLUS

Opportunities to extend the functionality of the motherboard ASUS Z97I-PLUS are presented by two slots:

  • PCI Express 3.0 x16;
  • mini-PCI Express (for module of wireless interfaces).

If you want to create a compact gaming system with a discrete graphics card, you can use for example the model ASUS GeForce GTX 760 DirectCU Mini OC, which was specifically designed for perfect compatibility with the format of Mini-ITX.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

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 ASM1442K.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

Multi I/O capabilities are based on NUVOTON NCT5538D chip which controls system fans, PS/2 ports and provides the monitoring. 

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

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 Z97I-PLUS

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC892 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

In accordance with the concept of 5X PROTECTION interface panel of the ASUS Z97I-PLUS is made of stainless steel coated with chromium oxide, which makes it more susceptible to breakage. It includes the following ports:

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

Undoubtedly, the main advantage of this configuration is to support a dual-module Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0. Due to the use of standard IEEE 802.11ac and two operating ranges (2.4 and 5 GHz) it provides the operation of Wi-Fi network at speeds up to 867 Mbit/s. Additionally note a large number of USB ports and the availability of all relevant video outputs.

As for features, it is necessary to remember before buying only inconvenient connecting of multichannel speakers.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

The possibilities of organizing the cooling system inside the case are pretty standard for Mini-ITX format. There is three 4-pin fan connectors, one of which is used for CPU cooling system, while the other two are for system fans.

UEFI BIOS

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

Motherboard ASUS Z97I-PLUS uses a modern preloader based on graphics interface UEFI, to adjust them is possible via mouse. It offers two main scenarios of usage.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

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

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

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

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

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

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

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

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

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

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

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, 167, 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

1,200 – 1,920

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 Z97I-PLUS

ASUS Z97I-PLUS

“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 in BIOS.  


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