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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 08 > ASUS Z97M-PLUS

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18-08-2014


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ASUS Z97M-PLUS motherboard review and testing

Motherboard ASUS Z97M-PLUS with an average cost of about 170 USD offers a very good combination of price, equipment and compact microATX format. Based on its specifications the novelty is perfect for building compact home middle range system thanks to well thought-out interface panel layout, a good set of ports and expansion slots, as well as the support of M.2 interface with a bandwidth of 10 Gb/s. Of course there are traditional for the ASUS high quality performance, good circuitry, as well as a number of proprietary technologies. And now let's go directly to the study of all the special features and find out any disadvantages if they are.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

Z97M-PLUS (rev 1.04)

Chipset

Intel Z97

CPU 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* / 2250* / 2200* / 2133* / 2000* / 1866* / 1600 / 1333 MHz

(*OC)

Memory support

4 x DDR3 DIMM- slots with memory support 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

Memory support

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 Intel WGI218V (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Realtek ALC887 codec

8-channel 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 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

6 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 х TPM socket

1 х LPT socket

1 х COM 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 reset

1 х «MemOK!» button

1 x 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 brochure

Driver and utility disc

2 x SATA cables

1 х interface panel plug

Form factor,

Dimensions

microATX

244 х 224 mm

Producer website

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

Packaging and content    

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

Packaging of motherboard has compact dimensions. 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 Z97M-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 in form of interface M.2 and sound subsystem maid in accordance with design “Crystal Sound 2”.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

The box of ASUS Z97M-PLUS has the following set of accessories:

  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • user's guide;
  • two SATA-cables;
  • interface panel plug.

Design and features of the board

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

The product is made dark brown PCB with format microATX (244 х 224 mm) and differs by plain and reserved class. A key element of motherboard design is round radiator on the chipset.

In general, the on-board elements layout of ASUS Z97M-PLUS is a very good: many internal connectors are located on the edges, and DIMM-slots include latches on one side only. It should be noted the absence of mounting holes on the right edge of the printed circuit board. So you should be careful during building the system. Especially it concerns the connection of the main power cable.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

On the reverse side we traditionally note a support plate of CPU socket, and the fact that both radiators are secured with plastic clips.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, TPM, COM and LPT ports; socket S/PDIF out, CMOS reset button, as well as front panel leading-in socket. Additionally here are three leading-in sockets for activation of USB 2.0 ports. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: six are internal and two on the interface panel.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is presented by socket M.2 (support of SSD drives of M.2 2260 and M.2 2280 formats) and six ports SATA 6 Gb/s The operation of all interfaces is implemented by chipset. 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 shares the carrying capacity with two ports SATA (according scheme SATA6G_5 and SATA6G_6) so their simultaneous usage is impossible. 

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

Main board ASUS Z97M-PLUS is equipped with four DIMM-slots for memory modules DDR3, which are equipped with latches on one side. 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 16000 MHz in nominal mode and up to 3200 MHz in overclocking are supported. Maximum memory capacity may be up to 32 GB which is enough for almost any tasks.

Also note the button MemOK! which allows you to automatically pick up the necessary parameters of the memory for a successful start.

The total number of USB 3.0 ports is six: two internal and four on the interface panel.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

Note the switch GPU Boost which has three positions: “Off”, “1” (automatic overclocking of graphics processor and increase of processor multiplier) and “2” (automatic overclocking of graphics processor, system bus frequency and multiplier of the CPU).

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

Cooling system of the product includes two aluminum radiators: one for heat removal from chipset Intel Z97, while the other 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 – 35.9°C.

The received results can be considered as good.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

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 power consumption control subsystem “DIGI+VRM”. All power components of CPU have high reliability level: solid capacitors with increased lifetime, as well as chokes with ferrite core. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.     

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

To extend the functionality the motherboard ASUS Z97M-PLUS has four slots:

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

As only one PCI Express x16 slots is connected to CPU with always uses all 16 available lines of the standard PCI Express 3.0, and the bandwidth of second is limited by 4 lines chipset PCI Express 2.0, the novelty is designed to install only one graphics card.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

If you decided to take advantage of the integrated on the CPU graphics core then you have three video outputs: HDMI, DVI-D and D-Sub, switching is carried out by chip ASMedia ASM1442K.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

Since chipset Intel H97 does not support bus PCI, the functioning of three corresponding connectors is implemented using a bridge PCIE-PCI based on the controller ASMedia ASM1083.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

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

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

To support network connection there is gigabit LAN-controller Intel WGI218V.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

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) such as the usage of Nichicon audio capacitors, special audio amplifier and shielding protective trip on the textolite. In addition, left and right sound channels are realized on the different layers of the board to reduce cross talks.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

Interface panel of ASUS Z97M-PLUS model contains the following ports:

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

The interface panel competent layout, which includes almost everything you need for a modern user is excellent. Among its benefits is convenient connection of multi-channel speakers, three video outputs, a sufficient number of USB ports, as well as an opportunity to bring out on the rear of the case the next ports: COM and LPT, which significantly expands the list of supported peripherals. 

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

The possibility of organizing the cooling system inside the case is quite standard. There are four 4-pin fan connectors, one of which is used for the cooling CPU system, while the other three are for system fans.

UEFI BIOS

Model uses a modern preloader based on UEFI. To provide the setting is possible via mouse control. It proposes two main scenarios of the usage.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

“EZ Mode” where all required settings are grouped in one screen and overclocking can be performed using “EZ Tuning Wizard”.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

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

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

All overclocking parameters are in section “Ai Tweaker”.

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

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

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

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

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

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

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

0,00500

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 Z97M-PLUS

ASUS Z97M-PLUS

“Monitor” section provides the access to information about temperature of CPU and chipset. 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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