ASUS Z97 Motherboard Round-Up – TUF, ROG, Classic Z97 Series Detailed
We recently reported in an article that ASUS would be breaking its NDA with Intel and would let publications post about their latest Z97 motherboards. Last week, we posted a major leak of ASUS Z97 motherboards but since it is official now, we are going to do a round-up of all ASUS Z97 chipset based motherboards that would be available in the upcoming month.
ASUS Z97 Motherboard Round-Up – TUF, ROG, Classic Lineups
The first lineup we will detail is ASUS’s Z97 ROG motherboard lineup which includes ASUS’s Republic of Gamers branded products which are aimed towards enthusiasts, overclockers and gamers. The new motherboards from ASUS include some intresting features this round such as Intel Ethernet, LAN Guard, GameFirst III, Supreme FX, Sonic Radar II, KeyBot, TrueVolt USB and Gamer’s Guardian which will come in handy for easier connectivity and accessibility. The ASUS Z97 motherboards ‘ROG’ lineup includes the following products which will be detailed below:
- ASUS ROG Maximus VII Hero
- ASUS ROG Maximus VII Gene
- ASUS ROG Maximus VII Ranger
ASUS Maximus VII Hero
Featuring a new improved ROG design scheme, the ROG Maximus VII Hero will be featuring the latest LGA1150 socket powered by the latest 12 Phase DIGI+ VRM design. Power would be provided through an 8-Pin connector while the 24-Pin ATX connector located next to the four DDR3 DIMMs will power the rest of the mainboard. The board is equipped with overclock switches which include the OC key, On/Off and Clear CMOS switches. Rest of the board includes three PCI-e 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x16/x8 electrical), three PCI-e 3.0 x1 and a M.2 PCIe SSD interface which will support Intel’s NGFF form factor drives.
For storage, ASUS has included 8 SATA 6 GB/s ports and a USB 3.0 header. The VRM and Z97 PCH are cooled by several heatsinks featuring the ROG emblem and theme. The ROG boards use a red and black color theme and the new boards stay loyal to the design.
ASUS Maximus VII Gene
Next up is the Maximus VII Gene which is the M-ATX board made for overclockers. It maybe small but it retains the overclocking features of the flagship ROG Z97 motherboard, comes with two PCI-e 3.0 x16 and a PCI-e 3.0 x4 slot while storage includes 8 SATA 3 Ports. There are several I/O options an the addition of THX audio within the backpanel ports. The CPU is provided power with a 8-Pin power connector which means that the design of DIGI+ VRM is quite beefy and the cooler includes a heatpipe for superior cooling performance. The board has a M.2 PCI E SSD interface and a add-in board of some sort which is most likely the sound card since we can’t spot the Audio jack on the headers.
There’s an additional add-in card slot on the top of the motherboard right next to the 8-Pin connector which could hint to a Wi-Fi / Bluetooth add in module or something similar like their Wi-Fi Go module that was available with their Z77 series motherboards.
ASUS Maximus VII Ranger
The ASUS Maximus VII Ranger is a new addition in terms of naming scheme to the ROG lineup and is a cut down board which features a 8 Phase DIGI+ VRM powered by an 8-Pin connector which provided juice to the LGA1150 socket. You can note that ASUS has went with a new design for chokes and VRMs which means that the board will deliver more stability and overclocking performance as compared to Z87 products of similar range from ASUS.
Four DDR3 DIMMs will be able to support memory with XMP profiles for OC support. We can spot some OC and LED diagnostics switches near the 24-Pin ATX connector. Expansion slots include three PCI-e 3.0 x16, three PCI-e 3.0 x1 and a M.2 SSD slot for NGFF form factor SSDs. The large heatsink are placed on the PCH and VRM but we don’t get heatpipe solution on the Maximus VII Ranger. Storage includes six SATA 6 GB/s ports while SupremeFX chip powers the audio jack with high-quality sound output.
The second lineup we will detail is ASUS’s Z97 TUF “The Ultimate Force” motherboard lineup which are aimed towards enthusiasts, overclockers. Built with top of the line Military Grade Components, the Z97 TUF series will include longer and stable performance and take overclocking to the next step. The new motherboards from ASUS include some interesting features this round such as Intel Ethernet, LAN Guard, TUF Components, DIGI+ Power Control and the latest TUF Frontier thermal shield and barrier for additional cooling and stability to the board layout. The ASUS Z97 motherboards ‘TUF’ lineup includes the following products which will be detailed below:
- ASUS Sabertooth Z97 MARK 1
- ASUS Sabertooth Z97 MARK 2
- ASUS Gryphon Z97
ASUS Sabertooth Z97 MARK 1
The flagship TUF series motherboard which will be introduced in ASUS’s Z97 motherboard lineup is the Z97 Sabertooth Mark I fitted with the latest TUF Fortifier shielding which protects the board from damage and enhances the cooling performance. Much of the details are hidden since we can’t spot what’s underneath the TUF armor but we can spot an 8-Pin power connector that supplies juice to the LGA 1150 socket which itself is connected with a beefy 8 Phase DIGI+ supply. Four DDR3 DIMM slots seem to feature some thermal guard to enhance cooling for the DIMMs. The Storage options include 4 SATA 6 GB/s ports and a USB 3.0 header. Now, the most interesting feature of this board is that it comes with two SATA Express ports which will allow the motherboard to equip high-performance SSDs for faster transfer speeds.
Expansion slots include three PCI-e 3.0 x16 and three PCI-e 3.0 x1. Interestingly, there’s no M.2 PCI-e SSD slot on either Sabertooth Z97 boards. The motherboard was shown with its TUF Frontier armor which is a massive shield for the board itself and can also equip a small PWM fan in the center for more cooling if required.
ASUS Sabertooth Z97 MARK 2
The second ASUS Sabertooth board is the TUF Sabertooth Z97 MARK 2 which just like its brother features the TUF Frontier armor. Featuring Military Grade components, the Sabertooth Z97 MARK 2 comes with a 8 Phase DIGI+ supply, power is provided through an 8-Pin connnector. Four DDR3 DIMM slots allow support for 32 GB of DDR3 memory with overclocked specifications. The Storage options include 6 SATA 6 GB/s ports and a USB 3.0 header. ASUS doesn’t feature SATA Express on MARK 2 like the one on MARK 1 and there’s no M.2 slot either.
Expansion slots include three PCI-e 3.0 x16 and three PCI-e 3.0 x1 slots while several I/O connectors can be spotted on the board. The MARK 2 is better than the MARK 1 technically, the only difference is the availability of SATA Express on the MARK 1 which isn’t going to make much difference especially when such storage options are limited at the moment.
ASUS Gryphon Z97
Adopting the same TUF Frontier scheme is the ASUS Gryphon Z97 which is the M-ATX sized motherboard of the TUF series lineup. It comes with a 8 Phase DIGI+ VRM supply featuring Military grade components while the LGA 1150 socket is powered through an 8-Pin power connector. Near the 24-Pin ATX connector are four DDR3 DIMMs which support O.C memory and a maximum capacity of 32 GB. Expansion slots include three PCI-e 3.0 x16 and a single PCI-e 3.0 x1 slot. The heatsink layout is neat for this motherboard and enough to cool the PCH and VRM components for stability and overclocking.
Storage options include six SATA 6 GB/s ports and a USB 3.0 header. More USB 3.0 slots are located at the I/O panel along with a 7.1 channel audio jack and several display connectors. The motherboard will include the TUF Frontier shielding for protection and additional cooling.
So the third and last lineup we will detail is ASUS’s Z97 TUF Legacy motherboard lineup which are aimed towards enthusiasts, overclockers and budget users. Built with top of the line components and feature packed, the line-up is aimed towards all performance users and gamers including enthusiasts. The new motherboards from ASUS include some interesting features this round such as Intel Ethernet, LAN Guard, DIGI+ Power Control, Turbo App, Turbo LAN, Crystal Sound 2, HomeCloud (802.11ac B/G/N) and an interesting new design scheme for next-gen Intel platform. The ASUS Z97 motherboards ‘Legacy’ lineup includes the following products which will be detailed below:
- ASUS Z97-WS
- ASUS Z97-Deluxe
- ASUS Z97I-Pro
- ASUS Z97-Pro
- ASUS Z97-A
ASUS Z97-WS (Workstation)
The ASUS Z97-WS which is a workstation oriented motherboard is the most feature packed product of ASUS’s entire Z97 lineup featuring a top of the line 8 Phase DIGI+ VRM fitted with high quality components. The CPU LGA1150 socket is powered by two 8-Pin connectors in addition to the 24-Pin ATX connector. The Z97 PCH and VRM supply are hidden underneath a dense aluminum heatsink with heatpipe design. Storage options on the board include four SATA 6 GB/s ports, two SATA Express ports and two USB 3.0 headers for additional options enabling connectivity.
Expansion slots include four PCI-e 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-e 3.0 x1 slots and a PCI-e 3.0 x4 slot. There’s also a M.2 interface slot near the SATA Express port which gives an idea of the feature packed design ASUS enables on their workstation motherboards. An additional 6-Pin power connector is located on the top most PCI-e 3.0 slot which delivers additional power to the PCI-e lanes. Two diagnostic LEDs and power On/Off/Reset switches are located at the bottom of the board. The motherboard comes with a wide variety of I/O options and technologies such as ProCool power connector and Q-code logger. To sum it up, this is like i said before, the most feature packed board of the Z97 ASUS lineup.
The next motherboard is ASUS’s Z97-Deluxe which is the flagship consumer product of the Legacy lineup which is also the most feature packed board we have seen yet in ASUS’s Z97 motherboards lineup (excluding the Z97-WS). Equipped with a large heatpipe heatsink design, the motherboard features a 12 Phase DIGI+ VRM and powered through a single 8-Pin connector. The CPU socket is powered by a 12 Phase DIGI+ VRM which features both TPU and EPU technology support. Storage options include 6 SATA 6 GB/s and a single SATA Express port which will enable faster transfer speeds for next generation SSDs.
Expansion slots include three PCI-e 3.0 x16, four PCI-e 3.0 x1 and a M.2 interface slot. ASUS has featured their Crystal Sound 2 chip on the board which enables high quality sound and audio output. Several connectors and switches can be found on the entire motherboard layout and the I/O panel. ASUS has featured a totally new heatsink design on their Z97 motherboards which include heatpipe cooling and a large aluminum heatsink for cooling.
The ASUS Z97I-Pro is the latest Mini-ITX form factor motherboard from ASUS based on the LGA1150 socket and Z97 chipset. This motherboard comes with ASUS’s latest Z97 design scheme offering users with a 6 Phase DIGI+ VRM supply and fitted with top of the line components. The CPU socket is powered with a single 8-Pin connector in addition to the 24-Pin ATX connector. A Wi-Fi 802.11ac B/G/N module can be spotted on the board while the audio jack includes a 5.1 channel support. Storage includes four SATA 6 GB/s ports while expansion slots include a single PCI-e 3.0 x16 slot for add-in cards or discrete graphics options.
The ASUS Z97-Pro is the more performance minded offering of the legacy lineup featuring the LGA1150 socket to support Intel’s Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Devil’s Canyon and Broadwell processors. The Z97 PCH featured on the motherboard will enable support for Intel’s 9-Series platform. Design wise, this board includes a 10 Phase DIGI+ VRM design and the CPU socket is powered by a 8-Pin connector. Four DDR3 DIMMs enable support for overclock memory with capacity of 32 GB. Storage include 6 SATA 6 GB/s ports and a SATA Express port.
Expansion slots include three PCI-e 3.0 x16, four PCI-e 3.0 x1 and an M.2 SSD slot that will enable support for Intel NGFF solid state drives. Several connectivity options such as Crystal Sound 2 powered 7.1 Channel audio jack and USB 3.0 ports can be found on the I/O panel in addition to a add-in card slot which will most likely attach a Wi-Fi Go module with the board.
Last up is the ASUS Z97-A which is the budget minded offering of the legacy lineup featuring the LGA1150 socket to support Intel’s Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Devil’s Canyon and Broadwell processors. The Z97 PCH featured on the motherboard will enable support for Intel’s 9-Series platform. Design wise, this board includes a 8 Phase DIGI+ VRM design and the CPU socket is powered by a 8-Pin connector. Four DDR3 DIMMs enable support for overclock memory with capacity of 32 GB. Storage include 4 SATA 6 GB/s ports and a SATA Express port.
Expansion slots include three PCI-e 3.0 x16, two PCI-e 3.0 x1, a single PCI slot and an M.2 SSD slot that will enable support for Intel NGFF solid state drives. Several connectivity options such as Crystal Sound 2 powered 7.1 Channel audio jack and USB 3.0 ports can be found on the I/O panel.