Intel previously released its 9-series chipset after the success of the 8-series chips. The all new Z97 chipset still supports the Haswell processor with the same 1150 socket as the Z87. The Z97 chip is not a big leap over the Z87 but, the best part of it is the support for the fastest storage in the form of M.2 storage and SATA Express.
I guess no one want a slow boot up time PC, right? On the enthusiasts level motherboard, the faster your storage response the quicker it loads your programs. Even though, you don’t want it at present you may think of an upgrade later and the Z97 gives you the advantage.
Overclocker will be glad on it due to its RAM overclocking capabilities. Other Z87 based motherboard has maximum OC of 3,000MHz while the Z97 can go further up to 3,200MHz. The good thing about the Asus Z97-A board is the price it presented which is almost the same as the Z87-A offering.
The ASUS Z97-A Review talks about the motherboard’s main features, connectivity, performance and its overclocking capability. >>Click Here to check the price and discover what people are saying about this amazing board.
The Looks and Connectivity
The Asus Z97-A is undeniably a good looking motherboard. It is a more improve version of the previous Z87-A with black and gold. The new one has primarily black with a touched of dark gray that shows some highlights on the board.
The board provides beefy heatsink on the Z97 chipset with the Asus logo on top of it. You can also notice the two large heatsink on the voltage regulator circuitry so that it can handle enough heat during OC.
The CPU socket provides enough space to give way for the oversize CPU cooler if you decide to upgrade it for overclocking purposes. Beside the CPU socket is the DIMM slots. As usual, 4-slots are available and is nicely color coded with black and dark gray to properly identify its memory pairing. It supports up to 32GB of DDR3 DIMM with 3200MHz O.C.
Looking at the storage department, there are 4 SATA 6GB/s ports in gray that supports Raid 0, 1, 5, 10 and Smart Response Technology/Rapid Start Technology. You also have the SATA express port with two SATA 6GB/s port compatibility.
It would not complete without the main highlight of the Z97 chip which is the M.2 socket 3 with 2260/2280 storage device support.
Turning on the expansion slots, you can notice the 3x PCI slots with the first two supports the x16 or dual x8/x8 for multi GPU. It supports both the AMD CrossFirex and Nvidia SLI technology. The third slot runs at x2 mode. The board also includes the two PCIe 2.0 x1 and two PCI legacy slots.
One thing that you’ll surely adore about the Asus Z97-A motherboard is the inclusion of the two port blocks for the front panel wiring. If you’re having a hard time connecting those panel wires, not anymore because, this makes it easier to anyone.
The inclusion of the on-board button switch provides a user friendly environment especially when testing the board. As we already know about the MemOK! Switch, System power switch, XMP profiles, Automatic OC and the intelligent power savings.
Finally, at the back I/O panel we can notice the old time PS/2 mouse-keyboard combo port with 4x USB 3.0 in blue and 2x USB 2.0 in black. The Asus Z97-A provides every possible video port to maximize its utilization from the traditional VGA, DVI to HDMI and Display port. You also have the Optical S/PDIF, RJ45 LAN port and 5x audio jacks.
More Features Ahead From Asus Z97-A
The Asus Z97-A provides more features that takes you into a new level of your computing system such as the famous 5-way Optimization by Dual Intelligent processor 5. There’s a cool thing about the one click total system optimization to get an instant Overclock, Energy savings, Digital power, Customized fan control and Audio settings.
Asus is claiming a superb CPU performance with up to 4.7Ghz Overclock capacity, a quiet fan rpm reduction up to 1000rpm and 40-percent of power saving. The UEFI BIOS is the world first Graphical User Interface that totally eliminate the use of the keyboard control.
The all new Asus Z97-A UEFI BIOS improved version provides the smoothest and slickest mouse controlled. It is more appealing to anyone from novice to advance user. The all new SATA Express provided by the Z97 chipset delivers up to 10GB/s of data transfer speed coming from the two PCIe 2.0 lanes.
With that kind of speed you can expect an ultra fast boot up time. If you want a fast connection, the Turbo LAN feature with traffic shaping technology boosts its performance for up to 1.45 times. As a result, a faster and smoother gaming is acquired without lagging.
For a top quality audio output the Crystal Sound 2 makes it possible for you to listen the way you wanted to listen from gaming, chatting, movies and your favorite MP3 music. Thanks to its premium components such as the Japanese audio caps, Op-Amps and on-board physical shielding that produces superb clarity and fidelity as well.
ASUS engineers are very clever in developing their system board to makes it simpler for you to do it yourself. The ASUS Q-Design makes your PC building quick by including a second block on the panel connector.
The Al Suite 3 provides a simple graphical adjustment for everything you need to set. The EZ BIOS Flash 2 updates easily by simply inserting a flash drive on the USB and safely creates backup.
ASUS Z97-A Review (Overclocking)
The Asus Z97-A was tested using the Core i7-4770K CPU with Corsair CPU water cooler. You have many options to overclock this board from EZ wizard firware, the Al Suite 3 and manual overclocking.
Using the Al Suite 3 gives the novice a simplest way to overclock though it has a limited frequency of 4.4GHz. The base clock is firm at 100MHz with the multiplier is set x 44 and the voltage at 1.31v.The system runs at full stability with the temperature rise at normal level of 85-degrees.
The EZ wizard firmware shows better results with 4.5891GHz. The base clock was push higher up to 101.98MHz while the multiplier is set to x45 and a lesser voltage with 1.224v. However, the temperature rises and it suggest a better cooling system.
The manual overclocking via firmware could be the last resort. The base clock was remaining at 100MHz while the multiplier increases to x45 giving an all stable 4.5GHz. The auto voltage setting was seen at 1.32v. Finally, the highest frequency achieved was 4.6GHz though, the automated voltage reached 1.35v which indicate a BSOD errors. To fix this error we try the manual voltage adjustment by lowering it a bit to 1.3v.
The ASUS Z97-A is definitely a great performing motherboard. Though, it doesn’t exceed the previous Z87 counterpart in Overclocking capability it provides a faster storage performance with its all new M.2 feature.
What makes it better than the Z87 is the improved power consumption. If you’re a power saver enthusiast this is certainly an advantage. Feature wise, the ASUS Z97-A got the advantage over the older Z87 while the price is at the same stage.
If you have the previous Z87 board, an upgrade to Z97 doesn’t take you to greater heights. However, if you’re thinking to build a new one, the ASUS Z97 is definitely a wise choice. >>Click Here to get it at its Lowest Price!