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Results: Overclocking

Five Z97 Express Motherboards, $160 To $220, Reviewed
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BIOS Frequency and Voltage settings (for overclocking)
 ASRock Z97
Extreme6
Asus
Z97-Pro(Wi-Fi ac)
Gigabyte
Z97X-UD5H
MSI
Z97 MPower
Supermicro
C7Z97-OCE
Base Clock90-300 MHz (0.1 MHz)80-300 MHz (0.1 MHz)80-333 MHz (0.01 MHz)90-300 MHz (0.05 MHz)0-655.34 MHz (0.01 MHz)
CPU Multiplier8x-120x (1x)8x-80x (1x)8-80x (1x)8-80x (1x)1-65534x (1x)
DRAM Data Rates800-4000 (200/266.6 MHz)800-3400 (200/266.6 MHz)800-2933 (200/266.6 MHz)800-3200 (200/266.6 MHz)800-4000 (200/266.6 MHz)
CPU Vcore0.80-2.00V (1 mV)0.01-1.92V (1 mV)0.50-1.80V (1mV)0.80-2.10V (1 mV)0-2.00V (1 mV)
VCCIN1.20-2.30V (10 mV)0.80-2.70V (10 mV)1.00-2.40V (10 mV)1.20-3.04V (1 mV)1.85-2.40V (5 mV)
PCH Voltage0.98-1.32V (5 mV)0.70-1.40V (12.5 mV)0.65-1.30V (5 mV)0.70-2.32V (10 mV)0.96-1.36V (5 mV)
DRAM Voltage1.17-1.80V (5 mV)1.20-1.92V (10 mV)1.15-2.10V (20 mV)0.24-2.77V (10 mV)1.35-1.95V (5 mV)
CAS Latency4-15 Cycles1-31Cycles5-15 Cycles4-15 Cycles3-15 Cycles
tRCD3-20 Cycles1-31Cycles4-31 Cycles4-31 Cycles3-15 Cycles
tRP4-15 Cycles1-31Cycles4-31 Cycles4-31 Cycles3-15 Cycles
tRAS9-63 Cycles1-63 Cycles5-63 Cycles9-63 Cycles9-63 Cycles

Our original Core i7-4770K was nearly perfect; we could push 4.7 GHz at something less than 1.30 V when we topped it with similarly strong cooling. After extensive tests, we eventually settled on 4.6 GHz at 1.25 V with a mid-sized thermal solution.

Intel’s Haswell cores haven’t changed much in spite of the new models, with a purportedly more advanced thermal material between the heat spreader and die serving as the most notable “Devil’s Canyon” advancement. Our new Core i7-4790K gets that improved TIM, but isn't one of the lucky few CPUs able to reach previously-unseen clock rates. Rather, it needs 1.28 V to hit 4.6 GHz. The only improvement, then, is that we don’t need perfect cooling to run at 1.28 volts.

ASRock and Supermicro sent in the highest-overclocking boards this time, with Supermicro achieving the same 46 x 100 MHz setting at noticeably lower temperatures. We’d like to credit its voltage regulator, but haven’t figured out a great way to test that part separately.

Asus didn’t reach 46 x 100 MHz without eventually crashing, but did push 4.59 GHz at 45 x 102 MHz.

Asus turned in the highest base clock at the top strap setting. Gigabyte’s Z97X-UD5H wouldn’t boot with the 1.66x strap enabled, though a few advanced settings might have helped. Our primary focus on BCLK rests with the 1.00x strap, since that’s where non-K CPUs are stuck, and the Z97S-UD5H leads there, followed by MSI’s second-place Z97 MPower.

ASRock’s Z97 Extreme6 leads the memory overclocking race, followed by Asus’s Z97-Pro(Wi-Fi ac).

In one of our memory reviews, we noticed that some of Asus’ top-overclocking boards suffer worse memory bandwidth at DDR3-2800 than at DDR3-2400 and decided that a DDR3-2800 memory bandwidth comparison might be a good idea. After all, what good is a top overclock if it ruins your performance?

Gigabyte has been kicked around in the past for not producing a top memory overclock (and for not having top bandwidth at ordinary data rates). But it would probably be more accurate to say that Asus starts out with optimized settings and applies heavier stability compensation as clocks are increased. Gigabyte’s Z97X-UD5H is the clear leader when DDR3-2800 performance is your priority.

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  • 0 Hide
    Memnarchon , August 14, 2014 12:39 AM
    At this price Asus could send a ROG product (Maximus VII Hero). I wonder why they choose to send the Z97-Pro instead...
  • 1 Hide
    bigshootr8 , August 14, 2014 12:48 AM
    Quote:
    At this price Asus could send a ROG product (Maximus VII Hero). I wonder why they choose to send the Z97-Pro instead...


    My thoughts you can find the hero board within that price range quite easy. http://pcpartpicker.com/part/asus-motherboard-maximusviihero
  • -1 Hide
    bigshootr8 , August 14, 2014 12:51 AM
    -snip- duplicate post silly tomshardware.
  • 1 Hide
    Drejeck , August 14, 2014 4:40 AM
    I'd like some ITX Z97 and H97 with M.2 reviewed.
    I'm buying the Asus Z97i-plus because it just mount a 2x M.2 2280 and 2260, and all other connectivity goodness, uninterested in overclocking unless the broadwell i5 K consume less than 90W :D 
  • 1 Hide
    mapesdhs , August 14, 2014 6:22 AM

    I recently bought a Z97I-Plus. Being so used to EATX boards as of late, I was a tad
    stunned at how tiny even the packing box is. :D  Just pairing it up with a G3258
    initially to see how it behaves. Pondering a GTX 750 Ti, but kinda hoping NVIDIA
    will release a newer version in Sept.

    Ian.

  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , August 14, 2014 8:33 AM
    Quote:
    At this price Asus could send a ROG product (Maximus VII Hero). I wonder why they choose to send the Z97-Pro instead...
    They probably wanted to win based on features for the money? We know that the Wi-Fi ac has A $50 WI-FI CONTROLLER, what does the Hero add that's worth $50?

  • 0 Hide
    lp231 , August 14, 2014 9:11 AM
    The Asus ROG boards have a red line that lights up showing the audio path through it's build in LEDs, but the mainstream Z97 don't. I had a chance to take a look at one of the Asus Z97 board and took my phone's flash to shine in on it. The color was somewhat yellowish green and it looks really nice.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , August 14, 2014 9:16 AM
    I have a Z97 Extreme 6, it's a very nice board and it's definitely worthy of the approval award.
  • 0 Hide
    TechyInAZ , August 14, 2014 12:18 PM
    Nice boards!! I love the gigabyte model but I like asus more because yellow heatsinks just don't fit in my opinion.
  • 0 Hide
    Memnarchon , August 14, 2014 1:57 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    At this price Asus could send a ROG product (Maximus VII Hero). I wonder why they choose to send the Z97-Pro instead...
    They probably wanted to win based on features for the money? We know that the Wi-Fi ac has A $50 WI-FI CONTROLLER, what does the Hero add that's worth $50?

    Hello. I think there are more reasons to buy a ROG product, instead of a Wi-Fi controller...
    Better audio quality.
    Better MOF-SETs.
    Better inductors.
    ROG BIOS.
    Generally ROG boards have better quality parts.
    But in the end we need the reviewers (like you) to review as many products as they can, so we can see the performance difference between them.
  • 0 Hide
    ssdpro , August 14, 2014 4:28 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    At this price Asus could send a ROG product (Maximus VII Hero). I wonder why they choose to send the Z97-Pro instead...
    They probably wanted to win based on features for the money? We know that the Wi-Fi ac has A $50 WI-FI CONTROLLER, what does the Hero add that's worth $50?





    Nothing. No one would use wifi on a ROG board that is geared for gaming. I can't see many buyers of the Z97 Pro using wifi either for that matter. Unless of course you like to pack up your tower and walk around with it in one hand and your monitor in the other.
  • 0 Hide
    ssdpro , August 14, 2014 4:31 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    At this price Asus could send a ROG product (Maximus VII Hero). I wonder why they choose to send the Z97-Pro instead...
    They probably wanted to win based on features for the money? We know that the Wi-Fi ac has A $50 WI-FI CONTROLLER, what does the Hero add that's worth $50?





    Nothing would be added, just better board quality. No one would use wifi on a ROG board that is geared for gaming. I can't see many buyers of the Z97 Pro using wifi either for that matter. Unless of course you like to pick up your tower and walk around with it in one hand and your monitor in the other tonguing the mouse for movement. But yes that would use that wifi controller.
  • 0 Hide
    bigshootr8 , August 14, 2014 4:35 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    At this price Asus could send a ROG product (Maximus VII Hero). I wonder why they choose to send the Z97-Pro instead...
    They probably wanted to win based on features for the money? We know that the Wi-Fi ac has A $50 WI-FI CONTROLLER, what does the Hero add that's worth $50?





    Nothing would be added, just better board quality. No one would use wifi on a ROG board that is geared for gaming. I can't see many buyers of the Z97 Pro using wifi either for that matter. Unless of course you like to pick up your tower and walk around with it in one hand and your monitor in the other tonguing the mouse for movement. But yes that would use that wifi controller.


    Whole heartily agree! With any worth while gaming setup you wouldn't be playing games over wifi anyway. The slap in the face bandwidth wise is enough to keep people away. Lets check Intel Lan/Killer Nic yea I'll stick with one of those two thank you.
  • 0 Hide
    Chris Droste , August 14, 2014 5:59 PM
    the nice things about the Asus board imo is i already have a PCIe 1x Soundblaster X-Fi and I really don't want it butting up to a lava-hot Volcanic Islands card. the port placement lets me keep that card way down, and keeps me from having to worry about how good on-board audio is for at least another generation. Yeah, it's a $220, but Microcenter has a deal (on top of best CPU prices) to nab the 4790k + this board for $160 as a combo deal. makes for a smokin' offer imo
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , August 14, 2014 6:20 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    At this price Asus could send a ROG product (Maximus VII Hero). I wonder why they choose to send the Z97-Pro instead...
    They probably wanted to win based on features for the money? We know that the Wi-Fi ac has A $50 WI-FI CONTROLLER, what does the Hero add that's worth $50?

    Hello. I think there are more reasons to buy a ROG product, instead of a Wi-Fi controller...
    Better audio quality.
    Better MOF-SETs.
    Better inductors.
    ROG BIOS.
    Generally ROG boards have better quality parts.
    But in the end we need the reviewers (like you) to review as many products as they can, so we can see the performance difference between them.


    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    At this price Asus could send a ROG product (Maximus VII Hero). I wonder why they choose to send the Z97-Pro instead...
    They probably wanted to win based on features for the money? We know that the Wi-Fi ac has A $50 WI-FI CONTROLLER, what does the Hero add that's worth $50?





    Nothing would be added, just better board quality. No one would use wifi on a ROG board that is geared for gaming. I can't see many buyers of the Z97 Pro using wifi either for that matter. Unless of course you like to pick up your tower and walk around with it in one hand and your monitor in the other tonguing the mouse for movement. But yes that would use that wifi controller.

    The problem for Asus is that they like to win awards. Costlier components don't boost a review rating when they don't boost performance or overclocking. In case you missed it, MOST of Asus' deluxe boards have out-overclocked MOST of its ROG boards in Tom's Hardware's tests.

    As for Wi-Fi, I've occasionally set up mine as an access point.
  • 0 Hide
    SoupRice , August 14, 2014 8:14 PM
    i just built this Z97-A with i7 4790k running smoothly
  • 0 Hide
    Memnarchon , August 15, 2014 4:47 AM
    Quote:
    The problem for Asus is that they like to win awards. Costlier components don't boost a review rating when they don't boost performance or overclocking. In case you missed it, MOST of Asus' deluxe boards have out-overclocked MOST of its ROG boards in Tom's Hardware's tests.

    As for Wi-Fi, I've occasionally set up mine as an access point.

    My apologies for the delay of responding. Due to a surgery after medial meniscus injury, I can't [removed] sit too much on my PC desk for some weeks.
    Indeed, every company wants awards in their product page to show how good their product is.
    Well, "Deluxe" products could be able to compete in o/c since they have similar PWM phases used. They also have same quality inductors. On the other hand "Pro" products aren't the same as "Deluxe" (they have a good difference in their price as well) and they are missing the things I just wrote (apart from other fearures...).
    Also from the time Asus first release a cheap (~$200) ROG motherboard (Hero and Ranger joined a year later...), Tom's Hardware didn't made a review on them yet. And the only Z97/Z87/Z77 Asus ROG product in the reviews is the Z87 Maximus VI Formula, which won an elite award. Asus seems to send Deluxe and Pro products all the time, but they rarely send an ROG motherboard. So I think there is a large margin of error in comparing just one product to a lot of others, the results will be heavily affected by the result of one product (Maximus Formula).
    For Wi-Fi, I just use my router's controller which was provided by my ISP, free of charge...
    ps: I couldn't miss it since I read Tom's Hardware daily (mostly waiting for each day's article, apart from weekends which you almost never do) with a cup of coffee, like most people read a newspaper, the last five years :) .
    ps2: I would love to hear also raja@asus opinion on this.

    Watch the language. - G
    edit: Sorry G, I didn't noticed it. I mistyped...
  • 0 Hide
    vertexx , August 15, 2014 6:40 PM
    Crash, really nice article. Obviously a ton of work went into this one. Well done.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , August 15, 2014 11:17 PM
    No EVGA boards? I'd like to see how the Z97 Classified, Stinger, and FTW models compare to the competition.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , August 16, 2014 2:40 AM
    Quote:
    No EVGA boards? I'd like to see how the Z97 Classified, Stinger, and FTW models compare to the competition.
    EVGA only wanted to show a more-expensive model and asked that they be informed when that roundup is planned.
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