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Five Z97 Express Motherboards, $160 To $220, Reviewed

Z97 Pro(Wi-Fi ac) Firmware

Though we find XMP and EZ O/C settings on the firmware's starting page, we’d rather jump into its finer features at the touch of an F7 key.

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Though the screen shot shows a 46x multiplier, we were truthfully able to reach 4.59 GHz at 45x 102 MHz. Unfortunately, the DRAM only allowed us to reach a 101 MHz BCLK at 28x, so the displayed settings are closer to the actual results.

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We measured a 1.28 V CPU core at the motherboard’s actual 1.28 V setting. That kind of accuracy is appreciated. On the contrary, our DRAM reached 1.65 V at the Z97 Pro(Wi-Fi ac)’s 1.625 V setting, and firmware showed only 1.646 V.

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Primary, secondary, and tertiary timings are all adjustable. The Z97 Pro(Wi-Fi ac) even used our DRAM’s XMP settings as the baseline (when set to XMP mode).

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Also known as droop compensation, the Z97 Pro(Wi-Fi ac) features CPU Load-Line Calibration to reduce voltage sag under full load. Default settings worked for us, though we did increase the power menu’s CPU current threshold by 20%.

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Asus Easy Tuning Wizard appears to be a firmware-based overclocking utility designed for people who don’t want to overclock. As confusing as that sounds, we were more confused when the system wouldn’t boot after using it. That’s because the company's software-based automatic-overclocking worked well.

  • Memnarchon
    At this price Asus could send a ROG product (Maximus VII Hero). I wonder why they choose to send the Z97-Pro instead...
    Reply
  • bigshootr8
    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
    Reply
  • bigshootr8
    -snip- duplicate post silly tomshardware.
    Reply
  • Drejeck
    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
    Reply
  • mapesdhs
    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.

    Reply
  • Crashman
    13953852 said:
    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?

    Reply
  • lp231
    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.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    I have a Z97 Extreme 6, it's a very nice board and it's definitely worthy of the approval award.
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    Nice boards!! I love the gigabyte model but I like asus more because yellow heatsinks just don't fit in my opinion.
    Reply
  • Memnarchon
    13956156 said:
    13953852 said:
    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.
    Reply