Four Z87 Express Motherboards For Three- And Four-Way SLI

Z87-WS Firmware

Asus’ UEFI includes a custom-configurable start page with XMP and fan settings, called Easy Mode. But if you really want to make changes easily, you'll instead set the boot options to kick you into the “Advanced Mode”.

Enabling XMP in Advanced mode means choosing XMP as an overclocking baseline, and making additional adjustments from there. The Ai Tweaker menu starts off with that setting, strap ratios for BCLK overclocking, and eventually BCLK frequency.

Further down the Ai Tweaker menu are CPU multiplier, DRAM frequency, and DRAM timing controls.

We’re three pages down the list before we reach CPU voltage controls, but are instantly made happy by one of our findings. While most enthusiast-class motherboards purposely add somewhere around 10% to both set and reported voltage, the Z87-WS gives us 1.25 V at its 1.25-volt setting.

DIMM voltage, on the other hand, turns up the same old tricks we've been observing for a while now from many board vendors. In order to achieve the best memory stability, Asus' Z87-WS adds around 30 to 35 millivolts to our chosen setting. Test consistency and accuracy demands that we choose 1.62 V to achieve the proper 1.65 volts.

Three pages of DRAM settings cover the expected range of primary, secondary, and tertiary options, along with a few additional wave form controls.

Default settings for the Digi+ Power menu provided our hardware with excellent voltage stability.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • iam2thecrowe
    Am i missing something here? I dont see the point of reviewing 3 and 4 way sli boards and not testing 3 and 4 way sli. Seems rather pointless since any average motherboard will perform well in adobe, productivity etc benches dependent on the cpu....
  • Crashman
    This was really just about finding any board that supports Nvidia's requirements about how that third card is connected. We found some, I overclocked them, now I have enough data to pick a board for the System Builder Marathon. But that only explains why overclocking took priority!

    After spending two days per board on a "one week" article, I couldn't add more tests. The general benchmark set looks for unintended overclocking/underclocking, power and memory bandwidth issues, so you can see the performance difference attributable to each board's CPU and DRAM configuration differences. It runs from a .bat file, so it didn't add significantly to the article's completion time.

    The PLX bridge that these all share represents the "great equalizer" when it comes to CrossFire and SLI configuration, so that portion of all three boards should be identical. I understand that things that should be the same in theory are occasionally different in practice. My apologies for not having the extra 1-day per board for additional tests.
  • iam2thecrowe
    12341788 said:
    They all use the same PLX bridge, so you would have seen a whole bunch of identical gaming results. The general benchmark set looks for unintended overclocking/underlocking, power and memory bandwidth issues, so you can see the actual performance difference. And there's still an overclocking section.

    These boards had to be tested for general performance and stability like any other boards. The PLX controller is the equalizer when it comes to games.

    I think testing 3/4 way sli would still be valid, as it doesn't always work properly, in the past there have been compatibility problems with certain gpu's/boards/firmware/controllers and certain benchmarks completely failed.
  • Kraszmyl
    "internally-mounted external USB 2.0 port for ReadyBoost fanatics" on the asus z87.

    Those have nothing to do with readyboost. The internal usb ports are very common on workstations and you put CAD dongles and equivalent items in them so that you can lock them inside the case and don't have to worry about some one stealing them from the outside or them taking up an outside usb port.
  • Memnarchon
    I would love to see Asus Maximus VI Extreme, but it seems ASUS didn't want to give a 2nd board and prefered the Z87 WS....
  • markaflias
    Where are the sli/cfx tests ? Non sense
  • west7
    no cfx test i think the review title is misleading
  • Traciatim
    where are the sli/crossfire benchmarks and comparisons with traditional non-switched setups?

    Hey guys, we have these awesome new setups for supreme graphics pumping power! Watch it zip files like every other board!
  • chumly
    Those heatsinks on the Asus look like the would interfere with large CPU coolers.
  • duramax08
    Why are they still making motherboards with PS/2 connections? Its time to move on, replace those baby's with some USB 3.0!