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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.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.