ASUS Z97-PRO LGA1150 Motherboard

CPUs|Motherboards
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ASUS Z97-PRO Motherboard

November 11, 2014 by Lawrence Lee

Product
ASUS Z97-PRO
LGA1150 ATX Motherboard
Manufacturer
ASUS
Street Price
US$190
US$210 (Wi-Fi AC model)

As Intel continues its dominance in the mid/high-end PC market, its mainstream LGA1150 socket remains the platform of choice for most DIYers with a relaxed budget and a penchant for performance. Since Haswell's debut in summer of 2013, we've already seen one new set of refreshed chips from Intel (codename Devil's Canyon) which required a BIOS update to work in 8-series motherboards. The new 9-series boards however did not and they will be compatible with Broadwell as well, the next CPU microarchitecture for LGA1150 due sometime in 2015. Suffice to say if you're in the market for a Haswell board right now, a H97/Z97 model is highly recommended if a CPU upgrade is a possibility in the future.

Aside from new CPU compatibility, the main difference between the 8-series and 9-series is support for M.2 and SATA Express, storage interfaces that can use two PCI-E 2.0 lanes to surpass the throughput limit of traditional SATA which is capped at 6 Gbps, a figure which is now bottlenecking the capabilities of high-end SSDs. M.2 is essentially the mSATA equivalent of SATA Express and such drives are currently available while full sized SATA Express devices have yet to hit the market. Like their 8-series counterparts, the H97 and Z97 chipsets are basically differentiated by two things. The Z97 can split its available PCI-E lanes for more varied graphic card support, and it is capable of CPU overclocking, making it the better choice for gamers and enthusiasts.


The ASUS Z97-PRO.

Our first Z97 motherboard comes courtesy of ASUS which of course has a whole series Z97 models available at various price-points with differing feature-sets. The Z97-PRO is an ATX variant near the US$200 level that also comes in a second version the Z97-PRO(WiFi-ac), which is completely identical except for the inclusion of a wireless 802.11ac/BlueTooth 4.0 module. Interestingly, this second pricier model is more widely available, at least in North America.

The chipset provides a pair of PCI-E 3.0 16x slots which run at 8x/8x in dual configuration (there's a third PCI-E slot but it's 2.0 4x slot), along with SATA 6 Gbps and USB 3.0 support with the latter two complemented by additional ports via add-on ASMedia controllers. Not all Z97 boards implement SATA Express but it's available here, along with its smaller-sized M.2 counterpart, sharing an interface so only one or the either can be used at a single time.

Complementing these core features are a hefty pair of VRM heatsinks around the socket, a physical power button directly on the board, and a POST code display. The board is also equipped with Crystal Sound 2 which means the onboard Realtek audio controller and associated circuitry is EMI-shielded and there's an amplifier chip as well. It's similar to the Audio Boost feature on the last motherboard we examined, the MSI A88XM GAMING.


The box and board wrapped in an antistatic bag.


Accessories.

The Z97-PRO ships with the usual accompaniments including manuals, a driver disc, I/O shield, and four SATA data cables. The only things that can be considered "extras" are the Q-connectors which makes it easier to connect the front panel features and an SLI bridge.

ASUS Z97-PRO: Specifications
(from the product web page)
CPU Intel® Socket 1150 for the 5th/New 4th/4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
* The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types.
* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list
Chipset Intel® Z97
Main Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 3200~(O.C) MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
* Refer to www.asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
Graphic Integrated Graphics Processor- Intel® HD Graphics support
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DVI-D/RGB/DisplayPort ports
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DVI-D with max. Resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
- Supports RGB with max. Resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DisplayPort with max. Resolution 4960 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 512 MB
Supports Intel® InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
Supports up to 3 displays simultaneously
DP 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport compliant, supports DP 1.2 monitor daisy chain up to 3 displays
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (Single at x16, dual at x8/x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode) *1
4 x PCIe 2.0 x1 *2
Storage Intel® Z97 chipset :
1 x SATA Express port, compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3, , with M Key, type 2260/2280 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode)*3
4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology *4
ASMedia® PCIe SATA controller : *5
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), black
LAN Intel® I218V, Dual interconnect between the Integrated Media Access Controller (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY)
Gigabit Intel® LAN Connection- 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) appliance
Audio Realtek® ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC featuring Crystal Sound 2
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel MIC Jack-retasking
- High quality 112 dB SNR stereo playback output and 104 dB SNR recording input
Audio Feature :
- Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
- DTS Ultra PC II
- DTS Connect
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
- BD Audio Layer Content Protection
- Audio Shielding: Ensures precision analog/digital separation and greatly reduced multi-lateral interference
- Dedicated audio PCB layers: Separate layers for left and right channels to guard the quality of the sensitive audio signals
- Audio amplifier: Provides the highest-quality sound for headphone and speakers
- Premium Japanese-made audio capacitors: Provide warm, natural and immersive sound with exceptional clarity and fidelity
- Unique de-pop circuit: Reduces start-up popping noise to audio outputs
- Top notch audio sensation delivers according to the audio configuration
- EMI protection cover to prevent electrical noise to affect the amplifier quality
USB Ports Intel® Z97 chipset :
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 4 at mid-board)
Intel® Z97 chipset :
6 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, , 4 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
2 x USB port(s) (2 at back panel, blue)
Special Features 5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5
- Whole system optimization with a single click! 5-Way Optimization tuning key perfectly consolidates TPU, EPU, DIGI+ Power Control, Fan Xpert 3, and Turbo App together, providing better CPU performance, efficient power saving, precise digital power control, whole system cooling and even tailor your own app usages.
ASUS 5X Protection :
- ASUS DIGI+ VRM - 12 Phase digital power design
- ASUS Enhanced DRAM Overcurrent Protection - Short circuit damage prevention
- ASUS ESD Guards - Enhanced ESD protection
- ASUS High-Quality 5K-Hour Solid Capacitors - 2.5x long lifespan with excellent durability
- ASUS Stainless Steel Back I/O - 3x more durable corrosion-resistant coating
ASUS TPU :
- Auto Tuning
- GPU Boost
- TPU switch
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
- EPU switch
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 12 Phase Power Design
- Industry leading Digital 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
- CPU Power Utility
- DRAM Power Utility
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- Remote GO!
- AI Suite 3
- Ai Charger+
- USB Charger+
- Anti-Surge
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
- USB 3.0 Boost
- Disk Unlocker
- Turbo LAN
- Crystal Sound 2
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-sink solution
ASUS EZ DIY :
- Precision Tweaker 2
- ASUS O.C. Tuner
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS USB BIOS Flashback
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode
- Push Notice
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Code
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector
Special Memory O.C. Design
Overclocking Protection :
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Media Streamer
Turbo App
Fan Xpert 3
Operating System Support Windows® 8.1 86x64
Windows® 8 86x64
Windows® 7 86x64
Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0 (blue)
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
Internal I/O Port 2 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x SATA Express connector: black, compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3 for M Key, type 2260/2280 devices
1 x TPM header
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
4 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 x 4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x Thunderbolt header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x EZ XMP switch
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x TPU switch(es)
1 x EPU switch(es)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback button(s)
Accessories User's manual
ASUS Q-Shield
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
BIOS 64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.7, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.8, ACPI 5.0, Multi-language BIOS,
ASUS EZ Flash 2, CrashFree BIOS 3, F11 EZ Tuning Wizard, F6 Qfan Control, F3 My Favorites, Quick Note, Last Modified log,
F12 PrintScreen, F3 Shortcut functions, and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information
Manageability WfM 2.0, DMI 2.7, WOL by PME, PXE
Support Disc Drivers
ASUS Utilities
EZ Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12.0 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
Note *1 : The PCIe x16_3 slot shares bandwidth with USB3_E12 and PCIe x1_4. The PCIe x16_3 is default at x1 mode.
*2 : The PCIe x1_2 slot shares bandwidth with PCIe x1_3. The PCIe x1_2 is default disabled.
*3 : M.2 Socket 3 shares bandwidth with SATAExpress_1
*4 : These functions will work depending on the CPU installed.
*5 : These SATA ports are for data hard drivers only. ATAPI devices are not supported.


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