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ASUS Gryphon Z87 TUF Micro-ATX Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Motherboard Layout

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The Gryphon Z87 board features the desert camouflage color scheme common to the TUF board line, namely black, tan, and brown coloration. ASUS kept the board's layout clean and neat, with more than enough room around all components. One difference you will notice right off is the lack of the Thermal Armor overlay on the board. It is available as an add-on to the board, which we will show you later in the review.

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ASUS was able to keep the back of the board mostly component free with no power components at all close to the CPU socket area.

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The Gryphon Z87's rear panel includes the following ports: 4 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports controlled by the Intel Z87 chipset, an Intel GigE NIC port, an HDMI video port, a DVI video port, an optical audio output port, and 6 analog audio ports.

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ASUS designed the Gryphon Z87 to house a total of three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots and one PCI-Express x1 slot. The board supports full x16 bandwidth with a single and x8 / x8 bandwidth in a two card configuration when using the tan or brown colored slots. The black colored PCI-Express x16 slot supports a maximum bandwidth of x4 and is meant for use with add-on cards only.

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The CMOS battery is located to the right of the primary PCI-Express x16 slot. Its location in no way impedes video card nor CPU cooler seating and makes for easy access should you need to pull the battery.

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In the upper left quadrant of the board are the front panel audio header, S/PDIF output header, Thunderbolt device header, CHA_FAN4 header, clear CMOS jumper, and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header.

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To the lower left of PCI-Express x16 slot 3 are the an ASUS debug header, two onboard USB 2.0 headers, three onboard temperature sensor headers, the system power LED, and the BIOS Flashback button. The ASUS debug header to the left of the USB headers is used for internal board testing by ASUS. The system power LED illuminates when the board is powered and running.

The USB BIOS Flashback button can be used to re-flash the BIOS without having to boot the system into the UEFI BIOS interface or DOS. Simply plug in a USB drive containing the proper BIOS file in the root of the drive into the lower USB 3.0 port underneath the LAN port, press the button for 3 seconds until the integrated LED begins to flash. As the BIOS is updated, the LED flashing frequency increases. Once the LED goes out, the flash operation is completed and the board can be booted. Note that if the BIOS Flashback LED flashes for 5 seconds and then glows solid, it means that something went wrong with the flashback operation. Check the USB drive for the the BIOS file in the root and make sure that the BIOS file is named correctly. BIOS Flashback looks for a specific filename and file format when attempting to replace the onboard BIOS. According to the user manual, the BIOS file in the root of the flash drive must be named ME6.CAP for the BIOS Flashback app to successfully re-flash the board's BIOS.

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The CHA_FAN1 header, DirectKey button, DirectKey header, and front panel header are located in the lower left corner of the board. The DirectKey button forces system shutdown or power on when pressed. With the DirectKey Enable setting enabled (located on the BIOS Boot page), the system goes directly into the BIOS after the DirectKey button is pressed with the system powered off. The DirectKey header can be used to connect to a case button to operate the DirectKey functionality from outside the case. The BIOS Switch button allows for user switching between the primary and secondary BIOS chips, useful for system recovery.

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The Intel Z87 Express chipset is covered by a large aluminum, low profile heat sink just below the PCI-Express x16 slots. The heat sink is black and tan in color with an ASUS logo prominently displayed.

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ASUS includes a total of six on-board SATA 6Gb/s ports located just under the chipset cooler. All six SATA ports are controlled by the Intel Z87 chipset controller.

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The four on-board DDR3 memory slots are located in the board's lower right quadrant. The primary memory slots are the tan colored slots with dual channel memory mode enabled when modules are seated both slots. The board supports up to 32GB of memory running at up to 2800MHz. Note that memory speeds above 1600MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. The 24-pin ATX power connector, USB 3.0 header, a system fan header, and MemOK! button are located to the lower left the memory slots. The MemOK! button can be used to reset memory-related BIOS settings to defaults, useful when the system doesn't boot because of memory options set over-aggressively.

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The CPU socket area has plenty of room for even larger coolers, even with large aluminum coolers for the VRMs along the top and right sides of the socket. ASUS designed in a total of 8 power phases to ensure the best CPU stability no matter how hard you drive the CPU.

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Along the outside edge of the VRM cooler to the right of the CPU are a total of four fan headers and a debug header. The debug header is used by ASUS for internal board testing and verification.

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For the power needs of the CPU, ASUS included a single ATX12V 8-pin power connector in the upper left corner of the board. The connector itself is tan colored in keeping with the TUF series color scheme.

June 3, 2013 | 05:55 AM - Posted by Nigel (not verified)

Thanks for the review. I'm glad I purchased this board!

June 3, 2013 | 08:06 AM - Posted by HappyUser (not verified)

@Nigel
bro have you bought the armor kit also?
any link where to buy it?

June 6, 2013 | 07:20 AM - Posted by Nigel (not verified)

No mate I have not seen one available anywhere in the UK. I think the armout is a gimmick anyway.

July 1, 2013 | 06:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It is currently available on Newegg. Additionally we have found in our testing that the Armor especially when used with the assist fan can provide lower operating temperatures part of this as a whole occurs as the armor kit works with thermal radar system ( the motherboard has on board temperature sensors ) these will adjust your system fans to provide optimal cooling.

July 1, 2013 | 06:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You can get it from Newegg currently.

June 4, 2013 | 09:00 AM - Posted by Justin 150 (not verified)

This has the same layout problem that I see with virtually every Matx board. There is not enough space between the bottom of the memory sockets and the top PCI-e slot. If you watercool your GPU (or have a GPU with additional cooling on back of card) then you will struggle to use active fan cooling on the memory. If you have a low airflow case that will end up frying the memory.

It is not even a difficult problem to solve, just move the memory slots up the board by 1 cm, there is clearly space

June 5, 2013 | 09:09 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

why do yo want to actively cool the memory.... that's pointless and a big waste of cash.

If you have a nice big graphics card which is water cooled with a back plate, chances are you have a case with decent airflow as well also high speed memory is pointless unless you are using the on-board graphics which is clearly not the case here.

July 1, 2013 | 06:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

memory speeds at 2400 or greater ideally need active cooling to ensure heavy load stability especially over time. Additionally ram can impact compression and other performance aspects depending on your work load it can be a noticeable improvement. In most standard applications memory speed will not immediately impact performance but there are games that can also be impacted from increase in memory speed as opposed to just the performance increase that can be impacted from the discrete GPU. If you consider at times this swing of 3 to 5 frames depending on the engine could bring up a minimum frame rate this is something that should be factored in a high performance build.

June 5, 2013 | 03:03 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Does the Armor Kit affect to the board temperatures in any way? And when does it retail?

June 5, 2013 | 05:27 AM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Not sure on the retail release of the armor kit, but it should be soon.

As far as temps, we will have a follow-up review covering the amor kit and its impacts on temperatures and board performance in the near future.

Thanks...

June 9, 2013 | 06:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'd like to ask about the power consumption levels on this board compared to other boards

June 10, 2013 | 10:49 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm planning my next build on this motherboard. But I'm still curious about the back-plate. Is it included with the board or must be purchased separately?

June 11, 2013 | 10:01 AM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

If you are talking about the Fortifier back plate, it is not included in the base board packaging.  You must purchase the Gryphon Armor Kit to get the armor and the fortifier back plate...

June 16, 2013 | 11:01 AM - Posted by Anonymousse (not verified)

Do any 1150 micro mb come with both 4 ram slots and mpci onboard for taking an 11ac card today ? As this is holding up any buying choices I make in the next few weeks to build a new PC here.... I wonder why I can't seem to buy what I want and potentially need sooner than later.... and were might I find a good wireless 11AC card to use in the UK today !

July 1, 2013 | 06:43 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The maximus VI gene has on board support for mini PCIe wireless as well as support for M.2 flash storage. Depending on your total expansion needs though you could easily go with a higher performing 3x3 PCIe based solution like our PCE-AC66.

June 16, 2013 | 10:33 PM - Posted by FanBoy (not verified)

I have the Z87 Gryphon mATX mobo with a Haswell i5-4670K unlocked CPU. When I run AI Suite III, there are no "Dual Intelligent Processor" pages. At least, I can't find them.

--> Were you really running this on a Gryphon? If so, PLEASE tell me how to get from the Thermal Radar pages to the DIP pages.

I'm suspecting that the Gryphon actually doesn't have DIPs, and that Asus is carefully not mentioning this fact in all the hype.

Thanks

FB

January 22, 2014 | 08:39 AM - Posted by Sephie (not verified)

That sucks. :(

Did you find out what the situation is for the Gryphon?

June 19, 2013 | 09:48 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Will the NH-D14 block the 1st PCI-E x16 slot?

June 24, 2013 | 12:47 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"In the upper left quadrant of the board are the front panel audio header, S/PDIF output header, Thunderbolt device header, CHA_FAN4 header, clear CMOS jumper, and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header."

So is Thunderbolt working or not? Curious as to why you mention it, and did not test it.

June 25, 2013 | 06:13 PM - Posted by Patosan (not verified)

Does Gryphon have the usb3 sleep problem ?
If so, is there an expected date for the "fixed" batch to hit the shops ?
Generally do the maufacturers release fixed boards as old stock ends in each flavor of board ? Or do they decide on a fixed date to release all boards with fixes on the one date ?

June 26, 2013 | 11:22 PM - Posted by Smitty (not verified)

You mention a BIOS switch that enables you to choose between the primary and secondary bios, but I can't seem to find the switch. Does it really have one? I might have accidentally bricked mine.

July 1, 2013 | 06:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This was noted incorrectly in the review. Should you need to I would recommend you attempt to recover the UEFI ( bios ) via USB Bios Flashback.

December 23, 2013 | 09:26 PM - Posted by peru (not verified)

i been having a lot problems with the sound
it shows that is sound coming out but no noise

December 23, 2013 | 09:26 PM - Posted by peru (not verified)

please can someone help me with this problem

January 15, 2014 | 03:05 AM - Posted by Waki (not verified)

Hello

thanks for a nice review. Nice to see NHD14 is ok for ram modules, but is not that cooler wide enough so it will collide with dedicated graphic card in PCIE 3.0 slot? Seems more than tight from the picture. The 14cm fan could be the issue, but that can be replaced with 12cm one. I would like to buy this board for its 5y warranty, got NHD14 and r9 280x already. Thanks for the answer.

January 22, 2014 | 08:36 AM - Posted by Sephie (not verified)

This review contains falsehoods, saying that "The main app opens to either the Thermal Radar 2 or Dual Intelligent Processors 4 page, .."

The Grypnon does NOT include DIP afaik. It has EPU and Turbo V Evo (which is similar to TPU), but not the TPU + EPU = DIP feature.

Whether or not this is is ASUS providing misleading info or the reviewer not paying attention, this has apparently already duped one buyer.

@Waki Noctua (NH D14) has a compatibility list on their website and they would have listed this issue. Please double check with them, but I believe the D14 will not obstrucy the 1st PCIe slot.

February 27, 2014 | 02:38 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What is the deal with the Thunderbolt header on this board. Is it operational? Or can it be made operational?

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