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ASUS Z97-WS Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Z97-WS motherboard is the latest release for the workstation board line with several evolutionary changes over its predecessor to take advantage of the Intel Z97 chipset features. ASUS changed little as far as the layout goes from the Z87 revision of the board, updating the board aesthetics with a richer gold and black coloration which is carried over into the board's capacitors and MOSFETs as well. The Z97-WS also features both SATA-Express and M.2 ports as well as optimizations to its CPU power circuitry to enhance the CPU 's performance potential and optimize power utilization. ASUS priced the Z97-WS competitively with a $289.00 MSRP in comparison to boards from other manufacturers with a similar feature set.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS designed the Z97-WS motherboard with an enhanced power delivery system, optimized to deliver the necessary power to the CPU with minimized power loss from excessively stressed components. The Z97-WS comes standard with eight digital power phases, featuring a new revision of the Dr MOS MOSFETs, Beat Thermal chokes, and Japanese-sourced 12k-hr rated solid capacitors. The Beat Thermal chokes offer up to 93% load-based power efficiency, resulting from the thermal-sensitive packaging design with integrated cooling fins as well as a specialized gold coating. The ASUS integrated the following features into the Z97-WS' design: four SATA 3 ports; an M.2 (NGFF) 10 Gb/s port; two SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports; an eSATA port; dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet NICs - an Intel I218-LV and an Intel I210-AT; four PCI-Express Gen3 x16 slots; one PCI-Express Gen2 x4 slot; two PCI-Express Gen2 x1 slots; dual 2-digit diagnostic LED displays; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, MemOK!, Q-Code Logger, and BIOS Flashback buttons; TPU, EPU, Dr. Power, and EZ_XMP switches; Realtek 8-channel audio solution; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of ASUS

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Z97-WS motherboard!

Technical Specifications (taken from the ASUS website)

CPU Intel® Socket 1150 for the 5th / New 4th / 4th Generation Core™ i7 / Core™ i5 / Core™ i3 / Pentium® / Celeron® / Xeon® E3-1200 / 12x5 v3 series 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
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 3300(O.C.) / 3200(O.C.) / 3100(O.C.) / 3000(O.C.) / 2933(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666(O.C.) / 2600(O.C.) / 2500(O.C.) / 2400(O.C.) / 2200(O.C.) / 2133(O.C.) / 2000(O.C.) / 1866(O.C.) / 1800(O.C.) / 1600 / 1333 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/DisplayPort /Mini DisplayPort ports
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
- Supports Mini DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 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
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA® 4-Way SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD 4-Way CrossFireX Technology
Expansion Slots 4 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (dual x16 or x16/x8/x8 or quad x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x4 (x4 mode) *2
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1

*1 The PCIe x4_1, USB3_E56 and SATAExpress_E1 connectors share the same bandwidth. The PCIe x4_1's default setting is in Auto mode that automatically optimizes the system bandwidth. If you use two of these
*2 These functions will work depending on the CPU installed

Storage Intel® Z97 chipset :
1 x SATA Express port, blackcompatible 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)
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 *2

ASMedia® SATA Express controller :
1 x SATA Express port, back compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports

ASMedia® PCIe SATA controller :
1 x eSATA 6Gb/s port(s)

*1 The PCIe x4_1, USB3_E56 and SATAExpress_E1 connectors share the same bandwidth. The PCIe x4_1's default setting is in Auto mode that automatically optimizes the system bandwidth. If you use two of these
*2 These functions will work depending on the CPU installed

LAN Intel® I210-AT
Intel® I218LM
Audio Realtek® ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel MIC Jack-retasking
- High quality 112 dB SNR stereo playback output (Line-out at rear) 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

IEEE 1394 VIA® 6315N controller
1 x IEEE 1394a port(s)
USB Ports Intel® Z97 chipset :
5 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 1 at mid-board)

Intel® Z97 chipset :
6 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, black, 4 at mid-board)

ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
5 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, 3 at mid-board)

*1 The PCIe x4_1, USB3_E56 and SATAExpress_E1 connectors share the same bandwidth. The PCIe x4_1's default setting is in Auto mode that automatically optimizes the system bandwidth. If you use two of these

Workstation Feature 4 x PCIe x 16 slot(s)
ASUS Dr. Power
12K hours Capacitors
ProCool Power Connector
Q-Code Logger
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 TPU :
- Auto Tuning
- GPU Boost
- TPU switch
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
- EPU switch
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 8 Phase Power Design
- Industry leading Digital 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
- CPU Power Utility
- DRAM Power Utility
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- AI Suite 3
- Ai Charger
- USB Charger+
- M.2 & SATA Express
- Anti-Surge
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
- USB 3.0 Boost
- Disk Unlocker
- Turbo LAN
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-pipe solution
ASUS EZ DIY :
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS USB BIOS Flashback
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode
Media Streamer
Special Memory O.C. Design
Turbo App
Fan Xpert 3
Operating System Support Windows® 8.1 86 x64
Windows® 8 86 x64
Windows® 7 86 x64
Back I/O Ports 1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x eSATA
2 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
6 x USB 3.0 (blue)
2 x USB 2.0 *3
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
1 x Audio jack(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
1 x Mini DisplayPort(s)
1 x Q-Code Logger button button

*3 1 supports USB BIOS Flashback, 1 supports Q-Code Logger

Internal I/O Ports 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)
2 x SATA Express connector: black,
1 x M.2 Socket 3 for M Key, type 2260/2280 devices
1 x TPM header
4 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)
2 x 8-pin EATX 12 V Power connector
1 x 6-pin EATX 12 V_1 Power connector(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x EZ XMP switch
1 x Front panel connector(s)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x Chassis Intrusion connector(s)
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 Reset button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
1 x Dr.Power switch(es)
Accessories User's manual
ASUS Q-Shield
1 x COM port cable(s)
6 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x 3-Way SLI bridge(s)
1 x 4-Way SLI bridge(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
1 x 1-port 1394a module(s)
BIOS 64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.7, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, 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
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12.0 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

 

July 14, 2014 | 03:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why is "Lack of accessible PCI-Express x1 slot with all PCI-Express x16 slots populated" a weakness? What motherboard allows you to do 4 way sli with a slot left over?

July 14, 2014 | 04:26 PM - Posted by YTech

I understand your point :)

Maybe Morry wants to add a sound card in there too, but just can't because the GPU cards are taking away 2 slots.

I see the same issue with Micro-ATX with 2xSLI support, not sure how I'll manage to add another PCIE x1 card in there... :(

Maybe something to point out to others and the vendors to read these.

Morry > What's your reason behind this?

July 14, 2014 | 10:31 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If you're up for it then you can remove the second slot's display connectors, the stock heatsink/fan, and then cut the second slot off the GPU and install a water block and only use the top 3 display outputs per GPU. However, this voids the living crap out of your warranty and requires custom watercooling.

July 14, 2014 | 04:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The motherboard and case would have to have 9 expansion slots to accept an additional single slot card. That’s a different form factor altogether and this shouldn’t be a weakness.

July 14, 2014 | 04:52 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

There are some boards that design the PCIe layout with a PCIe x1 card to the left of the primary PCIe x16 slot.  This is a minor nitpick issue on my part (kind of like the CMOS battery placement that y'all always nail me for), but not a major detractor from the board.  It was a very nice board that tested well...

July 15, 2014 | 09:04 AM - Posted by YTech

Morry > Would you have a reference link or something for that board design you're referring to? I'd like to see it for comparisons :)

Thanks.

July 18, 2014 | 07:00 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

The MSI Z97 Gaming board has a PCIe x1 slot to the right of the primary x16 slot, though it does not have a PLX chip integrated:

http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Motherboards/MSI-Z97-Gaming-7-Motherboard-R...

July 14, 2014 | 03:32 PM - Posted by Areus

AI Suite III looks much improved over II. I'm sure this isn't news, but it is the first I am seeing of it.

July 15, 2014 | 08:11 AM - Posted by Hirogen6 (not verified)

Aww man, I went right to the conclusion looking for a mention of the CMOS battery location, and was left wanting!

July 16, 2014 | 12:38 AM - Posted by elgrandeburro

Micro Center, which has many other boards priced extremely well, has this one priced $63 more than most other retailers. Oddly enough, they've also incorrectly listed it as the "ASUS Z97", leaving out the"-WS". Would dig picking it up from them, but not at their current pricing.

July 18, 2014 | 12:52 AM - Posted by SolarAxix (not verified)

Microcenter will price-match the board.

I was able to get it for a great price at Microcenter.

Check out my post here:

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2390681

July 18, 2014 | 12:59 AM - Posted by SolarAxix

I should have mentioned that I got it for $239.99 plus taxes which is a great price for a motherboard with a PLX PCIe multiplexer.

July 16, 2014 | 03:46 AM - Posted by PapaDragon

Thanks for the review Morry!

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