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ASUS Z97-WS Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Bundled Applications

Included Applications

  • ASUS AI Suite 3
  • ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 5-Way Optimization
  • TPU (Turbo Processing Unit)
  • EPU (Energy Processing Unit)
  • DIGI+ Power Control
  • Fan XPert 3
  • Turbo App
  • USB 3.0 Boost
  • AI Charger+
  • USB Charger+
  • Disk Unlocker
  • USB BIOS Flashback Wizard
  • ASUS Dr. Power
  • ASUS Wi-Fi GO!
  • ASUS CPU-Z
  • Turbo LAN
  • Media Streamer
  • DAEMON Tools Pro Standard
  • ASUS WebStorage
  • Norton Internet Security

AI Suite 3

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The AI Suite 3 application is a bundling mechanism for all the included ASUS designed utilities, providing a centralized panel from which to access and run the applets. The main app opens to the Dual Intelligent Processors 5 page, organized into separate sections for each of the five 5-Way Optimization features. The overclocking settings are housed in the TPU section. The EPU section houses power saving related settings. The DIGI+ Power Control section houses settings specific to the board power circuitry, and the Fan Xpert3 section contains fan controls. The Turbo App section houses application specific performance, network priority, and audio settings. Along the bottom of the app are real-time monitoring display settings. The other applets can be accessed by clicking on the tile icon in the upper right corner of the window. The AI Charger+ and USB Charger+ applets configure the USB port for optimized fast-charging of Apple-specific or generic USB-based devices. The USB 3.0 Boost applet supercharges your USB 3.0 ports, allowing for enhanced read and write performance with the amount of performance gain based on the USB 3.0 device in use. The USB BIOS Flashback Wizard creates a BIOS file that can be used in conjunction with the BIOS Flashback functionality built into the board to re-flash the BIOS without the need for booting. This is functionality that I wish more motherboard vendors would embrace because it is easier than you think to corrupt a BIOS. Normally, the board is toast if you cannot boot into the BIOS or reset it successfully. This BIOS Flashback function gives you another option and has saved my bacon in at least one instance in the recent past. The ASUS Dr. Power applet works in conjunction with integrated Dr. Power hardware to display real-time status on power and PSU-related issues.

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5-Way Optimizations page

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5-Way Optimizations page, Advance Mode, TPU section

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5-Way Optimizations page, Advance Mode, EPU, Fan, DIGI+ Power Control, and Graphics Cards sections

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5-Way Optimization Wizard in progress

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5-Way Optimization Report, TPU section

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5-Way Optimization Report, EPU and Fan sections

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5-Way Optimization Report, Fan and VGA sections

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TPU, CPU Frequency settings page

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TPU, CPU Frequency settings page, Voltage settings

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TPU, GPU Boost settings page

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TPU, CPU Strap settings page

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TPU, Graphics Cards settings page

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Fan Xpert3 page

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Fan Xpert3 page, CPU Fan details page

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Fan Xpert3 page, Fan position pop-up

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Fan Xpert3 page, Fan Auto Tuning Wizard in progress

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Fan Xpert3 page, Fan Auto Tuning Wizard settings report

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DIGI+ Power Control, CPU settings page

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DIGI+ Power Control, DRAM settings page

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Turbo App page

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EPU page

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AI Suite 3 application selection page

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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