ASUS Z97-WS Motherboard Review
CPU Cooler Fit and Included Accessories
CPU Cooler Fit
To test the amount of space surrounding the CPU socket, we mounted the Noctua NH-D14 cooler to the CPU socket. This behemoth CPU air cooler sports a dual fan construction and two huge vertical cooling towers.
Even with its four integrated PCI-Express x16 slots, ASUS designed the Z97-WS with sufficient room to host this large cooler. There is more than adequate space along all sides of the socket to accommodate the cooler and a card in the primary PCI-Express x16 slot without fear of contact between the cooler and the back of the video card's PCB.
The three-sided VRM / PLX heat sink poses no space constraint issues for the cooler or its vast array of heat pipes. There is plenty of breathing room for the cooler to its front and rear. Further, all four memory slots remain usable with the cooler in place.
The Noctua hold down mechanism is large enough to quickly determine exactly how much space is available around the CPU socket. The top mounting bracket fit tightly within the allocated space with minimal contact with the right and left brackets. However, this contact did not impede cooler mounting to the socket.
The cooler's backplate sits over the socket backplate with the risk of direct board contact minimized. Although the backplate does not directly rest over any board components, there are several chips to the upper right of the area behind the socket that could pose problems with coolers that use larger backplates.
ASUS includes the necessary accessories to get the board up and running with minimal hassle.
The Z97-WS' manual was thorough, documenting in full the board's features and setup as we've come to expect from ASUS. Also included is a driver DVD with all necessary hardware drivers and Window's utilities, as well as an ASUS-branded case badge.
The included rear panel shield has a flat black base with port identifying text and icons colored light grey for a very readable combination. The USB ports tied to the Q-Code Logger and USB BIOS Flashback functions are color-coded to minimize any port confusion.
ASUS bundled in eight 6Gb/s rated SATA cables for use with the integrated port. The cables have integrated port locks and a mix of straight and 90 degree connectors.
For multi-GPU use, ASUS included three SLI bridges - a two-way, three-way, and four-way NVIDIA SLI connector.
For use with the on-board front panel headers, ASUS included their Q-Connector header plugs. You simply plug the front panel plugs into the Q-Connector blocks, then plug the Q-Connector blocks into the appropriate board front panel headers. It makes the installation of the front panel plugs much easier.
For use with the integrated headers, ASUS included two rear brackets adding a serial port, two USB 2.0 ports, and an IEEE 1394 port to the system.