Review Index:
Feedback

ASUS Z97-WS Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Overclocking and Conclusion

Overclocking

To give a feel for the overclocking performance potential of the Z97-WS board, we attempted to push it to known CPU-supported performance parameters with minimal tweaking. We were easily able to get the board running stable for over 4hrs at a 4.67GHz CPU speed, a 2340MHz memory speed, and a 4.0GHz ring bus speed with a 167MHz base clock. System stability was tested running the AIDA64 stability test in conjunction with EVGA's OC Scanner X graphical benchmark running at 1280x1024 resolution and 8x MSAA in stress test mode. Note that 16GB (2 x 8GB) of Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3-2400 memory modules were used for the overclocking tests.

View Full Size

View Full Size

View Full Size

Note that this is is meant only as a quick preview of the board's performance potential. With more time to tweak the settings to a greater extent, pushing to a higher base clock and ring bus speed may have been achievable, in addition to an overnight stability run without issue.

Performance

The ASUS Z97-WS performed with the grace and power that we have come to expect from ASUS designs. Without exception, the Z97-WS scored among the top competitors only rivaled by the ease of its overclocking abilities.

Pricing

As of June 28, the ASUS Z97-WS motherboard was available pre-order at Newegg.com for $286.99. The board was also available from Amazon.com for $286.99 with Prime shipping.

View Full Size

Conclusion

The Z97-WS is another well designed board from ASUS. As part of their Workstation product line, the Z97-WS is packed with features appealing to graphics professionals and other individuals that require a system capable of handling the multi-GPU horsepower required for their jobs. The board shares the same black and gold styling of the Channel line with the gold darkened to give the board a clean, rather than gaudy, look. The digital power circuitry was optimized and upgraded to be able to handle the latest Haswell-based processors, in addition to helping the board run cooler and more stable than previous generations. ASUS even integrated 12k-hour rated capacitors into the board. Board stability and compatibility is ensured through ASUS' validation program, through which over 1,000 devices are tested with the board and board stability and reliability is exercised for over 7,000 hours in their certification lab. The inclusion of dual Intel NICs and dual integrated USB 3.0 headers was a nice touch as well.

The only oddity I ran into with testing the board was the M.2 slot compatibility issues with the older Sandforce-based controller. However, this is a minor issue only since other, more recent devices appear to perform within expectation using the port. Design-wise, it was an odd decision on ASUS' part not to include the audio on a separate PCB, but did not appear to impact the quality of the audio delivery or pick-up.

Strengths

  • Stock performance
  • Overclocking performance
  • Board layout and design
  • Motherboard manual details and quality
  • UEFI BIOS design and usability
  • Performance of dual Intel GigE NIC
  • 4-digit Q-Code LED display
  • Q-Code Logger functionality
  • Price

Weaknesses

  • Lack of accessible PCI-Express x1 slot with all PCI-Express x16 slots populated
  • M.2 port compatibility with older Sandforce-based devices
  • Lack of separated PCB for audio subsystem components
  • Inclusion of Overvoltage jumper to unlock voltage potential for CPU voltage in BIOS
July 14, 2014 | 12:00 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 | 01:26 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 | 07:31 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 | 01:45 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 | 01:52 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 | 06:04 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 | 04:00 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 | 12:32 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 | 05:11 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 15, 2014 | 09:38 PM - 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 17, 2014 | 09:52 PM - 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 17, 2014 | 09:59 PM - 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 | 12:46 AM - Posted by PapaDragon

Thanks for the review Morry!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.