Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The Z97X-SOC Force motherboard is the premier offering in GIGABYTE's Overclocking Series of boards. The overclocking series boards are designed with enhancements and features meant to appeal to enthusiasts and professional overclockers alike. The Z97X-SOC Force board deign is based on the previous generation Z87X-OC Force, featuring the same black and orange coloration typical to the series. The board does contain several evolutionary changes making the board easier to use and more appealing to its target users. At an MSRP of $209.99, the Z97X-S0C Force is competitively priced to appeal to all levels of enthusiasts.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE enhanced the board power regulation system designed into the current generation boards, allowing for use of a simplified cooling and fewer power phases. As a result, the Z97X-SOC Force is packed with 8-phase digital power circuit for the CPU, using International Rectifier (IR) based PowIRstage digital controllers and 10k-rated black solid capacitors to ensure system stability under any conditions. The Z97X-SOC Force board comes standard with the following integrated features: six SATA 3 ports; one SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports; a Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2201 NIC; four PCI-Express x16 slots; a PCI-Express x1 slots; two PCI slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, CMOS battery clear, OC Ignition, OC Tag, OC Turbo, OC Touch, Settings Lock, Direct to BIOS, and Memory Safe buttons; Dual-BIOS, active BIOS, and IC Trigger switches; OC PCIe and OC DIMM switch jumper blocks; integrated voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC Force motherboard!

A midrange board for the experienced; the Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H

Subject: Motherboards | June 3, 2014 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel Z97, Z97X-UD5H

Gigabyte's Z97X-UD5H might be sitting in the sweet spot for those looking for a Z97 board, at $190 it is in line with the price the previous models launched at.  You can also pick up it's brother the Z97X-UD5H-BK which has undergone a week long stress test; however Gigabyte is charging an almost $50 extra for the Black Edition.  There are three PCIe 3.0 slots which can run x16/x0/x0, x8/x8/x0 or x8/x4/x4, M.2 and SATAe ports though using the M.2 will disable the dual 6Gbps SATA ports.  From the testing done at The Tech Report this is not a board for beginners, there are some rough edges which an experienced user will easily overcome but for a less experienced system builder they may lead to a negative experience.  Check out the benchmarks and full review here.

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"Another Z97 motherboard has worked its way through our test suite. Today, we take a detailed look at Gigabyte's Z97X-UD5H, which is loaded with PCIe x16 slots, next-gen storage interfaces, and a high-definition firmware interface."

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Computex 2014: ASUS ROG Maximus VII Impact

Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2014 - 11:29 PM |
Tagged: ROG, mITX, Maximus VII Impact, Intel Z97, haswell, computex 2014, asus

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Courtesy of ASUS

Today, ASUS announced a new edition to their Z97-based ROG line of boards, the Maximus VII Impact. This mini-ITX board carries many of the Intel Z97 enhancements of its fellow ROG boards, as well as a few secrets of its own. Don't let looks deceive you, a heart of a champion beats in the Maximus VII Impact's small silicon footprint.

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS went back to the drawing board with their ROG Impact-based design, striving to deliver an mini-ITX form factor product that does not compromise on features, performance, overclocking potential, or CPU cooler compatibility. The result was the re-engineered ROG Maximus VII Impact, featuring unprecedented compatibility with a wide range of both CPU coolers and PCI-Express expansion cards. Powering the board is the Impact Power II power card, featuring the same digital power circuitry found on the full-sized ROG ATX boards. The Impact Power II PCB is mounted vertically to maximize the board's space use. Also integrated into the board is the Impact CooolHub, an optional add-on card containing two additional 4-pin fan headers as well as an LN2 header. The board also comes with the mPCIe Combo IV card, supporting 802.11ac wireless operation, as well as M.2 SSDs operating at up to 20Gbps, utilizing bandwidth up to PCIe x4 speeds.

Like other ROG Z97-based offerings, the Maximus VII Impact board comes standard with its own version of the SupremeFX 2014 audio subsystem - the SupremeFX Impact II audio card. Additionally, the board offers full compatibility with the soon-to-be-released Intel Devil's Canyon-based CPUs with enhanced tuning capabilities.

ASUS has not yet announced price or availability specifics for the ROG Maximus VII Impact, but expects the board to be available for purchase at North American-based retailers by Q3 2014.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: ASUS

Computex 2014: ASUS ROG Maximus VII Formula

Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2014 - 11:28 PM |
Tagged: ROG, Maximus VII Formula, Intel Z97, haswell, computex 2014, asus

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Courtesy of ASUS

Today, ASUS announced the latest member of their Z97-based ROG line of boards, the Maximus VII Formula. The board features many enhancements in its design and integrated components to make it a worthwhile successor to its predecessor.

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Courtesy of ASUS

For better board performance and cooler running, ASUS revised the hybrid cooler in the Maximus VII Formula, dubbing it the Crosschill Copper. Unlike the previous version of the Crosschill hybrid cooler, the Crosschill Copper is made entirely of copper for optimized heat transfer in either air or water-based operation, as well as to alleviate mixed-metal corrosion concerns when used in a multi-block cooling loop. The board also comes with the mPCIe Combo III card, supporting 802.11ac wireless operation,  as well as M.2 SSDs operating at up to 10Gbps, utilizing bandwidth up to PCIe x2 speeds.

Like other ROG Z97-based offerings, the Maximus VII Formula board comes standard with the SupremeFX 2014 audio subsystem and the Radar II in-game audio enhancements. The SupremeFX 2014 subsystem integrates an audio processor capable of up to 120dB signal-to-noise ratio output, as well as the Sonic SenseAmp technology that automatically adjusts headphone impedance for the best audio gaming experience. The board also includes the ROG Thermal Armor overlay and ROG Fortifier under plate, as well as the ROG KeyBot functionality. ROG KeyBot is an in-built macro system that creates gaming macros for any keyboard attached to the supported USB port to elevate your gaming experience to the next level.

ASUS has not yet announced price or availability specifics for the ROG Maximus VII Formula, but expects the board to be available for purchase at North American-based retailers by late July 2014.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: ASUS
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 motherboard is the newest member of thier TUF (The Ultimate Force) series. The board features the Intel Z97 chipset, but keeps the aesthetics and functionality you have come to expect from TUF series boards, and more specifically the Sabertooth line. That does not mean to say that ASUS did not improve the design of the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 board. The Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 comes with a premium MSRP of $249.99 with features to justify its premium price point.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS used the previous Sabertooth board as a template to design and improve upon the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1. The board includes the line's signature TUF Thermal Armor board overlay and TUF Fortifier back plate. With the new revision of the Thermal Armor, ASUS integrated two optional fans into its design as well as flow ports above the CPU VRM heat sinks to adjust the airflow through the Thermal Armor. The board is designed with an 8 phase digital power system with alloy chokes redesigned to run cooler than previous generation chokes, 10k-rated Titanium capacictors, and military-grade TUF MOSFETs. Additionally, ASUS integrated on board ESD (elctro-static discharge) protection into the rear panel keyboard/mouse, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, LAN, and audio ports to protect the motherboard and integrated components from voltage fluctuations and power surges.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 Motherboard Review!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

MSI's Z97 Gaming 7 motherboard offers a bevy of updated features and aesthetics to usher in the Intel Z97 chipset-based product line. The intial update you'll notice are the design of the CPU VRM and chipset heat sinks. The VRM heat sinks have a unique banded design, reminiscent of a dragon's claws. This was done purposefully to cement the Gaming series moniker to the board in the user's mind. The chipset heat sink contains a glowing MSI corporate logo with the Dragon Gaming series shield logo centered above it. The black and red board color scheme is done tastefully with the red coloration used to accent and highlight the heat sinks. With an MRSP of $189, the Z97 Gaming 7 board is competitively priced to take the market by storm.

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Courtesy of MSI

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Courtesy of MSI

MSI designed the Z97 Gaming 7 board with a 12-phase digital power delivery system combining Hi-C and Dark capacitors with super ferrite chokes for optimal power delivery with enhanced power efficiency characteristics. The board includes the following integrated components: eight SATA 3 ports; one M.2 10 Gb/s ports; a Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2205 NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; four PCI-Express x1 slots; a 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, and OC-Genie buttons; Slow Mode boot, Multi-BIOS, and Audio Power switches; left and right channel audio gain control switches; Realtek audio solution with isolated audio PCB and Nichicon audio capacitors; dedicated per-channel headphone OP-AMPs; integrated V-Check voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z97 Gaming 7 motherboard!

There are far more than 9 different motherboards in Intel's 9 Series

Subject: Motherboards | May 14, 2014 - 07:05 PM |
Tagged: msi, Intel Z97, MPower MAX AC

While it is too early to say with any authority it does seem that the Z97 release has the market as saturated as a dipsomaniac's liver.  All the major players have released more models simultaneously at launch than is usually seen, eschewing the staggered release model we have seen in the past.  This is great for the enthusiast capable of making up their mind based on features and the price point but could prove very confusing for those who are relatively new to the game of silicon.  Start this long list of motherboard reviews at [H]ard|OCP with the new ~$260 MSI Z97 MPower MAX AC designed for the overclocker which even ships with an MSI Overclocking Guide Book. 

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"Today we take a look at MSI’s latest entry into its "OC" series motherboards. The MSI Z97 MPower MAX AC is specifically designed with the computer hardware overclocking enthusiast in mind. This new Z97 Intel Express Chipset MSI motherboard sports a solid feature set with a host of overclocking tools that allow many avenues of attack."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Like many other manufacturers, GIGABYTE is using the launch of the Intel Z97 Express chipset to update its product line aesthetics and makeup. The Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard is part of GIGABYTE's Black Edition product line, differentiated from other GIGABYTE offers because of the enhanced validation criteria each individual Black Edition product is put through prior to leaving the assembly plant. Each board is put through a 168 hour stress test, consisting of both CPU and GPU-based Lite Coin mining, to prove its worth as part of the elite Black Edition product line. The Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard itself shares components and aesthetics with their Gaming line, featuring the line's black and red coloration and the GIGABYTE Gaming logo (the silver eye) on the Z97 chipset heat sink. With an MSRP of $349, the board is priced at a premium, more than justified by its enhanced feature set and Black Edition enhanced validation criteria.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE paired the Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard with an 8 phase digital power delivery system to ensure clean power to the CPU under all operating conditions. Additionally, the board's VRM heat sinks can be integrated into an existing water loop using the provided G 1/4" threaded ports. Note that the PLX and chipset heat pipe is physically separate from the VRM heat pipe and does not benefit by water cooling the board's VRM cooler. The Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard boasts the following integrated feature list: eight SATA 3 ports; one SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports; dual Gigabit NICs - an Intel i217V NIC and a Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2201 NIC; an Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth PCIe adapter; four PCI-Express x16 slot; three PCI-Express x1 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, and CMOS clear buttons; Dual-Bios and active BIOS switches; left and right channel audio gain control switches; Sound Blaster Core 3D audio solution; removable audio OP-AMP port; integrated voltage measurement points; hybrid VRM cooling solution; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Z97-Deluxe motherboard is the flagship board in ASUS' channel line of Intel Z97 chipset boards. ASUS revised its entire motherboard line for the Z97 chipset launch with the Z97-Deluxe featuring the updated channel board aesthetics as well as many design innovations built upon the previous board generation. With an MSRP of $399.99, ASUS priced the Z97-Deluxe at the level of other flagship motherboards with a plethora of integrated features and performance that more than justifies the price.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS designed the Z97-Deluxe to be a serious competitor in the enthusiast space, integrating a 16+2 phase digital power system to drive the CPU and DRAM with 10k-rated Japanese capacitors used through the board. The board also features an updated heat sink and heat pipe design to optimize passive heat transfer away from the digital VRM chipset and the Z97 chipset.

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

It's not a refresh, it's a refinement; meet the Z97 Express

Subject: Motherboards | April 30, 2014 - 04:33 PM |
Tagged: Z97-Deluxe, PLX PEX8747, nda, LGA1150, Intel Z97, asus

In the good old days a new chipset meant a huge amount of new features, either never seen before or significantly improved from the previous generation but as more features have moved on the CPU this has gone the way of the Thylacine.  The new Z97 Express chipset is an example of that, adding refinements to LGA1150 boards but not bringing any brand new features apart from the integral M.2 port for your SSD.  There are new tricks in the UEFI BIOS and XMP can be manually enabled via a physical switch if you wish to avoid the tweaking it via the GUI.  The real improvements have been in the software, ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 5 may well be better at overclocking than you are and the wireless charging feature will impress owners of compatible equipment.  Also of note is that this is the first review that [H]ard|OCP has included a new test to measure deferred procedure call latency.

If you haven't already, you should check out Morry's previews of a mysterious new chipset due to be announced soon.

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"Today ASUS is launching its Z97 series DELUXE motherboard based on Intel’s new Z97 Express chipset. Intel's Z97 chipset is little more than a refresh of the Z87 Express chipset. Despite this, the Z97-Deluxe we are reviewing today builds on ASUS’ lengthy tradition of innovation and attempts to set the bar even higher than before."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP