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ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard is one of the newest motherboards to join their Intel Z97-based line of products. The board is squarely targeted at gaming enthusiasts, combining an appealing aesthetic with a compelling feature set for a must-have product. At an MSRP of $169.99, the Z97-Pro Gamer offers premium features to budget-conscious gamers.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

Even with its aggressive price-point, ASUS coupled the Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard with a top-rated power system dubbed Gamer's Guardian. The board includes an 8+2 phase digital power delivery system, 10k Japanese-source Black Metallic capacitors, DIGI+ VRMs, ESD (electro-static discharge) modules protecting the integrated ports, and DRAM overcurrent protection with integrated resetable fuses. For superior sound fedelity, ASUS integrated their updated SupremeFX audio system into the board's design, featuring illuminated board sheilding, 300 ohm headphone amplifier, and ELNA audio capacitors.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard!

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Z97-Pro Gamer contains the following features integrated into its design: four SATA 3 ports; an M.2 (NGFF) 10 Gb/s port; one SATA Express 10 Gb/s port; an Intel I-218V GigE NIC; three PCI-Express Gen3 x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; two PCI slots; SupremeFX audio solution; PS/2 keyboard / mouse port; VGA, DVI, and HDMI video ports; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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® 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 3200(O.C.) / 3100(O.C.) / 3000(O.C.) / 2933(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666(O.C.) / 2500(O.C.) / 2400(O.C.) / 2200(O.C.) / 2133(O.C.) / 2000(O.C.) / 1866(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/DVI-D/RGB ports
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DVI-D with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
- Supports RGB with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 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® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (Single at x16, dual at x8/x8, )
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode, black)
2 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI
Storage Intel® Z97 chipset :
1 x SATA Express port, compatible 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)*1
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

*1: M.2 Socket 3 shares bandwidth with PCIEX1_1 and PCIEX1_2 (in PCIE mode) & SATA6G_4 (in SATA mode), and supports M Key and type 2260/2280 storage devices.
*2: These functions will work depending on the CPU installed.

LAN Intel® I218V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s), featuring GAMEFIRST II
Audio SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel MIC Jack-retasking
- High quality 115 dB SNR stereo playback output
- High-fidelity audio OP AMP(s)

Audio Feature :
- SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
- ELNA premium audio capacitors
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
- Sonic Radar II

USB Ports Intel® Z97 chipset :
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)

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

Special Features ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5 :
- 5-Way Optimization tuning key perfectly consolidates TPU, EPU, DIGI+ Power Control, Fan Xpert 3, and Turbo App
Gamer's Guardian:
- ESD Guards on LAN, Audio, KBMS and USB3.0/2.0 ports
- DRAM Overcurrent Protection
- 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
- Stainless Steel Back I/O
- DIGI+ VRM
ASUS TPU :
- Auto Tuning
- TurboV
- GPU Boost without switch
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- AI Suite 3
- Ai Charger
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
- USB 3.0 Boost
- Disk Unlocker
Interactive HomeCloud
- Media Streamer
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-sink solution
- ASUS Fan Xpert 3
ASUS EZ DIY :
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode
- Push Notice
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
Operating System Support Windows® 8.1 x86 / x64
Windows® 8 x86 / x64
Windows® 7 x86 / x64
Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0 (blue)
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
Internal I/O Ports 1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x SATA Express connector: gray, compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3 for M Key, type 2260/2280 devices
1 x TPM header
1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
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)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (3 x 4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s)
1 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
Accessories User's manual
I/O Shield
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
BIOS 64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.8, 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 function, F3 Shortcut function, 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
EZ Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

 

Video News


June 8, 2015 | 02:43 PM - Posted by TheTolsonator

Finally a black and red z97 board that isn't stabbing you in the eyes with the amount of red. Simple splashes of color do wonders!

June 8, 2015 | 07:05 PM - Posted by SilverBullet (not verified)

I still don't get for a 'gamer' board why there is all the display options. Also a PS2 port really? If it's a gamer board, no one should be using on board gfx.

June 8, 2015 | 07:21 PM - Posted by JxcelDolghmQ (not verified)

I still use PS/2 for an IBM Model M keyboard. It's not completely unheard of, and they aren't exactly running out of space anyway.

As for the display options, it can be nice to have a few additional ports in case your video card doesn't have enough or enough of the right ones. (This works with multiple discrete cards but I'm not sure if this works with integrated GPUs - maybe someone can confirm?) Certainly it's not the most important feature, but keep in mind that people may have different needs than you.

June 8, 2015 | 07:35 PM - Posted by Dr_b_

What is the target market for a gamer board with PCI and VGA connectivity? I cant understand the PS2, but VGA and PCI? That is getting old even in the server space.

June 8, 2015 | 09:07 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Some gamers still have their favored PCI cards, including sound cards, that they've been using for years.   As for the other video ports, its possible to use them for secondary/terciary monitors...

June 9, 2015 | 04:22 AM - Posted by CrisisHawk

The two PCI slots are positioned in such a way that if you are running SLI/crossfire they are both covered by duel slot cards anyway. And you still have access to 2 PCI-e 1X slots and the bottom slot. So while some people are still holding on to a soundcard or something they still want a PCI slot for, they are not going to make a difference to most people. And if you are using enough add in cards that they are a problem, you should probably be looking at a higher end board anyway.

As for VGA, there is probably some oddball case where someone wants to use an old monitor as an auxiliary display, but other than that I don't know what self respecting gaming enthusiast is still using a VGA monitor, let alone plugging it into the motherboard. Still, I'd prefer to see some more HDMI/displayports and some more USB replace that DVI/VGA block.

June 9, 2015 | 06:22 AM - Posted by justin150 (not verified)

With all the new technologies coming out I am putting on hold building a new gaming machine for 6 months.

m.2, u.2, and NVMe or not.
DDR3 or DDR4
Skylake?
Another round of GPU updates (or rebrands in AMD case)
USB3 or 3.1 type C
Gsync/Freesync
4K or not.
Windows 10

The only thing I can be certain of is my old mechanical hard drives can be ditched - perfect for a NAS (particularly in 6+TB per disk), no longer needed for desktop machine [do we really need all those SATA sockets?]

I am a firm believer in "you can never have too much memory" but I do not wish to break bank to afford it.

Monitors for gaming - bigger is better but hate proprietary standards, and refresh rate fixed at max 60 MHz sucks.

Never been a big fan of multi-GPU set ups though

And I watercool the CPU and GPU

June 9, 2015 | 07:28 PM - Posted by jchambers2586

I just bought me a new case for my skylake build I am on z77 and will me moving to skylake. I just upgraded to a 970 from a 570 that was a huge perfomance improvement.

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