ASUS Z97-WS Motherboard Review
Overclocking and Conclusion
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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