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ASUS Z97-DELUXE (NFC & WLC) Review

AkG

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Merriam-Webster defines Deluxe as "of better quality and usually more expensive than the usual ones of its kind; notably luxurious or elegant". Ever since its release <i>many</i> generations ago the ASUS Deluxe name has become synonymous with those terms but conveniently left out the “expensive” part. For example their last generation Intel Z87 Deluxe set a high water mark in both hardware <i>and</i> software, one which all other Z87 motherboards were judged against.

With the recent release of Intel Z97’s chipset it comes as no surprise to see ASUS has once again risen to the call and revisited the Deluxe brand one more time with the Z97-Deluxe. This is a board purely focused on outperforming MSI's and Gigabyte's high end mainstream models while offering a better overall value quotient.

To bring their storied mark up to Z97 expectations ASUS has taken everything that made their previous Deluxe models so iconoclastic and upped the ante in nearly every way imaginable. These improvements take many forms but overall the Z97 Deluxe (NFC & WLC)'s specifications make it one of the most feature-right and distinctive motherboards ASUS have ever produced. However, unlike some manufactures who seem obsessed with change for change's sake, it doesn't break from previous design philosophies but rather looks towards simple refinements and some noteworthy updates.

While we won’t give up all the details about what’s new this time around, let’s just say that nearly every aspect of the Z87 Deluxe has been revised in some way to create its successor. These go far beyond the minor chipset-specific additions like SATA Express, NVMe support, forwards compatibility with Broadwell processors and the M.2 form factor standardization. From better accessibility, to a continued evolution of their overclocking software to expanded connectivity options, the changes may be minor but they are literally everywhere.

The Z97 Deluxe (NFC & WLC) is meant to offer something for everyone but due to the laundry list of features it aims to offer, pricing will likely be a concern to frugally-minded buyers. At $399 this isn’t an inexpensive motherboard (it happens to be one of the most expensive currently available) and it’s a far cry from the perfectly capable $149 Z97-A we reviewed. However, this particular Z97 Deluxe also includes three unique features that explain its rather high cost: a ThunderBolt add-in card and a convenient NFC Express 2 / Wireless Charger base station.

If you are looking for a “purer” and less expensive Deluxe fix, look no further than the standard Z97-Deluxe which is identical but lacks the three items mentioned above. It goes for about $100 less. Truth be told, ASUS has thrown every advanced motherboard feature under the sun at the Z97 Deluxe (NFC & WLC) in an effort to put on a technological tour de force. On paper it certainly looks impressive but let’s get under the hood and see if all these features are really worth their weight in ASUS-branded gold plating.
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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications


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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Deluxe_Z97/spec1.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

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AkG

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories



It appears that the major trend amongst motherboard manufactures this generation is going to be more subdued colors for their overall packaging aesthetics.


The Z97 Deluxe is housed in its own cardboard container with a plastic lid and the accessories located in small cardboard trays below it.


The accessory list which accompanies the Z97 Deluxe is downright insane in both its breadth and width. In addition to the usual list of items like a user manual, features guide, three driver and software DVDs, ASUS sticker, rear I/O shield, six SATA 6Gb/s cables, 2-way SLI bridge connector, I/O shield, DisplayPort and mini-Display Port cables, and two Q-Connectors there are also a few extra features worth noting.

/Thunderbolt pic

The ThunderboltEX / Dual 2 PCIe x4 adapter card which allows you to daisy-chain up to 12 Thunderbolt devices through one port. Since the Thunderbolt 2 port also supports DisplayPort 1.2, you can attach up to three 1080p displays here as well provided the video signal is routed from your GPU to the input connector of this card. Unlike some previous models, if you have no interest in ThunderBolt you need not waste any FlexIO lanes nor PCIe lanes on it since ASUS hasn't built these capabilities directly unto the motherboard.


Next up is the NFC Express 2 external adapter which features not only NFC transceiver abilities but also dual USB 3.0 ports. As an added bonus ASUS includes a USB 3.0 cable for this receiver. This can act as a communications hub between mobile devices and your PC allowing for backup and media streaming. With the included passcard, you can even log into your PC.


ASUS has also included a Qi capable external wireless charger along with a 2A capable wall adapter and USB 2.0 cable so you don’t even have to plug it into the motherboard to work. In testing this Qi charger with a Nexus 7 (2013), it was every bit as fast as a Duracell powermat charger and much faster than a knockoff unit from Hong Kong. The combination of this and the aforementioned NFC Express module typically costs about a hundred bucks when bought separately.
 
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AkG

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Closer look at the ASUS Z97 Deluxe

Closer Look at the ASUS Z97 Deluxe



ASUS’ Z97 Deluxe’s layout is nearly identical to that of its predecessor, the Z87 Deluxe. That means there’s excellent spacing between the primary graphics slots and plenty of room between the socket for large coolers. There are a few additional details we need to look at since even though there are similarities between generations, ASUS has added quite a few new items here.


In past generations the one complaint that was commonly leveled against the Z87 Deluxe was its overall aesthetics which were, to be kind, a touch over the top for some consumers. While certainly more subdued than something like the GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 5, the contrasting black and garish yellow 'gold' heatsinks was out of tune with the typical mainstream consumer's idea on what a 'deluxe' motherboard should look like.

Thankfully ASUS has listened to their faithful fans and toned things down a bit. While the main colors are still black and gold, the new metallic color is muted while maintaining a faint iridescence that looks awesome in certainly lighting conditions.


The new 'medallion' style PCH heatsink looks quite good too though it is only secured by two (instead of four) screws. This causes uneven mounting pressure on the Z97 chipset, and while ASUS has helped alleviate problems by using heatpads instead of thermal compound, this is one area that needs some improvement. However in the grand scheme of things this is neither here nor there as in testing the chipset never got overly hot.

The VRM heatsinks are large without being overly intrusive into the CPU socket area. They are laid out in a multi-stage design and tied together with a common heatpipe.


The Z97 Deluxe’s overall layout is very well thought out with most of the buttons, connectors, and ports easily accessible and free from possible obstruction. Unlike the Z97A recently reviewed, ASUS hasn’t placed the M.2 slot between the CPU socket and the first PCI-E slot. Rather, it is where it belongs: near the SATA ports and between the second and third PCIe x16 slots. This makes either adding or removing an M.2 SSD quite easy.


The M.2 slot is one of the standout new features of the Z97 chipset. This M.2 slot supports both 2260 and 2280 type devices, which is to say SSDs that are 22mm wide and either 60mm or 80mm long. It should be mentioned that the M.2 slot shares bandwidth with the bottommost SATA Express port (the Deluxe has two SATA-E connectors) which in turn also shares bandwidth with the lowest PCIe x16 slot (which runs in x4 mode). What this means is that you will only be able to use either the M.2 port and one SATA Express Drive, or both SATA Express ports, or the third x16 slot. Of course, using either SATA Express port also disables two SATA 6Gb/s ports per connected SATA Express device.

The situation described above is caused due to the limited number of PCIe lanes available to these Z97 boards along with the number of allocated Flex ports within the PCH. We described this in extensive detail here. However, given these constraints, ASUS has done the best balancing act we have seen to date.


Hidden underneath those subdued yet still eye catching heatsinks resides a robust power subsystem. This is an all-digital DIGI+ VRM sixteen-phase (8+8) design consisting of Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs, 'BlackWing' chokes and 10K-hour black metallic solid electrolytic capacitors. While this is not a 'true' sixteen phase design, having the load spread over more components does reduce stresses placed upon them and helps keep temperatures lower a typical 8 phase design.


The four DDR3 memory slots are also fed by a digital 2-phase power design and support overclocked memory frequencies up to DDR3-3300. This might sound pointless, but Haswell processors are insanely capable at handling high memory frequencies, and who knows what Devil's Canyon or Broadwell will be capable of. Like other ASUS motherboards, the Deluxe features the handy Q-DIMM memory slots (a clip on one side and a recessed lock on the other), which prevent any clearance issues that can arise between conventional memory clips and the back of a nearby expansion card.

Speaking of memory settings, the EZ XMP switch - as its name suggests - allow users to easily auto-enable a memory kit’s XMP profile. The MemOk! button on the other hand initiates a memory compatibility tuning process if there are memory-related issues preventing a system from booting up.
 
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AkG

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Closer Look at the ASUS Z97 Deluxe (pg.2)

Closer Look at the ASUS Z97 Deluxe Cont'd



There is an excellent amount of spacing between the Z97 Deluxe’s two main mechanical PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots so there won’t be any issues fitting two thick dual or triple-slot graphics cards on it. Since this board uses an ATX form factor, installing a third video card into the bottom PCIe x16 slot is possible (cards will run in x8 / x8 / x4 modes) but it will overhang the various connectors along the bottom.


Speaking of those connectors the Deluxe’s lower edge is festooned with them. In addition to the front header connectors, fan port, dual USB 2.0 headers this is also where ASUS has placed the Power and Reset switches. Further making this an important area to keep free of obstructions it also has the reset CMOS button, and the BIOS flashback toggle.

On top of all that ASUS has also placed the TPU and EPU switches here. The TPU switch - controlled by the TPU microprocessor - gives you manual access to the TPU auto-overclock feature. The switch has an off position and two selectable overclock presets. Meanwhile the EPU switch can enable or disable the EPU energy-saving feature.

These two switches are basically for those who don't want to toy around the BIOS or use the included Dual Intelligent Processors 5 software utility. Obviously blocking these ports with a video card isn’t recommended, though considering the fact that three video card configurations will result in a 8+8+4 mode consumers interested in tri-SLI setups may want to look at PLX enabled alternatives.


The upgraded audio of the Deluxe stands out as well, and with good reason. While the Z97 Deluxe uses the same Realtek ALC1150 codec (which supports 7.1+2 audio) as its predecessor, this is where the similarities end.

Just like GIGABYTE and their Gaming G1 motherboard the Deluxe Z97s audio circuitry has been thoroughly isolated to reduce EMI, and high quality Nichicon capacitors are added for enhanced quality. ASUS has also gone a step further and utilized a dedicated Texas Instruments RC4580 op amp for the headphone output which can be configured for either front or rear output. With this in place, the Deluxe has been given the capability to drive loads of up to 600 ohms which is quite impressive considering audio fidelity isn't one of the primary marketing points of this board.


The rear IO panel is very straightforward but is nevertheless very well appointed. In grand total there are six USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, six audio analog ports, a S/PDIF optical out port, a single HDMI port, one full sized DisplayPort, one mini-DisplayPort, the dual antenna headers for the preinstalled wireless 802.11AC / Blutetooth module. Rounding out the features is two Intel NICS - one of which is Intel’s latest generation ‘Clarkville’ i218V and the other being the i211.


The built in fan controller abilities of this motherboard have also been upgraded and it now supports both PWM and DC current. This is unique to all ASUS Z97 boards and allows for much broader compatibility of cooling options. It also brings up a number of interesting options as per our conversations with ASUS:

Traditionally, most motherboards only support 4 pin fans on the CPU header (no DC control), while all other fan headers onboard either have very limited control or can only control fans in one mode (mostly DC). That means certain fan types will spin at full speed when plugged into the board or cannot be controlled well. By offering both DC and PWM fan control on each header on the board we are allowing users to purchase any type of fan they want and control it on any fan header.

The CPU fan header on our boards also has a circuit that can detect whether the fan is DC or PWM – making setup easy for first time users.

With all of that in mind, one can set up a system to be near silent or silent at light loads/idle and have the fans ramp up as the system temps increase. A fan can also be set to stop spinning at certain temperatures as well. Plus we have calibration routines that provide a minimum RPM value for each fan in the system and an RPM “look up table” to aid the user in setting up each fan. The “LUT” is useful because RPM does not have a linear relationship with voltage or duty cycle.

We also allow PWM fans to be set to extremely low duty cycle values, as the beauty of PWM fans is that they can rotate at levels where most DC fans simply fail to spin.

Each fan header can also be mapped to a different temperature sensor. Again, traditionally all fan headers on a motherboard get their input temperature from the CPU. On our 9 series boards we have 4 choices. Users can map each chassis fan to react to temp changes on the CPU, VRM, PCH or motherboard temp diode. This provides the ability to cool various parts of the board according to how the temperature in that region changes. IE the CPU might be under load, would you really want a fan placed near the GPUs spinning at the same time if the GPUs are idling?

Stuff like that – it’s very comprehensive and totally negates the need to buy a plug in fan controller. There isn’t anything on the market that comes close to offering all of these options in firmware and software. Good fan controllers cost upwards of $40 all the way up to $200 and we have pretty much everything beat. –ASUS



The 24-pin ATX power connector is in its usual spot and directly to the left is the two USB 3.0 front headers. In order to provide these additional USB 3.0 ports ASUS has included both ASMedia ASM1074 and ASMedia ASM1042 controllers chips.

To the left of the USB headers are the ten SATA 6Gb/s ports and the two SATA Express ports. The second SATA Express port is of great interest as the Z97 chipset only supports connectivity for one native 10Gb/s SATA Express.

In order to offer consumers a second port (and the ability to use both an M.2 SSD and a SATA Express SSD at the same time) ASUS has included an ASMedia ASM106SE chip. The additional four SATA 6Gb/s ports are powered via an ASMedia ASM1061 (the 2 rightmost ports) and the ASMedia ASM106SE chip which directs traffic to the two top ports directly next to the top SATA Express connector.


While there are technically ten SATA 6Gb/s and two SATA 10Gb/s 'Express' ports, this does not mean you can attach twelve drives to the Deluxe. Rather, if you do use the bottom PCH-powered SATA Express connector, the two SATA 6Gb/s ports next to it (bottom two) will be disabled. On the other hand utilizing the top SATA Express will disable the top two SATA ports directly next to it. Finally, the four grey SATA ports (powered by the Intel Z97 PCH) and the two black SATA ports on the right end are not impacted by SATA Express devices.


Flipping the board over we see that just like the Z87 Deluxe, the Z97 Deluxe uses multiple backplates to support the various heatsinks. These backplates are actually used for heat dispersion as well since they actually cover components of the VRM subsystem.
 
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AkG

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BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown



ASUS' EZ mode Graphical User Interface BIOS was -and is - iconoclastic and one of the major features of the older Z87 series. EZ mode was in fact so simple to understand that the competition has started to copy this dual BIOS philosophy of Easy Mode of for simplistic tasks, and Advanced Mode for less common tasks done in the more complicated main area. However, while there is no denying that EZ mode was easy it was also very basic, so much so that most users quickly outgrew it and started booting directly into the Advanced Mode which negated most of the benefits it offered.


Obviously ASUS have listened to their critics and detractors since the Z97 Deluxe comes with a newly revamped Easy Mode that is still extremely easy but can now handle more complex tasks. In fact, it vastly improves upon the simple to navigate, easy to implement GUI of the previous generation but includes fan speed modifiers, boot priority, XMP profiles and system tuning. This is really well done and goes to show how far these UEFI BIOSes have progressed.

Furthermore, and perhaps most impressively, ASUS has implemented a very smooth and responsive UEFI BIOS, noticeably better than anything we've experienced in the past. It's not necessarily lightning fast, since there are some deliberate/intentional transition delays when switching between the various sections, but none of the lag and stuttering that we've put up with in most other UEFI BIOS.



The EZ Mode makes pretty good use of the graphical user interface (GUI) and was designed to be used with a mouse. It obviously does not have all the functionality of the Advanced Mode, but it is not meant to. It simply gives novice users an easy way to visualize and alter some of the most common settings.

The Q-Fan Tuning feature can be found in both BIOS modes, but it gives you full manual or preset-based control over the systems fans. The EZ Tuning Wizard is particularly interesting since it brings overclocking to an even simpler level. Basically, the wizard asks you how the system is generally used, what kind of CPU cooler you have installed, and based on your answer it comes up with an appropriate tuning level for your respective system. In practice it did exactly what it promised to do and the fact that it never actually mentions "overclocking" should help alleviate some of the fears less knowledgeable users might associate with the word.


Just as with the previous Deluxe, the very first tab in the Advanced Mode is the My Favorites tab. In our opinion, and with just a little bit of effort, this page is the only one users will ever need to use. As the name suggests it is fully customizable and allows you to quickly have all your most useful or most used settings in one place.


The next tab in the BIOS is the Main section, which displays the standard storage devices and some basic system information. This System Information section lists rudimentary specification info including the BIOS date & version, the type of processor and the amount of memory installed. You can also set the system language, and an administrator and/or individual user password.
 
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AkG

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BIOS Rundown (pg.2)

BIOS Rundown pg.2



Just to the right of the Main section is the perennial favorite Ai Tweaker area. If you plan on overclocking your system at all, this section is where the majority of your time will be spent. Once the manual option is selected in the Ai Overclock Tuner setting, the BIOS opens up to reveal all of the essential system clock control options: CPU multiplier with an all-core and per-core option, BLCK frequency, CPU strap, memory frequency, memory timing options, and all the voltage options.


The DRAM Timing Control screen contains every memory timing modifier imaginable and will be a dream come true for memory tweakers. There are literally pages upon pages of memory timings including primary, secondary, and third as well as slews / duty sense settings available. There is even a Memory Presets subpage which has a huge variety of memory presets available and as long as you have an idea of the chips used in your modules, these are perfect starting points for optimization.

The DIGI+ Power Control section has a whole slew of advanced power regulation settings for the CPU cores, CPU VTT and VCCSA (system agent/memory controller), and DRAM channels.

The Internal CPU Power Management section is where you can enable or disable all the CPU-specific features like SpeedStep and Turbo Mode, as well as setting the Turbo limits. ASUS have really bolstered this section with an overwhelming array of CPU power tuning settings.

Occupying the middle to bottom section of the Ai Tweaker is a prodigious list of voltage options. As you would expect, all the key system voltages are present and accounted for, as far as bunch of other voltage options that we have frankly never even seen before.

For some of the key voltages like the CPU Core voltage and the CPU Cache voltage, ASUS have allowed four separate entry modes. The Auto and Manual modes are self-evident, the Offset Mode allows you to specify how much higher (or lower) the voltage should be in reference to stock level, so something like +0.10V or +0.15V. The Adaptive Mode allows you to set both a base voltage and higher Turbo Mode voltage that is enabled under heavy system loads. This helps minimize the amount of voltage running through an overclocked processor when it's not under load.

Usually we would now say that we wish there were more drop-down menus in this section. Although you can manually type in whatever you want, but that is not particularly useful when you don't know or don’t remember what the default voltages are. Thankfully, ASUS have thought about this, and they have included real-time voltage read outs next to all the key system voltages. This is a fantastic addition and we couldn't be happier to see it here.


In the Advanced tab there are a number of configuration sub screens for CPU, PCH, SATA, System Agent, USB, Onboard Devices, APM and Network Stack. At the top of the page, the board lighting can be disabled if desired.


The Advanced Tab is also where you can enable/disable or just find all the various settings and options for all the onboard devices like the audio, LAN, USB 3.0, SATA ports, etc.
 
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AkG

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BIOS Rundown (pg.3)

BIOS Rundown (pg.3)



The Monitor section contains system temperature/power status, and adjustable fan settings. Fan speeds are customizable based on a number of parameters and there are profiles included in the BIOS. Of especial note though is the 'DC Mode' option which has been included due to the increased power of the built in fan controller. For fans which are only 3-pin (and thus not PWM capable) the motherboard can now more finely adjust RPM levels and allowing them to be just as customizable as PWM capable fans.


The Boot tab is essentially where you set storage device priority, select the boot drive, enable/disable the full screen logo, and ton of other boot settings that can help with the installation or troubleshooting of various OS installations.


The tool tab gives you access to numerous built in tools that allow for everything from selecting which BIOS profile to use to flashing your BIOS.


As with previous ASUS motherboards, before you save your settings and exit the BIOS, there is a handy window that lists the changes you made during this session. It is a well thought out and implemented idea. The new General Help pop-up that you can find in the top-right corner is very handy for those who can't remember all the new function key tasks.
 
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AkG

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Included software

Included Software


ASUS CPU-Z


<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Deluxe_Z97/cpuz.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
ASUS CPU-Z is a special edition of CPU-Z especially created to match the aesthetics of ASUS' other software utilities and while it does not offer any special features not found in the standard CPU-Z application, it does provide a good looking UI. This edition is found on the included software DVD, but it is not yet available for download from CPUID.com. As a result, we aren't sure if it will be kept as up-to-date as the regular version or even the ROG CPU-Z.


Turbo LAN


<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Deluxe_Z97/turbo_lan.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
Turbo LAN is a utility designed to help reduce latency courtesy of cFosSpeed traffic-shaping technology. This utility provides users with a lot of control and monitoring capabilities over every application that is accessing the network. It displays CPU usage, NPU usage, ICMP and UDP average ping, and the network utilization of every system process and program. Itl also allows you to give priority to certain applications, and throttle or block others to free network resources for other applications. It is your one-stop tool for monitoring and controlling all network traffic.


Boot Setting


<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Deluxe_Z97/fastBoot_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
ASUS Boot Setting allows users to boot directly into the BIOS without having to repeatedly hit delete during the POST screen. It also includes an Advanced section allowing you to customize fastboot settings including what happens after a power outage. Overall it is a pretty hand tool when you are rebooting as often as overclockers tend to do.


WebStorage


<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Deluxe_Z97/web_storage.gif" border="0" alt="" /></div>
The WebStorage utility is basically the ASUS equivalent of DropBox. It is a cloud computing application that gives users web storage and access to data across many devices. All ASUS motherboard owners get 5.5GB of storage for free, you can buy more or be gifted some by ASUS if you referrer your friends. The web interface is pretty standard and utilitarian. Overall, there is not much to complain about and it's a nice freebie if you choose to use it.
 
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AkG

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Included Software (AI Suite 3)

Included Software (AI Suite 3)



Regardless of your intended use for the Z97 Deluxe, the most-utilized program will likely be ASUS' AI Suite III. Put simply it is a full system management utility and is the hub from which you can monitor system clock speeds, voltages, temperatures, fan rotation, and - most importantly of all - allows users to do both automatic and manual overclocking from within Windows.

This utility's third iteration was launched along with the Z87 motherboards but just like the BIOS, it features a refreshed design and feature set that has been even more refined over previous AI Suite 3 iterations.


The largest difference between AI Suite 3 for Z87 motherboards and the new application for Z97 systems is the Optimization tab. The previous Z87 generation had 4 way optimization features (TPU, EP, Fan Xpert 2, and Digi+ Power) whereas the Z97 has the 5-Way Optimization automatic overclocking feature.

You will also see very simplified information relating to the other five tabs such as the Energy Processing Unit (EPU) power saving for performance profiles, Fan Xpert 3 fan speed optimization status, DIGI+ VRM optimization, the extremely impressive new Turbo App functionality, and some display-only information regarding TurboV Processing Unit (TPU).

At the bottom is a static strip that displays information about CPU and DRAM frequency, real-time voltage and temperature measurements, as well as CPU and case fans speeds. You can also set safe thresholds for voltages, temperatures and fan speeds as well as setting alerts to warn you of any serious fluctuations. It is essentially a replacement for the Probe II utility.


In the top-right corner of the Ai Suite utility is a downwards arrow that activates a dropdown screen when clicked. Here you will be features like Ai Charger+ and USB 3.0 Boost. When enabled, Ai Charger+ allows up to three times faster charging of devices connected to USB ports, while enabling USB 3.0 implements the UAS Protocol (UASP) USB protocol that greatly enhances speeds while also lowering CPU utilization.

The EZ Update tool allows users to update their motherboard's BIOS either directly from the internet or from a downloaded file. Ai Charger+ allows users to supercharge their USB ports, and enable up to 3 times faster charging of mobile devices.

System Information just contains a bunch of basic system information regarding your CPU, motherboard or RAM. You can also find you can find your serial number, BIOS version, etc. BIOS Flashback allows you to copy the content of BIOS1 to BIOS2, as well as force the use of BIOS1 or BIOS2.


The TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) tab is for folks who have a basic knowledge of overclocking but don’t want to enter the BIOS. Here you will find the basic requirements for overclocking and tweaking. This includes adjustable settings for BCLK, CPU ratio, CPU cache ratio, as well as modifiable voltages for CPU core and CPU cache. There is also an impressive eight adjustable system voltages. You can adjust all these settings on-the-fly without having to reboot the system, except for the CPU strap since it tends to cause a dramatic increase in all system frequencies.


The EPU (Energy Processing Unit) tab contains the board’s power saving options and is where you will be able to fine-tune the various power saving or performance profiles. This is a versatile feature for those who truly care about maximizing energy savings.


The DIGI+ Power Control tab contains power options for the CPU, System Agent/Memory Controller, and RAM. There are adjustable settings for load-line calibration, current capability, voltage frequency, and phase control. There are different power controls for each memory channel since they are independently powered.


Also included in the new AI Suite III is ASUS's Fan Xpert 3. As you might expect, this is the successor to the wildly popular Fan Xpert 2 application which allows you to fully manage and optimize your CPU and system fans. While there are now a series of four fan presets (Silent/Standard/Turbo/Full Speed), you can also manually adjust the full fan speed curve to your preferences, or simply use the fully automated Fan Tuning feature.
 
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