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ASUS Z97I-PLUS ITX Motherboard Review

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
3D and Gaming Benchmarks

3D and Gaming Benchmarks


In the 3D and Gaming Benchmarks section we will show a number benchmark comparisons of the 4770K and using the stock speed (turbo enabled), highest stable software overclock of 4.5Ghz and our manual overclock(4.6GHz). This will illustrate how much performance can be gained by the various overclocking options this board has to offer.

For reference the CPU speeds, memory speeds, memory timings, and uncore speeds used for these tests are as follows:

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Z97I-Plus/results.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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3DMark Fire Strike Benchmark


<i>The latest version of 3DMark from FutureMark includes everything you need to benchmark everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. And it's not just for Windows. With 3DMark you can compare your scores with Android and iOS devices too. It's the most powerful and flexible 3DMark we've ever created.
The test we are using in this review is Fire Strike with Extreme settings which is a DirectX 11 benchmark designed for high-performance gaming PCs. Fire Strike features real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Z97I-Plus/3dm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark


Resolution: 1920x1200
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 16X
Graphic Settings: High
<i>Originally intended to demonstrate new processing effects added to Half Life 2: Episode 2 and future projects, the particle benchmark condenses what can be found throughout HL2:EP2 and combines it all into one small but deadly package. This test does not symbolize the performance scale for just Episode Two exclusively, but also for many other games and applications that utilize multi-core processing and particle effects. As you will see the benchmark does not score in FPS but rather in its own "Particle Performance Metric", which is useful for direct CPU comparisons. </i>
<i>Please note: For clarity sake we have removed the SLI numbers from the chart as this benchmark is not SLI aware and the result for both single and dual GPU were the same.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Z97I-Plus/part.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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Sleeping Dogs Gaming Benchmark


<i>Sleeping Dogs is an open world action-adventure video game developed by United Front Games in conjunction with Square Enix London Studios and published by Square Enix, released on August 2012. Sleeping Dogs has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.
The settings used in the testing below are the Extreme display settings and a resolution of 1920x1200. World density is set to extreme, high-res textures are enabled, and shadow resolution, shadow filtering, screen space ambient occlusion, and quality motion blur are all set to high.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Z97I-Plus/sd.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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Metro: Last Light Gaming Benchmark


<i>Metro: Last Light is a DX11 first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver released in May 2013. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play. Scene D6 was used and an average of four runs was taken.
The settings used in the testing below are Very High for quality and a resolution of 1920x1200. DirectX 11 is used, texture filtering is set to AF 16X, motion blur is normal, SSA and advanced physX turned on and tessellation is set to high.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Z97I-Plus/metro.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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BioShock Infinite Gaming Benchmark


<i>BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games released in March 2013. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.
The settings used in the testing below are UltraDX11 for quality and a resolution of 1920x1200.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Z97I-Plus/bio.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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Tomb Raider Gaming Benchmark


<i> Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game. Published by Square Enix released in March 2013. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.
The settings used in the testing below are Ultimate default settings for quality, VSync disabled and a resolution of 1920x1200.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Z97I-Plus/tr.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Conclusion

Conclusion


With the small form factor phenomenon showing no indication that it will slow down anytime soon, motherboards like ASUS Z97I-PLUS are leading the charge into the next generation. It’s not hard to see what a product like the PLUS is so appealing: despite a diminutive size its feature set, performance and overclocking abilities rival those found on much larger offerings. ASUS’ ITX motherboard design is now a nearly-perfected artform but, even after their best efforts, there are still some substantial sacrifices to be made when moving from an ATX system to one that uses the Z97I-PLUS at its heart.

Sometimes reviewers, enthusiasts and novices alike can get caught up in the astounding number of features being offered by today’s high end motherboards. Massive PWMs, countless SATA ports, wireless charging stations, high end built-in audio subsystems and countless other items are all now part of an ongoing specification war between motherboard vendors. But, you have to ask yourself, how many of those will you actually make use of on a regular basis? Likely not even a fraction so paying for them simply becomes a waste of money at some point. That’s exactly where the Z97I-PLUS comes into the equation: it has useable everyday features with very little added “fluff” and an affordable price.

Feature-wise ASUS accomplished more than the Z97I-PLUS’ $160 price would have you believe. There are four SATA 6Gbps ports, wireless connectivity, a 6-phase PWM design which only seems to start flagging at higher frequencies than most would run in an SFF system, passable analog audio quality, one of the best BIOSes around and a great software suite. Speaking of overclocking, there were some hurdles to overcome but in the end, the Z97I-PLUS met expectations even though memory compatibility was flaky at first. The AI Suite III software also goes a long way towards making basic overclocking more appealing to first-timers.

Deep down we do have to wonder if ASUS may be becoming a victim of their own success though. For all intents and purposes the Z97I-PLUS is likely the first product in what will in all likelihood be a much larger ITX lineup; the A, Deluxe and RoG branded boards are surely in the pipeline. Actually achieving feature set and pricing differentiation in such a cluttered segment certainly isn’t easy and it usually leads to more affordable boards doing without some elements that are major differentiating factors for the platform itself. For example, even though it could be a large selling point, the Z97’s SATA Express is conspicuous by its absence here. In addition the lone useable M.2 slot is dreadfully located on the motherboard’s backside and the lack of ASUS’ compact WiFi Go module means a large amount of space is being taken up by a large yet still capable mPCIe add-in card. We have a sneaking suspicion that all those points will be addressed in higher end boards.

While we can point to the wireless module as a bone of possible contention for its footprint on such a space-deficient board, there’s no denying that built-in Wireless AC and Bluetooth capabilities could be hugely beneficial for the SFF crowd. The same goes for ASUS’ overall layout; it is tight and utilitarian but most components are sensibly placed.

Even with its limitations taken into consideration, the ASUS Z79I PLUS does tick most of the right boxes for mainstream consumers. It certainly won’t be right for everyone, but if you are looking for an ITX board that boasts a capable feature set, comes with good software, and has a price that won't break the bank the ASUS Z79I PLUS deserves further consideration. For everyone who is looking for something more feature rich and may have more disposable income, waiting for the upcoming Deluxe or RoG version makes a lot more sense.
 
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