Asus Z97 Deluxe BoardView | Asus Z97 Deluxe Schematic Circuit Diagram

Asus Z97 Deluxe BoardView | Asus Z97 Deluxe Schematic Circuit Diagram

Asus Z97 Deluxe Motherboard

Investing in a high-end motherboard should come with a few benefits. The package should include more features and components, and the maker should make every effort to improve performance. The ASUS Z97-Deluxe (NFC & WLC) is priced at $400, yet it includes Thunderbolt 2, NFC, Wireless Charging, dual SATA Express, dual Ethernet connections, 2T2R 802.11ac WiFi, M.2 compatibility, and 10 SATA/USB 3.0 ports.

Asus Z97 Deluxe Motherboard Review

The Z97 Deluxe is can be defined as an all-in-one motherboard, with dual NICs and 802.11ac 2T2R WiFi, two Thunderbolt 2 connections through an add-in card, NFC, Wireless Charging, two SATA Express connections, M.2 compatibility, and 10 SATA/USB ports and it should be verified for $400. For a Z97 motherboard, $400 may appear to be the top limit, as anything above seems excessive. This could explain why we don't have a PLX chip for 4-way PCIe, a capability that ASUS has reserved for its Z97-WS, which we'll look at later. This could signal a shift in Asus design, with 4-way PCIe devices reserved for workstations, LGA 2011 (Ivy Bridge-E) motherboards, and gaming motherboards (Maximus Extreme). Most LGA 1150 customers who don't require a workstation motherboard should be able to use the Z97-Deluxe, which supports two-way SLI and three-way CrossFire.

Normally, high-priced motherboards get a lot of flak, especially in this passionate area where the motherboards cost more than the CPUs (now $340 for the i7-4770K, $240 for the i5-4670K). For example, if the motherboard is expensive, it must offer something unique, as well as a few characteristics not present on other devices. The bundled NFC and Wireless Charging utilities, as well as the dual-port Thunderbolt 2 card, provide a significant amount of value to the Z97-Deluxe (NFC & WLC). The Z97-Deluxe without these upgrades is only $290, making these upgrades worth exactly $110. As a result, Z97 Deluxe (NFC & WLC) users are eager to use these features, and will most likely do so on a regular basis. These tools are compatible with other motherboards and may be sold separately, but as they are included in this bundle, they should be used with this motherboard. However, when the motherboard contains functionalities that are disabled if the Thunderbolt card is installed, it becomes a little more complicated.

One of the more perplexing characteristics of the Z97 is the layout of the chipset. With the introduction of SATA Express and M.2, both of which require PCIe lanes and SATA ports on the motherboard, it's virtually a matter of pick and choice. If a user requires the functionality of one feature, another may be disabled.

ASUS Z97-Deluxe Side - SATA

If a user wants to use the twin Thunderbolt 2 card, the BIOS should be changed so that the final PCIe slot uses the chipset's x4 lanes. The ASMedia SATA Express controller (one SATAe port) and the ASMedia USB 3.0 controller are then disabled. Only the SATA Express controller is disabled if the final PCIe slot is configured to x2. The last PCIe slot must be disabled completely in order to use the ASMedia SATAe port. Furthermore, PCIe lanes are shared by the M.2 slot and the other SATA Express port. When we use one, the other is turned off.

This indicates that if you use two SATAe drives, or SATA drives in the SATAe ports, M.2, two rear USB 3.0 ports, and the final PCIe slot are disabled. Z97 feels more like a musical chairs game, which is aggravated by the storage options on the one hand but calms down when we understand that the hardware to use them is still a few months away from release.

If we ignore all of the accessories and simply look at the motherboard itself, we'll find newer features like the EZ XMP switch (which allows you to enable XMP without using the BIOS) and Crystal Sound 2, which is the improved layout of the Realtek ALC1150 codec (meaning isolated PCB, EMI shield, filters and headphone amplifiers with DTS support). USB BIOS Flashback, EPU, TPU, 4-pin fan headers that enable DC+PWM modes, Wi-Fi Go!, and DirectKey are all present and correct, albeit DirectKey (the ability to restart into the BIOS) has moved from a button to a header.

The ASUS BIOS and software for the Z97 have also been upgraded. Both make use of technologies I've been promoting for a long time, such as fan profiling with realistic graphs and BIOS visual settings. While I believe some of the cosmetic elements of the BIOS have regressed since Z87, the new automatic overclocking functionality allows users to select a mix of cooling and workload for the BIOS to push the CPU. The software has been updated to 5-Way Optimization, which includes a Turbo App overclocking capability. The OS's automated overclocking also enables the stress portion of the test to be adjusted, which is a much-needed function.

ASUS Z97-Deluxe IO

Benchmarks show the Z97-Deluxe to be the leader in integrated audio, with some of the best dynamic range and THD+N numbers we've ever seen, thanks to a driver update that fixed a minor issue (similar to the one we mentioned in our previous Z97 review) involving heavy distortion at full speaker volume. With idle, power consumption appears to be high, but at load, it is low. The USB Turbo mode produces some of the greatest USB 2.0 results we've seen, and manual overclocking effortlessly brought our CPU to 4.6 GHz. Other CPU and GPU benchmarks place the Z97-Deluxe (NFC & WLC) in the same price range as the other motherboards, indicating that the price increase is primarily due to better components, more functionality, and the addition of NFC/WLC/Thunderbolt 2 features. To justify the pricing of the Z97-Deluxe (NFC & WLC), users must have a compelling need for such functionalities.

Asus Z97 Deluxe BoardView, Asus Z97 Deluxe Schematic Circuit Diagram

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