ASUS Z97-PLUS BoardView | ASUS Z97-PLUS Schematic Circuit Diagram | ASUS Z97-PLUS Review
In terms of price, the Z97M-Plus is the most affordable Z97 mATX board from Asus. You'd be mistaken, however, since the $170 Gryphon and the $220 Maximus VII Gene are the other two. The Z97M-Plus, which retails for $135, is at the upper end of the mainstream pricing range. It is inevitable that the new ASRock Z97M OC Formula will be compared to the old ASRock Z97M OC Formula because of the same pricing. Let's take a look at how the Plus compares to the rest of the field.
ASUS Z97-PLUS Review
The Z97M Plus seems a little plain compared to the other boards we've seen lately, thanks to the lack of any eye-catching colors. The only color on the grey/blackboard is the gold accents on the VRM and the CPU heat sinks. I granted the OCF a few style points for its bright colors last time around. I award the Plus the same empty points for not treating me like a squirrel and hoping that fashionable anodizing would influence my decision. I'm stumped. To me, flashy colors don't signify anything when they're obscured by a thick metal plate. To win my respect, a board merely needs a strong feature set at a reasonable price.
Asus has thrown in a few goodies that we haven't seen on the prior ASRock versions, but the board architecture is simple. As usual, the 8-pin EPS power socket and two 4-pin fan headers are located on the top of the board. The CPU, GPU, and BCLK may all be overclocked, or the GPU Boost option can be turned off. Position one established a tiered CPU multiplier of 46, 45, and 44 dependent on core use with this motherboard and CPU. A hard CPU multiplier of 36 and 125 MHz BCLK were set in position two to achieve an overclock of 4.45 GHz on the CPU. At 1.328V and 1.288, the VCore settings were left on automatic. The GPU was unaffected by either. Since the current generation of dynamic GPU clock and fan control technologies (and my testbed has an R9 290X), I'm not sure how useful this functionality will be for GPU users.
The MemOK button at the upper right is another addition. To discover appropriate RAM values, the board performs a series of tests by pressing and holding the button. It's a handy tool to have when you're trying to recover from excessive overclocking or just want to get a sense of the bottom limits of your RAM. In addition to the PCIe slots, the RAM slots include a permanent latch on the bottom. If you're installing a GPU in the top slot, this should be a need for any mATX board (the backplate on the 290X I use touches the RAM latches on most mATX boards). The ASRock boards' RAM slots are a little closer to the CPU socket than the Gigabyte boards' RAM slots are. I was able to utilize the first RAM slot with my test RAM, however, it was rubbing against the fan of the CPU cooler.
Six SATA ports, a 24-pin ATX power socket, and a USB 3.0 header are all found on this site. Ports three through six of the SATA bus are forward-facing, however, the first and second SATA ports are not. Because ports one and two are the most common, I don't see why Asus would do this. A socketed BIOS chip may be found in the lower right-hand corner of the system casing.
A second 4-pin fan header and an M.2 socket are located above the first PCIe slot in the expansion card space. As a result, this is our recommended position for the SSD. Both SATA and PCIe modes are supported by the Plus. Slots 5 and 6 on the SATA bus share lanes with SATA port 5 and M.2 on the bottom. The Plus features two PCIe slots that are 16x in length. The 3.0 x16 has a grey top, whereas the 2.0 x4 has a blue bottom. There are two old PCI slots in the middle. The standard assortment of headers may be found at the board's bottom border. In this order, left to right: HD audio, TPM, parallel, SP/PDIF, serial, three USB 2.0, clean CMOS, and front panel (needs an extra break-out card).
In comparison to the OCF, the back I/O panel is somewhat minimal. There is still a PS/2 connector, but just two USB 2.0 connections for devices. VGA, DVI-D, and HDMI all output video in the same way. There is no eSATA port on the Plus model. An Intel I218-V gigabit controller is in charge of networking. 3.5mm jacks are included in place of TOSLINK, although this isn't a deal-breaker. Real-time 5.1 encoding with Dolby Digital Live and DTS-Connect is not supported since the Plus employs an ALC887 audio chip. As a result, there will be no 5.1 surround sound in the game. You can only obtain pre-encoded feeds like movies with 5.1 audio via this board. The audio output on modern HTPCs will almost certainly be HDMI rather than the fiber optic connections used in previous models.
The contents of the package are essentially identical to those of other mATX boards. a backplate shield and an instruction manual are all included in the box. At 16 inches, the SATA cables are on the shorter end of the size spectrum (40.5 cm). Z boards should come with four SATA cables like their predecessors, and this is no exception. Unlike the OCF, an M.2 slot does not need any wires.