ASUS Z97 Pro Gamer Review

rakesh_sharma23

In the zone
ASUS Z97 Pro Gamer Review


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Z97-Pro Gamer from Asus is a high-performance entry-level gaming enthusiast motherboard with 10Gibt/s M.2 and SATA Express connectivity, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, exclusive Supreme-FX audio with Sonic Radar II and GameFirst-ll and LAN-Guard networking technologies, supporting two video cards in SLI or CrossFireX to deliver pure gaming fun.


However the motherboard cannot be called a High-end gaming board because it does not have a PCIe switching chip to support up to four video cards. On the other hand, the ASUS Z97-PRO Gamer offers more features than average motherboards.


Now let’s see what this Intel Z97 chipset based board have for us.

Packing
Board comes in a nice black cardboard box with model number, image of the board and details about supporting technology and features.
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Inside the box
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Looks
Board is in a Red-black ROG theme with black PCB and black heat-sinks with red graphics.
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Specification
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Layout
Detailed layout of board.
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1. Intel LGA 1150 socket, supporting current 4th generation and 5th generation CPU.
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2. 4 x DIMM slots supporting maximum 32GB of 1600/1333MHz DDR3 or up to 3200(O.C.) DDR3 memory.
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3. ATX Power connector (24-pin EATXPWR).
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4. ATX CPU Power Connector (8-pin ATX12V).
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5. Intel Z97 Express Chipset.
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6. USB 3 Port.
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7. 4 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s Ports
8. 1 x SATA Express port, compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s Ports.
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9. System Front panel Connector
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10. 3x USB 2.0 Connectors
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11. Serial Port connector
12. TPM Connector
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13. Digital Audio(SPDIF Out) connector
14. Front panel Audio connector
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15. M.2 Socket 3 for M-Key, type 2260/2280 devices
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16. Back I/O Ports. 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s), 1 x DVI-D. 1 x D-Sub, 1 x HDMI, 1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s), 4 x USB 3.0 (blue), 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x Optical S/PDIF out, 6 x Audio jack(s)
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17, 18, 19, 20. Expansion Slots -2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (Single at x16, dual at x8/x8), 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode, black), 2 x PCIe x1, 2 x PCI
21, 22, 23, 24, 25. 1 x CPU Fan, 1 x CPU OPT Fan and 3 x Chassis Fan Connectors. All fan headers are having single F90P02 Power MOSFET rating 1.3A max on 12volts controlled by ASUS Fan Xpert 3 featuring fan auto tuning function and multiple thermistors selection for optimized system cooling control.
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26. Thermal sensor connector.
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Removing Heat-sinks
Heatsinks are made up of dense aluminum with thermal pad installed, giving great passive cooling to VRM MOSFETs and Z97 chipset.
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Perfectly designed heatsinks and board layout results in given a great socket room to install some big after market Air cooling solutions.
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Components Layout
Let’s now see what all components Asus have planned for this board.
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1. Digital 8-phase CPU Power VRM Section. Each phase consists of two MOSFETs 6030DLB (N-Channel 30v 1.9mOhm 100A logic MOSFET) and 4030DLA (N-Channel 30v 2.4mOhm 100A logic MOSFET), one ferrite filter coil and one filter capacitor. In this board Asus used 10K Black Metallic capacitors.
2. Asus DIGI+ VRM Asp 1257 voltage controller chip.
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3. 2-phase DRAM VRM section driven by Richtek RT8120F controller chip.
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4. Asmedia ASM 1442K chip managing output display ports.
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5. Intel i218v one Gigabit Ethernet controller chip with Asus LAN Guard technology providing advanced signal-coupling with premium surface-mounted capacitors improve throughput, while surge-protected and electrostatically-guarded components (ESD Guards) protect your motherboard from lightning strikes and static electricity.
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6. NuvotonNCT6791D Super I/O Chip. The Nuvoton NCT6791D also adds thermal sensor support, made possible by a separately available thermal probe attached to a couple of pins near the Clear_CMOS header.
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7. Asmedia ASM1083 PCIe to PCI bridge chip for legacy PCI slot support.
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8. Asmedis ASM1480 PCIe bus switch chip, allowing single GFX card to run at x16 and dual cards at x8/x8 PCIe bus.
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9. Intel Z97 Express Chipset.
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10. SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC i.e. 7.1 audio generated by Realtek ALC1150 codec, shielded with metallic cover against electro-magnetic interference, providing 115 dB signal-to-noise ratio for analog outputs, 104 dB signal-to-noise ratio for analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. A semi-transparent line on motherboard separates the whole audio section from the rest of the board in order to minimize interference. Audio section is having premium ELNA Capacitors 100uf/16v for DC voltage filtration and few 10uf/16v for audio signal filtration. In addition Asus used one 4580 Op-amp (Same op-amps used in Asus Xonar DX & D2X Sound card) for front 2-channel output acting as Headphone Amp allowing headphone up to 300ohms impedance. So licensing under Stereo mode produces high audio quality with excellent dynamic range. When configuring under 7.1 mode and compared with Xonar DX, no doubt DX gives more rich audio experience but SupremeFX is far more better than any other onboard audio solution I have ever came across. Looking at back of the motherboard, the audio section separation line is illuminated with 12 bright red LEDs giving a red border line between audio section and rest of the motherboard.
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RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) suite is used for testing test ASUS Z97-PRO GAMER SupremeFX High Definition sound card against Asus Xonar DX Sound card. You can see clearly the difference between Noise level, dynamic rang and Total harmonic distortion percentage produced by SupermeFX Sound card.
RMAA Asus Xonar DX
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RMAA SupremeFX
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11. All the automatic overclocking and BIOS management is handled by this TPU TurboV chip.
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12. UEFI BIOS is stored in a Winbond 64MB 8-Pin DIP Package chip, installed in a DIP socket 8-Pin for easy user replacement.
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13. Two stage M.2 Socket 3 power supply section.
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14. CMOS Battery.
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- - - Updated - - -

Benchmark
HyperPi 0.99 32M (Lower is better)
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Power Consumption
Wattage reading as per displayed by APC Pro 1000VA (Model no. BR1000G-IN) UPS.
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Pros

  • Affordable Gaming board
  • Great ROG theme
  • Great performance features
  • Packed with lot of protection features
  • Excellent Onboard audio quality
  • Auto Overclocking for beginners
  • Quality Components



Cons

  • Higher Total harmonic distortion and audio interference even after shielding and isolating audio section from rest of the board electronics, when compared with five years old audio Xonar Sound card.



At the conclusion I found ASUS Z97-PRO GAMER as an affordable ATX board for the entry level gaming enthusiasts, with superb build quality, offering some of great features available with its ROG series boards. For beginners using Asus own 5-Way optimization tool or EZ Tuning wizard in the BIOS to allow the board to auto-overclocking and set a nice solid overclock based with clock speeds of right around 4GHz.




Manufacturers Info
Site Link


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