ASUS Z97A Motherboard Review

Introduction and Technical Specifications

ASUS Z97A Review


The wait is over and we can finally unleash the Z97 motherboards into the world.

It seems quaint to imagine a new chipset and new CPU arriving together, as it's been a while since the Intel release schedules have quite married up with the date of the motherboard releases. With the latest Z97s supporting the current LGA1150 'Haswell' CPUs it gives us the perfect opportunity to refresh our test setup, see whether an old chip can bring out the best in this new generation. In a months time the new Intel CPUs will appear and these new Z97 boards will definitely get unleashed. So think of these as the friendlies before a World Cup.

As always testing such a huge amount of hardware in the tiny window that we get between press samples getting released and the NDA date arriving is a team effort. It's at times like this that we wish we had shares in the local Costa and if caffeine ever gets added to the banned substance list they'll be an OC3D-led revolution. For you, our loyal readers, this means we know you'll be devouring all of today's reviews in one chunk, so we'll do our very best to keep things brief and try not to duplicate too much PR-speak.

We'll start with the ASUS Z97A. The simple 'A' designation hints at the target audience for this particular motherboard. It's not about the flash and flair, and an accompanying price premium for the aforementioned, but rather it's about producing the ultimate value for money for the majority of users.

Technical Specifications


CPUIntel® Socket 1150 for the 5th/New 4th/4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
ChipsetIntel® Z97
Memory4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 3200(O.C.)/3100(O.C.)/3000(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1600/1333 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
GraphicIntegrated Graphics Processor- Intel® HD Graphics support
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DVI-D/RGB/DisplayPort ports
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DVI-D with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
- Supports RGB with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4960 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 512 MB
Supports Intel® InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
Supports up to 3 displays simultaneously
DP 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport compliant, supports DP 1.2 monitor daisy chain up to 3 displays
Multi-GPU SupportSupports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x2 mode)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
2 x PCI
StorageIntel® Z97 chipset :
1 x SATA Express port, compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M Key, type 2260/2280 storage devices support (PCIE mode)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology
LANIntel® I218V, 1 x Gigabit LAN, Dual interconnect between the Integrated Media Access Controller (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY)
Gigabit Intel® LAN Connection- 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) appliance
AudioRealtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC featuring Crystal Sound 2
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel MIC Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
- DTS Ultra PC II
- DTS Connect
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
- Audio Shielding: Ensures precision analog/digital separation and greatly reduced multi-lateral interference
- Dedicated audio PCB layers: Separate layers for left and right channels to guard the quality of the sensitive audio signals
- Audio amplifier: Provides the highest-quality sound for headphone and speakers
- Premium Japanese-made audio capacitors: Provide warm, natural and immersive sound with exceptional clarity and fidelity
- Unique de-pop circuit: Reduces start-up popping noise to audio outputs
- Top notch audio sensation delivers according to the audio configuration
- EMI protection cover to prevent electrical noise to affect the amplifier quality
  • USB Ports
Intel® Z97 chipset :
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z97 chipset :
8 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, , 6 at mid-board)
  • User's manual
    I/O Shield
    3 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
    1 x SLI bridge(s)
    1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
  • BIOS
    64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.7, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.8, ACPI 5.0, Multi-language BIOS,
    ASUS EZ Flash 2, CrashFree BIOS 3, F11 EZ Tuning Wizard, F6 Qfan Control, F3 My Favorites, Quick Note, Last Modified log,
    F12 PrintScreen, F3 Shortcut functions, and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information
  • Manageability
    WfM 2.0, DMI 2.7, WOL by PME, PXE
Internal I/O Ports1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x SATA Express connector: , compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3 for M Key, type 2260/2280 devices
1 x TPM header
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
4 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 x 4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x Thunderbolt header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x EZ XMP switch
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x TPU switch(es)
1 x EPU switch(es)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
Back I/O Ports1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x DisplayPort
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
5 x Audio jack(s)
Form FactorATX Form Factor
12.0 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
Special Features5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5
- Whole system optimization with a single click! 5-Way Optimization tuning key perfectly consolidates TPU, EPU, DIGI+ Power Control, Fan Xpert 3, and Turbo App together, providing better CPU performance, efficient power saving, precise digital power control, whole system cooling and even tailor your own app usages.
ASUS 5X Protection :
- ASUS DIGI+ VRM - 8 Phase digital power design
- ASUS Enhanced DRAM Overcurrent Protection - Short circuit damage prevention
- ASUS ESD Guards - Enhanced ESD protection
- ASUS High-Quality 5K-Hour Solid Capacitors - 2.5x long lifespan with excellent durability
- ASUS Stainless Steel Back I/O - 3x more durable corrosion-resistant coating
- Auto Tuning
- GPU Boost
- TPU switch
- EPU switch
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 8 Phase Power Design
- CPU Power Utility
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- Remote GO!
- AI Suite 3
- Anti-Surge
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
- USB 3.0 Boost
- Disk Unlocker
- Turbo LAN
- Crystal Sound 2
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-sink solution
- Precision Tweaker 2
- ASUS O.C. Tuner
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- Push Notice
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-Connector
Special Memory O.C. Design
Overclocking Protection :
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Media Streamer
Turbo App
Fan Xpert 3
Operating System SupportWindows® 8.1
Windows® 8
Windows® 7
  • Let's refresh our memory about the Z97A's looks.
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Most Recent Comments

11-05-2014, 03:28:40


The first of our multi-part Z97 reviews is the ASUS Z97A. A motherboard with far more that the price tag would indicate.

Continue ReadingQuote

11-05-2014, 04:24:35

Asus need to sack the guy who designs their motherboards and hire someone new because since Z87 their boards in my opinion look ugly.
The performance and features are there, but the looks aren't.Quote

11-05-2014, 04:29:09

Originally Posted by SieB View Post
Asus need to sack the guy who designs their motherboards and hire someone new because since Z87 their boards in my opinion look ugly.
The performance and features are there, but the looks aren't.
Yeah, brown pcb and gold heatsinks... Why?Quote

11-05-2014, 04:31:58

Originally Posted by MaddenShadow View Post
Yeah, brown pcb and gold heatsinks... Why?
So ugly, that gold disc chipset heatsink looks pretty bad as well.Quote

11-05-2014, 04:33:38

Originally Posted by SieB View Post
So ugly, that gold disc chipset heatsink looks pretty bad as well.
It would have been fine in red, blue or green, but no. Asus had to make it gold... Quote

11-05-2014, 07:35:56

Bring back blue! I have to say my AM3+ motherboard looks better than this...
Nice features though.Quote

11-05-2014, 08:07:00

Its actually NOT that bad boys - built up it looks greatQuote

11-05-2014, 08:14:01

Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post
Its actually NOT that bad boys - built up it looks great
Its alright in the flesh (atleast the one I've seen, h87m-plus ) its just blue looks much better imo. Its also a heck of a lot less awkward to get matching blue parts then it is gold :PQuote

11-05-2014, 08:28:05

I just don't like the look of it to be honest, the gold just makes it worse. If it was blue or another colour I think it would look better, but I still don't like the design.
The Asus motherboards haven't looked good since Z87 to me, looks are subjective though so there will be people that like this board.Quote

11-05-2014, 08:58:01

Honestly built up as a rig it was great, watch the video. The gold is very different to last time and I could actually have a rig like this. just make everything else black and its pretty nice......Quote

11-05-2014, 09:10:22

Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post
Honestly built up as a rig it was great, watch the video. The gold is very different to last time and I could actually have a rig like this. just make everything else black and its pretty nice......
I still don't like it dude. This is just my personal opinion of it, i'm not having a dig at Asus or anything. Just personally I don't like their recent motherboard deigns.

Performance and feature wise though they are spot on.Quote

11-05-2014, 09:49:22

I don't think this looks too bad either, granted I'd prefer the Hero but for the price it's alright.Quote

11-05-2014, 10:09:16

Idk, I guess it could work if you have a black PCB, some Vengeance gold RAM and the EVGA GTX 770 ACX in there but that's a very specific list of components because there are:
a) Not a lot of components with a gold colour scheme.
b) Not a lot of people who want a gold colour scheme.

That said, I built my neighbour a PC last weekend and it had an Asus B85 board in there. Even with the blue RAM dimm (budget was too tight to colour co-ordinate, besides, it's a work PC with a closed side panel), it doesn't actually look all that terrible imo. Especially with the VS350 in there

In-progress shot. Working on cable management here but he asked how the build was going so I sent him this:

It grows on you pretty quickly. Although I don't think I'd use a board with golden accents in a personal build, unless you can get it all to look really, really classy.Quote

11-05-2014, 15:27:49

If these results carry over to the ROG gene or the Hero then ASUS will be onto a winner on z97Quote

11-05-2014, 17:39:10

I think the color schemes on many of the Z and H 97 boards are a bit failed, to be fair the ASUS ROG and MSI Power have kept the old color scheme.

Performance wise this is really interesting I'm really looking forward to see the capabilities of the other ASUS boards in the Z97 line up

Keep up the excellent work Tom Quote

12-05-2014, 10:19:04

Curious to know how much they shaved off the price by using a brown PCB. O_oQuote

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