ASRock Z97M Pro4 Motherboard Review

Status
Not open for further replies.

ubercake

Splendid
Moderator
"I don't understand why VGA connectors still take up space on so many Z boards. Onboard video has its uses, not least of which is troubleshooting. But how many people regularly use onboard video on an enthusiast board?"

I can see the use for those old VGA ports on laptops by which people are still plugging them into old projectors when moving between meetings, but you wouldn't likely be moving a desktop around or having to hook it up to a monitor with only a port many places. Also, most "enthusiats" will have discreet video solutions with absolutely no need for the on-board video connections whatsoever (although they can come in handy for t-shooting).

The other things I find to be less and less useful is the PS/2 port and the old-school PCI slots. I would have to think very few people even need these. I can't see "enthusiasts" using these at all.
 

SteelCity1981

Distinguished
Sep 16, 2010
1,129
0
19,310
12
I mean what can you expect for 85 dollars it's not going to have everything that 185 dollar board will have and that's to be expect. I mean when I saw that there was no m.2 ports that didn't really phase me. you'll be hard pressed to find a motherboard with M.2, DTS-Connect or SLI support on something under 100 bucks. I mean when your in that price range your dipping into the budget category range of motherboards. even with that said it has a surprising amount of overclocking settings for something in that price range that you would normally find on mid to highend motherboard setups.
 

junkeymonkey

Polypheme
BANNED
''I don't understand why VGA connectors still take up space on so many Z boards''

lots of folks still use and need that - my old crt is a better preforming monitor then any flatscreeen I ever had . you don't get that ''input lag'' on it . far better for fast paced fps its dead nuts on.. just like a vid card that has no dvi-I = no sale - just because you don't need it don't mean the rest of us do as well - like amd's top cards atleast NVidia get my money there cause they still put analog dvi-I on there cards out of the box .. amd don't and then you need to buy for extra money for a adaptor that ''may'' give you analog support ..

some folks take good care of the solid old working hardware and still use it cause some of this ''new'' stuff may not be compatible.. I live in a poor rural area and we just get all we can out of everything or may not afford to keep buying new stuff just for the sake of having new stuff ..

but as far as mp fps games my old crt is the go to monitor for ass kicking -the more you lag the less you frag


for 96 bucks after rebate I think this is the better board

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157520
 

SamiSC

Distinguished
Dec 22, 2010
609
0
19,360
106
i think its great the lower end mobos are getting reviewed. The pro4 looks solid for the price for those who want to go intel and on a small budget.
 

ubercake

Splendid
Moderator


If you're gaming on your CRT, why would you connect it to the on-board video?
 

RedJaron

Splendid
Moderator
As Uber already pointed out, the onboard video connectors don't figure into your example at all since you're gaming on a dGPU.

Yeah, I do the same. I was using a CRT up until 2011. Two of my current monitors are old Dell 17" 1280x1024 displays. They're over 10 years old and are great for portrait mode. As old as they are, even they have both VGA and DVI. Yes, some of the very old stuff is incompatible. However you're putting up a few strawmen. First, I never recommended "buying new stuff just for the sake of having new stuff." Second, who buys a Z97 mboard primarily for the onboard video outs? If you're limited to onboard video, that means you're not doing anything where a high performance monitor makes a difference. That means a basic display will fit the bill. And if you're spending $100+ on the mboard and $250+ on the CPU, why do you not have money for a basic $80 display with DVI?

Now apply that to yourself: just because you choose to still use an analog only monitor doesn't mean everyone else does.

The mATX OCF is another board also in my review queue. So far I've been quite pleased with it. However, we can't count rebates in the actual price or value consideration.


Soooo, are you agreeing or disagreeing with me? I'm not talking about VGA on laptops, I'm talking about VGA on a Z97 board. I already wrote here that VGA on lower-end boards make sense because those are the types of machines that are more likely to actually be connected to older VGA only displays. Many offices keep older displays and projectors that are still VGA only, and in most of my meetings, we use a VGA on the laptop to hook up the projector.

As you said, the vast majority of people buying a Z97 board will have a dGPU with it, meaning the onboard video will not be used 99% of the time. The only time the onboard is used in such a machine ( that I can think of, ) is when you're troubleshooting and have pulled the dGPU out of the system. Even if you're using the onboard video, you're still going to connect your monitor with the same cable you normally connect to your dGPU, right? So, how many people, who have a modern dGPU, connect their monitor over a VGA cable? Anyone using a Z97 board for an HTPC or console replacement will be using the HDMI, not the VGA. So again, VGA makes sense on H97 and lower boards, but not on Z97 boards.

I'm a little more understanding of legacy PCI and PS/2. Soundcards and wireless network adapters come in both legacy PCI and PCIe flavors, even today. In the Pro4's case, assuming typical use of a dual-slot GPU, you'll still have one of each card slot still available. The older PCI, the one less likely to be used, is closer to the GPU, meaning you can use the PCIe for whatever type of AIC and still have good breathing room for the GPU. So the slot layout makes sense.

Enough "serious" gamers still swear by PS/2 keyboards and refuse to use a USB model. And they are the ones that are likely to buy Z97 boards. Combine that with the fact PS/2 gaming keyboards are still being made today, putting a single connection on the backplate is understandable.


I know the Newegg API thingy might be reporting $85, but follow the link and it's actually $100. And I preface it saying that since it's $100, you're not going to get some features. I didn't knock the board for that.


If this was the only mATX Z97 board I reviewed, I'd agree. But I'm still getting through the rest of them, so it's a little premature yet. That's why I left my own personal recommendation on it that it's a fine board in its own right.
 

ubercake

Splendid
Moderator


I was agreeing with your take on the VGA port. I was saying while it's still useful on a laptop, it's no longer useful on a desktop.

With regard to PS/2 ports still being useful... I think most people, if they do the research, will find little to no advantage to using the old PS/2 keyboard on a newer PC other than it's their favorite tool they've brought along from gen to gen of PCs.

Also, they've come so far with on-board sound, it's hard to find any discreet sound cards with an SNR that matches that of on-board sound these days. I would also argue that most USB sound solutions (e.g. Bose Companion 5 system) are well beyond anything even a modern-day PCIe solution can do for sound. Also, if I'm into audio recording and production, I know there's an investment there, but I still want the latest and greatest in my toolbox. Those things will find a home in a PCIe slot or USB port.


 

RedJaron

Splendid
Moderator
Ah, gotcha. thanks.

Now, now, stop trying to be reasonable. Don't you people know I absolutely need the direct interrupt of PS/2 for my CS pwnage? And don't even get me started on how necessary NKRO is, since I'm regularly hitting three keys simultaneously with each of my fingers.

I'm with you on most soundcards. I've been tempted every now and then to get something with Dolby Digital Live so I can get 5.1 over fiber optic. But yes, when most people aren't using really high grade headphones or speakers for their games, the benefits of add-in soundcards are few.

I actually should have an article pretty soon that talks about some of this.
 
As an owner of one of these boards, it is a nice board for the money and was needed in my previous HP case, but now since I have a much bigger ATX case, I feel that I'm missing out on the ability to SLI my GTX 970 for whenever I upgrade to a 144hz G-sync monitor. With that being said, I regret sticking with the old case longer as I could have upgraded the case and bought a full ATX board sooner. But the board was only $100, so it's not much of a letdown. Now I want to upgrade to one of those fancy ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark S boards and have the SLI capability I will need for a 144hz monitor. But don't get me wrong, though; it's a nice mid-range motherboard for smaller builds. I'm just going bigger now.
 

Baumy15

Reputable
May 12, 2014
1,008
0
5,660
112
I wish I had VGA on my motherboard (it cost $250 au) because I bought a cheap monitor and have my good 1080p one on the dGPU and the other on my iGPU so I can use quick sync for video rendering and recording.
My 1080p monitor I bought about 4 months ago came with VGA.
I think VGA is still relevant on cheaper boards as cheaper monitors use it because it's cheaper. My friends MSI Z97 gaming 5 came with VGA and he uses it all the time he does the same as me has a cheap monitor on in the iGPU you have to agree with me here Intel make you pay for an iGPU whether you want it or not so it makes sense to use it for other tasks.
 

joz

Distinguished
Jun 13, 2008
160
0
18,690
1
I had to build my dad a new rig, picked up one of these boards from Microcenter with an i3 4360 for like $180 total after taxes and rebates and a bundle deal. (microcenter is awesome, some times.). So far, works great for the last couple months. The only issue I had with it, was the mb power, maybe it was the cosair connector, maybe it was the motherboard connector - but it was a very difficult fit - had to take the motherboard out of the case after installing because I was worried about snapping the board trying to get the connector in. But I'm reasonably certain its a problem with Cosair's psu's. Otherwise, easy board to work with.

Terribly though, it's paired with an 8800GS.....
 

ubercake

Splendid
Moderator


My advice: Upgrade to a G-sync monitor prior to deciding whether or not you need SLI.

Before G-sync, we use to push for high-frame rate GPU/high-refresh monitors to minimize noticeable tearing and to not rely on v-sync because of the associated input lag/flickering/stuttering.

With G-sync, all of those things we once tried to avoid go away. It turned me from a two-flagship-card SLI guy into a single-flagship guy. Whether your framerates are high or low (high 20 fps and above) with a g-sync monitor, the performance is smooth, tear-free, and seamless. While the framerates are all over the map while gaming based on resource demands, the g-sync monitor gives you smooth output. I'd shoot for a 1080p G-sync monitor with a 960 or 970; 980 and higher you're on Ultra with almost any title at 1440p.

G-sync really changes the way you look at things. Now my goal is to keep minimum frame rates at 30 and above without being so concerned about maximum frame rates any longer.

Also, because of G-sync, my next high-end gamer will be with a mini-itx board (I only need one 16x PCIe 3.0 slot now!), a high-end mainstream i5 or i7 and whatever the Nvidia flagship card is at the time (GTX 1080? or 1180?). Because of these reasons, I really feel like a monitor with G-sync is one of a few things you can buy for your PC that can be considered somewhat of an investment. Even though its value doesn't go up, I save money where other equipment is concerned over generations of builds.
 

Onus

Titan
Moderator
That's an interesting commentary on the G-sync monitor, and makes a lot of sense long term. I think I'll leave any more thoughts on it to another thread though, so this one doesn't wander off.
Eliminating the need for multiple graphics cards means that there's even less reason why a mATX or even mITX board can't have all the features even an enthusiast is likely to need. That makes a board like this review model look even better.
 

ubercake

Splendid
Moderator


Thanks Onus... I did start to stray there a bit, but my - indirect - point was, you don't need a big board with 2 or 3 graphics cards to get incredible high-end gaming performance any longer. I'm now all about the micro-ATX and mini-ITX form factors.
 


So I could put the money into a G-sync monitor instead? It sounds like a good plan. So perhaps I could keep the ASRock motherboard now and just upgrade the GPU every 3 years or so. I've been wondering about the G-sync technology. So will it make 50 fps look just like 60 fps? That can enable me to run Crysis 3 maxed without stuttering.
 

john-boy

Honorable
Jun 5, 2012
1
0
10,510
0
I just got this motherboard last week through NEWEGG. $84.00 LESS $10.00 Rebate for $74.99. Rebate is good through 07/31/2015. Got this to build a budget gaming system for my Twelve year old son's first gaming system. Pairing it up with a Intel Pentium G3258, and an EVGA 02G_P4-3757-KR GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB 128Bit PCI Exp. 3.0 FTW w/ACX cooling, and Gigabyte F3-12800CL8D-8GBXM DDR3 1600, Corsair CXM 500 Watt PS, and Windows 8.1 Full Version.

I already had some other components that I was no longer using when I upgraded my other system boxed up, an Antec 300 Case with Seven Prolimatech 120 mm Fans @ 72.67 CFM's for Cooling, A new Zalman CNP-S9600ALED that I picked up on a NEWEGG ShellShocker deal, Logitech G105 Gaming Keyboard, and a Logitech G500 Gaming mouse, and a Acer 24" Wide Screen Monitor.

Given that I had the other components already on hand and boxed up, I got the Motherboard, CPU, Video Card, Power Supply, Memory, and Windows 8.1 through Rebates to upgrade this system for $ 440.00

Even it's a low budget gaming system, I think it will be a good first starter for him to learn on. I'm more curious to see how this system will overclock with the Intel G3258, and running with the EVGA GTX 750 Ti.

Maybe you folks at Tom's will test this board also with a Pentium G3258 along with the other Z97M Boards you have yet to be tested and compared. Thanks.
 

RedJaron

Splendid
Moderator

We have done testing with the G3258 in a Z97 board, as have others. The conclusion is usually the same: it's rarely worth it. Even overclocked, the G3258 doesn't draw nearly as much power as an i7 at stock clocks ( possibly even an i5 ). The G3258's lower power draw means you don't need as big a VRM. You can hit a very respectable 4.2GHz using only stock cooling and a $60 mboard. A more expensive Z97 board can smooth out the power delivery to hit higher speeds, but it's not dramatic. My particular G3258 will hit 4.4GHz on Z97 with aftermarket cooling. I've seen 4.6GHz on occasion too, but that's a lot of silicon lottery winners. Considering the extra cost of the more expensive mboard and cooling, is it worth spending 50% more money for 9.5% faster clocks?

If your goal is a budget tweaker system, you have other, more affordable options that can meet your needs. Most people don't want to pay more for their mboard than for their CPU. The few features you lose from Z97 to H81 don't matter on a G3258-based system. A Pentium isn't strong enough to drive meaningful SLI/CFX. Having only two SATA 6Gbps ports doesn't matter if you only have a single SSD. PCIe 2.0 x16 is plenty fast for a single GPU. You might miss a few extra USB ports, but that's about it.
 

Onus

Titan
Moderator
I've got one H97 review in, and another one to test (plus four other boards). I've decided I really like H97 for all but the "K" overclockers; there's nothing missing.
Even many H81 boards that add a couple of SATA 3GB/s ports (4xSATA total) are better equipped than some of the mainstream grabbage out there.
What Don once said about graphics cards: "There are no longer any bad cards, just bad prices," is really spreading to all parts of a build. You have to look hard to find non-solid caps and iron core chokes on boards now, although of course you will still find them in cheap consumer machines. Vendors now gimp their systems with minimal and/or slow RAM, cheesy PSU-shaped objects, slow hard drives, and video cards that might be good for five year old games.
 

RedJaron

Splendid
Moderator
The price drop on Newegg is recent ( as of right now, it's $84.99, and there's a $10 MIR as well. ) When I reviewed this, it was firmly at $100, so that's how I grade the value. It's the same thing everywhere, a decent product at a good price becomes an excellent value when it's on sale or clearance. But in terms of matching a G3258, I can save $30 more over the Pro4 on sale with a B85 or H81 board. The only meaningful thing you give up there are two RAM slots.

I too am a fan of the H97 boards, especially since many offer non-official overclocking. I don't OC a whole lot on my personal systems, but an H board is enough to get a mild boost for those times under load when it helps.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS