Asus Z97M-Plus Motherboard Review

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Non-Euclidean

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"I gave some meaningless style points to the OCF last time for its sharp colors. I give the same empty points to the Plus by not treating me like a squirrel and thinking stylish anodizing will sway my head."

So apparently anodizing isn't stylish, and doesnt treat you like a squirrel, but when presented with "sharp colors", you sprint outside looking for acorns!

We arent looking for a style review and you admit you are a sucker for one style, but then feel insulted when the next board isnt the style you prefer. That's hypocrisy.

But thanks for the view from Tom's Styleware Guide!
 

Non-Euclidean

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This board has M2 10Gb/S. That isnt on the specifications and should be. You did imply it, when you said a cable wasnt needed for M2, but it should be on the spec table.

Why wasnt it tested with an M2 drive as the boot drive?
 

vertexx

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Seriously, I kept hitting "refresh" thinking this was some archive from mid 2015. What's the relevance of running a z97 motherboard review now? That ship has sailed.....
 
The first and second SATA ports are not forward-facing even though ports three through six are. I'm not sure why Asus would do this, especially since port one and two are the most likely to be used.
Two SATA slots are forward facing because not all cases are made in such a way that sideways ports can be used conveniently (if at all).

Other than if you're using a SATA M.2 SSD, it doesn't matter at all which SATA ports you use, so whether the 1 and 2 slots are forward facing or 3 and 4 or 5 and 6 makes no difference. 1 and 2 aren't any more necessary to be filled first than any other SATA slots.
 

mapesdhs

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Minor typo re "shroter" at the end of the first page:

"SATA cables are on the shroter side ..."


Blazorthon's right about the SATA ports, one can boot from any of them.

 

RedJaron

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I rather like the form factor, one of the reason we're trying to devote some space to it.



Try rereading it with your tongue in your cheek. Notice the points are meaningless and they both got the same amount? If a manufacturer wants to gussy up a board with fancy colors and RGB lighting, I will comment on that. If a mfr keeps things strictly business, I will comment on that as well. Neither impacts my final recommendation on the product.

I didn't say I'm a sucker for anything except good function and value. It seems today there's a trend to make every computer component as fancy looking as possible. Personally I'd rather not pay extra money for fancy anodizing and RGB lighting. Just give me a product that works for as low a price as possible. I'm telling Asus that it doesn't have to dress up a board to get an award from me.

It was on the spec table when I turned it in. Looks like it got lost somehow. I'll get that fixed. Thanks.


Because the Z97 test bench components need to be kept consistent from one board to another so that the results are properly comparable. Right now we use a 2.5" 840 Pro since not all boards have an M.2 slot.



This review was finished a while ago, but we've had so many things in the publication queue, it didn't come out till now. Regardless, just because Skylake is out doesn't mean Haswell is suddenly horrible. Skylake prices are so volatile and inflated right now, global availability still isn't assured, so a cheaper Haswell build is perfectly acceptable for many people right now.


How is a forward-facing SATA port less convenient than a perpendicularly mounted one? What mATX case is so incredibly tight around the mboard leading edge that it can't accommodate edge-facing SATA ports? This board is narrower than the mATX spec allows so it actually has more room on the leading edge than a full size mATX board.


I understand that port number doesn't matter when they're all SATA 6Gbps and that you can set your boot drive priority in the BIOS. However, for people that like to order their drives according to SATA port, it's annoying. Call me OCD if you want.



With CPUs getting more power efficient, and with Haswell integrating some power control onto the chip itself, massive VRMs aren't as necessary now as they used to be. I understand it feeling like a cut corner given the board's competition. But at the same time, expecting to go for maximum overclock on a mainstream priced board is unrealistic.
 

heinlein

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"I prefer windowless cases, and flamboyant colors don't mean anything behind a steel panel. A board only needs a good feature set at a good price to earn my respect."

Very refreshing to read that. When I read tech reviews; some things are important to me like is the layout user friendly, performance/power used, thermals, and noise; things like PCBs with a checkered flag motif or extraneous LEDs are useless to me. It is annoying to find a product that fits my needs and know that it is more expensive than it should be because they decided to add cosmetic items like LEDs.

 

dstarr3

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The biggest problem is that there isn't a whole lot of cases that are MicroATX. Most cases that size are MicroATX and full ATX compatible. And since there's no space saving, or even cost saving, in buying the smaller motherboard, you may as well just buy the full-size thing.
 

RedJaron

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I'm not sure where you're getting that. I regularly see mATX versions of boards going for $10 or $20 less than their full-ATX counterparts. I also see plenty of mATX cases available, just search for cases that only have four or five expansion slots. The price difference in cases is usually smaller than mboards ( don't expect more than $5 - $10 less for mATX ) but it's something. If nothing else, a mATX board is more flexible since it can fit more cases than a full-ATX board can.
 
There are a decent number of mITX, mATX cases for smaller builds. My OCF will SLI 980ti's if I want to and has a M.2 and I got my 4790K to 4.8Ghz and my RAM 2.6Ghz. I'm not sure an ATX would do much more for me.
 


Granted you're right in that the lower width of the board could mitigate it, I have seen several MicroATX cases that had no room for sideways SATA ports and I occasionally had someone complain about a build list I gave them and they had this problem because I never even thought to check it. It's rarely a problem except sometimes with people replacing bad boards in some OEM systems or building with some very small cases.

I should also note that sometimes a very large case might have an issue where the cables you have aren't long enough for the sideways ports, but can better reach a perpendicular port. I have an older full tower that needed to use the one outward facing port I had on my board to reach the DVD drive even in the lowest 5.25" bay because I was reusing cables I had and didn't want to buy more. The board just happened to have the STA slot in just the right position, all of the other four SATA 6Gb/s ports were sideways (the sixth port was on the rear as eSATA) and they reached the hard drives just fine, but not the DVD drive. Of course, having the right size cable would solve this completely, but isn't it more convenient to be able to use more types/sizes of cables should the need arise?

I wasn't saying that it's a necessary feature and I still don't look for it; I make sure to never choose a case with so little room for the SATA ports. I was just explaining why ASRock did it because confusion was expressed about it. It's an easily avoidable problem since not many retail MicroATX cases are that small.



You're OCD :D
 

RedJaron

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OEM cases I'll grant you can get problematic for building in. I just tried that this last weekend actually and decided it was more worth my time to buy a new case and PSU. I've never seen a case that was small enough that a forward-facing port would be a problem, but I'll take you're word you've seen a few. Extra large cases when your SATA cables are half an inch too short, I can understand that, and that would be an issue with this board with the cables being shorter than others. But as you say, that's more a case/cable issue than port orientation.
 

manitoublack

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Why are you even reviewing old Z97 boards?

It's 2016 get on the Z170 band wagon and review some modern products. Get some review sample of Z170 mATX boards and then it'll be relevant.

P.S: I've used 2 mid level h-170 boards for home PC builds for older family members. Great value, no BS, quiet and efficient.
 

turkey3_scratch

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Comparing motherboards via graphs is like torture since the bars are always almost identical, causing you to look at each specific number and compare. It just goes to show how little the motherboard has on performance. Chances are it could be other factors rather than the boards themselves for these minor differences in the benchmark scores, such as background programs running, idle CPU usage, motherboard drivers, etc.
 

RedJaron

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If you bothered to read previous comments you'd have your answer. Is this a little delayed? Yes. Does that mean we're not going to review product sent in to us? No. And we've already reviewed some Z170 boards. We've got more Z170 and H170 reviews coming out as well.



As I often say, boring benchmarks are good benchmarks when it comes to mboard reviews. If a board's scores are notably different, it means it's trying to employ some kind of hidden cheat or overclock ( faster results ) or it has some kind of problem or conflict ( slower results ). If the bench scores are all level at stock speeds, that means the board is performing as expected so final recommendations and awards come down to extra features and, where applicable, OCing performance.
 

Crashman

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The board specifically is 8.8" deep, where any Micro ATX case is supposed to have at least 9.625" of motherboard space. You should be able to FIT an SATA cable end into that 0.80", but you might have to insert it BEFORE sliding the board into place.

 
Is Tom's going backwards? Used to be the authority on tech! Usually meant the newest and now we are getting a Z97 board review on top of 990FX board review that we recently got.
Bring on the new stuff!
 

qcjulle

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As an owner of this board I would like to point out some benefits compared to the AsRock Z97M-Pro4 and other Z97 boards. I built a small passively cooled HTPC with the Broadwell i5-5675C processor and finally ended up with this MB after some missteps. First: the Asus board can output 4K video unlike the AsRock board which may be important when space and thermal envelope prevent using a discrete GPU. Second: I initially tried to build my system around a Gigabyte Z97M-D3H board but it would not even boot properly with the Broadwell CPU even after a BIOS update. Gigabyte informed me that the MB needed a component change even though their web page clearly stated the MB supported Broadwell chips. When I replaced Gigabyte with this Asus I have not had a problem since.

For the few of us who want to have the most powerful iGPU available in socketed form this is a very good motherboard. For gaming with discrete GPU(s) there are probably better alternatives.
 

RedJaron

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I can't speak specifically about Broadwell support other than whats mentioned on the mfrs' sites since I don't have a Broadwell CPU. In terms of the GB board, was it possibly a PCB revision thing where newer revisions could do Broadwell and older boards couldn't?

Yes, the Plus does officially support 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz over HDMI and the Pro4 does not. However the Z97M OC Formula also supports 4096 x 2304 @ 24Hz over HDMI and it's usually the same price as the Plus. Since it can match or beat the Plus in any regard, and since it has more features for the money, I consider that a much better buy.
 
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