Haswell z97: Holiday Guides 2014: Z97 Motherboards for Haswell

Holiday Guides 2014: Z97 Motherboards for Haswell

by Ian Cutresson December 9, 2014 4:00 PM EST

  • Posted in
  • Motherboards
  • MSI
  • ASRock
  • Asus
  • Haswell
  • Overclocking
  • Z97
  • Holiday 2014



Writing one guide for all of the Z97 motherboard range seems a little odd. It is possible to consider each market segment and price range to come up with a motherboard from the 112 LGA 1150 available on Newegg for each segment, but then we would end up offering a guide covering a couple of dozen models. Instead, given that we have tested over 13+ motherboards (and have another one or two to test internally), I have picked some of my favorites.

It is worth noting that for all Haswell CPUs, both Z87 and Z97 offer overclocking opportunities on either the refresh or regular overclocking parts. Z87 is also cheaper than Z97 for the most part, but the main loss with Z87 is the latest updates with Intel RST for PCIe devices, enabling M.2 and SATA Express without additional controllers. For this overview we have only included Z97 models as Z87 was end-of-life some time ago, although there are bargains to be had from retailers who still have stock.

ASUS TUF Z97 Mark S ($270, Our Review)

The Mark S from ASUS is a limited edition white version of their Z97 TUF range, which we were lucky enough to review model number 0001 from the production line. One of the major drivers in motherboard sales in the past year or two has been the style, and the Mark S took TUF in a direction requested by consumers on their forums. We saw the motherboard in its design phase back at Computex in June, and the arctic camouflage look is just right for a similarly themed build.

Gallery: ASUS TUF Z97 Mark S

Under the hood is the typical TUF mentality. This means a shroud with directed baffles for airflow movement that also doubles as a dust and impact protector, port and slot protectors, a dual GPU oriented x8/x8 layout and software oriented around Thermal Radar for monitoring temperatures. Other features onboard include eight SATA 6 Gbps ports, a TPM, upgraded Realtek ALC1150 audio, dual NIC (Intel + Realtek) as well as a five-year warranty. 

Users might argue that for the price, the active functionality might not be as much as expected, but the extra warranty combined with limited edition and extra steps to create the style is not as free as we would like. But on the positive side, performance of the Mark S was also good, including our best ever results with DPC Latency, strong audio and sub-11 second POST times.

MSI Z97 MPower Max AC ($250, Our Review)

This motherboard came onto the test bed as part of the initial run of Z97 reviews after launch day. MSI had not actively pre-promoted their brand to the media at the time, but during testing it was clear they had been taking advice on board from the previous generation reviews. This meant an updated BIOS that was a lot easier to use as well as an interactive fan control graph. The software also introduced a new version of Live Update 6, which is still our favorite updating software package on motherboards.

Gallery: MSI Z97 MPower Max AC

The motherboard itself targets the $200-$250 overclocking market by offering a combined air/water power delivery cooling system along with overclocking functions such as voltage read points, dynamic adjustment buttons, and for the sub-zero crowd a flat area around the socket for easier insulation. Another plus point was perhaps the lack of SATA Express when everyone else was scrambling for it, with MSI deciding instead to go with eight SATA ports and M.2 x2 storage connectivity. USB 3.0 came in with twelve ports, more than almost any other motherboard on the market. We also get 802.11ac 2T2R dual band WiFi, an Intel I218-V NIC and an upgraded ALC1150 audio codec solution.

Performance focused on DPC Latency (53 microseconds) and a super stripped POST time south of nine seconds. Other performance metrics were within the ball park of other products, and when compared to the MPower, offers several features more suited to a water cooling overclocker that can use WiFi.

ASRock Z97E-ITX/AC ($135, Our Review)

In our three-way test of ~$140 mini-ITX motherboards, there was no absolute clear winner. Each motherboard had its own failings and areas where it surpassed the other two. The reason why I have selected the ASRock Z97E-ITX/AC over the other two for this buyers guide comes down to its failings being easier to overlook in a sense. It still retains a commanding place in terms of feature set (Intel NIC, upgraded audio, six SATA ports and SATAe/M.2 storage) as well as the BIOS/software combination.

Gallery: ASRock Z97E-ITX/AC

The main issue with the motherboard was the lack of MultiCore Turbo by default, meaning the stock performance was a little behind. If any user decides to use an overclock, this issue disappears of course.

A Word on Overclocking

The reason why a good number of enthusiasts overclock is simple. For me, it was because as a student I could only afford basic hardware, and overclocking gave me extra performance for no extra cost. This was most important in gaming where the difference of having two cores at 3 GHz was better than at 2.1 GHz, or even on CPUs like the i7 920 that gave a nice percentage boost. It turned out to be fun, and then I got competitive and started overclocking for competitions. While my main impetus for overclocking was gaming, there are other users that focus on overclocking for throughput, especially prosumers that rely on performance or responsiveness.

When Intel produces its overclocking CPUs for the mainstream market, in recent years Intel has been limiting OC to a single model in the i5 (quad core, no hyperthreading) and i7 (quad core with hyperthreading) ranges. Haswell changes this slightly with the release of Devil’s Canyon in June-July 2014. These CPUs offered a larger temperature window for overclocking due to improved thermal interface material, giving more potential headroom for the more extreme 24/7 overclockers.

Motherboard manufacturers jumped on the overclocking wagon for several reasons. It gave them the opportunity to produce a focused product aimed at getting world records and provided a platform for advertising. As a bonus to this, it gave them a better platform for their gamers and as a result several manufacturers built complete ecosystems of products around the combined overclocking and gaming concept, with ASUS ROG being the longest standing range on offer. Some manufacturers for the Haswell Refresh also released motherboards focused at the dual core Pentium Anniversary Edition (the $70 Pentium G3258) for those with limited budgets. Overclocking is not a dark art, although some of the more esoteric features for extreme overclockers require an amount of engineering not seen on a $100 motherboard.

MSI Z97 Guard Pro ($110, Our Review)

In the market, only three/four motherboards focused for Pentium-AE overclocking exist (MSI Z97 Guard Pro, ASRock Z97[M] Anniversary and ECS Z97-OK) although there are plenty up and down the stack that will offer overclock options. We mention the MSI Z97 Guard Pro here for two reasons – it came out of our review OK when overclocked and the Auto OC button on board gave the CPU a stable 4.3 GHz at a not-too unreasonable voltage. To add to the occasion, the BIOS also offers an Easy XMP button so users do not have to go through BIOS menus to enable it.

Gallery: MSI Z97 Guard Pro

General system benchmarks afforded mid-table results (DPC Latency of 88, a 12-13 second POST time), but due to the spartan nature of a board this cheap the power consumption numbers were lower than others we had tested at the time. The MSI Z97-Guard Pro provided a nice base for a low cost Intel PC where Pentium G3258 overclocking combined with single GPU gaming, or non-PCIe bandwidth based compute, are important. For gamers on a budget, press the OC Genie button and pair it up with a USB DAC or PCIe sound card for a good all-around experience.

ASUS Maximus VII Impact ($240, Our Review)

We just finished reviewing the Maximus VII Impact, and it builds upon the VI Impact in terms of experience and featureset. We get daughter boards almost everywhere with one for power delivery, one for control and another for audio, with the Z97 Impact including an extra one for fan headers and the PCIe Combo card updated for proper M.2 x4 support. WiFi comes via the 802.11ac 2T2R dual band solution, and audio via the SupremeFX daughterboard holding an upgraded Realtek ALC1150 package.

Gallery: ASUS Maximus VII Impact

Every time we test a high end motherboard, it can be somewhat amazing how little space is actually available for higher end components, hence the reason for ASUS to move in a third dimension with a number of these features. Also with the Impact is the ROG software stack and BIOS, featuring 5-Way Optimization with Z97 as well as GameFirst 3 for network prioritization and KeyBot macro software.

Benchmarks show the package matches the DPC Latency of the Mark S for joint-top spot. Its MultiCore Turbo implementation is also rather aggressive, giving almost top marks in the benchmarks we have run so far. At $240 it sits at the top of the mini-ITX stack but remains the go-to board for ROG SFF users.



Reddit — Dive into anything

ASUS Maximus VII Hero Z97, 4790K, RX 580 upgraded directly to from Catalina to Big Sur. Using OpenCore 0.6.3 and latest kexts. Looks like native nvram is going to be a requirement going forward for certain systems.

Please report and I’ll try to keep the list updated

Confirmed Working

ASUS Z97 ROG Maximus VII Hero

ASUS Z97-A, requires manual modifying of BIOS file


ASUS Z97 ROG Maximus VII Gene

ASUS Z97 ROG Maximus VII Ranger

ASUS Z97 ROG Maximus VII Impact

ASUS Z97 ROG Maximus VII Formula


Asus Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)

Asus TUF Sabertooth Z97 Mark S

ASUS TUF Sabertooth Z97 Mark 2

ASUS Z97-Pro (Wi-Fi AC)/USB 3.1


Asus Z97-AR


Big Sur installer fails after about 20% progress in the Apple logo, fails shortly after disk#: device is write locked ending with apfs_vfsop_unmount. I imagine a new install the same problem occurs because after the first state information on the drive and whatever is stored in the native nvram and the installer can’t access something that is not there because it wasn’t saved in the first place.

My verbose while doing direct upgrade via system pref and app store


Reddit post here starts to question it as Haswell in general but seemed more an issue with ASUS Z97 boards. A comment in that thread led me to Vit9696 saying fix your NVRAM. All other paths led to devs are aware and it’s an macOS bug or giving up and transplanting the installation by using another machine. Well I ain’t having none of that, Vit9696 said fix nvram, so I fixed it.


Vit9696 actually solved this for us years ago here. The key take away is the whitelist part and replacing NvramSmi driver.

  1. ASUS APTIO IV Z97 Motherboards

Described here: http://www. insanelymac.com/forum/topic/317802-efi-variable-store-on-aptio-v-haswell-e-and-up/page-6?do=findComment&comment=2535040

After the disassembling it was discovered that several APTIO IV drivers including the presented one implement a variable whitelist, and disallow writing anything but the variables from the list. It is unclear whether it was intentional or just an logical mistake, but a most reasonable solution will be to just replace the NvramSmi driver with the working one from a previous firmware and reflash.


As stated above we can extract the NvramSmi driver from an older BIOS and the replace it in the latest one. I believe most our boards from this era are no longer being supported but the latest firmwares do have microcode to patch vulnerabilities like Spectre, meltdown, etc. It would be ideal to go this route and it’s not that hard and working nvram is great!

I’m guessing another way would be to flash back to old BIOS where native nvram is working and upgrade/install Big Sur and then flash the latest after. You could save your BIOS profile if available that way you won’t have to set everything back up. If this is also the case for incremental updates, sounds like a nightmare.

How (I chose to fix)

EDIT 12/1/20

Here are new steps to fix XMP and Ram Speeds settings not working and are stuck with default speeds.


The below method will break XMP settings and manually editing RAM speeds for some boards, you’ll be stuck at 1333Mhz no matter what you set. Not confirmed for all but at least 2, the Maximus VII Hero and VII Gene. If you use default RAM speeds by your board then no need to redo the process as this is the only issue we have seen so far.

Replacing the NvramSmi driver made the most sense and it was relatively easy. I am no expert and you know the responsibility I take in anyone trying this shit and failing, ZERO.

To find a BIOS version before the whitelist was added to the NvramSmi driver I used the dates from the link in Vit9696’s quotes. User 314TeR said his ASUS Maximus VII Impact nvram broke after 0412 which was released 2014/10/17 and worked with 0217 released 2017/07/28. To me anything after 2014/10/17 will have added the whitelist.

So with my board I downloaded version 1104.

Download UEFITool 0.26.0 as the latest versions won’t let you rebuild/replace.

Download latest BIOS and one without whitelist.

Load older BIOS in UEFI tool, my case 1104. Search with text nvramsmi and extract as is, the file section. Like below. Save the ffs, name it whatever and close out we are done here.

Extract as is

Load the latest BIOS now, 3503 in my case and search nvramsmi again. This time replace as is and select the ffs you just named and saved.

Replace as is

You can’t flash the modified BIOS as usual, they are contained in a way with write security. I just used my board’s USB Flashback Utility. Named the modified BIOS to M7H.CAP, each board will have it’s own naming method. Copied to a fat32 usb, stuck it in the correct USB port in the back and pressed the button for 3 seconds. 2 minutes later and I was booting my modified BIOS and restarted the upgrade process again from within macOS.

That last bit is IMPORTANT, if you were trying to upgrade from Catalina and have the bootable option to install MacOS it still won’t work after you fixed your nvram. You MUST restart the process again from within Catalina. 

If you don’t have USB Flashback Utility, take a look here for alternative ways.

Edit: Wanted to add a couple things.

After BIOS modified flash test your nvram, mine worked right away. Then I tried the upgrade and that worked fine. I believe it was 4 phases total and 3 reboots. Took about 25 minutes on SSD.

A quick guide that includes this and this hardware can be found at Insanely


New ASUS boards and the debut of the Intel Z97 chipset.

Reportage / Analytics

This is becoming a tradition — it’s not the first year in spring that ASUS holds a closed seminar on motherboards with new chipsets. Last time, a similar event took place on the eve of the announcement of Intel Z87, and the seminar was devoted to boards with this chipset, this year, a unity was naturally added to the first digit after the letter Z — and ASUS, as the largest manufacturer of motherboards, could not pass by this event .

Three special series motherboards, ROG and TUF, were presented at the event, and countless models from the main line flaunted in the showroom. But before moving on to their description, you should figure out what the new Intel chipset offers.

⇡#Intel Z97: what’s new?

At the moment, only two new desktop chipsets are officially presented — Intel Z97 and H97. No official information about the existence of anything like the Intel B9 business chipset5 has not yet been reported, although we have little doubt that such a chipset will eventually see the light of day. We have to admit that there are not so many fundamental innovations in Intel Z97 and H97 compared to Z87 and H87. The main difference is the updated Intel Rapid Storage Technology system, which allows you to work with PCIe drives connected via M.2 and SATA Express interfaces.

In fact, SATA Express and M.2 are designed to solve the same problem — connecting high-speed drives via the PCI Express interface, for which SATA performance is already insufficient. However, the architecture of these interfaces is noticeably different.

SATA Express is designed with two standard SATA 3.0 ports and an additional four-pin connector — all combined into one connector. It is designed for drives used in conventional PCs; either two SATA drives or one high-speed SSD with PCI Express x2 interface can be connected to it, respectively. It is worth recalling that the SATA port has 7 pins, and for the operation of one PCI Express channel, 9 pins are required. Hence the need for an additional four-pin connector — two PCI Express lines need 18 pins, and this is exactly what the SATA Express connector provides: 7 + 7 + 4. Obviously, a special cable is required to use PCI Express x2. But there are no power lines in the PCI Express interface. The bandwidth of PCI Express x2 is 16 Gb / s — this is more than the total performance of two SATA 3.0 channels (12 Gb / s) and is more than enough for even the most modern and fast SSD. By the way, at the moment, drives with PCI Express interface are still exotic and inaccessible to the mass user.

Another thing is M.2 — serial devices with this interface have already been released enough. But if SATA Express is aimed at desktop PCs and allows you to connect traditional SSDs and hard drives, then M.2 is designed for use in mobile devices such as laptops and tablets, along with drives made in the form of an expansion board and inserted directly into the connector. Like SATA Express, the M.2 interface provides backward compatibility with SATA, but since more than one device cannot be physically connected to it at the same time, only one SATA 3.0 channel is provided. But this made it possible to implement a larger number of PCI Express lines — M.2 devices have four such channels with a total bandwidth of 32 Gb / s! The interface also provides power to the plug-in expansion board, which, by the way, does not have to be a drive at all — M.2 allows you to connect Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controllers, GPS modules, NFC and other types of devices. It is also worth noting that, in addition to SATA 3.0 and PCI Express x4, the M.2 interface also provides USB 3.0, so it is not difficult to implement the devices listed above in the M.2 expansion card format.

The new chipset allows using physical contact lines in various configurations and, depending on the type of connected device, switching them to SATA, PCI Express or USB ports. The updated version of Intel Rapid Storage Technology is responsible for the operation of SSDs, including high-speed ones, guarantees the operation of standard and specialized functions, including as part of RAID arrays. In addition, the Z97 chipset provides compatibility with the next generation of processors (Haswell Refresh) without updating the motherboard BIOS.

The differences between Z97 and H97 remain the same as between Z87 and H87. By and large, there are only two of them: Z97 allows you to overclock the processor and memory, and also makes it possible to divide 16 PCI Express lanes allocated to graphics into parts — 2×8, 2×4 or 1×8, while H97 is not capable of this. Actually, there are naturally no boards based on H97 in the ROG and TUF lines — this is a chip for budget solutions.

⇡#ASUS ROG motherboards based on the Intel Z97 chipset

Let’s start with the fact that the ROG family was replenished with one more name: last year, the younger board, Hero, entered the Republic of Gamers lineup, and this year an even younger version appeared — Ranger . We got acquainted with the Ranger on the example of the ASUS Maximus VII Ranger board presented during the seminar. Along with it, ASUS Maxiums VII Hero and Micro-ATX-board Maximus VII Gene were shown. The rest — that is, Maximus VII Formula, Extreme and Impact — the Taiwanese are going to show in the near future, at Computex 2014.

Of course, ASUS could not help but implement the new Intel technologies that appeared in the Z97, so it is not surprising that all three boards from the ROG family are now equipped with an M.2 connector. But there are no SATA Express ports. Employees of the ASUS ROG division explain this choice by the fact that M.2 drives are quite realistic to be found on sale right now, while SATA Express is still something extraordinary. Note, by the way, that the Maximus VII Gene board also has a Mini PCI-E connector, a little slower, but so far more up-to-date.

Not without changes in design, although they are not very significant. ROG product manager Andrew Wu claims that this time the designer was inspired by helicopter blades — something similar can be seen in the red lines on the radiators. At the same time, white color has practically disappeared from the boards — only black and red remained, well, silver and gold from components and conductors. Also, the boards now have two additional metal plates on the back. They are located strictly opposite the VRM and, according to the engineers, should remove heat from the power subsystem and increase the rigidity of the board.

ASUS Maximus VII Ranger Motherboard

Hardware improvements also include TrueVolt technology, which should increase voltage stability in USB 3.0 connectors. According to the developers, TrueVolt provides noise reduction, which will be useful, for example, when connecting external sound cards.

LAN ports have also received additional protection — ASUS calls it LAN Guard. The essence of LAN Guard is to improve the design of RJ-45 connectors, the use of protection against static electricity and improved capacitors. A similar technology has already been used in TUF boards and, apparently, it has proven itself well there — now it’s the turn of ROG.

There are other improvements regarding network interfaces. For example, the Game First III technology, which is used for traffic shaping. The principle of its operation is extremely simple — the packets generated by the game are given the highest priority, which from the point of view of the game increases the bandwidth of the channel. In theory, this allows you to reduce delays in online games. Game First III, like everything in ASUS boards, can be configured — priority can be given not only to game packages, but also to multimedia or, say, torrents.

Motherboard ASUS Maximus VII Hero

We should also mention the improvements related to the integrated SupremeFX sound. According to the latest fashion, the part of the board on which the elements of the sound subsystem are located is physically isolated from the rest of the components. This was done in order to minimize interference. For the same purpose, the audio chip is covered with a stainless steel sheet. High-quality capacitors from the Japanese company ELNA are used in the electrical wiring, and 8 analog outputs are carefully gold-plated — again, to reduce the effect on the signal from the circuitry.

But ASUS wouldn’t be where it is without a few more technologies added to it. For example, SonicSense Amp allows you to determine the impedance of the connected headphones (in the range from 32 to 150 ohms) and adjust the signal accordingly. We should also note the SonicStage technology, which allows you to switch between sound profiles that are optimal for a particular genre of games using a button on the motherboard. We were surprised by the last option — but ASUS representatives found it quite a reasonable justification. It is clear that no one will open the system unit and switch the sound settings with the button located under the lower PCI-E slot. But every gamer has his favorite genre, and when assembling a computer, you can select it at the hardware level, and then, if necessary, change the settings using programs.

And, of course, there is a technology that offers to convert two-channel audio to virtual 7.1 sound — it is available from the Sonic Studio utility. With its help, you can configure the rest of the «improvers». The work of Sonic Studio was immediately demonstrated to us in action. What can I say — it works: the sound can be made deeper, more saturated (especially in the case of not the most expensive speakers), although, of course, this is partially achieved by simply increasing the volume.

Motherboard ASUS Maximus VII Gene. Right — M.2 connector

Important changes have been made to the UEFI BIOS. The interface, as before, is divided into “for dummies” and “for pros” parts, but the “for dummies” part has now become even clearer and more informative. Also, the new BIOS can detect ASUS graphics adapters and display their parameters — without the need to install any utilities.

Finally, we note the KeyBot program, which allows you to assign macro commands to the buttons on the keyboard, including those for controlling computer parameters. Interestingly, a separate microprocessor is soldered on the board for its implementation.

⇡# TUF motherboards based on the Intel Z97 chipset

The Ultimate Force family of motherboards (by the way, Taiwanese prefer to read TUF as tough) moved to a new chipset without expanding the line. There are three boards so far: Sabertooth Z97 Mark I, Gryphon and Gryphon Armor Edition. Interestingly, the TUF board group is following a different path than the ROG board group. For example, boards of the TUF family are equipped not only with M.2 connectors, but also with SATA Express (however, M.2 is not found on all boards).

Motherboard ASUS Gryphon Z97 Armor Edition

When we quoted ROG representatives saying that there are no drives for SATA Express, the TUF product manager showed us a drive made by… ASUS! It’s not actually a drive, but rather an external RAID controller. Inside the silver box, you can install two M.2 drives and connect it all using SATA Express.

Moreover, TUF boards have another interface that ROG boards don’t have — Thunderbolt. Here it is offered as a ThunderboltEX II expansion card. True, it is worth noting that it is also compatible with many other ASUS motherboards based on the Z87 and Z9 chipsets.7. Also on the Sabertooth Z97 Mark I, for example, there is a TB_HEADER connector — to output Thunderbolt to the front panel.

If you find it strange that TUF boards support more modern interfaces than ROG boards, then you are not alone — we also found it surprising. But there is an explanation for this: ROG boards are bought for 1-2 years — a gaming computer cannot live longer without an upgrade. Well, the models of the TUF series with their five-year warranty and almost server reliability are taken just for about 5 years. In 2 years, SATA Express (and Thunderbolt too) will hardly have time to become widespread, but in 5 years it may well. So, for the most part, ROG users really don’t need SATA Express and Thunderbolt, while TUF owners may need it before they are going to change the board.

Otherwise, the development of TUF boards takes place in two main directions — increasing reliability and expanding capabilities. As an example of expanding capabilities, we can cite accessories for boards, including an NFC module and wireless charging for smartphones. The NFC Express 2 module serves to instantly activate data transfer, and the Wireless Charger wireless charging, as you might guess, makes it possible to charge gadgets that support this technology without the need to connect wires.

In terms of reliability and performance, TUF boards rely on the so-called five-way optimization (remember, there used to be four directions). ASUS identifies five «elephants» on which the technology is based — TPU, EPU, Fan Xpert 3, DIGI + Power and Turbo App.

TPU and EPU modules have long been familiar to users of ASUS motherboards. TPU allows you to automatically overclock the processor, and in the case of TUF boards there is even a hardware switch that sets the overclocking method — by Bclk frequency and by changing the multiplier, or only by changing the multiplier. EPU is responsible for saving energy and allows you to automatically turn off unused modules, and the DIGI + Power system helps him in this.

Fan Xpert is also not a new program, but in the third version it learned to do two things: firstly, lower the CPU fan speed to the lowest possible at idle and low loads, and secondly, display an interactive graph of the speed dependence fans on temperature. In this graphic design, the behavior of the fan is very easily and clearly configured.

Some of the technologies used in TUF motherboards are identical to those from ROG in all but name. For example, the new boards implement the technology we have already described for shaping traffic and assigning different priorities to packets from different applications — but in models of the TUF series it is called Turbo LAN.

Or, say, Crystal Sound 2, which is somewhat reminiscent of SupremeFX: physical isolation of the audio chip and its strapping from other components, separate layers of the motherboard for wiring the signal of the left and right speakers, electromagnetic shielding — almost everything is like on ROG boards. There are also presets for different cases (TUF is not a purely gaming series, so it would be inappropriate to give presets for different genres of games here), adjustment to the type of headphones or speakers, the very best Japanese capacitors and an amplifier.

Fortunately, the BIOS is also somewhat similar — switching from ROG to TUF or vice versa will not be too difficult.

ASUS Gryphon motherboard Z97

For the TUF series with its protection from everything, it is easier to come up with various hardware innovations. For example, consider the ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark I motherboard. It is clear that it is distinguished by design, although there were no helicopter blades, but there are more important differences. For example, a proprietary fan located near the I/O panel, which now has the ability to rotate in both directions. By default, it draws air under the Thermal Armor shroud, cooling the components, but you can set it so that from time to time it would spin in the opposite direction, blowing dust out of the case. Like any ASUS idea, this one also has its own name — Dust de-Fan. By the way, now the fan has increased in size, which should have a positive effect on the level of noise it produces.

Now a separate chip controls the fans — TUF ICe, it also receives and processes data from 12 temperature sensors scattered around the board. The user can monitor the results of his activities and make his own adjustments using the Thermal Radar 2 and Fan Xpert 3 programs. Actually, using the latter, you can also configure the Dust de-Fan operation algorithm.

⇡ # ASUS Z97 boards: what else?

In addition to the ROG and TUF series motherboards, ASUS also showed a whole bunch of motherboards based on the Intel Z9 chipset7 from the base lineup. Some of them also support SATA Express and M.2, and for the advent of Haswell Refresh processors, everyone is ready without exception. Unfortunately, more detailed information was not available at the time of the event.


Theoretically, every year motherboards should become simpler — more and more controllers and other elements are built directly into the processor. Nevertheless, as practice shows, everything happens exactly the opposite — from year to year, boards become more and more sophisticated, complex and technologically advanced. It will soon be possible to open separate courses for ASUS boards — talk about countless BIOS sub-items, tabs of the Ai Suite utility and technologies used in a particular board. For a semi-annual course, it will definitely be typed.

In fact, the motherboard is now a hardware-software complex, and the software part is becoming more and more important. And if the hardware part has been developing so fast in recent years — modern chipsets have reached a level where it is difficult to make any revolutionary changes — then in terms of software, ASUS products are growing without slowing down. We are waiting for Computex 2014 — flagship boards will surely surprise us.

Haswell (microarchitecture)

Haswell is the codename for a processor microarchitecture designed by Intel as the «fourth generation core», the successor to Ivy Bridge (which is a shortened Sandy Bridge microarchitecture). [1] Intel officially announced processors based on this microarchitecture on June 4, 2013 at Computex Taipei 2013, [2] and a working Haswell chip was demonstrated at the 2011 Intel Developer Forum. [3] Haswell using 22 nm process technology, [4] Intel also introduced low-power processors designed for convertible or «hybrid» Ultrabooks, denoted by the «U» suffix.

Haswell CPUs are used with Intel 8 Series Chipsets, Intel 9 Series Chipsets, and Intel C220 Series Chipsets.

Haswell’s [7] architecture is specifically designed to optimize power savings and improve performance when moving to FinFET (non-planar, «3D») transistors on an improved 22nm process node. [8]

Around mid-2014, Intel released a Haswell update, simply called Haswell Refresh . Compared to the original Haswell processor line, Haswell Refresh processors offer a slight increase in clock speed, typically by 100 MHz. [77] Haswell Refresh processors are supported by Intel 9-series chipsets (Z97 and H97, codenamed Wildcat Point), while motherboards with 9-series chipsets0294 8 Series (codenamed Lynx Point) usually require a BIOS update to support Haswell Refresh processors. [78]

Codenamed Devil’s Canyon, covering the i5 and i7 K-series SKUs, the processors use a new and improved thermal interface material (TIM) called Next Generation Polymer Thermal Interface Material ( NGPTIM ). This improved TIM lowers the processor’s operating temperature and improves overclocking potential, which has been a problem since the introduction of Ivy Bridge. [79] Other changes for Devil’s Canyon processors include an increase in TDP to 88W, additional decoupling capacitors to smooth out output signals from a fully integrated voltage regulator (FIVR), and support for VT-d, which was previously limited to -K-series SKUs. [80] TSX was another feature ported from non-K series SKUs until August 2014 when a firmware update disabled TSX due to a bug found in its implementation. [35] [36]

Although Ivy Bridge is the last Intel processor to fully support all versions of Windows XP, Haswell includes limited driver support for certain XP releases such as POSReady2009.