ASUS Z97-Deluxe (NFC & WLC) Review
- Beautiful color scheme
- We loved the TurboApp really!
- SATA Express + M.2 included
- Beautiful UEFI BIOS
- Still overpriced for a mid-range setup
- Doesn't have fastboot
You see, I have been an ROG (Republic Of Gamers) fan for a very long time now. In fact, my selection of hardware begins from ROG line-up first before I venture into other areas. The one reason many desktop users don’t practise this same idea is money. So if you are hunting for a well packed motherboard and do not wish to spend the ROG price, what are your options? My suggestion is this ASUS Z97-Deluxe motherboard. Be prepared as the specs of this bad boy is about to blow your mind off.
The ASUS Z97-Deluxe stands as the flagship model around their mainstream line-up. This beast has it all if you are looking for an Intel Z97 Chipset setup. ASUS has choked in the support for Intel’s Devil Canyon CPUs as well as the soon to land Broadwell processors, M.2 and SATA Express Storage connectors, Intel’s SRT support for SSDs and Device Protection with Boot Guard.
On the box, you will see the highlight of the product – 5-Way Optimization. Basically, ASUS has cramped the Dual Intelligent Processor 5 that combines TPU, EPU, DIGI+ Power Control, Fan Xpert v3 and TurboApp functionalities to push the system’s performance to its optimum. What this does is, the hardware will dynamically optimize your desktop based on real time scenarios offering the optimal output from several portions such as CPU performance, energy saving feature, stable digital power, optimized cool and quiet fan control and the best of all, speed up your apps using the TurboApp (I’ll come to this later).
Take it this way, the motherboard is capable of identifying your computing behaviour based on the load and maximizes the output you actually need. This is rather interesting as some misguided users tend to push the machine beyond limits even when they are just doing some document processing tasks. Leave the intelligence to the motherboard – that’s what ASUS is trying to achieve in this ASUS Z97-Deluxe motherboard.
The TurboApp is a story of it’s own! TurboApp was designed to provide an unrestrained overclocking system (YES! OverClocking..WHEE!) that is boundariless so that users can experience the customized system without actually having to dig into the technicals. Well, this is one part that ASUS has prospered over the years. Using the TurboApp, you can now have a balance between an overclocked system and power saving system, both on the SAME system! How? You can now set custom profiles that distributes the CPU performance, Audio Scene and the LAN Performance individually to different apps accross your system. Hit up the CPU and LAN speed on your game but reduce the audio, reduce the CPU and LAN for your Media Player and boost up the audio, reduce the CPU and LAN speed as well as the audio on your browser so it runs in the background without disrupting your gaming, the choice is all yours. Gone are the days where you had to restart your system multiple times trying to get the sweet voltage point while tuning your system. Couldn’t have been easier, eh?
New UEFI BIOS Interface
The ASUS Z97-Deluxe motherboard features a whole new UEFI BIOS interface. The much simpler, bright and vibrant with neat and efficient technical design allows users to utilize the seamless modes for quick tweaks. The EZ mode provides an overview of the basic system information separated into 11 different segments as described in the image above.
SATA Express / M.2 (NGFF)
As the hunger for storage increases, the hidden demon is ignored, creating a gap in storage handling accordingly. Yes, the speed demon. For years now, we have been too comfortable with the 6Gbps speed defined by the SATA 3.0 specifications and now it’s time to move faster. This is where SATA Express excels. 10Gbps sure sounds yummy. It utilizes two lanes of the PCI Express 2.0 infrastructure delivering highspeed bandwidth on an ecosystem for client storage that SATA and PCIe solutions can coexist.
M.2 was also known as NGFF. It had the similar electrical characteristics as SATA-Express but for different user scenario with slots on board. Both of these are the next gen expansion interfaces that are designed to incorporate PCIe and SATA interface into one. However, M.2 is the preparation for new ULT, Tablet and Slate platforms that require high speed data deliverance in a much smaller size. The specification supports IRST caching and covers multiple slot on board from socket3 type 2260 and 2280 that can only be adopted with embedded onboard devices.
|SATA Express||M.2 (NGFF)|
|User Scenario||External Devices||Embedded Devices|
|Storage Capacity||Capacity is not limited to the device volume||Capacity is limited to the device volume|
|Module Size||Large||Very Small|
|Connection||SATA Express Standard||From Type 1216 to 22110|
|Flexibility||Only storage at this moment||Supports variety of functions|
|Design Philosophy||Breaking through technology for existing SATA interface||Superb speed improvisation for system response|
DRAM 3300 (OC) & Thunderbolt
On the ASUS Z97-Deluxe motherboard, the ASUS team has highly increased the DRAM frequency up to 3300 extreme frequencies support, utilizing ASUS’ exclusive DRAM layout design to increase the superb DRAM compatibility.
The thunderbolt technology provides massive 20Gbps per port data transfer bandwidth with 4K2K DP output and DP1.2 multi-stream transport support. It’s the technology that’s one cable for all implementations with high expansion capabilities.
NFC Express 2
NFC (Near Field Communication) Express is not a rare technology among us, yet its still not widely known. It has been incepted into our mobile phones for quite some time now. NFC uses radio frequency to connect two contactless devices and is used to either transfer data or instant device pairing. The ASUS Z97-Deluxe (NFC & WLC) is bundled with a brand new NFC Express station that combines together with a hub of two extra USB3.0 ports. On the software side, Video to go and Bluetooth Pairing are included, ready to serve.
Video to go – Just one tap of your portable device with NFC available, the on-going video will be streamed to your portable device in no time, and you’re on-the-go. Moreover, streaming from PC to TV in real time can also be done by setting up the NFC tag through NFC Express application to memorize the TV as the next streaming target, next step is simply tag to the host device that you wish to share the streaming.
Bluetooth Pairing – Having trouble setting up your Bluetooth for pairing? Just easily tag your mobile device onto the NFC Express station, the app will automatically paring up your mobile Bluetooth and streaming directly to your PC without hassle.
Windows 8 login – With one touch, you can log in to Windows 8 without having to remember your password!
Quick Launch – Code favorite applications, games, and websites to your bundled tag and get them going with a quick touch on NFC EXPRESS. This is perfect for launching the content you access most frequently with shorter load times. In addition to the bundled tag, setup multiple quick launch functions on your smart device, which acts as a virtual tag.
Photo Express – Cable-free! Transfer photos and videos from NFC-supporting devices to PC with a tap, and intelligently backup all photos and videos added since last sync.
Remote Desktop – Working with NFC-compatible smart devices, NFC EXPRESS allows you to use Remote Desktop in the Wi-Fi GO! utility with no complicated setup. Sit back and relax and control your desktop PC from the comfort of your living room or anywhere else at home.
Crystal Sound 2
Crystal Sound 2 provides the best audio signal path onboard from top to the bottom, with seven exclusive technologies for users in searching of acoustic sound and superb sonic quality experience on the audio.
- Realtek ALC 1150 HD Audio – The highest SNR HD CODEC in the industry for high signal integrity.
- Analog/Digital Shielding – Layout technique to separate the coupling noise between analog and digital, the more continuous the moat shaped will be providing better shielding for your purity sound.
- EMI Protection Covering – Metallic cover to resist any EMI noise interference from outside to the CODEC.
- Left/Right Channel Track Separation – Layout technique to separate left/right channel track, to reduce any possible interference.
- Nichicon Audio Capacitor – Nichicon provides the best acoustic audio capacitor, which was well known on high grade audio Hi-Fi sound, mostly was used to featuring the excellent audio performance.
- Audio AMP – Powerful audio boost to covering from high resistance headphone sets to low resistance headphone sets.
- Audio Preset – Different scene for user to switch with, each mode provides the best audio experiences for user to enjoy the powerful audio equalizing in Game mode, Music mode and Movie mode.
- DTS Ultra PC II – Delivers exceptional 7.1 surround through the most popular PC audio setups for your existing stereo speakers or headphones. With Audio Restoration and Symmetry technologies,
users experience better home theatre audio with ease.
- DTS Connect – Expand your PC audio experience by combining DTS Neo and DTS Interactive technologies for incredible 7.1 channels surround sound and performing multi-channel encoding of DTS bitstreams on personal computers, designed to deliver audio to an external decoder.
You do get what you pay for with this motherboard. If you are aiming at a mid or high-end gaming rig, this one will swallow every bit you throw at it seamlessly. While this motherboard is future ready, if you already own a Z87 based motherboard, the upgrade will not bear much significant performance difference.