ASUS Z87 Deluxe Motherboard Review

Recently, we published a review on the ASUS Z87-A, which is a price conscious offering in ASUS’ mainstream line of Z87 motherboards. Today, we’re going to take a trip much higher up the ladder and have a look at the ASUS Z87 Deluxe. The Z87 Deluxe is positioned near the top of their mainstream motherboard line, and along with that comes a higher price point. Is the added cost worth it? Let’s take the ASUS Z87 Deluxe for a spin and find out!

Specifications and Features

As is typical with ASUS products, the specifications are a rather lengthy affair, but here they are none-the-less. The below specifications are provided by the ASUS website.

ASUS Z87 Deluxe Speciications
 CPU Intel® Socket 1150 for 4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
* The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types.
 Chipset  Intel® Z87
 Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 3000(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2500(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600/1333 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
* Refer to www.asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
 Graphic Integrated Graphics Processor
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DisplayPort 1.2 /Mini DisplayPort ports
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
- Supports Mini DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 1024 MB
Supports Intel® HD Graphics, InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
Supports up to 3 displays simultaneously
 Multi-GPU
Support
Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ Technology
 Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode)
4 x PCIe 2.0 x1
 Storage Intel® Z87 chipset:
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), yellow
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Dynamic Storage Accelerator, Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology
ASMedia® ASM1061 controller:
4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), dark brown
 LAN Intel® I217V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Realtek® 8111GR, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers- 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) appliance
Intel® LAN- Dual interconnect between the Integrated LAN controller and Physical Layer (PHY)
 Wireless Data Network Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz
Bluetooth Bluetooth V4.0
Bluetooth V3.0+HS
Audio Realtek® ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
- High quality 112 dB SNR stereo playback output (Line-out at rear) and 104 dB SNR recording input (Line-in)
Audio Feature:
- Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
- DTS Ultra PC II
- DTS Connect
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports Intel® Z87 chipset:
4 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z87 chipset:
8 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (4 at back panel, black, 4 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller:
4 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue)
Back I/O Ports 1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
2 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
6 x USB 3.0 (blue)
4 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
1 x Bluetooth V4.0 connector(s) for ASUS Wi-Fi GO! card
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
1 x Mini DisplayPort(s)
Internal I/O Ports 1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x TPM header
10 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 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x DirectKey Button(s)
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 Reset button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
Accessories User’s manual
ASUS Q-Shield
6 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
1 x Wi-Fi Antenna(s)
Support disc w/drivers, ASUS Utilities, EZ Update, Anti-virus software (OEM)
BIOS 64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.7, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0, Multi-language BIOS,
ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3, 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
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

From the above specifications and the below “Special Features”, it becomes quite apparent what separates this motherboard from the lower-end mainstream boards. A larger 16 Phase CPU power design, Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-Way Optimization, onboard Wi-Fi, dual LAN ports, and additional SATA connectivity are just a few of the higher-end features that come along with the higher price.

Feature list also provided courtesy of ASUS.

ASUS Z87 Deluxe Special Features
Special Features ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-Way Optimization :
- The tuning key perfectly consolidates ASUS-exclusive DIGI+ Power Control, TPU, EPU, and Fan Xpert 2 optimize the digital power setting, system performance, power saving and whole system cooling configuration
ASUS 5X Protection :
- ASUS DIGI+ VRM – 16 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
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
- EPU switch
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 16 Phase CPU Power Design
- Industry leading Digital 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
- ASUS DIGI+ VRM Utility
- CPU Power Utility
- DRAM Power Utility
ASUS Wi-Fi GO!
- Wi-Fi GO! Function: Cloud GO!, Streaming Media Hub, Smart Sensor Control, Remote Desktop, Remote Keyboard & Mouse, File Transfer, Capture & Send
- Wi-Fi Engine for network sharing and connection: Client Mode, AP Mode
- Wi-Fi GO! & NFC Remote for portable Smartphone/Tablet, supporting iOS & Android systems
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- USB BIOS Flashback
- MemOK!
- AI Suite 3
- Ai Charger+
- USB Charger+
- Anti-Surge
- Onboard Button : Power/Reset
- Front Panel USB 3.0 Support
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
- Network iControl
- USB 3.0 Boost
- Disk Unlocker
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fan Xpert 2
ASUS EZ DIY :
- DirectKey
- Precision Tweaker 2
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- Multi-language BIOS
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Code
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector
100% All High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors
Overclocking Protection :
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)

…And a couple slides to illustrate many of the high level features the Z87 Deluxe offers.

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The two slides below depict some of the advantages the new Z87/Haswell platform brings to the table. When compared to previous Intel generations, we have additional native USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s connectivity, as well as more robust display options if the integrated graphics are utilized.

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There are some unique features ASUS uses on their Z87  platform motherboards that they would like you to know about. The 5X Protection feature incorporates the power delivery, DRAM overcurrent protection, ESD protection, all 5K-Hour solid caps, and the stainless steel I/O blocks.

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Anyone even remotely familiar with ASUS motherboards has heard of their Dual Intelligent Processors feature, which is now in its fourth iteration. The Dual Intelligent Processors 4 incorporates the TPU and EPU functions that make overclocking and energy savings as easy as a single click. For those of you who are uncomfortable overclocking a system manually, the TPU function can be used for an automatic overclock. If low power usage is your desire, the EPU feature can be used to automatically tune the system for maximum energy efficiency. TPU and EPU are just two of the items ASUS bundles under the 4-Way Optimization heading, the other two being Fan Expert 2 and the Digi+ VRM power management. We’ll have a closer look at these when we tour the UEFI BIOS and the bundled software.

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ASUS makes a big deal of their Wi-Fi GO! feature, which can be used for internet sharing, multi-media management, data sharing, and remote control functions. Wi-Fi GO! incorporates several different utilities; here is a list of them with a brief description of what they do.

  • Cloud GO! – Sync all your cloud storage for easy access from one central location.
  • Remote Desktop – Use mobile devices to control the PC, or as a separate monitor when under clone and extended display modes.
  • DLNA Media Hub – Use mobile devices to control media content from one system to another within the same network.
  • File Transfer – Transfer files between PC and mobile devices within the same network.
  • Remote Keyboard & Mouse – Use a mobile device as a remote control for your PC.
  • Capture & Send – Capture a screen shot on your PC and use the mobile device as the storage media to save the file to.
  • Smart Sensor Control – Turn your mobile device into a virtual device that can be accessed from the desktop. Use the Gyroscope feature to turn the mobile device into a motion joystick under Windows 8.
  • Wi-Fi Engine – Use the onboard Wi-Fi as an access point for internet sharing.

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Bringing the entire Wi-Fi GO! feature together is none other than the Wi-Fi GO! card, meaning the onboard Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi GO! card features the latest 802.11ac data rates and is backward compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n protocols. In addition to providing Wi-Fi functionality, the Wi-Fi GO! card also provides Bluetooth connectivity.

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Packaging and First Look

ASUS has adopted a black and gold theme for their mainstream Z87 motherboard boxes. The box front and back are loaded with icons and detailed information on many of the high level features. On the sides, we have the typical ASUS branding and the Dual Intelligent Processors 4 logo.

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There is a flap that lifts up to expose a window, which shows the Z87 Deluxe resting inside. The inside of the flap has several detailed explanations of other available features.

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Under the motherboard, you’ll find the accessories bundled with the Z87 Deluxe. Here is the list of what’s included:

  • User Guide
  • Exclusive Features User Guide
  • Support disc w/drivers, ASUS Utilities, EZ Update, Anti-virus software (OEM)
  • 6 x SATA 6Gb/s cables
  • 1 x SLI bridge
  • ASUS Q-Shield (I/O Shield)
  • 1 x 2 in 1 Q-connector set (1x-USB, 1x FP)
  • 1 x Wi-Fi Antenna

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With the board completely unpacked, we have some full board pictures to share! Unlike the Z87-A I reviewed earlier, this board is built on a black PCB. I really like the gold and black combination much better than the brown PCB used on other ASUS mainstream boards. We have a pretty sharp looking motherboard here, at least in my opinion.

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Before we dive in for an up-close look at the different areas of the Z87 Deluxe, here are a few more images at board level.

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Up Close and Under the Hood

Along the bottom of the motherboard, there are several enthusiast features implemented here. Onboard power and reset buttons are provided, along with a clear CMOS button and dual diagnostic LEDs. The bottom area also has USB 2.0 headers, FP audio connections, a 4-pin fan header, and the location for all your case wiring. The DirectKey button you see in the last picture below can be used to start the system and go directly into the UEFI BIOS without having to hit the delete key.

Z87 Delux Bottom Area

Z87 Delux Bottom Area

Z87 Delux Bottom Area

Z87 Delux Bottom Area

Z87 Delux Bottom Area

Z87 Delux Bottom Area

The right side of the motherboard is home to no less than ten SATA 6 Gb/s ports. The six yellow ports are native to the Z87 chipset, and the four dark brown ports are via ASMedia. Just below the SATA ports are the TPU and EPU switches. The TPU switch now features two automatic overclocking modes – multiplier only and BCLK/multiplier combined. The EPU switch, when enabled, can intelligently moderate power consumption based on system load. Also located on the right side of the board are the 24-pin ATX power connector, two more 4-pin fan headers, and the MemOK! button. The MemOK! button can be used to let the motherboard seek a stable setting for memory, which might otherwise be incompatible and keep the system from booting.

SATA Ports Top View

SATA Ports Top View

SATA Ports Side View

SATA Ports Side View

Z87 Deluxe Right Side

Z87 Deluxe Right Side

Z87 Deluxe Right Side

Z87 Deluxe Right Side

Along the top of the Z87 Deluxe, we find two CPU fan headers and the 8-pin CPU AUX 12V power connector. If you look closely at the yellow CPU fan header, you’ll notice there is a detection latch built into it. When a 4-pin PWM fan is connected here, the latch is activated letting the motherboard know you have a PWM capable fan installed. Installing a 3-pin CPU fan does not activate the detection switch, which in turn tells the motherboard you have a voltage controlled type fan installed.

Z87 Deluxe Top Side

Z87 Deluxe Top Side

Z87 Deluxe Top Side

Z87 Deluxe Top Side

The left side of the Z87 Deluxe is where we find the I/O area. The entire I/O area is covered with stainless steel blocks that have a corrosion resistant coating. Instead of stating the obvious over and over here, let’s let a couple visuals explain what each I/O area is for. Worth mentioning, however, are the dual LAN ports, both mini and regular DisplayPort connections, lots of USB connectivity, and the BIOS Flashback button. The BIOS Flashback function is pretty awesome actually as it allows the user to flash the BIOS from a USB stick with only the power supply hooked up to the motherboard. The ultimate in BIOS recovery!

The lower area of the left side is home to many of the ICs that make up the integrated peripherals, which we’ll have a closer look at next.

Stainless Steel I/O Blocks

Stainless Steel I/O Blocks

I/O Connections (See Below)

I/O Connections (See Below)

Left Side - Bottom Area

Left Side – Bottom Area

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Moving more towards the center of the Z87 Deluxe, we land at the PCIe expansion slots. Here we have four PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, and one PCIe 2.0 X16 slot. A single graphics card should be installed in the top PCIe 3.0 x16 slot and will run at x16 speed. If two cards are installed in a SLI or Crossfire setup, both cards will run at x8 speed. You can run Tri-Crossfire in an x8/x4/x4 configuration, but not Tri-SLI.

There are four DDR3 DIMM slots that support up to 32 Gb of un-buffered, non-ECC memory. All four of the DIMM slots use the one side locking tab method of retention. I can’t be completely confident in telling you the maximum supported memory speed because the user manual says up to DDR3 2800 (OC), but the website says up to DDR3 3000 (OC). Anyway, the top end will be one or the other, and the bottom end is DDR3 1333.  In the second picture below, and just below the four DIMM slots, you can see the two dedicated memory power phases.

PCIe Expansion Slots

PCIe Expansion Slots

DDR3 DIMM Slots

DDR3 DIMM Slots

The CPU socket area is a little tight in some spots, but careful choosing of air cooling solutions and memory module height can avoid any potential clearance problems. I can’t think of any CPU water blocks that would have an issue fitting here.

From this vantage point, you can see the heatpipe cooling design ASUS used to keep the stout 16 phase power delivery cool. Additionally, covering the Z87 PCH is another heatsink with an ASUS emblem affixed to the top.

CPU Socket Area

CPU Socket Area

CPU Socket Area

CPU Socket Area

Z87 PCH Heatsink

Z87 PCH Heatsink

As long as we’re talking about heatsinks, let’s pull them off and have a look! All of the heatsinks attached to the motherboard are held down with screws, no cheesy plastic push pins here folks. The heatsinks covering the MOSFETs actually have a matching plate on the back side of the board for an added cooling effect. All of the thermal pads were found to be making excellent contact with the intended target points.

The lower portion of the two heatsinks (joined by a heatpipe) only covers the ASMeida ASM1480 PCIe switching ICs, and have no thermal interface material applied. I’ve never known that IC to get even remotely hot, so I don’t see that as an issue.

Z87 PCH Heatsink Removed

Z87 PCH Heatsink Removed

MOSFET/ASM1480 Heatpipe Heatsink

MOSFET/ASM1480 Heatpipe Heatsink

Single MOSFET Heatsink

Single MOSFET Heatsink

Motherboard Back Cooling Plates

Motherboard Back Cooling Plates

Z87 Deluxe Heatsink Kit

Z87 Deluxe Heatsink Kit

With all the heatsinks removed, we can get a good look at the 16 phase power delivery area. The high performance chokes and MOSFETs can be seen, along with some of the 5K-Hour solid caps used throughout the motherboard. The last picture below is of the Z87 PCH.

16 Phase Power Delivery

16 Phase Power Delivery

16 Phase Power Delivery

16 Phase Power Delivery

16 Phase Power Delivery

16 Phase Power Delivery

Z87 PCH

Z87 PCH

Taking a look at the ICs that provide many of the functions of the motherboard, we see that ASMedia has been used for a few of them. For additional USB 3.0 ports, the ASM1074 IC has been used, while the ASM1480 and ASM1061 ICs are used to provide PCIe switching and additional SATA 6 Gb/s ports respectively. In the past, I have seen ASMedia also used to handle the HDMI/DVI TMDS link functions, but in this case the Parade PS8201A handles these duties.

ASMedia ASM1480 PCIe Switching

ASMedia ASM1480 PCIe Switching

ASMedia ASM1061 SATA Controller

ASMedia ASM1061 SATA Controller

ASMedia ASM1074 USB 3.0 Controller

ASMedia ASM1074 USB 3.0 Controller

Parade PS8201A TMDS

Parade PS8201A TMDS

Realtek provides the onboard 8-channel audio codec via the ALC1150 chip. The ALC1150 codec is capable of high quality 112 dB SNR stereo playback output and 104 dB SNR recording input. It features Absolute Pitch 192 khz/24-bit True BD Lossless Sound. Realtek is also called upon to provide one of the two Gigabit LAN ports found on the Z87 Deluxe in the form of its RTL8111GR chip. The other LAN port is provided by Intel via their newest WGI217-V Gigabit controller.

Realtek ALC1150 Audio Codec

Realtek ALC1150 Audio Codec

Realtek 8111GR Gigabit LAN

Realtek RTL8111GR Gigabit LAN

Intel WGI217-V Gigabit LAN

Intel WGI217-V Gigabit LAN

The PLX PEX8608 chip provides the additional PCIe lanes needed to bring you the additional onboard devices, such as the built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. For Super I/O functionality, the nuvoTon NCT6791D IC is used. As is common with a lot of ASUS motherboards, the Winbond 25Q64FVAIQ BIOS chip is present and accounted for.

PLX PEX8608 IC

PLX PEX8608 IC

nuvoTon NCT6791D Super I/O IC

nuvoTon NCT6791D Super I/O IC

Winbond BIOS chip

Winbond BIOS chip

The Dual Intelligent Processors 4 chips and the VRM interface for CPU and memory can be found scattered about the motherboard. While the Digi+/EPU chip’s functionality has changed now that the VRM is part of the Haswell CPUs, it does still provide detailed control over the on chip VRM.

TPU Chip On Top of Board

TPU Chip On Top of Board

2nd TPU Chip on Back of Board

2nd TPU Chip on Back of Board

DIGI+ Memory Power Control

DIGI+ Memory Power Control

DIGI+/EPU VRM Interface

DIGI+/EPU VRM Interface

Concluding our tour of the Z87 Deluxe is a feature that aids in easily identifying potential boot problems. There are four LEDs on the mother board labeled DRAM LED, VGA LED, CPU LED, and Boot Device LED. If your system fails to post because of a problem in one of these areas, the LED will stay illuminated giving you a clue where to begin your troubleshooting efforts.

DRAM LED

DRAM LED

VGA LED

VGA LED

CPU LED

CPU LED

Boot Device LED

Boot Device LED

The UEFI BIOS

The ASUS UEFI continues to evolve into perhaps the most detailed and user friendly implementation on the market. For the Z87 motherboard series, ASUS has added many new features outlined in the slides below.

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When first starting the system and entering the UEFI, you land at the EZ Mode screen. Pay no attention to the date and time shown as the images were captured immediately after entering the UEFI for the first time, and before I made any changes. EZ Mode has been expanded since the Z77 implementation and now includes XMP information and additional monitoring information. You can also choose boot priorities and system performance values from here.

Hitting F7 enables you to enter the UEFI’s advanced Mode, where you will find every tweaking option one could imagine. When entering Advanced Mode, you land at the Main tab where you are presented with basic system information and the time and date options. Choosing the Security sub menu allows you to set user and administrator passwords. Backing up one tab to the My Favorites area is where ASUS has implemented the ability to create a list of favorite UEFI areas for quick access. From any screen in the UEFI, you can press the Quick Note or Last Modified buttons located on the right side. Just as the names imply, you can type in notes for accessing later or see a list of what settings you have changed during your UEFI visit.

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The Ai Tweaker section of the UEFI is where the overclockers among us will spend the vast majority of time. From a strictly overclocking standpoint, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more detailed or full featured set of tools anywhere. CPU overclocking, memory tweaking, and total control of power delivery are what you will find here. There is a plethora of voltage control options that offer finite control to dial in just the right amount of voltage. The memory timings page has Primary, Secondary, and Third settings available for those who need that much detail. Remember me mentioning the user manual and web site differing on the memory speed support? Well, let’s throw a third value in the equation as the memory frequency option in the UEFI goes all the way up to 3200 MHz.

The DIGI+ power control options extend to both the CPU and memory power delivery. Whether you want to optimize the system for better overclocking or power efficiency, it’s easy to do from here and in the CPU power management sub menu.

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The Advanced tab is where you will find eight sub menus related to system setup and onboard device parameters. I’m sure most of you are familiar with these settings, so I’ll move right along to the slide show showing the sub menu options.

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The monitor tab shows real-time voltage and fan speed readings, as well as houses the fan control options. There are built in fan profiles you can use, or set up your own parameters.

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Under the Boot tab, you find everything needed to control system start up behavior.

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The Tools tab is where you can access the EZ Flash 2 utility, which is widely regarded as the best method of updating the UEFI firmware. The O.C. Profile sub menu is where you can save and load up to eight profiles. You also have the option to save and load profiles to and from a USB device, which in a sense makes the amount of profiles you can save limitless. The SPD Information sub menu lists the SPD and XMP details related to the installed memory modules.

The last area of the UEFI is the Save tab. I doubt any explanation is needed here!

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Included Software

Along with the new Z87 Haswell platform motherboards, ASUS is offering a new and updated AI Suite software package. Now at version three, we have a new looking GUI and a couple new additions to the utility. The most impressive new feature in AI Suite 3 is the 4-Way Optimization function. This gives the user the ability to manipulate VRM power profiles, CPU and memory overclocking, cooling performance, and power parameters.

When first opening AI Suite 3, you land at a tiled main screen that provides links to all the different utilities. Along the bottom of every screen, you get live monitoring information for frequencies, voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds. By choosing the Dual Intelligent Processor 4 utility, you’ll be taken to a screen with five areas to explore. For automatic system optimization, 4-Way Optimization is where you want to go. The TPU tab has the CPU frequency and voltage controls and the BCLK strap options. The EPU tab is where you go to fine tune power efficiency. Your choices here are Auto, High Performance, Max Power Saving, or Away Mode. The DIGI+ Power Control tab has the options for LLC, CPU power thermal control, CPU voltage frequencies, and similar power controls for the memory too. The Fan Xpert 2 tab is where you find everything you need to optimize any fan connected to the motherboard fan headers. Fan Xpert 2 is the most detailed and full featured software of its kind, it truly is a remarkable piece of software. The second slide show below has several slides provided by ASUS, which explain many of the things you can do with Fan Xpert 2.

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The rest of AI Suite 3 is comprised of some useful utilities like USB 3.0 Boost, two different mobile device charging options, Network iControl, and the Wi-Fi GO! programs we talked about earlier. Most of these are self explanatory by viewing the below slide show.

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Overclocking and Benchmarks

Test System

Motherboard ASUS Z87 Deluxe
CPU Intel i7 4770K Haswell
Memory G.SKill TridentX DD3-2666 MHz 2x4GB
SSD Kingston HyperX 3KSSD 240 GB
Power Supply Corsair HX1050 Professional Series
Video Card ASUS GTX 770 DirectCU II OC
Cooling Swiftech Apogee HD CPU Water Block – 3X120 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump

For a 24/7 stable overclock, I settled on 4.6 GHz for the CPU with the memory at 2400 MHz. At these settings, temperatures were manageable; and it easily passed a 15 minute run of the AIDA64 Stability Test.

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz Stability

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz Stability

In the stock benchmark results below, we’ll use the ASUS M6E, Intel DZ87KLT-75K, and the ASUS Z87-A for comparisons. The caveat being the three ASUS boards were using the the multi-core enhancement feature (meaning the core speed was locked down at 3.9 GHz), while the Intel board was at true stock and using the Turbo-Core feature. This doesn’t impact single thread benchmarks like SuperPI much at all, but multi-threaded benchmarks will tend to favor the ASUS boards. Additionally, all four boards have the memory set to DDR3 2600. I went ahead and added the 24/7 stable overclock results mentioned above to the charts as well. This should give you an idea of the performance gains to be had if you overclock the system.

Typically, there isn’t a whole lot of difference in benchmark results when comparing motherboards; but if there is a deficiency with one of them, it will make itself known. You’ll see below that the Z87-A, M6E, and the Z87 Deluxe are all within a whisker of each other on the stock tests. That should come as no surprise being that they are all running the same CPU and memory speeds. I’ll step aside and let the below graphs speak for themselves in an effort to move things along here!

Rendering and Compression Tests

Cinebench R10 Results

Cinebench R10 Results

Cinebench R11.5 Results

Cinebench R11.5 Results

PoV Ray 3.7 Results

PoV Ray 3.7 Results

7zip Results

7zip Results

x264 Pass 1 Results

x264 Pass 1 Results

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x264 Pass 2 Results

 2D Benchmark Testing

SuperPi 1M Results

SuperPi 1M Results

SuperPi 32M Results

SuperPi 32M Results

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wPrime 32M Results

wPrime 1024M results

wPrime 1024M results

Results are as expected with some very nice gains when overclocked. No issues found, no issues noted!

Pushing the Limits

I was able to get the CPU stable at 4.7 GHz with the memory set to 1866 MHz. However, 4.8 GHz proved to be a tough road. By dropping the memory speed to 1600 MHz, I was able to complete a quick run of SuperPI 1M and wPrime 32m. I wouldn’t call the 4.8 GHz overclock stable by any means, but given that fact I was never able to even get to the desktop at 4.8 GHz during the Z87-A review, it is an improvement. The Z87-A topped out at 4.7 GHz, but the stability was shaky at best. Here we have a stable 4.7 GHz overclock and the ability to get to the desktop and run a couple quick benchmarks at 4.8 GHz.

4.7/1866 Stability Test

4.7/1866 Stability Test

At the Desktop - 4.8 GHz

At the Desktop – 4.8 GHz

wPrime at 4.8 GHz

wPrime 32M at 4.8 GHz

SuperPI 1M 4.8 GHz

SuperPI 1M at 4.8 GHz

All and all, I’d consider the overclocking to be a success on the Z87 Deluxe, especially for a retail CPU! I can say with complete confidence that the CPU is the limiting factor when it comes to overclocking this system, definitely not the motherboard!

Conclusion

The Z87 Deluxe certainly doesn’t lack for features and overclocking capability, that’s for sure. Currently priced at $279.99 at Newegg, it’s right at or slightly less than competitor offerings. Our testing results show stock performance right where it should be and excellent performance gains were had when overclocked. The built in Wi-Fi GO! card, AI Suite III, and many unique ASUS features add additional value to the Z87 Deluxe. With 10 SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports, lots of USB connectivity, and Bluetooth support, you have plenty of connectivity options. In fact, the Z87 Deluxe is even compatible with the ASUS NFC Express if you want to add NFC to the list of connectivity.

In the end, ASUS has a full featured, great overclocking motherboard here. If the Z87 Deluxe has the features you’ve been looking for, then it’s definitely worth considering as the basis for your next Haswell platform build.

Overclockers_clear_approvedClick the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

-Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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Discussion
  1. None of the retails are really. The 2 ES chips I have do close to 300Mhz more than the retail I bought. It is annoying really. :rolleyes:

    Lvcoyote
    Yea, been there done all that. The 4770K I ended up with isn't the best of CPUs no doubt.....LOL.
    The issue is the heat, but even now as we chat people are starting to De-Lid the Haswell CPU'S to good effect. Thanks for the nice review. AJ. ;) :thup:

    Yep i have read about it being like that, hmmm maybe they are trying hard to give a False result or impression some how!!
    You have to keep other settings on auto so the board uses what has been optimized for 200. Fully default the board and then set the AiTuner to manual and define 200 BCLK. Leave all else on auto. Disregard if that is what you tried, not every CPU will do it. :)
    Did you give max bclk a shot? The Deluxe and Extreme boards are the only ASUS boards to feature the advanced design for high level BCLK. Should be able to do 200 if the CPU can do it.