ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer Motherboard Review

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Up until the release of the Z97-Pro Gamer, ASUS didn’t have much to offer a budget-minded gamer looking to build a Z97 based system. That all changes with the release of this board, and ASUS now joins other manufacturers in this very competitive arena. What really spurred this market segment was the release of Intel’s G3258 Anniversary Edition processor and the potential to acquire a Z97 gaming motherboard and CPU for just over $200. That should leave most builders a substantial amount to invest in a high-end video card, which will ultimately result in a relatively low cost, but great performing gaming system. The Z97-Pro Gamer isn’t limited to the G3258 processor however, and it stands ready to accept top of the line Haswell processors too. A full out gaming motherboard that doesn’t bare the ROG emblem is something new for ASUS, so let’s get started and see how they did.

Specifications and Features

Below are the specifications as provided by the ASUS product page. Being a budget-minded motherboard, you’re not going to see storage and USB connectivity beyond what the Intel Z97 chipset offers. However, SATA Express and M.2 SSD support are available, and the amount of native SATA and USB connections should be adequate for the vast majority of users. Usually reserved for the ROG series motherboards, the SupremeFX audio solution finds its way to the Z97-Pro Gamer. For the best in LAN connectivity, the Intel i218V network controller has been incorporated as well.

ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer Specifications
CPU Intel® Socket 1150 for the 5th/New 4th/4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
Chipset Intel® Z97
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 3200(O.C.) 3100(O.C.) 3000(O.C.) 2933(O.C.) 2800(O.C.) 2666(O.C.) 2500(O.C.) 2400(O.C.) 2200(O.C.) 2133(O.C.) 2000(O.C.) 1866(O.C.) 1600/1333 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
Graphic Integrated Graphics Processor- Intel® HD Graphics support
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DVI-D/RGB ports
– Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
– Supports DVI-D with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
– Supports RGB with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 512 MB
Supports Intel® 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
Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (Single at x16, dual at x8/x8, )
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode, black)
2 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI
Storage
Intel® Z97 chipset :
1 x SATA Express port, compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3, , with M Key, type 2260/2280 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s ports, gray
Support RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology
LAN Intel® I218V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s), featuring GAMEFIRST II
Audio SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
– Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel MIC Jack-retasking
– High quality 115 dB SNR stereo playback output
– High-fidelity audio OP AMP(s)
Audio Feature :
– SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
– ELNA premium audio capacitors
– Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
– Sonic Radar II
USB Ports
Intel® Z97 chipset :
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z97 chipset :
8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 at back panel, black, 6 at mid-board)
OS Suport Windows® 8.1 86×64
Windows® 8 86×64
Windows® 7 86×64
Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port
4 x USB 3.0 (blue)
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jacks
Internal I/O Ports 1 x USB 3.0 connector supports additional 2 USB 3.0 ports (19-pin)
3 x USB 2.0 connectors supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1 x SATA Express connector: gray, compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3 for M Key, type 2260/2280 devices
1 x TPM header
1 x COM port(s) connector
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector (1 x 4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector (1 x 4 -pin)
3 x Chassis Fan connectors (3 x 4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x Front panel audio connector (AAFP)
1 x System panel
1 x Thermal sensor connector
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

As is the case with most ASUS motherboards, the feature list is a long one. First, a motherboard overview provides a look at many attributes of the Z97-Pro Gamer.

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The onboard Intel LAN controller is an important part of your online gaming endeavors. To that end, ASUS has added a few special features to enhance the gaming experience and ensure the longevity of the LAN port itself. All images and descriptions below courtesy ASUS.

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Networking that just goes faster!

The difference between defeat and victory can be measured in milliseconds. That’s why we’ve equipped Z97-PRO GAMER with networking technology that puts your frags first!

Intel Gigabit Ehternet

The very latest Intel® Gigabit Ethernet means faster, smoother gaming — always. Intel’s LAN has the serious double advantage of communicating directly with Intel CPUs and offering exceptionally high TCP and UDP throughput. This significantly reduces the processor’s workload, so there’s more power for your game and your gameplay!

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2X-faster UDP game-data performance

ASUS engineers used IxChariot, an independent network-assessment test tool, to determine just how much quicker Intel Gigabit Ethernet deals with the UDP data packets that are vital for responsive gaming. The results are in — and with Z97-PRO GAMER your game-data packets flow up to two times (2X) faster!

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LANGuard – RJ45 Reinvented

Z97-PRO GAMER has the reinvented LAN Guard. Advanced signal-coupling technology and premium surface-mounted capacitors improve throughput, while surge-protected and electrostatically-guarded components (ESD Guards) protect your motherboard from lightning strikes and static electricity!

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GameFirst II

GameFirst II with cFosSpeed traffic-shaping technology adds even more lag-reducing support, with an EZ Mode that lets you lower lag with no expert knowledge – by up to eight times (8X)! If you’re a tweaker, use Advanced Mode for hardcore controls. Greatly reduce latency, even during heavy downloading and uploading.

The SupremeFX audio solution is the same as what’s found on the high-end ROG motherboards. The audio solution offers shielding, a headphone amplifier, an EMI cover, and premium ELNA audio capacitors.

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SupremeFX

SupremeFX is an exclusive ASUS technology that’s designed for one purpose — to deliver audio that’s in a class of its own.

Red-line Shielding

Horizontally separates SupremeFX audio components from the rest of the motherboard, effectively eliminating interference to ensure flawless sound quality.

300Ω-headphone amplifier

Z97-PRO GAMER drives some of the very best headphones available — up to 300Ω load impedance. Z97-PRO GAMER assures you great compatibility and more impactful output than standard onboard audio hardware. You demand superb effects and superior surround sound for truly immersive gaming experiences, and Z97-PRO GAMER delivers!

EMI cover

A carefully-engineered protective shield isolates the advanced audio chipset from electromagnetic interference (EMI), preserving the integrity of the audio signals.

Premium ELNA® audio capacitors

Added to the mix to deliver a warmer, natural sound to complete the audio experience.

Even though the usefulness of SATA Expres is in question given the lack of available components, the Z97-Pro Gamer will be ready when they become available. M.2 SSDs on the other hand are beginning to hit the market in force, so it’s nice to see ASUS include a M.2 socket on the motherboard.

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Evolve your storage speed with SATA Express

SATA Express provides up to 10Gbit/s data-transfer speeds from two PCI Express 2.0 lanes, so you’re all set for the next generation of super-fast SSDs. Existing SSDs consume up to 550MB/s of bandwidth, which is close to the saturation point for SATA 6Gbit/s connections — but Z97-PRO GAMER’s SATA Express interface smashes this through this speed barrier. Backwardly compatible with up to two SATA drives, SATA Express is the next-generation connectivity standard that ensures you and your game won’t get left behind.

Faster gaming with M.2

Z97-PRO GAMER includes an M.2 socket with two native PCI Express 2.0 lanes for data-transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s. This is the perfect choice for an operating system drive to make every gaming experience faster and more fun. Z97-PRO GAMER also supports Intel® Rapid Storage Technology to ensure even faster access to data, refresh applications automatically and awake from sleep in just seconds!

To protect the motherboard from a variety of potential failure points, ASUS designed a series of ESD guards to protect critical components from accidental damage due to electrostatic discharge (ESD). There is also DRAM over current protection, a DIGI+ VRM, 10K black metallic capacitors, and a stainless steel back I/O area that should all help with good power delivery and system longevity.

Gamer’s Guardian for real-world protection!

While you protect your back in the game, Z97-PRO GAMER protects all sides in the real world. Great motherboard design is all in the detail, which is why ASUS engineers kitted out Z97-PRO GAMER with loads of brilliant protective features. Individually they’re tough, together they’re unstoppable.

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ESD Guards

With ASUS ESD Guards your Z97-PRO GAMER is actively protected against sudden electrostatic discharge (ESD), meaning the components will last much longer — and you get protection that’s up to twice as resilient as industry standards!

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We’ll have a lot more features to cover as the review progresses; but for now, let’s get a look at the Z97-Pro Gamer.

Packaging/Accessories/First Look

The retail box is almost ROG-esque looking with its red and black theme. On the top are several icons depicting several motherboard capabilities and the model number in bold lettering. At the bottom, you find detailed specifications and features much like what we covered above. The box sides have additional branding and a multilingual mention of a few high-level features.

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With the box top opened, we can see the Z97-Pro Gamer is protected with an anti-static bag. Below the motherboard is a cardboard bed that keeps it securely in place, and below that are the accessories. The accessory stack includes the basics needed to get the system up and running. Included are four SATA cables, I/O Shield, flexible SLI Bridge, user guide, support DVD, and a small case badge.

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The following images give you a good idea of the aesthetic value the Z97-Pro Gamer provides. Red and black themed motherboards are a very popular choice among gamers and enthusiasts, and this board fits that genre perfectly. Enjoy the pictures!

Meet the Z97-Pro Gamer

Meet the Z97-Pro Gamer

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Overhead View

Overhead View

Overhead View

Overhead View

Overhead View

Side View

Side View

Side View

Side View

Side View

Side View

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Side View

Back of PCB

Back of PCB

The ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer Up Close

At the bottom edge of the motherboard there are a host of connectors and headers. At the left, we have the front panel audio header, SPDIF out header, Clear CMOS jumper, T-Sensor header, and the TPM header. Farther to the right, we come to a COM port header, 4-pin fan header, three USB 2.0 headers, and the headers for the case wiring.

Bottom Edge

Bottom Edge

Moving over to the right side of the motherboard, we first land at the SATA 6 GB/s ports. All six of the SATA ports and the SATA Express port are native to the Intel Z97 chipset. Above the SATA ports is the USB 3.0 front panel header. Higher up the right side, we come to the 24-pin ATX power socket, another 4-pin fan header, and the four DIMM slots. The four DIMM slots support up to 32 GB of DDR3 memory at speeds up to 3200 MHz (OC).

Right Side - Lower Area

Right Side – Lower Area

Right Side - Upper Area

Right Side – Upper Area

The top of the motherboard has a pair of CPU fan headers and the 8-pin CPU AUX power connector. We’d like to see that power connector flipped 90 degrees and a bit closer to the edge of the motherboard for better cable management, but it should be workable where it’s at.

Top Edge

Top Edge

Turning the corner to the left side of the motherboard, we land at the I/O area. Of special note here is that all the blocks are constructed of stainless steel, which should keep them free from discoloration and add to the longevity. A PS/2 port and two USB 2.0 ports are at the top, followed by an optical out jack. Display connectivity consists of HDMI, VGA, and DVI if you want to use a CPU with an iGPU. Rounding out the I/O area are four native USB 3.0 ports, the LAN jack, and the 8-channel audio jacks. If you wish to bring USB 3.1 connectivity to the Z97-Pro Gamer, it’s compatible with the new ASUS USB 3.1 add-on cards. Be sure to update the UEFI BIOS firmware to the latest version 2102 first to ensure compatibility with the USB 3.1 add-on card.

The lower area is where all the SupremeFX audio bits are located. Looking at the second picture below, you can see the isolation line, ELNA audio capacitors, headphone amp, and the EMI shield over the Realtek ALC1150 CODEC.

I/O Area

I/O Area

SupremeFX Audio

SupremeFX Audio

The expansion slot area provides two PCI-E 2.0 x1, two PCI-E 3.0 x16, one PCI-E 2.0 x16, and a pair of old school PCI slots. A single GPU will run at x16 speed, and a pair of cards in SLI/Crossfire will run at x8/x8 speeds. Just above the expansion slot area is the last of three 4-pin system fan headers and the M.2 SSD port. The M.2 SSD port accepts type 2260/2280 devices in either SATA or PCI-E mode.

Expansion Slots

Expansion Slots

M.2 SSD Port

M.2 SSD Port

The CPU socket area is wide open and should be able to accept just about any air or water cooling the user might want. As always, pay attention to memory height if you plan on using one of those massive air coolers.

CPU Socket Area

CPU Socket Area

The onboard passive cooling scheme includes a pair of heatsinks covering the MOSFETs and another covering the Z97 PCH. All of the heatsinks were found to be making excellent contact with their intended target areas.

PCH Heatsink Removed

PCH Heatsink Removed

Top MOSFET Heatsink Removed

Top MOSFET Heatsink Removed

Left Side MOSFET Heatsink Removed

Left Side MOSFET Heatsink Removed

Heatsinks - Thermal Pads

Heatsinks – Thermal Pads

Heatsinks Laid Out

Heatsinks Laid Out

With the heatsinks removed, we can get a look at the 8-phase CPU power design. The power phases are controlled by the all digital DIGI+ VRM/EPU controller. Two more power phases are located just to the right of the DIMM slots, making for an overall 8+2 power phase design.

CPU Power Delivery

CPU Power Delivery

CPU Power Delivery

CPU Power Delivery

DIGI+ VRM/EPU Controller

DIGI+ VRM/EPU Controller

Memory Power Delivery

Memory Power Delivery

Even though there aren’t any 3rd party controllers for USB or SATA connectivity, ASMedia is used to provide a few other motherboard functions. The ASM1442K IC provides high speed TMDS level shifting for HDMI and DVI video. To bridge the PCI slots to the PCI-E interface, the ASM1083 IC is used. Finally, the ASM1480 ICs scattered about the expansion slot area provide PCI-E switching capabilities.

ASM1442K IC

ASM1442K

ASM1083

ASM1083

ASM1480

ASM1480

As mentioned earlier, the onboard LAN is provided by the popular Intel I218V controller, which is a favorite among the gaming crowd. The SupremeFX audio is built off the Realtek ALC1150 CODEC, which resides under the EMI shield.

Intel I218V LAN Controller

Intel I218V LAN Controller

EMI Shield Covering Realtek ALC1150 CODEC

EMI Shield Covering Realtek ALC1150 CODEC

The ASUS TPU chip is what provides the ability to perform automatic overclocking through the BIOS or through the AI Suite 3 software. For Super I/O functions, the nuvoTon NCT6791D is called upon. ASUS uses a Winbond 25Q64FVAIQ BIOS chip, which is removable and replaceable, should the need arise.

ASUS TPU Chip

ASUS TPU Chip

nuvoTon NCT6791D Super I/O

nuvoTon NCT6791D Super I/O

Winbond BIOS Chip

Winbond BIOS Chip

Being a budget-minded board, a few things like onboard power/reset buttons and a post code LED display are missing from the PCB. The Z97-Pro Gamer isn’t intended to be an extreme overclocking board that’s installed on a benching station, so the missing power/reset buttons are understandable. In lieu of the post code LED display, ASUS did provide the Q-LED feature, which is a series of LEDs that will indicate a boot issue with memory, CPU, boot device, or GPU. A couple other things to be aware of is that there is no Clear CMOS button at the rear I/O panel meaning you have to open your case to perform that function. Also, the BIOS Flashback feature is not available on this motherboard, so care needs to be taken when flashing the UEFI BIOS firmware. Luckily, the BIOS chip is replaceable if you ever run into a bad flash issue.

The ASUS UEFI BIOS

Upon entering the UEFI BIOS for the first time, you land at the EZ Mode page. EZ Mode provides quick access to basic setup options to quickly get you on your way. You can control boot order and fan speeds, set XMP profiles, and get basic real-time system monitoring information. You can also initiate the EZ Tuning wizard from here, which will guide you through automatic overclocking and RAID configuration.

EZ Mode Screen

EZ Mode Screen

EZ Tuning

EZ Tuning Wizard

EZ Tuning Wizard

EZ Tuning Wizard

Pressing the F7 key lands you in Advanced Mode, where you’ll find plenty of options for the more seasoned users. The My Favorites section allows creating shortcuts to any page within the UEFI BIOS making for quick access to your most visited areas. Always available at the top of the screen is quick access to My Favorites, Q-Fan Control, EZ Tuning, and Quick Notes.

My Favorites

My Favorites

Adding My Favorites Shortcuts

Adding My Favorites Shortcuts

Q-Fan Control

Q-Fan Control

The Main section is mostly comprised of system information; but the date, time, and security settings are located here.

Main Section

Main Section

Main Section

Main Section

Ai Tweaker provides a great deal of options for overclocking and power delivery. It doesn’t quite have the full set of options found on higher-end ASUS motherboards, but it’s still pretty detailed in its own right. There are plenty of voltage controls, memory timing options, and power phase controls to keep you entertained.

Ai Tweaker Section

Ai Tweaker Section

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The Advanced section contains nine sub-menus related to system configuration. From here, you can configure CPU, PCH, System Agent, and onboard devices, just to name a few. The thumbnail images below will show you all the available options here.

Advanced Section

Advanced Section

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The Monitor section provides real-time information on system vitals, such as voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds. Any fan hooked to a motherboard’s header can be controlled using one of the built-in profiles or by manually setting the values. Each fan can be tailored to a specific temperature source, such as CPU, VRM, etc. The good thing about these fan control options is that you can choose between PWM or DC mode, which means you can fully control 3-pin or 4-pin fans.

Monitor Section

Monitor Section

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Monitor Section

Monitor Section

Monitor Section

The Boot section has everything relates to system post behavior. For most users, the important thing here is the ability to set HDD and ROM drive boot priorities.

Boot Section

Boot Section

Boot Section

Boot Section

The Tool section has a few useful utilities for flashing the UEFI BIOS firmware, saving overclocking profiles, and checking the memory’s SPD table.

Tool Section

Tool Section

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The Exit section is pretty standard stuff found on most ASUS UEFI BIOS. One good feature is when you choose to “save changes & reset”, a pop-up window appears listing everything you changed during the current session. This gives you a chance to double check everything before activating the changes.

Exit Section

Exit Section

Bundled Software/AI Suite 3

The shining star of AI Suite 3 is the Dual Intelligent Processors 5 (DIP5) utility. It offers everything you need for total system optimization right from the desktop. The 5-Way Optimization tool will automatically overclock your system based on a set of user selectable parameters. For instance, you can have the overclocking process stop once a certain CPU temp, CPU voltage, or CPU speed is reached. The stress test that’s performed during each step is also customizable and can be run for different lengths of time, with or without AVX, and with or without memory testing. Needless to say, 5-Way Optimization is a pretty unique piece of software that’s a lot of fun to play around with.

AI Suite 3 Navigation Page

AI Suite 3 Navigation Page

DIP5 Main Screen

DIP5 Main Screen

5-Way Optimization Tool

5-Way Optimization Tool

5-Way Optimization Tool

5-Way Optimization Tool

5-Way Optimization Tool

5-Way Optimization Tool

Manual overclocking can be accomplished by accessing the TPU area of DIP5. There are just about as many options here as you have inside the UEFI BIOS.

TPU Overclocking Options

TPU Overclocking Options

TPU Overclocking Options

TPU Overclocking Options

TPU Overclocking Options

TPU Overclocking Options

Fan Xpert 3 is widely regarded as the best in-OS fan control software there is. Before delving into all the options available, it’s best to run your fans through the fan tuning process. Once you’ve done that, all your fan settings can be based off of the high/low thresholds Fan Xpert 3 “learned” during the tuning process. For more simplified fan control, you can choose between four preset profiles – Silent, Standard, Turbo, or Full Speed. Each fan can also be assigned to a particular location inside your case for easy identification.

Fan Xpert 3

Fan Xpert 3

The DIGI+ VRM area of DIP5 provides power delivery options similar to what’s found in the UEFI BIOS.

DIGI+ VRM Controls

DIGI+ VRM Controls

Turbo App is a recent addition to AI Suite 3 and allows any applications to be matched with overclock, network priority, and audio settings of your choice.

Turbo App

Turbo App

If you’re the type that prefers power efficiency as your main goal, then you’ll want to get inside the EPU section of AI Suite 3. There are five different power schemes you can choose from ranging from automatic to performance modes.

EPU - Auto Settings

EPU – Auto Settings

EPU - Performance Settings

EPU – Performance Settings

EPU - Power Saving Settings

EPU – Power Saving Settings

EPU - Away Mode Settings

EPU – Away Mode Settings

EPU - Global Settings

EPU – Global Settings

There are a few other useful utilities included with AI Suite 3, which are self explanatory by looking through the pictures below.

USB 3.0 Boost

USB 3.0 Boost

System Information - Motherboard

System Information – Motherboard

System Information - CPU

System Information – CPU

System Information - SPD Table

System Information – SPD Table

EZ Update

EZ Update

Push Notice Settings

Push Notice Settings

Push Notice Settings

Push Notice Settings

Push Notice Settings

Push Notice Settings

For bandwidth prioritization, a Game First II branded version of cFOS software is included in the software bundle. For the vast majority of people, the EZ Mode screen will provide all the options you need. For a more detailed set of options, the Advanced area of the utility has no shortage of available settings.

Game First II EZ Mode

Game First II – EZ Mode

Game First II Advanced Settings

Game First II – Advanced Settings

ASUS includes Sonic Radar II in the software bundle to enhance your gaming experience. It’s designed for first-person shooter games and provides an in-game overlay that can give audible clues as to what opponents and teammates are up to. The overlay can give you the direction that in-game sounds are coming from, such as gunshots, footsteps, and call-outs. There are three customizable panels for display, controls, and GameEQ.

Sonic Radar II - Display Options

Sonic Radar II – Display Options

Sonic Radar II - Controls Settings

Sonic Radar II – Controls Settings

Sonic Radar II - GameEQ Settings

Sonic Radar II – GameEQ Settings

Benchmarks and Overclocking

Test System

System Components
Motherboard ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer
CPU Intel i7 4790K Haswell
Memory G.SKill TridentX DD3-2400 MHz 2x8GB
SSD Samsung EVO 500 GB SSD
Power Supply Corsair HX1050 Professional Series
Video Card EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified
Cooling Swiftech Apogee HD CPU Waterblock – 360 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump

We’ll perform our usual set of benchmarks, which test compression, rendering, video conversion, and memory performance. For 2D benchmarks, we’ll use Intel XTU, SuperPi, and wPrime. Because we don’t see any notable differences when comparing motherboards, especially when the same CPU, chipset, memory, and GPU are used, we’ll simply provide screenshots of the stock and overclocked benchmark results. What this amounts to is a search for any abnormalities during the benchmark runs. We’ll take a few minutes and spot check these results against other Z97 motherboards just to make sure everything is on the up and up. Stock testing is performed with the CPU locked down at the Turbo Mode speed of 4.4 GHz because of the ASUS Multi-Core enhancement built into the UEFI BIOS. The memory was set to its XMP profile setting of 2400 MHz.

Using the UEFI BIOS to overclock, we were able to get the CPU stabilized at 4.7 GHz, while still leaving the memory set to 2400 MHz. All this took was adding some voltage to the CPU, setting the LLC to a mid-level option, and playing with a few power delivery options. The UEFI BIOS was easy to work with, responsive, and had everything we needed to plow through our overclocking journey. With our overclock in place, we’re ready for the benchmarks!

Compression, Rendering, and Video Conversion Benchmarks

Cinebench R10 – R11.5 – R15

CB R10 @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

CB R10 @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

CB R10 @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

CB R10 @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

CB R11.5 @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

CB R11.5 @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

CB R11.5 @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

CB R11.5 @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

CB R15 @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

CB R15 @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

CB R15 @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

CB R15 @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

x264 Pass 1 and 2

x264 @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

x264 @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

x264 @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

x264 @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

PoV Ray R3.73

PoV Ray @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

PoV Ray @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

PoV Ray @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

PoV Ray @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

7zip Compression Benchmark

7zip @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

7zip @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

7zip @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

7zip @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

2D Benchmarks

Wprime 32M and 1024M

wPrime @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

wPrime @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

wPrime @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

wPrime @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 1M and 32M

SuperPi 1M @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 1M @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 1M @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 1M @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 32M @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 32M @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 32M @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 32M @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

Intel XTU

Intel XTU @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

Intel XTU @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

Intel XTU @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

Intel XTU @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

 

Memory Benchmarks

Aida64 Cache & Memory

AIDA64 @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

AIDA64 @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

AIDA64 @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

AIDA64 @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

MaxxMEM

MaxxMEM @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

MaxxMEM @ 4.4 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

MaxxMEM @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

MaxxMEM @ 4.7 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

No problem at all on the performance front. In fact, as we went back and looked at other Z97 boards we’ve reviewed, this board performed slightly better than a lot of them on many of the benchmarks. Not by a whole lot mind you, but some.

Pushing the Limits

Interestingly enough, we usually have to drop the memory speed to 1600 MHz or so when performing the suicide runs of SuperPi 1M and wPrime 32M, but not this time around. We were able to keep the memory set to 2400 MHz and ramp the CPU speed to 4.9 GHz for the quick benchmarks. If nothing else, we learned the Z97-Pro Gamer can hold its own as an overclocking motherboard. Good stuff!

SuperPi 1M at 4.9 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 1M at 4.9 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

wPrime 32M at 4.9 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

wPrime 32M at 4.9 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

Conclusion

We started this review talking about budget-minded gaming systems. So, let’s get right to the price of the Z97-Pro gamer. It’s currently available at Newegg for $149, which lands it on the higher side of similarly outfitted motherboards. However, with the bundled software and a few ROG-like features, the small price difference is well justified in our opinion.

The Z97-Pro Gamer has everything you need as the basis for a very nice gaming rig. We like the fact a couple PCI slots are available for anyone having older equipment they want to carry over to a new system. Having the Intel LAN controller is a nice value add because a lot of motherboards in this class use a lesser solution. Couple that with the same SupremeFX audio found on high-end ROG motherboards, and you can see ASUS put as much as possible into this offering given the price point constraints. It’s a pretty easy call this time around… Overclockers approved!

Overclockers_clear_approvedDino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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