Small form factor (SFF) builds have been popping up more and more frequently over the past few hardware generations, and ASUS has definitely taken note of that. ASUS has a couple ITX boards in their Z87 lineup that could fit the bill for your next SFF build. We’ll be taking a look at the Z87I-Deluxe to find out how well it fits in the SFF scene and if it can compete with larger form factor boards.
Specifications & Features
(Courtesy of ASUS)
|ASUS Z87I-Deluxe Specifications|
|CPU||Intel® 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.
|Memory||2 x DIMM, Max. 16GB, 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).
|Graphics||Integrated Graphics Processor
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DVI-I/DisplayPort 1.2 ports *1
– Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
– Supports DVI-I with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
– Supports 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
|Expansion Slot||1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16|
Intel® Z87 chipset:
6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports, yellow
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Dynamic Storage Accelerator, Intel® Smart Response Technology,
Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology*2
|LAN||Intel® I217V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller|
|Wireless Data Network||Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac*3
Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz
|Audio||Realtek® ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
– Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-recording, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
– DTS Ultra PC II
– DTS Connect
– Optical S/PDIF out port at back panel
|USB Ports||Intel® Z87 chipset:
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z87 chipset:
6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 at back panel, black, 2 at mid-board)
ASMedia® ASM1042 controller:
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 at back panel, blue)
|Internal I/O Ports||1 x USB 3.0 connector supports additional 2 USB 3.0 ports (19-pin)
1 x USB 2.0 connector supports additional 2 USB 2.0 ports
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector (4 -pin)
3 x Chassis Fan connectors (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 MemOK! button
|Back I/O Ports||1 x DVI-I
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port
6 x USB 3.0 (blue)
4 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
3 x Audio jacks
1 x Clear CMOS button
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button
1 x ASUS Wi-Fi GO! module (Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS)
|UEFI/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||Mini ITX Form Factor
6.7 inch x 6.7 inch ( 17 cm x 17 cm )
|Special Features||ASUS 5X Protection:
– ASUS DIGI+ VRM – 12 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 Digital Power Design:
– Industry leading Digital 12 Phase CPU Power Design
– Industry leading Digital 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
– ASUS DIGI+ VRM Utility
ASUS Wi-Fi GO!
– Wi-Fi GO! Function: Media Streaming Hub, Smart Motion Control, Remote Desktop, Remote Keyboard & Mouse, File Transfer, Capture & Send
– Wi-Fi Engine for network sharing and connection: Client Mode, AP Mode
ASUS Exclusive Features:
– USB BIOS Flashback
– AI Suite 3
– Ai Charger+
– USB Charger+
– 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-sink solution & MOS Heatsink
– ASUS Fan Xpert 2
ASUS EZ DIY:
– Precision Tweaker 2
– ASUS O.C. Profile
– ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
– ASUS EZ Flash 2
– Multi-language BIOS
100% All High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors
– ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
|Notes||*1: DP 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport compliant, supports DP 1.2 monitor daisy chain up to 3 displays
*2: Supports on Intel® Core™ processor family
*3: The Wi-Fi standard of 802.11ac will be restricted by countries’ regulations. Wi-Fi 802.11ac feature will be supported under the complete 11ac eco-system environment.
Here are a few of the notable features of the Z87I-Deluxe…
ASUS’ Smart Design consists of some of my favorites small details about this board, like the power connector locations, spaced SATA ports, Q-Slot tab for removing expansion cards, and the extra room for larger CPU coolers provided by the VRM being on a vertical daughterboard.
The UEFI BIOS has a few useful new features that will be talked about later in the article.
The whole Wi-Fi GO! feature compilation takes advantage of your WI-Fi network to interconnect the PC with all of your smart devices to make a home network for file sharing and media streaming.
Packaging & Accessories
The Z87I-Deluxe packaging is rather small and compact, just like the ITX board that’s inside. ASUS’ packaging also conforms to the new black and gold/yellow theme of their mainstream Z87 motherboards. The front of the box has the product name with some notable features listed, such as the robust VRM, integrated Wi-Fi, six SATAIII ports, etc. The back of the box goes much more in-depth about the specifications and features of the board.
The accessories are pretty standard, except for a couple of things. The typical items include the user guide, driver CD, six SATA cables, and back panel I/O plate. The other two items are a Wi-Fi antenna and the Q-Cable for easily connecting the front panel switches and LEDs.
First up is a few teaser shots…
Here are some shots providing a 360° view of the Z87I-Deluxe so we can get a better overall view of the motherboard. ASUS has changed up the color scheme on their non-ROG motherboards this generation from their typical blue theme to a “gold” theme. However, the plastic parts of the board like the PCI-E slot, DIMMs, and SATA ports look more yellow to me, while the metal pieces like the SB heatsink and parts of the daughterboard do indeed look golden. I didn’t have my hopes up in the aesthetics department after reading about the color scheme change, but overall, it’s not a bad looking board at all.
A Closer Look
The most prominent and unique feature of the Z87I-Deluxe has to be its power section daughterboard. ASUS has designed a way to get some added space into the ITX form factor to allow for a much more robust power section than is usually available on such small boards. Truly, one of the more innovative features for a motherboard in my recent memory. The daughterboard on the Z87I-Deluxe consists of a 12+2 DIGI+ VRM section, that’s 12 phases for the CPU and 2 phases for the RAM. The only ASUS board with more power phases would be the Z87-Deluxe at 16+2. However, the ASUS’ ROG boards have higher quality VRM components than their mainstream line, which justifies their smaller 8+2 DIGI+ VRM.
Here are a few close ups of the 12+2 phase VRM section. There are a couple Digi+ chips, one for the CPU section and one for the RAM section. I was also able to get a close up of the MOSFETs in the CPU section and they are International Rectifier IR3553 chips.
To the upper left of the LGA1150 socket, we have four PWM fan headers, the MemOK! button, and a 9-pin header labeled LPC_DEBUG. The yellow fan header is designated as the CPU fan header, with the other three being chassis fan headers. All four fans headers are controllable through ASUS’ Fan Xpert 2 software, which we’ll get into later. The MemOK! button is used when RAM problems are preventing the system from booting. It tries to automatically find fail-safe RAM settings so that the system will boot. This feature can be useful in the rare situation that a RAM incompatibility is suspected; fortunately, RAM incompatibility issues are few and far between nowadays. The LPC_DEBUG header is where one would connect a device that decodes POST codes left on Port 80h when the PC is having trouble booting.
Down to the lower left, we’ll start just above the Wi-Fi GO! module where the S/PDIF audio out header is located. Just below the S/PDIF is the front panel AAFP audio header. To the right, we have four things bunched together, the removable BIOS chip, USB3.0 header using the Z87 chipset, CMOS battery, and USB2.0 header. We can also see the chipset heatsink to the far right, which cools the C2 revision of the PCH. The C2 revision fixes the initial bug in the USB 3.0 controller that caused some USB devices to disappear during sleep states. A pretty efficient use of space going on in the lower left corner.
There isn’t a whole lot in the top right corner of the board. We have the two DIMM slots which support up to 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) of DDR3 memory. Haswell officially supports DDR3-1600, but ASUS advertises speeds up to DDR3-3000 when overclocking. Being able to actually reach that kind of speed depends on multiple things, such as cooling, the Integrated Memory Controller (IMC) on the CPU, and power delivery to the DIMM slots. Beside the DIMM slots are the 8-pin CPU power and 24-pin motherboard power connectors. I really like the fact that both of these connectors are located on the right edge of the board which makes for easier and neater cable management.
On to the lower right corner of the board. We have the six SATAIII ports using Intel’s Z87 chipset, and a small detail I can appreciate about these ports is that they are spaced apart so that when using stacked cables the bottom one can still be unlocked and removed without removing the top one first. We also have the front panel headers (yellow) located just below the SATAIII ports on the edge of the board, and the speaker header is just to the left of the front panel header. Just below those headers are the Q-LEDs, which serve as a less detailed POST code LED (I love onboard POST code LEDs). The Q-LEDs consist of five LEDs (boot, VGA, DRAM, CPU, SB power) that will light up as the booting process progresses, and if the booting hangs, then the illuminated LED will give you an idea of what’s causing the problem. This is a great feature for the Z87I-Deluxe, especially considering that the it doesn’t have a POST code LED display. The last thing I want to point out in this section of the Z87I-Deluxe is the locking mechanism on the PCIe 3.0 slot. There have been many times that I’ve had to fight with a screwdriver or butter knife between a GPU, RAM, and heatsink to try to press the unlocking mechanism to remove the GPU on boards with limited space. However, this newly designed unlocking lever makes it much easier to unlock the GPU from the PCIe slot without having to rely on luck and fighting your way to press the tab. The edge of the board is more accessible and therefore the perfect spot to put the new PCIe locking/unlocking tab.
On to the rear I/O. Starting on the left, we have a stack of four USB2.0 ports. I usually connect my mouse, keyboard, and other essential USB devices to USB2.0 ports to avoid dealing with missing drivers from 3rd party USB3.0 controllers before I have a chance to install them. Next in line is the Dual Link DVI-I port for using the Integrated Graphics Processor (IGP) of Intel’s Haswell lineup, and below the DVI-I is a CMOS reset switch and the BIOS Flashback button. Moving on, the optical audio S/PDIF out, HDMI, and DisplayPort are on the next I/O stack. Like the DVI-I, the HDMI and DisplayPort are used for the IGP. After those, we have six USB3.0 ports (four Z87 native, two ASMedia ASM1042) and an Intel Gb RJ-45 port using the I217V ethernet controller. The two ASMedia ports are the two lowest ports on the 4-port USB3.0 stack, all the other USB3.0 ports are using the Z87 chipset. The lowest USB3.0 port under the RJ-45 port is extra special, in that it can be combined with the BIOS Flashback button to easily flash the BIOS without having anything connected except for the 24-pin motherboard power cable. All that has to be done is plug in a USB flash drive containing the BIOS file into the correct USB3.0 port, then hold the BIOS Flashback button for 3 seconds. The next component is something not seen on many motherboards, integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Wi-Fi GO! module supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac IEEE standards for WLAN, and also supports Bluetooth 3.0/4.0. Last, we have the audio I/O which includes the light blue rear speaker out, lime green front speaker out, and the pink mic in/sub out (depending on configuration). The on-board audio makes use of one of the better codecs, the Realtek ALC1150. The only thing that may seem lacking would be the absence of an eSATA port, but USB3.0 is quickly becoming the standard and is able to reach speeds between SATAII and SATAIII. So, the absence of eSATA really isn’t surprising to me.
Below is a visual confirmation of the Realtek ALC1150, Intel I217V, and ASMedia ASM1042 chips already mentioned.
When first entering the UEFI BIOS, it takes us directly into the EZ Mode version. EZ Mode is geared toward the general consumer and allows for common basic changes such as time/date, XMP profile for the RAM, fan speeds, boot priority, and system performance profiles. However, we’re not too interested in EZ Mode here at Overclockers, so it’s time to hit F7…
Once hitting F7 or clicking on one of the Advanced Mode buttons at the bottom or top of the EZ Mode screen, we’re taken to the main screen of Advanced Mode. There’s not much to this screen other than some basic hardware info and time/date settings. So, on to the section we’re looking forward to the most, Ai Tweaker.
As usual with ASUS, the Ai Tweaker section of the UEFI BIOS has all the overclocking goodies. Current targets are shown at the top of the screen. As you go down the list of settings in the Ai Tweaker page, we’ll find everything we need to change CPU frequency, CPU strap, Cache frequency, RAM speed/timings, and all the multitude of voltages.
In the Advanced tab, the section I use the most would be the CPU Configuration section, and I might mess with the SATA Configuration or Onboard Devices Configuration sections. A small gripe about this page would be the vague “APM” labeling for the Advanced Power Management section. The other sections are spelled out completely, so why leave that one label so vague to those who may not know the acronym?
Below is a slideshow of the details of all the sections in the Advanced tab. However, the CPU Configuration section is where most of my time in the Advanced tab will be spent. In that section is where some of the most useful settings are located, such as Hyper-Threading, Active Processor Cores, Intel Enhanced Speedstep Technology (IEST), Turbo mode, and C States.
The monitor tab is pretty standard; showing CPU temperature, fan speeds, PSU voltages, and VCCin (CPU Input Voltage). This is also were you can disable CPU fan speed monitoring to get rid of any warning messages during the boot process in case your CPU fan isn’t connected to the motherboard. Last, you can set up each of the four fans’ control style, lower RPM limit, and profiles.
In the Boot Tab, I usually like to change the Boot Logo Display option, POST Time Delay, and the Setup Mode. Changing the Setup Mode will allow us to skip EZ Mode be taken directly into Advanced Mode when entering the UEFI BIOS, something every overclocker will most likely want to do.
We’re given EZ Flash 2, OC Profile, and SPD Information in the Tool Tab.
EZ Flash 2 is the BIOS flashing utility for ASUS boards and it will probably be used at least a couple times by most enthusiasts. The OC Profile section is definitely something I use quite a bit, and allows me to save up to eight known good settings for specific clocks so that I can go back to them later. In this section we can also save profiles to a USB flash drive, so theoretically we can have a countless number of profiles saved. It’s worth noting that the saved profiles only work with the BIOS version in which they were saved on. So if you plan on doing a BIOS update, then be sure to manually write down any settings you want to save. Last is the SPD information section which is nice when you want to set your RAM to its rated values, but don’t have an easy way to see those rating without entering the OS.
After seeing all these screenshots, I’m sure you have noticed the two buttons on the right side labeled Quick Note and Last Modified. These are a couple of unique features that can really help out during the overclocking process.
The My Favorites tab allows you to customize your own UEFI BIOS tab with whatever settings you like. So, if you were to take the time to add all the settings you use to this tab, then it’s the only UEFI BIOS screen you’ll ever have to work in. The first picture below show the splash screen when no settings have been added to the page, and the second picture shows what the page is like after adding a few settings.
AI Suite 3 Software
TurboV EVO is where the software CPU overclocking takes place. CPU Frequency is the first sub-tab, and we have the option to change CPU ratios on a per core basis or all cores as a group. There are also the CPU Cache Ratio and BCLK Frequency settings; be sure to take the FSB:DRAM ratio into account when changing the BCLK or you could inadvertently OC your RAM too high and cause instability. In the middle of the screen, we have CPU Vcore and Cache voltage settings. At the bottom, there are four small windows showing current CPU/DRAM speed, Vccin and PSU voltages, CPU temperature, and fan speeds. This bottom section will be displayed at all times and on all pages of the AI Suite 3 software to give you a quick glance at important information.
I did notice some oddities with TurboV EVO. At seemingly random times it would show inaccurate values for bclk, Vcore, and cache voltage. In the picture below, TurboV shows 80 MHz bclk on the adjustment slider, but 99.9 MHz in the lower left monitoring. When setting the Vcore and cache voltage manually in the UEFI BIOS, TurboV would sometimes show 0.000 Vcore and 1.920 cache voltage. A system restart is needed to correct the displayed values in TurboV.
The next sub-tab is the CPU Strap page which lets you set the default BCLK to 100, 125, 167, or 250 MHz by changing the ratio between CPU speed and BCLK speed (1.00, 1.25, 1.67, or 2.50). The last sub-tab would be Auto Tuning, which is where you can allow the board to OC the CPU for you. You just have to choose either CPU Ratio Only or BCLK First so that the board knows how to go about the overclocking process.
Digi+ Power Control allows control over the CPU and RAM power sections, and probably won’t be utilized by most users. The settings that are most likely to be edited are the CPU Load-Line Calibration and the CPU/DRAM Power Phase Control sections. I’ll be testing each LLC level later in the article to try to determine the settings that holds voltage the best.
The Fan Xpert 2 section allows complete control over the four fan headers on the board. There are also four fan profiles that can be set up to your liking for easily changing fan behavior depending on the task at hand.
The EPU power saving section is one that I won’t be using much since I typically disable all power saving features. However, with the ITX form factor, the board could be used for a variety of purposes, some of which could benefit from having an easy way to change power saving levels. There are four power saving profiles in AI Suite 3: Auto, High Performance, Max Power Saving, and Away Mode. Each of the profiles have a few settings to edit that allow more or less power saving. Once those are set up to your liking, they can be quickly cycled by using the desktop overlay that appears in the lower right of the screen when the mouse cursor hovers over the arrow.
We can find more AI Suit 3 pages by clicking on the grid-like icon in the upper right of the window to get the following tiled selection screen.
BIOS Updating can be done with the EZ Update utility. You can have it check for updates over the internet or you can update directly from a file you have already downloaded. The USB BIOS Flashback portion of the software allows you to download and save the latest BIOS file to a USB drive so that you can use the BIOS Flashback hardware feature to update your BIOS without even powering on the system.
Wi-Fi GO! consists of seven applications that let you better utilize a Wi-Fi connection and multiple smart devices to create a simple home network. The Remote Desktop and Remote Keyboard & Mouse features allow using a smartphone or tablet to access and interact with your PC. The Smart Sensor Control enables motion gestures to control some applications and features of your PC. File Transfer and Capture & Send let’s you easily share files between the PC and smartphone or tablet. Cloud GO! allows accessibility and synchronization of multiple different cloud storage services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and ASUS WebStorgae, with both PCs and smart devices. Finally, DLNA Media Hub provides streaming video, music, and photos between DLNA devices. So, you could use a smartphone to stream content from a PC to a TV, provided all the devices are using the DLNA protocol.
Network iControl is a hub allowing you to edit the internet usage and priority on a per application basis. So, more bandwidth can be given to applications like online games and streaming services while bandwidth can be limited on low priority applications.
The rest of the features are small, but could be useful in certain situation. The leftovers consist of Ai Charger+, USB Charger+, USB 3.0 Boost, and System Information. USB Charger+ (USB BIOS FLashback port) and Ai Charger+ (ASMedia USB3.0 ports) allow for faster charging of USB devices. The main differences is that Ai Charger+ allows data transfers to be made while the device is charging, but only works with Apple devices and BC 1.1 compliant devices. USB Charger+ works on all devices, but doesn’t allow the data transfer simultaneously.
|CPU||Intel i7 4770K|
|CPU Cooler||Prolimatech Genesis w/ 2x 109R1212H101|
|RAM||2×2 GB G.Skill ECO DDR3-1600 7-8-7-24|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GTX 780 SuperClocked ACX|
|Hard Drive||50 GB OCZ Vertex 2|
|Power Supply||SeaSonic X750|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Pro x64 SP1|
- Intel XTU
- Cinebench R11.5
- SuperPi 1M/32M
- wPrime 32M/1024M
Load Line Calibration
Thanks to the Fully Integrated Voltage Regulators (FIVR) on Haswell chips, Load Line Calibration (LLC) is different than previous platforms. LLC used to affect the CPU’s Vcore since the Vcore came straight from the motherboard’s VRM section. Now, the Vcore is handled by the FIVR, so just the Vccin comes from the motherboard’s VRM. So, the Vccin is affected by LLC levels.
The first thing I did was manually set the Vccin to 1.800 V in the UEFI BIOS, then tested each LLC level. First thing to notice is that none of the eight LLC levels actually hold the Vccin at 1.800 V while in the operating system. The closest would be ±0.008 V with levels 1-4 setting 1.792 V and levels 5-6 setting 1.808 V, and levels 7-8 are higher at 1.824 V. When loading the CPU, all eight levels hold their idle value perfectly, which is very good LLC. There is usually a change in Vccin when loading the CPU, but there is no change at all with ASUS’ LLC. However, there is one more thing other than the Vdrop that put’s a blemish on ASUS’ LLC, the Vccin spikes anywhere from -0.032 to 0.052 V when switching from load to idle. For example, when running LinX the load builds up and stops for each “pass” until the number of passes is complete, so at the end of each pass, when the load drops to idle, there is a voltage change that lasts for about a second or so.
Level 3 seems to be the best LLC level since it holds its voltage from idle to load and back to idle, but the initial Vccin is lower than what’s set in the BIOS, so that will have to be compensated for when choosing a Vccin value.
I was able to get 4.6 GHz on the CPU and 4.4 GHz on the cache when using my other board, the ASRock Z87 Extreme6. So, I was shooting for at least that, and the Z87I-Deluxe delivered. I was able to get these clocks with 1.25 Vcore and 1.275 V for the cache. I couldn’t boot with higher CPU multipliers when trying up to 1.3 Vcore. Even if I would have been able to boot and start a stress test, the temperatures would have likely been too high anyways. So, this is what I settled on as the stable overclock.
Next, I dropped the CPU and cache multipliers to test the bclk straps, and the 1.25 and 1.67 bclk straps worked flawlessly. There wasn’t even any additional tweaking needed when setting either of those straps. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test the 2.50 bclk strap since I was limited by my RAM. Although, I haven’t seen the 2.50 strap working on any other board, so it probably doesn’t even matter if I tested that strap.
The overall highest bclk I could achieve was 171.77 MHz while using the 1.67 strap, so it looks like there’s a 5.13 MHz leeway in the bclk before a higher strap is needed. Disabling and enabling settings in the BIOS that, according to ASUS’ descriptions, are supposed to help stability in high bclk situations, did not help push the bclk further than 171.77 MHz.
Benchmarks for motherboards don’t really tell you much and results will be about the same across all boards if using the same CPU/RAM clocks. So, I usually base my motherboard purchases off of overclocking and features. Anyway, the results below are using the “optimized defaults” BIOS setting and an overclocked CPU to 4.6 GHz. The default CPU clocks while using the Z87I-Deluxe are 3.7-3.9 GHz with Turbo, so that’s +2 on the multiplier in multi-threaded apps over Intel’s 3.5-3.9 GHz specifications The RAM was manually set to its rated speed and timings (DDR3-1600 7-8-7-24 2T).
The following benchmarks don’t show any anomalies as they are in line with my ASRock Z87 Extreme6 results since 4.6 GHz was used in both reviews. There really isn’t much to say about motherboard benchmarks, but here they are for everyone to see…
There’s quite a bit I’d like to say and reiterate about the Z87I-Deluxe, so let’s get started…
The Z87I-Deluxe, along with the rest of ASUS’ mainstream lineup, has undergone an aesthetics change that most people will either love or hate. Personally, I welcome more color options and the pale yellow/gold and black was one not seen too often. These, combined with colors from other manufacturers like green, orange, blue, red, black/grey, etc. provide a wide array of options to users and modders to get their build looking just the way they want.
Something I really pay attention to when checking out motherboards is the attention to detail and small things that add up to bring a board up a level. The Z87I-Deluxe has quite a few of these details…
- The SATA ports are spaced to allow easy removal of locking SATA cables.
- The Q-Slot tab make it much easier to unlock an expansion card for removal than the typical PCIe slot tabs.
- Both CPU and motherboard power connectors are located on the right side of the board for easy access and neat cable management.
- The removable BIOS chip is a nice touch in the extreme case of a irrecoverable corrupted BIOS, which makes getting a replacement a much easier process.
- The Q-LEDs are a good addition to help determine the cause of boot problems, especially with the lack of a POST code display.
- The vertical VRM section provides more room on the board for larger CPU coolers.
Overclocking the Z87I-Deluxe was simple and effortless, allowing me to reach 4.6 GHz on the CPU with air cooling. Outside of the 1.25 and 1.67 bclk straps, I had an additional 5-6 MHz of wiggle room in the bclk if needed, which could come in handy when using a high CPU multiplier to reach a couple hundred extra MHz. However, I was limited by either the CPU or my cooling since I couldn’t get further than 4.6 GHz at 1.25 V with temps getting around 90 °C at times. The most useful new feature in the UEFI BIOS to me was the Last Modified log, which kept up with changes in case I had forgotten what I had edited. The only issues I noticed with the overclocking side was with the TurboV EVO software randomly displaying inaccurate values such as 80 MHz bclk, 0.000 Vcore, 1.920 cache voltage, etc. and a system restart was needed to get the correct values to be displayed.
The Z87I-Deluxe is going for $190 at NewEgg which is the 3rd most expense ITX board behind ASUS’ Z87 Impact ($230) and EVGA’s Z87 Stinger ($220). Which seems to be priced right compared to the other Z87 ITX boards available. The Z87I-Deluxe is “different” than the Impact so there isn’t exactly a clear winner between ASUS’ two high-end ITX boards, it will just depend on the user’s needs.
Overall, the Z87I-Deluxe has been a great board with good overclocking ability, attention to detail, and plenty of useful and exclusive features. It would be a fine choice for a variety of systems ranging from a deceivingly small high-end gaming system to a very capable HTPC/home server.
– Matt T. Green (MattNo5ss)