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ASUS Z97-AR Review

Detailed Specifications

Form FactorATX Form Factor
12.0 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
CPU InterfaceLGA-1150
ChipsetIntel Z97
Memory4 x DDR3 supporting up to 32 GB
1333-3300 (OC) MHz
GraphicsHDMI (4096×2160 at 24 Hz or 2560×1600 at 60 Hz)
DisplayPort (4096×2160 at 25 Hz or 3840×2160 at 60 Hz)
Multi-GPU SupportSupports NVIDIA Quad-GPU SLI Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX Technology
Expansion Slots2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16 or x8/x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x4
4 x PCIe 2.0 x1
Storage4 x SATA 6 Gbps Ports
1 x SATA Express
1 x M.2 PCIe and SATA
LANIntel I218V
AudioRealtek ALC892
USB Ports6 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
8 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, , 6 at mid-board)
Back I/O Ports1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0 (blue)
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
5 x Audio jacks
Internal I/O Ports1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x SATA Express connector: , 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
4 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 Thunderbolt header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x EZ XMP switch
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
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 Clear CMOS jumper(s)
AccessoriesUser’s manual
I/O Shield
2 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
Warranty Period3 Years

 

Asus-Z97-AR (5)

The back I/O panel has a display port as well as an HDMI, absent is the VGA port found on the A version.  There are two USB 2.0 Ports, four USB 3.0 Ports, a single Intel Gigabit Ethernet port, and audio connections.  There is also a PS/2 port for your trusty IBM Model M clicky keyboard!

Asus-Z97-AR (18)

The board’s layout is excellent. Overall, nothing seems to be out of place but it does seem to remind me a fight scene in Star Wars.

Asus-Z97-AR (13) Asus-Z97-AR (14)

The CPU socked area is clean and free from large (tall) obstructions.  There isn’t much distance between the socket and the cooling towers for MOSFET and such but with so much crammed on a motherboard, there isn’t much available space.  Around the socket, there is no less than 25mm of clearance, the shortest distance found just to the left.  The heatsinks rise to a total height of 27mm.

Asus-Z97-AR (8)

There are four available DIMM slots that can support up to 32GB of RAM at speeds of up to 3300MHz (overclocked). The DIMMS are color coded black and dark grey for differentiation (dual channel memory operation).  However, the grey is so dark that it can be confused.  In a poorly lit room with fluorescent lighting and the motherboard already installed in a case… indistinguishable.  The single sided locking mechanism for the DIMM slots has been a godsend.  The days when you have to remove your overstuffed video card to switch memory around are over…

Asus-Z97-AR (10)

Just below the CPU socket is the M.2 socket with plenty of room.  Although this board offers plenty of PCIe slots, SATA Express, and an M.2 slot, there is only so much PCIe love to go around.  The M.2 slot uses the same lanes as the two PCIe x 1 slots.

Asus-Z97-AR (9)

The chipset rests below some decently sized passive cooling and just behind the SATA Express and four SATA ports.  The Z97-AR supports all the normal RAID levels and SSD performance requirements like TRIM while SSDs are configured for RAID.

Asus-Z97-AR (6) Asus-Z97-AR (11)

Circling around, you find the two PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16 or x8/x8), the one PCIe 2.0 and the PCI slots.  Crystal Sound 2 can be found on the edges.  Crystal Sound 2 here on the Z97-AR uses the Realtek ALC892 HD Audio Codec with support for DTS Ultra PC II and DTS Connect.

 Asus-Z97-AR-(31)

Additionally, you will find things like a MEMOK! Button an EZ XMP Switch, an EPU Switch, a TPU Switch, and Power-on Button.

  • MEMOK! Button – When installing RAM, there are circumstances and situations that may cause a system boot failure.  Pressing this button begins automatic memory compatibility tuning for a successful boot.
  • TPU Switch – Allows the adjustment of CPU ratio and clock speeds
  • Power-on Button – this is by far my favorite feature of the new ASUS motherboards.  This allows you to boot the system without having to wire a switch or short the pins with a flat head screw-driver.
  • EZ XMP Switch – This allows you to overclock the installed DIMMS.
  • EPU Switch – allows the automatic detection of current settings and intelligently moderates power consumption.

The ASUS Z97-AR also supports TPM (Trusted Platform Module).  TPM can store keys, digital certificates, passwords and data. More Details

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Board Layout & Features
  3. UEFI BIOS
  4. UEFI BIOS Cont.
  5. Included Software
  6. Test System Setup
  7. Benchmarking: Ethernet Performance
  8. Benchmarking: SATA Performance
  9. Benchmarking: AIDA64 Benchmark
  10. Benchmarking: PCMark 8
  11. Benchmarking: Handbrake
  12. Benchmarking: Cinibench R15
  13. Benchmarking: HyperPi
  14. Overclocking & Final Thoughts

About Joe DiFiglia

I have always had a passion for everything computing. In early 2000, I decided to take my passion to the web. Thus, C.O.D. was born. Through the years we have made many great friends at C.O.D. and hope to continue our journey for years to come.