ASUS Z87-Plus Review

BluePanda - 2013-05-26 19:44:15 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: July 7, 2013
Price: $159.99

ASUS Z87-Plus Introduction:

Ccokeman might appaer to be having all the fun with the new Intel Core i7 4770K launch, but he's not the only one. I bought my chip the day of realease and am working on catching up to the old man. He's put up a lot to compete with, but today we'll take a look at another affordable board, this time from ASUS. ASUS has quite the varity of options when it comes to any component, ranging from the extreme ROG series all the way down to simple and affordable. Today we'll be looking at the ASUS Z87-Plus (you may recall it from ccokman's 4770K review), which isn't quite the bottom pick but definitely one of the more affordable overclocking Z87 boards on the market at $159.99. Packaged around the new Z87 PCH and LGA socket 1150 series processors, the Z87-Plus features support for multiple graphics solutions, the Realtek ALC892 HD Audio CODECs, and one of ASUS's new features "Remote GO!," which allows you to control home entertainment by linking together content from your PC to DLNA devices - accessing and sharing your media remotely. 

In the end it isn't all about how the board looks (as the yellow and black theme from ASUS isn't my favorite); it comes down to how well the board performs. Does it catch on fire while overclocking? Or does it allow you to clock like a beast? I guess the most important factor is the lack of fire (hopefully), but ultimately this review comes down to the numbers. Let's take the ASUS Z87-Plus board for a test drive and see if it's worth taking home today. 

 

ASUS Z87-Plus Closer Look:

Although the box isn't the most important part in any new component, it is for sure what might be the selling point while you're browsing your local hardware store (and no not the one for screws and bolts). Though, with that said, it's sometimes the more simple boxes that attract me, as they aren't trying to sell it by flashy gimmicks. The ASUS Z87-Plus comes in a relatively simple black box with some yellow/gold graphics to snazz it up just a little. The front boasts about support for "NVIDIA SLI" and "AMD Crossfire" as well as its capabilites for system upgrades, energy savings, power controls, cool and quiet settings, and the one-stop entertainment feature (the Remote GO! package). The back of the box goes into more details, showing off graphically how you can control your PC with your tablet devices and stream your content from the other end of the house. The board supports USB BIOS flashback options with a simple plug and press feature on the board. You can actually plug in a USB stick and restore your BIOS if something has gone amiss. The box really just points out all the key features we'll step on along our way through this review. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening the box, there isn't too much to ogle over. You can peek through the standard anti-static bag in at the motherboard beneath. The goods, like most packages, are hidden beneath the grander good on top (aka the main product). Pulling away the mobo in its dry weather protecting bag reveals the little, almost, "bonus" goods we all like to dig through to see what "extra" we got with what we ordered. In this case, ASUS provides you with your essential manual (less essential thanks to the next items), your labeled Q-connectors to keep your front panel fails to a minimum, driver CD for when you're left without the Interwebs, three SATA cables for your setup, an SLI bridge for multiplying graphics, and of course a little ASUS sticker for the beer fridge. Overall it's a good start to a well packaged deal. Let's move on to the board itself.  

 

ASUS Z87-Plus Closer Look:

So, like I said, the black (more brown) and yellow motherboard is out of the box. It's not my favorite color scheme and honestly I avoid the colors even if the board comes with better features, but it is what it is. Taking just a generic top down look on the board you recognize immediately your familiar dual channel memory setup, three PCIe slots, BIOS battery, 8-pin header, and some general cooling sinks on the board in a mix of the gold and black. It's generally pretty simple and has a nice clean appearance with the VRMs now housed on the chip itself (one less melting point on the actual board). I have to say the color scheme reminds me of a dirty old mid-80s Pontiac Trans Am more than a modern piece of technology.

The back of the board is always fun to look at up close - the traces are ever impressive on every PCB, no matter how small. In this case it's no different; pretty solder joints and neatly snipped nipples - it's ever growing flow of brain power (or in this case compute power). The backing plate is about what we've seen on all boards, and all the new Z87 boards - simple and sturdy. Overall the board looks pretty good from first glance, and the price for it makes all the features even more welcome. Let's start around the board to see what is all included.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'll start with my favorite shot of the board, and oddly it's not really of the board itself; rather it's the I/O panel. I've always liked this perspective (don't ask why) and it can say a lot about about a board rather quickly. Left to right we have the old PS/2 port for either a keyboard or mouse, four blue USB 3.0 ports, mini DisplayPort, HDMI, S/PDIF audio, DVI-D, and VGA ports, your typical network port (LAN RJ45), two more blue USB 3.0 ports, and a full set of six audio ports. There's quite a lot to offer for the inputs and outputs of this board; much fun to look forward to.

 

Getting into the board itself we find quite a bit for internal I/O. There are two PCIe 3.0/2.0 16x slots (16x or dual 8x), a single PCIe 2.0 16x (2x mode), two PCIe 2.0 1x and two PCI slots to handle whatever you can throw at it; it's ready to go. The BIOS battery sits nicely beneath one of the PCI slots so if you ever have to get to it you may have to pop a card -- but with the easy BIOS flashback button, it's not too likely you'll need access to it. The board is also labeled with lots of ASUS features: "USB BIOS Flashback", "Remote GO!", "USB 3.0 BOOST", and so forth; so in case you forgot you have a feature, you can be reminded. Looking a little closer to the edge of the board beneath the PCIe slots are your friends the I/O panel headers, USB headers, etc. You know the main ones for hooking up your case buttons and fan headers - but you can check out the specs/features page to find the full list (no need for me to read you a data sheet). To the left are some more of your headers, the EPU switch, and some capacitors near by. A lovely power icon button to boot the board without using a typical jump of the pins - not useful to me, perhaps I'm just too hardcore for this board?

 

 

Moving towards the general favorite part of the board we near the LGA 1150 socket. With 1150 little pins the Z87-Plus, it of course ships with a socket pin protector to avoid any damage in shipment. The surrounding socket area is fairly clean with the exception of a few capacitors and chokes to help filter the power heading to the onboard VRMs of your Haswell CPU of choice. The two banks of onboard VRMs are covered in very gold heat sinks that thankfully stay relatively flush to the board. Unles you have a monster heatsink and tall memory DIMMs, I doubt you'll run into many problems getting your system up and running on this gold and black chunk 'o tech.

A nice shot of the 8-pin power connector rounds up the area well. It's neatly placed - just don't forget to route this little cable; somehow it's always the one (if I forget one) to forget. 

 

 

Now to the DIMM slots for all your sticks of RAM. You've got four slots you can fill up to 32GB of DDR3 with. Be sure to check the specs page to ensure your RAM is supported (some people still miss this step in a new build). The slots support the standard dual channel architecture and of course your best friend in the BIOS, Intel XMP profiles, are supported although not loaded by default on boot.  As seen in prior Z87-based motherboards Haswell CPUs tend to have a lot of headroom for memory overclocking and ASUS has certainly accounted for that with the design on this board as well.

 

 

Finishing up the rounds of the board may be last but definitely not least - the SATA ports. The yellow ones are all 6GB/s ports off the Intel Z87 chipset. The remaining two brown/black ports are your 6GB/s ports controlled by the ASM1061 controller - which does not support Intel Smart Response, Intel Raid technologies, or Dynamic Storage Accelerator; but are nonetheless two extra ports. The yellow ports support all of the above giving you quite the freedom with RAID and system acceleration options. 

ASUS Z87-PlusCloser Look:

Although I'm young, I'm still no fan of the whole UEFI BIOS set up or using Windows software to change my motherboard settings. Call me a classy lady (yes those of you on the forums know this reference), but I can't stand all the cheater methods. I like breaking things the hard way - you learn more. Anyway enough of me. Opening up the software from ASUS you start with the 4-Way Optimization tab. It allows you to automatically let it decide the best configuration for you based on your actual usage, reducing power usage and fan noise while in low load. You can look at your settings, temperature readings of the CPU and board, fan speeds of those plugged in on board - everything you'd expect to read in Windows about your motherboard in a program like HW Monitor. It's a little neat, definitely flashy, but has a lot to offer even on this first page here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next tab, TPU (Turbo Processing Unit) actually allows you to control your CPU Frequency within the software - no need to go to your BIOS. You can play with all your settings just like in the BIOS but honestly I found this more confusing than just using the BIOS, but I guess for someone who doesn't know what the settings are, it could be okay - not. Overclocking in Windows seems like the easiest way to kill your Windows install with an accidental change of settings. Anyway, you really do have full control as if you were in the BIOS itself with the CPU settings. 

 

 

On the EPU (Engery Processing Unit) tab you can control you power performance. You can have four tabs to pick from for your basic auto controls, high performance, power saving, and the away mode. Auto sets things like it says; automatically based on your use. High perfomance doesn't give you a ton of options, just a sleep timer and montior off timer. Power saving controls lots automatically if you chose to help keep you a "greenie" if you so desire. Away mode picks up for you when you leave your computer on but aren't at home. It turns off USB port power and reduces everything down to a near off state. 

 

 

 

DIGI+Power Control allows you to again play with more typical BIOS settings. You can set your load-line calibration, current capability, thermal controls, and frequency settings here. Each option pops up some additional info to help you get setup on the right path. It's essentially the BIOS within Windows with pretty pictures. The sub DRAM tab allows you to change your memory current and control what power frequency it is running as well. Just remember to not haphazardly crank everything to 11. 

 

 

The last tab is the Fan Xpert 2 tab. It allows you to control all the fans plugged in to onboard headers. It allows you to use graphs to plot out where the fans shall ramp up or down as well as use pre-set options such as Quiet, Standard, Turbo, and Full Speed. It's a neat little tool and it allows you to save profiles for different uses. 

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If you open up the Remote GO! option from the Windows toolbar you get these nifty options as well. Basically Remote GO! acts as a little server type deal for your entire house - perfect for a media box. You can access cloud data, remote desktop, transfer files, and even conect with DLNA devices all from here. The Cloud data allows you to log in to any cloud storage accounts you may have with media and manage all the files on multiple devices. Remote desktop is like you expect, you can remote connect to your desktop with your enabled smart devices. DLNA devices can control your media from around the house. So if you have a sound system connected, you can skip songs, change movies, or what have you from your phone!

 

 

 

There is also a mini toolbar included with the software that allows you to quickly adjust between the different settings of Auto, High Performance, Power Saving, and Away at just the click of your mouse. So be sure to set things up before using it so you know exactly what you are setting when you select the pretty airplane/people icons. 

ASUS Z87-Plus Closer Look:

What board is complete without a functional BIOS? Thankfully ASUS has kept up with its tradition of easy to use but powerful BIOS implementations with the Z87-Plus. Once you get into the BIOS (via the method of your choice) you are greeted with an "EZ Mode" screen that displays a quick rundown of all major settings and modes. Three large buttons switch between Power Saving, Normal, and ASUS Optimal modes to quickly prioritize energy savings, balanced power and energy, and maximum performance. Some simple settings are available for fan settings, memory timings, and boot settings as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfully ASUS didn't stop with the "EZ Mode" UEFI BIOS screen - clicking the "Advanced Mode" button or pressing F7 takes you to something more akin to the BIOS of old. Frankly, I'm glad. Perhaps I'm stuck back in my old ways but I'll take a monochrome text-only BIOS with only basic keyboard support over this new fancy graphical UEFI setup with mouse support and bitmaps everywhere. The first page here allows you to view items that you use often with the new "My Favorites" screen. There's also some functionality for basic note-taking and viewing what settings you changed on last modification. The second tab, "Main", reveals some very basic information about the current settings, BIOS revision, date, etc. Nothing really out of the oridinary but it is nice to see the notes and modified settings dialogs come along with each tab.

 

 

The "Ai Tweaker" tab is obviously the most important tab for all of us. After all, who wants a board that doesn't have any ability to overclock and torture our brand new CPUs? This tab holds everything you could possibly desire to tweak your CPU and memory speeds to your heart's content. One thing to note here in particular: ASUS Multicore Enhancement. This setting raises the Turbo multipliers to all be the same as the single-core load multiplier. Almost all Haswell CPUs should be able to handle this without any issue but it does add extra heat and power consumption to an already hot-running chip (especially with the stock cooler). There are quite helpful little notes on the right side of the screen for all options.

 

 

The "Advanced" tab has some advanced settings for your CPU, PCH, SATA, USB, and other system components. For you tweakers out there that just HAVE to change a setting on every page just to say you did, there are a lot of pages here for you to obsess over. ASUS left no stone unturned in terms of setting flexibility here. The "Monitoring" tab displays all current measurements taken by the board. Temperatures, fan speeds, and voltages are all laid out for easy sanity checking before attempting to boot your OS.

 

 

The "Boot" tab holds, not surprisingly, the various settings related to boot order and POST-time settings. There's nothing crazy here that you wouldn't expect from any high-end board from any manufacturer. The last tab, "Tool", reveals the built-in ASUS EZ Flash 2 utility that allows you to flash the BIOS with a simple USB thumb drive, the ASUS O.C. Profile utility that allows you to save various BIOS profiles, and the ASUS SPD Information tool that allows you to read the SPD information directly from your memory sticks.

 

 

Overall I have no real complaints about the BIOS on the Z87-Plus in terms of usability or functionality. Settings are where you would expect them, explanations are fairly clear, and there's even, in my own words, a "n00b mode" page that keeps the scarier parts of the BIOS away from inexperienced hands. And, of course, I did enjoy the very blue theme prevalent everywhere in the shiny new UEFI BIOS.

ASUS Z87-Plus Specifications:

Specifications:

 

CPU:
Intel® Socket 1150 for 4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/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/DVI-D/RGB/Mini DisplayPort ports *1
- 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
- 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 *2
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots:
2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x2 mode)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
2 x PCI
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*3
ASMedia® ASM1061 controller : *4
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), dark brown
LAN:
Intel® I217V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Intel® LAN- Dual interconnect between the Integrated LAN controller and Physical Layer (PHY)
Audio:
Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
USB Ports:
Intel® Z87 chipset :
4 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
4 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue)
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 - 8 Phase digital power design
- ASUS Enhanced DRAM Overcurrent Protection - Short circuit damage prevention
- ASUS ESD Guards - Enhanced ESD protection
- ASUS All 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 8 Phase CPU Power Design
- Industry leading Digital 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
- ASUS DIGI+ VRM Utility
- CPU Power Utility
- DRAM Power Utility
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- Remote GO!
- USB BIOS Flashback
- MemOK!
- AI Suite 3
- Ai Charger+
- USB Charger+
- Anti-Surge
- Onboard Button : Power
- 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
- 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-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)
Back I/O Ports:
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
6 x USB 3.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(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)
4 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 8 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x TPM header
8 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)
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 Clear CMOS jumper(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback button(s)
Accessories:
User's manual
I/O Shield
3 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
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
Support Disc:
Drivers
ASUS Utilities
EZ Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor:
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.2 inch ( 30.5 cm x 23.37 cm )
Notes:
*1: DP 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport compliant, supports DP 1.2 monitor daisy chain up to 3 displays
*2: With 2 PCIex16 graphics card.
*3: Supports on Intel® Core™ processor family
*4: These SATA ports are for data hard drivers only. ATAPI devices are not supported.

 

 

ASUS Z87-Plus Features:

 

 

All information courtesy of ASUS @ http://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/Z87PLUS/#specifications

 

 

 

ASUS Z87-Plus Testing:

Testing ASUS's Z87-Plus motherboard will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and  AMD Catalyst 13.6 drivers for the XFX HD 7970. In the past we had locked the clock speed on the processor to eliminate any easily controlled variables due to processor speed. However there is a difference in how each manufacturer handles the CPU default and boost speeds creating opportunity for one board to deliver a higher level of performance. This variable is a point of difference between boards. The majority of users will run the stock settings making this point a valid concern so we are changing up the test methods to capture this difference.

Testing Setup: Socket 1150

 

Comparison Motherboard:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

 

Overclocking with the ASUS Z87-Plus board wasn't too difficult at all. Having a new chip with no known "max" OC was rather quick to find its limits with the board. As always, I try for my high hopes and attempted a 4.8GHz boot. That didn't happen; 4.7GHz however, at least posted and made it to Windows before shortly failing through a run of IBT. Wiggling some settings and setting the voltage up to 1.3V finally got me to a very sound and stable maximum overclock of 4.6GHz. Any bit more and I would quickly find it throttling under the stress of higher temperatures. Sure it is lower than the the other max OCs on the chart, but you must remember that this is a different sample than the others it is compared to; thus, the maximum OC it may ever get on any board, stable, may be this same 4.6GHz. This won't be known until the next board comes along, so don't feel the ASUS Z87-Plus isn't good enough just yet. 

So for your benefit (after you've looked at the BIOS page), overclocking wasn't too complicated; it consisted of adjusting the core clock ratio up to a final 46 and increasing the stock CPU voltage to 1.3V. The memory was quite content with no need for extra voltage on the XMP profile for 2133MHz. All in all a very easy and somewhat fast jump from stock to the maximum stable overclock with very few settings needing adjustment.

 

 

Maximum Core Clock Speed:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed over-clocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the overclocked scores in the testing.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  1. PCMark 7
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2013
  3. Cinebench 11.5
  4. X.264 5.1
  5. AIDA 64 3.00
  6. Crystal Diskmark
  7. ATTO
  8. iPerf
  9. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  1. 3DMark
  2. Metro: Last Light
  3. DiRT 3

ASUS Z87-Plus Testing:

PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

  

  

 

  

 

SiSoft Sandra 2013 is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

Overall Score

  

 

The ASUS Z87-Plus trails the pack a bit in these tests at stock speed but not by any significant margin. The slightly lower clock speed when overclocked shows up here pretty easily but keep in mind my chip might be the limiting factor here and not the board.

ASUS Z87-Plus Testing:

Cinebench 11.5 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program, CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

X.264 Benchmark: This benchmark is used to measure the time it takes to encode a 1080p video file into the x264 format. The default benchmark is used with an average of all four tests on each pass taken as the result.

  

  

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition 3.0 is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Cache and Memory benchmark tool to measure memory performance.

 

  

  

  

  

 

Again the Z87-Plus trails the pack slightly but not by any real significant margin. The losses in the overclocked tests are again a result of the slightly lower clock speed combined with the lower memory clock I had to run versus the other results.

ASUS Z87-Plus Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds of drives by using 4K blocks, 512K blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 1000MB option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ATTO 2.47: will be used to measure USB 3.0 performance using an SSD attached to an external USB 3.0 drive dock.

  

  

  

  

 

The results for CDM and ATTO are a bit mixed but reveal no problems for any of the boards tested. The ASUS Z87-Plus holds its own in all tests, coming in with the middle of the field.

ASUS Z87-Plus Testing:

LAN performance will be tested via a utility to gauge the performance of the onboard network solutions. The motherboard being tested will be connected via a Gigabit switch to another system with an integrated Gigabit network solution on board.

iPerf: is a small lightweight utility run from the command prompt and can be used to measure both TCP and UDP performance on a network. iPerf is cross platform software and open source. The test is configured to run for 20 seconds with a window size of 256 KB and four simultaneous streams that should be able to saturate the TCP link on a good NIC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rightmark Audio Analyzer 6.25 is used to test the sound solution on board each motherboard. Nothing beats a good set of ears and headphones but this is a graphic representation of the capabilities of the installed hardware. Sampling mode is 24-bit 44kHz.

 
Intel  DZ87KLT-75
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming
ASUS ROG M6H
ASUS Z87-PLUS
Frequency Response dB
+3.65,-2.33
+0.52,+ 0.30
+0.23,+0.12
-0.01, -0.07
Noise Level dBA
-91.3
-91.3
-91.5
-85.3
Dynamic Range dBA
91.3
91.2
91.5
85.4
Total Harmonic distortion %
0.481
0.131
0.436
0.0059
Intermodulation distortion +noise
1.393
0.259
0.365
0.019
Stereo Crosstalk,db
-69.7
-91.6
-89.2
-84.9
Intermodulation distortion + noise (Swept Freq) %
0.465
.323
.311
.017
Frequency Response (Swept Sine), db
+1.3,-2.4
+0.1,-0.1
+0.0,-0.1
+0.0, -0.0

 

 

The network tests reveal no weaknesses on the part of the Z87-Plus. The audio tests, on the other hand, reveal something unexpected. While the signal to noise ratio (which directly governs the dynamic range and crosstalk measurements) for the Z87-Plus was a bit lower than the other boards, every other parameter tested was superior. THD %, IMD %, and frequency response are all far superior to even the higher end boards tested!

ASUS Z87-Plus Testing:

3DMark: The just released version of Futuremark's popular 3DMark suite is designed to let a wider range of the user base the ability to make a comparative analysis of the gaming prowess of their systems from entry level PCs to notebooks and Extreme Gaming PCs.

 

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DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.

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Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro: Last Light is the followup to the extremely popular game Metro 2033. Developed by 4A games and published by Deepsilver, this game uses the 4A game engine. In this game set a year after the missile strike on the Dark Ones you continue on as Artyom as he digs deeper into the bowels of the Metro.

 

 

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Not surprisingly, the small gap in performance shown in the other tests barely registers in the real world gaming tests. While 3DMark does show some score segregation, you'd never see any of the performance differences when playing a game. I'm not sure whether to be happy or overjoyed that Intel has produced a CPU powerful enough that it doesn't even break a sweat at stock speeds, let alone overclocked.

ASUS Z87-Plus Conclusion:

Honestly with this review I was most excited to just have a home for my newly purchased 4770K to sit. I was skeptical at first with the Z87-Plus being one of ASUS' lower end boards and didn't get my hopes up early. However, I was ultimately impressed by both the quality and performance from the board. It didn’t match up in testing to the higher priced boards BUT it competed quite well in the stock testing. Unfortunately it is a bit difficult to compare the OC results as this is the first board this particular chip has been tested in. The compared resulting data is thanks to ccokeman's 4770K, which was able to clock higher in those boards. At this point it can't be said if this board doesn't clock as well, as I'm unsure if another board will allow it to go faster (hopefully this will be known soon).

Despite this unfortunate unknown for the time being (look for my future reviews to see if it does indeed clock higher or not), I was quite impressed with the board. The available I/O ports, external and internal, covered more than most. Full audio support for six channels was not just impressive in quantity but also in quality. The audio results were phenomenal, murdering the scores of all the higher end boards it was compared to. It's good to know that the audio isn't just something on this board, rather something well planned for.

The layout for the board in general was just well thought out. The SATA port layout makes it easy to access your SATA connections without having to pull your GPU or other locking SATA cables to get to another. The included single plug from your messy case I/O cables makes it easy to see what exactly you are plugging in. Though this is becoming more common for mobo I/O headers, I appreciate seeing it at this price level as well. There's nothing more frustrating than getting a build together to realize you have your power switch backwards; now it's up to case manufactures to be sure things are properly wired on their end.

Ultimately I was rather satisfied with this board. Perhaps it does OC as well as the others, but we'll have to wait and see how my chip does in another board. Until then, and actually regardless of the possible lower OC, this board is perfect for any new build. Besides the hideous Trans Am color scheme this board will bring to your case, it's quite the nice board at just the right price. 

 

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