Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 Details
Just in case you overlooked the mil-spec theme of this board, ASUS puts little black chevrons on their diamond-patterned alloy chokes. ASUS says these chokes run over 9 degrees Celcius cooler than their previous generation chokes. The two sliver slide switches seen at the top of this image open and close ventilation channels in the Thermal Armor cladding, although in my testing I didn’t see any temperature difference either way.
ASUS says their “TUF Black Metallic Caps” are good for 10,000 hours (thus the “10K” designation) and can operate from -70ºC to +125ºC. This is a range of temperatures your rig will likely never experience!
As expected with ASUS, there are a number of third party and ASUS-custom chips on the board. The TUF chip makes its first appearance, and ASUS says it’s dedicated to temperature monitoring and fan control, which makes me wonder what’s left for the Nuvoton NCT6792D to do. ASUS’ TPU is present and accounted for, although oddly the AI Suite software included with this board doesn’t allow CPU frequency and voltage tweaking from within Windows, which is a capability the TPU normally provides. The digital power system is under the control of the custom Digi+ chip; and the ASMedia 1184e is a PCI Express packet switch chip, possibly supporting the new SATA Express connectors. The ASMedia 1042AE is a USB 3.0 host controller, an enables ASUS to provide a total of 8 USB 3.0 ports (4 on the rear panel, and 4 via motherboard headers). Not shown is the ALC1150 sound chip and the Realtek 8111GR chip that powers the secondary Ethernet port.
Working around the edges of the board, we first see the 8-pin EPS-12V power connector, followed by a tiny connector for one of the dedicated assistant fans. Next is a 3-pin fan connector, and two four-pin fan connectors for the CPU fans. This latter feature is especially appreciated given the number of dual-fan CPU coolers these days, like the Thermalright Silver Arrow I’ll be using for testing.
Around the corner are the main ATX power connector, another four-pin fan connector, and the MEM_OK button. Pressing this button after a failed overclock automatically resets your memory timings to their default (non-XMP) settings.
At the bottom edge of the board are the Trusted Platform Module connector, and just above and to the right is a mysterious “PC Debug” connector, which is not mentioned in the manual. An S/PDIF out connector resides just above the front panel audio connector, and the three two-pin connectors that come next are for the extra thermal probes ASUS includes with the board. You can place these probes anywhere in your case and use the Thermal Radar feature to slave a fan to each one. Next we have a Thunderbolt header, followed by two more fan headers and a USB 3.0 header.
Next are two USB 2.0 headers, two extra SATA 6G ports, another fan header, and last the front panel connector.
The mounting bracket for the Thermalright Silver Arrow cooler just barely fits within the confines of the Thermal Armor around the CPU socket. Although it looks very tight, I had no problem fitting this enormous cooler to the board.
Let’s take a look at the latest iteration of ASUS’ UEFI BIOS in the next section.