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ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 Motherboard Review

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LGA1150 Motherboard UEFI BIOS

ASUS has always had the best-designed UEFI BIOSes, in my opinion. They’re continually refining them, and the iteration included with BIOS 0801 on the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 motherboard is the best I’ve seen yet.

asus_z97_sabertooth_bios_main

The main page shows you all the information you’d need at a glance, segregated into logical panels. First, there’s the CPU information, along with its temperature and voltage (but bear in mind that both of these values will be with the CPU idling), along with the motherboard voltage. The panel below shows the memory and SATA device information, along with the XMP setting and whether Intel Rapid Storage Technology is on or off. Below that are the speeds for 8 fans, along with a temperature/speed graph for the primary CPU fan. (I’d expect this graph to show the settings for any of the fans, but it’s fixed on the CPU fan). At the upper right is an EZ System Tuninng panel, below which is the boot priority panel. You can click and drag devices to set the boot priority.

asus_z97_sabertooth_bios_advanced_main

Pressing F7 takes you to the Advanced Mode page, which has Main, Ai Tweaker, Advanced, Monitor, Boot, and Tool sub-pages. You could write a lengthy book on just this BIOS and all its settings, which I’m not going to do…but I will try to hit the high points. The Main page just shows you component information and lets you set the language, time, and date. You can also set a security password.

asus_z97_deluxe_bios_ai_tweaker

The AI Tweaker is where the fun stuff is. Here you can adjust CPU and memory settings and timings to get the best possible performance. ASUS has enhanced the explanatory text shown at the bottom of the screen for the currently selected setting, which is a big help, although some of the more obscure settings are still rather…obscure. Then again, how can you summarize the t_RDRDr setting under memory timing?

asus_z97_sabertooth_bios_advanced

The Advanced section is where all the non-performance adjustments live. This includes CPU features like Intel Virtualization Technology and Hyper-threading, and USB and SATA configuration, and so on.

asus_z97_sabertooth_bios_monitor

I admit I’ve always found the idea of a Monitor section in the BIOS a little odd, given that your system will always be running at idle when you’re on this screen. Still, there it is.

There’s more BIOS goodness in the next section.


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5 comments

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  1. f doggrell

    will the asus sabertooth z97 mark 1 ( or mark 2 ) be fully compatible with the new broadwell cpu ? when will intel finally start selling the broadwell ? great review . thanks .

    1. Caring1

      It will be backwards compatible with current gen Intel processors as well, but you will lose some of the functionality. You will not be able to use Broadwell processors on current gen motherboards.

      1. David Ramsey

        Just to clarify: we know you will be able to use Broadwell CPUs on motherboards with Z97 chipsets. Older chipsets, well, I haven’t heard anything official either way.

  2. David Ramsey

    Broadwell support is the main reason for the existence of the Z97 chipset, so yes, any new motherboard with a Z97 will support Broadwell, although it wouldn’t surprise me if you had to update the BIOS when Broadwell comes out. As to when Intel will start selling Broadwell CPUs: well, it was originally supposed to be late 2nd quarter, but has slipped since then. Hopefully some time this year.

  3. James

    Re the mystery pins, I think it actually says “LPC DEBUG” so I’m guessing it might be to hook up something similar to this: http://amzn.to/1oedVBz

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