ASUS Motherboard Final Thoughts
ASUS’ TUF line of motherboards started with the relatively obscure LGA1156 platform, but they’ve expanded it since then. Unlike the Deluxe series, the TUF boards don’t come with features like mSATA sockets or built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. Unlike the Republic of Gamers series boards, they don’t have voltage test points, extra EPS-12V power connectors, or POST code displays. The point behind the TUF series is reliability, and ASUS backs its claims up with a five-year warranty.
As a micro-ATX motherboard, the Z87 GRYPHON makes do with four PCI-E slots, and fewer SATA and USB ports than you might see on a full-sized ATX motherboard. However, for most users this won’t matter. After all, with six SATA 6G ports, six USB 3.0 ports, and eight USB 2.0 ports, how many more do you really need? Still, there’s no doubt you’re giving up some functionality and expandability as compared to some ATX motherboards. Enthusiasts love features, even if we don’t use them. I think on-board mSATA ports are cool, even though I don’t have any mSATA SSDs or even plans to buy one.
The newest version of ASUS’ AI Suite utility bundled adds some nice new features, especially the Thermal Radar 2 auto-fan profiling. This is an excellent example of the type of innovation ASUS brings to the market, along with the schedulable network program priority.
One might reasonably ask what you give up with the Z87 GRYPHON as oppose to its full ATX big brother, the Sabertooth Z87. That’s an excellent question, and one I’ll answer soon as the Sabertooth is the next board in line for a review!
Z87 GRYPHON Conclusion
ASUS has made a practice of building high-end features into smaller-than-ATX motherboards. Examples include the well known “Gene” series of micro ATX motherboards, and newcomers like the mini-ATX P8Z77-i Deluxe. It’s good to see ASUS bring their TUF technologies down to the mATX world. Along with the expected reliability and five-year warranty, there’s the optional GRYPHON Armor kit that adds a reinforcing back plate, dust/ventilation shield, dust covers for slots and connectors, and extra thermal probes that can be utilized by the Thermal Radar 2 feature. AI Suite continues to sprout new capabilities and features, and the enhanced UEFI BIOS is (note to other vendors: reviewers really, really like being able to do screen captures of BIOS screens.) just keeps getting better, with “Why didn’t I think of that?” features like a list of the settings you changed when you’re ready to save and reboot.
ASUS continues the khaki-schemed colors of previous TUF boards on the GRYPHON. It’s not hard to visualize of stack of these boards sitting in a military warehouse somewhere. It’s an attractive, if unusual, look. If you want more, the GRYPHON Armor kit offers modders the option of painting the upper dust/ventilation shield.
ASUS uses many mil-spec components on their TUF boards. Capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs pass tests for thermal shock, salt spray, vibration, and mechanical shock– you know, the type of stuff your rig goes through every day. Well, not really of course, but it’s nice to know that there’s something backing up that 5 year warranty. The construction quality of the board, as might be expected, is immaculate.
The GRYPHON forgoes enthusiast features like power and reset buttons, voltage check points, or a POST code display. You might think thus is due to the limited real estate on an mATX motherboard…but ASUS doesn’t include these features even on the ATX-sized TUF boards, since that’s not the demographic they’re trying to appeal to. The TUF series is all about reliability, and while long-term reliability is impossible to evaluate in a standard review, ASUS is confident enough to give their TUF series the their longest warranties.
For $170 (Amazon|Newegg), the board priced in the mid-range of ASUS’ mATX offerings, and comes in about $20-$25 under the Gene series boards (but remember you’ll need to pony up another $49 for the Gryphon Armor kit). Enthusiasts may want to pay a little extra for the Genes, but unless you’re overclocking with liquid or more exotic cooling systems, you’re not going to reap any benefits from your extra expense.
+ TUF features finally made it into the mATX form factor
+ Mil-spec components backed by 5 year warranty
+ Optional GRYPHON Armor kit
+ Excellent and innovative UEFI BIOS
+ AI Suite continues to impress
- Turbo V Evo not included
- “TUF Armor” features, standard on Sabertooth Z87, are a $49.00 option here.
- Performance: 9.25
- Appearance: 9.25
- Construction: 9.75
- Functionality: 9.00
- Value: 9.00
Final Score: 9.25 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: Which motherboard manufacturer do you prefer most?