ASUS SABERTOOTH Z87 Intel Motherboard Review


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The I/O panel has four USB 2.0 ports, a BIOS Flashback button, two blue USB 3.0 ports atop two red e-SATA ports, an optical audio port, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, a gigabit Ethernet connector, two more blue USB 3.0 ports, and an analog audio panel. That big empty area by the BIOS Flashback button is where the optional ventilation fan goes.


The covers on the two sides of the CPU socket that house the heat sinks for the power supply chokes and upper MOSFETs have vents that may be opened or closed via a silver slide switch on top. The upper image shows the vents open, while the lower image shows them closed. If you use a downdraft CPU cooler, leaving the vents open provides extra airflow to these components; otherwise, you can leave them closed and use the accessory fans. This shot also gives you a good look at the “10K TUF Ti-Capacitors”, which ASUS claims are more resistant to extremes of temperature.


That plastic shrouding can interfere with large heat sinks. The image below shows the upper mounting plate for the Thermalright Silver Arrow cooler I was using; I had to kind of work it in just under the edge of the shroud.


Third party chips include an ASMEDIA ASM1061 SATA 6G controller (for the two extra SATA 6G ports), an ALC1150 audio chip (which seems to be the successor to the venerable ALC898), the Digi+ power control ASIC, ASUS’ Turbo Power Unit, and a Nuvoton sensor/controller chip, which probably handles the Thermal Radar 2 functions.


Along the bottom of the board are the front panel audio connector, the Thunderbolt header, a 4-pin chassis fan header, the Clear RTC jumper, the mysterious LPC_DEBUG header, and a Trusted Platform Module connector.


Next are two USB 2.0 internal headers, three two-pin connectors for the included thermal probes, another chassis fan connector, the DirectKey button, and the front panel header. The DirectKey button drops you into the BIOS, which is handy if you have “Fast Boot” enabled, since the keyboard doesn’t work in Fast Boot. If you find reaching inside your case to press this button clumsy, ASUS included a two pin “DRCT” connector above and to the left of the button, which you can use to wire up an external button. The socketed BIOS chip is just below the “The” in “thermal Armor”.


Let’s check out the UEFI BIOS in the next section.


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1 comment

  1. CrazyElf

    Supposedly, this board is marketed towards the “long term” upgrade market, that is, people who upgrade every 4-5 years, so the emphasis is put on durability.

    I mean, what I like about this board is the backplate. That said, the Maximus VI Formula might have all of the features on this board and is expected to be in the ~$300 USD range, plus it comes with more OC power, and better components, so it’s probably a better buy.

    Actually on that note, is there anyone that knows when the Maximus VI Formula is to arrive here in North America?

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