ASUS Mainstream Motherboard Final Thoughts
As Intel moves more and more capabilities onto its CPUs and chipsets, vendors must differentiate their products with other features. ASUS has several broad lines of motherboards: the TUF series trade on their mil-spec components and 5-year warranties, while the Republic of Gamers boards are aimed at overclockers and hardware hackers. Building a workstation? ASUS’ WS Series boards have you covered.
The mainstream boards are for everyone else, and they come in varieties ranging from rather basic to the Deluxe versions such as this Z87-Deluxe Dual. With features ranging from the subtle but very useful in some cases (the PLX chip that allows for three- or four-way video card setups) to the more obvious (10 SATA 6G ports and onboard WiFi and BlueTooth), there’s something here for everyone.
Honestly, this board pretty much nails the ATX form-factor sweet spot for me: it’s got the enthusiast-level features like a 4-digit POST code display, onboard power and reset buttons, and a PLX chip. It has what I consider the perfect ATX slot layout. There are more than enough fan connectors, and they’re all four-pin PWM versions, and Fan Xpert 2 will ensure that you can use them all effectively. For the future, there’s two Thunderbolt ports.
I only missed two things on this board:
- An eSata port on the I/O panel (there were probably no lanes free what with the 10 SATA ports otherwise on the board, and you can work around this by a prudent case choice anyway)
- A tri-SLI bridge. This omission seems odd since these are normally included with capable motherboards and I don’t really know where you’d find one otherwise.
Z87-Deluxe Dual Conclusion
I have to admit it: in the past, when I’ve spent my own money for motherboards, I’ve gravitated to the ROG series. But I’ve never really needed them; I just thought they looked cool with the red and black color scheme and I liked the “Yeah, I’ve got a seriously bad mobo” thing.
But this board has more features and utility for most folks. If you don’t have a tank of LN2 in your garage, you might as well go with this board, even if you’re a serious overclocker and gamer. With the limitations of the Haswell CPUs, you’re not going to get better overclocking without going to exotic cooling, and most people will find the WiFi GO! features more useful than the temperature probe connectors on a Maximus VI Extreme.
Performance of the board was excellent, and I’m not just talking about the (CPU limited) performance. The Auto Tuning feature in the 4-Way Optimization portion of AI Suite provided a tailored overclock very close to what I was able to achieve with an hour of hand-tweaking. This makes maximum performance easily accessible to anyone. This is a big deal: buy a “K” series CPU, and some high-performance memory and a good CPU cooler. Install everything and press a button. A few minutes later, you’ve very, very close to the theoretical maximum performance of your components.
Unless you have a windowed case, you probably don’t care what your motherboard looks like. But if you do, the black and gold Z87-Deluxe Dual will make a good impression.
As with all ASUS motherboards, the construction quality was excellent. Electrostatic discharge protection, 5K caps, and other features should make this board very reliable in the field.
Functionality is just dripping off this board. The only criticism I have here is of the NFC Express box, which seems to have been pushed onto the market before it was really ready. I just don’t see what use most people will be able to make of it…other than a USB 3.0 hub.
Available online for $337.99 (Amazon | Newegg), this is a pretty expensive motherboard. This is a lot of money but it pays for features like NFC Express, dual Thunderbolt ports, and the PLX chip. If you don’t need these features, ASUS has less expensive options such as the Z87-Deluxe and Z87 Expert.
+ Best auto-overclocking I’ve ever seen.
+ PLX chip. Yes, some times you just need a lot of GPUs
+ “4-Way Optimization” really works!
+ Excellent fan control
+ POST code display, onboard Power and Reset
+ Flash your munged BIOS without a CPU or RAM
+ Someday, I expect to really appreciate the Thunderbolt ports
- NFC Express not ready for prime time; only works under Win 8; disables WiFi GO!
- No tri-SLI bridge
Final Score: 9.3 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: Who makes the best motherboards, in your opinion?