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ASUS Z87I-Deluxe Mini-ITX Intel Motherboard Review

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ASUS Z87I-Deluxe Details

Nothing distinguishes an enthusiast motherboard like a robust power supply and voltage regulator section…but there’s just not physical room on a min-ITX board for the capacitors and chokes required. ASUS’ innovative vertical riser section provides 12 phase DIGI+ power for the CPU and iGPU, and 2 phase power for the RAM. There isn’t a typical heat sink as you’d expect on the power supply of an ATX board, but the back of this riser is a thick slab of aluminum that serves the same purpose.

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While ASUS provides a full complement of SATA ports, they do skimp on the USB 2.0 ports: only a single USB 2.0 header is present, just below the coin battery. The USB 3.0 header and socketed BIOS chip are just above the battery, while the audio header is to its left. The WiFi and Bluetooth radios, which were on a tiny plug-in card in the P8Z77I-Deluxe, are integrated directly into the I/O port connectors on this new design.

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Starting at the left, the I/O panel provides four USB 2.0 ports, and a dual-link DVI port is above the clear CMOS and BIOS Flashback buttons. Next are an optical audio port above HDMI and DisplayPort outputs (the Z87I-Deluxe can drive three displays simultaneously). Next come six USB 3.0 ports (one of which is used for the BIOS Flashback feature) and a gigabit Ethernet port. Last are the WiFi and Bluetooth antenna connectors, and an abbreviated analog audio panel.

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The Z87I-Deluxe motherboard provides four four-pin PWM fan headers, controllable by the Fan Xpert 2 utility. The CPU fan header is colored bright yellow to stand out. The MemOK! button resets memory timings to standard in case of memory overclocking failure.

Take a good look at this image and note all the near-microscopic components filling virtually ever square millimeter of space on this motherboard.

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Below are the current Z87I-Deluxe on the left and last year’s P8Z77I-Deluxe on the right. Functionally there are a few differences: compared to last year’s board, we lose some USB 2.0 ports, eSATA, and the TPU custom chip, but gain SATA ports and fan headers. Arguably USB 3.0 is more useful than eSATA, but I still miss the eSATA ports.

Fan Headers USB 2 headers SATA ports TPU? eSATA ports Rear Panel USB 3.0
P8Z77I 2 2 4 Yes 2 4
Z87I 4 1 6 No 0 6

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While there is no POST code display, these tiny LEDs illuminate in sequence to chart the progress of the POST. Everything’s OK if you make it to the green.

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The limited space on a Z87I-Deluxe motherboard means that it doesn’t have as many custom and third party chips as a larger board. ASUS’ signature EPU and TPU processors are missing, for example. We do have an Asmedia ASM1442K HDMI controller, a Nuvoton chip used for voltage and temperature monitoring and control, a Realtek ALC1150 10-channel sound chip (remember what I said earlier about how good onboard sound has gotten?) and an Asmedia ASM1042A USB 3.0 host controller. Not shown is the chip labeled “BIOS”, which isn’t the actual BIOS, but rather a custom processor that enables the USB BIOS Flashback feature. With this chip, you can flash the board’s BIOS from a USB key even with no CPU or RAM installed. Which is seriously cool.

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Let’s take a look at the BIOS in the next section


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