ASUS Z97-A LGA1150 Motherboard Review

Author: MAC
Date: May 7, 2014
Product Name: Z97-A
Part Number: Z97-A
Warranty: 3 Years
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A little over a month ago, Intel was unusually candid about their upcoming processor roadmap. While the enthusiast-oriented Haswell-E, futuristic Broadwell, and special edition Pentium chip definitely caught our attention, it is the new "Devil's Canyon" Haswell refresh that we will be seeing first. Although this Devil's Canyon revision is by no means revolutionary, it should help lower operating temperatures and improve overclocking, courtesy of an enhanced thermal interface material (TIM) between the die and the integrated heatspreader (IHS) as well as a noteworthy reshuffling of the CPU die layout itself.

By themselves these updates shouldn't necessitate a new chipset, but regrettably Devil's Canyon support will apparently not make its way down to current 8-series LGA1150 motherboards. As a result, it has been deemed by the powers-that-be as a great opportunity to unveil the 9-series chipsets and their new forward-looking features. We can have a discussion about this approach at a later date, but for now let's see what ASUS have come up with this new generation of motherboards.

The Z97-A actually resides near the bottom of ASUS' extensive Z97 motherboard lineup but it also competes within some of the most popular alternatives around. This is due to its price of $150 filling the gap in one of the market's most desired price points; one which feeds the needs of budget-minded gamers while also offering something to price conscious overclockers.

Now despite being at the lower-end of the spectrum, ASUS have really shot for the moon with this $150 model. It's usual for motherboard manufacturers to exclude key features from lesser priced models, but that doesn't seem to be the case with this new Z97-A. Its got a solid DIGI+ 8-phase CPU power design, a high-speed M.2 slot and SATA Express port, a bunch of SATA and USB connectivity, CrossFire and SLI capabilities, a high-quality Intel GbE NIC, DisplayPort/DVI/HDMI/VGA video outputs, and all the new BIOS and software advancements found on the higher-priced models. Frankly, the only place were the specs are less than ideal is in the use of the older Realtek ALC892 8-channel HD audio CODEC, which is a generation behind the very latest ALC1150 part used on all the other pricey motherboards.

So on the surface this model looks extremely promising giving its reasonable price tag, but will it hold up during up our testing? Keep reading to find out.


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