ASUS Z97-DELUXE (NFC & WLC) Review
Merriam-Webster defines Deluxe as "of better quality and usually more expensive than the usual ones of its kind; notably luxurious or elegant". Ever since its release many generations ago the ASUS Deluxe name has become synonymous with those terms but conveniently left out the ďexpensiveĒ part. For example their last generation Intel Z87 Deluxe set a high water mark in both hardware and software, one which all other Z87 motherboards were judged against.
With the recent release of Intel Z97ís chipset it comes as no surprise to see ASUS has once again risen to the call and revisited the Deluxe brand one more time with the Z97-Deluxe. This is a board purely focused on outperforming MSI's and Gigabyte's high end mainstream models while offering a better overall value quotient.
To bring their storied mark up to Z97 expectations ASUS has taken everything that made their previous Deluxe models so iconoclastic and upped the ante in nearly every way imaginable. These improvements take many forms but overall the Z97 Deluxe (NFC & WLC)'s specifications make it one of the most feature-right and distinctive motherboards ASUS have ever produced. However, unlike some manufactures who seem obsessed with change for change's sake, it doesn't break from previous design philosophies but rather looks towards simple refinements and some noteworthy updates.
While we wonít give up all the details about whatís new this time around, letís just say that nearly every aspect of the Z87 Deluxe has been revised in some way to create its successor. These go far beyond the minor chipset-specific additions like SATA Express, NVMe support, forwards compatibility with Broadwell processors and the M.2 form factor standardization. From better accessibility, to a continued evolution of their overclocking software to expanded connectivity options, the changes may be minor but they are literally everywhere.
The Z97 Deluxe (NFC & WLC) is meant to offer something for everyone but due to the laundry list of features it aims to offer, pricing will likely be a concern to frugally-minded buyers. At $399 this isnít an inexpensive motherboard (it happens to be one of the most expensive currently available) and itís a far cry from the perfectly capable $149 Z97-A we reviewed. However, this particular Z97 Deluxe also includes three unique features that explain its rather high cost: a ThunderBolt add-in card and a convenient NFC Express 2 / Wireless Charger base station.
If you are looking for a ďpurerĒ and less expensive Deluxe fix, look no further than the standard Z97-Deluxe which is identical but lacks the three items mentioned above. It goes for about $100 less. Truth be told, ASUS has thrown every advanced motherboard feature under the sun at the Z97 Deluxe (NFC & WLC) in an effort to put on a technological tour de force. On paper it certainly looks impressive but letís get under the hood and see if all these features are really worth their weight in ASUS-branded gold plating.
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