All three of the Intel Z97 motherboards that we looked at have done exactly what I expected them to do. Not a single one of them was a disappointment when it came to the performance numbers that they threw out. None of the boards had major issues or design flaws and all were solid boards that were pretty damn similar when it came to the stock performance benchmarks and even the top overclocks. That said, let’s talk a bit about each board.
The ASUS Z97-Pro [Wi-Fi ac] easily handled anything we threw at it today. Granted much of the performance comes from the Intel Core i7 4770K processor and memory rather than the motherboard. Though the performance of the USB and SATA is certainly dependent on the motherboard and Chipset. While that performance may be mostly dependent on the Intel Z97 chipset, there are certainly tweaks that companies like ASUS can employ to improve the performance. From within the ASUS AI Suite the performance of the SuperSpeed USB can be increased by using the USB 3.0 Boost option.
Not that I expect the ASUS Z97-Pro [Wi-Fi ac] to have any issues down the road, but the ASUS Z97-Pro [Wi-Fi ac] is backed by a 36 month limited warranty. This will help give a little peace of mind when investing your hard earned money on the ASUS Z97-Pro [Wi-Fi ac]. At the end of the day, and it’s all said and done, the ASUS Z97-Pro [Wi-Fi ac] is a great board for $209.99. If you’re looking to get into an LGA1150 motherboard I would definitely put the Z97-Pro [Wi-Fi ac] on your radar.
Legit Bottom Line: The ASUS Z97-Pro (Wi-Fi ac) is a great motherboard if you’re looking to get into the LGA1150 Haswell/Broadwell platform. It is packed with enough features to keep most enthusiast happy, but with a price tag of only $219.99 it certainly isn’t priced out of reach.
At only $124.99 I wasn’t sure how the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Z97WE would hold up against the more expensive motherboards today. I can happily say that it was holding it’s own in our suite of benchmarks today. In the past, some of the lower end motherboards have been a little on the tricky side to overclock with. I was quite happy to see that the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Z97WE was able to take the Intel Core i7 4770K right to the limit of the chip at 4.8GHz with absolutely no issues!
The BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Z97WE is backed by a three year warranty, just in case you should ever run into any issues with the motherboard.
Legit Bottom Line: The BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Z97WE was able to hold it’s own against the MSI and GIGABYTE boards, it may not have all the features under the sun but it has what counts, performance!
The MSI Z97 Gaming 7 has a lot going for it. The performance is certainly right where it should be, it has a ton of features, and as an added bonus it’s a great looking motherboard. Based on looks alone it is by far my favorite board of the day. Though I don’t base my decisions on looks alone.
When it comes to performance, the MSI Z97 Gaming 7 is right where it should be. The performance of the Z97 Gaming 7 doesn’t stand out either good or bad, in fact none of the boards really separate them selves from the pack. I suppose there’s only so much that the board can do. One of the aspects I have always liked about MSI boards, and the Z97 Gaming 7 is no different, the ease of overclocking. The MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Intel Z97 motherboard was able to take the Intel Core i7-4770K to the 4.8GHz chip maximum with ease!
If you’re worried about longevity, the MSI Z97 Gaming 7 is backed by a three year warranty and is currently available for only $182.99.
Legit Bottom Line: The MSI Z97 Gaming 7 proved itself as a great board today. It has all of the performance and most of the features that one could want. The only thing holding the MSI Z97 Gaming 7 back is the lack of SATA Express.
The GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H Intel Z97 motherboard is currently retailing for as little as $180.00, which makes this our second most expensive board (at the time I’m writing this) on the hot bed today. Much like the other boards, the performance is right where it should be for a board of this level. There really isn’t anything that sets it apart from the other boards, at least not in terms of performance. The GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H has a feature that is available on only one of the other boards that we looked at today, SATA Express. I can’t say how many people will take advantage of SATA Express in the near future as it is a bit of an emerging technology, but having it available to utilize certainly doesn’t hurt. Though to be honest, the SATA Express may be a short lived experiment, I see the M.2 taking off over the SATA Express and all of our boards have that feature today.
There’s no surprise that the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H was easily able to max out my Intel Core i7 4770K at 4.8GHz during the time I spent overclocking with the Z97X-UD5H. It only took me a few minutes to increase the multiplier to x48 and the CPU VCore to 1.3 Volts and the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H was cruising along at 4.8GHz! If your GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H, or any of your GIGABYTE motherboards run into an issue that needs to be RMA’d, you’re covered by a three year warranty, at least in North America, other regions may differ.
Legit Bottom Line: The GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H is a very solid board and would be my first choice of todays bunch. It has all of the features that I look for in a board at a very solid price point of $180.