ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction

ASUS have compiled a comprehensive Z170 motherboard range which caters to different sections of the consumer market. For example, the GAMING PRO line-up offers superb functionality and impeccable stability at an affordable price point. ROG products evoke a more premium feel and includes a stunning software suite for power users. The Sabertooth brand revolves around a stringent testing procedure to ensure each motherboard exhibits unprecedented reliability. The extreme thermal testing and deployment of TUF components prioritizes long-term durability. As a result, it’s a great option for consumers who demand a very high-end motherboard and have no intentions of upgrading in the near future.

Typically, motherboards opt for a red and black colour scheme because it’s the most popular option among the core gaming audience. Some time ago, ASUS unleashed the limited edition Z97 Sabertooth Mark S which utilizes an innovative white PCB and military camouflage. It’s quite rare to see motherboard sporting a white theme and while there is some competition from the MSI Krait series, ASUS is the only manufacturer to offer a pure white PCB.

The Sabertooth Z170 S is the spiritual successor to the Z97 Sabertooth Mark S and features a very unusual design philosophy. When adopting such a wacky colour scheme, it’s bound to have a polarizing reception and I’m fascinated to hear feedback on ASUS’ aesthetic choices. Looking beyond the visual aspects, I’m expecting to see some very impressive numbers given the premium electronics and DIGI+ Power Control.

Specifications

Packing and Accessories

The motherboard’s box is characterized by a white finish and contains camouflage highlights. This provides a great insight into the product’s unconventional styling and creates a web of intrigue. On the front, information regarding the 5 year warranty is displayed in a clear manner.

Moving onto the opposite side, there’s a detailed description of the product’s thermal radar monitoring made possible by the TUF ICe processor. On another note, the packaging outlines the rear I/O connectivity and basic motherboard layout.

Included in the package is a user’s guide, M.2 screws, driver’s disk, case badge, certificate of reliability, stickers and a gorgeous white I/O shield. As someone who loves the technical details of motherboards, it’s fantastic to read the reliability assessment document. Here, you can browse information regarding a huge array of tests such as moisture resistance, thermal shock, solder bath, salt spray and more!

There’s also four SATA cables, a Q Connector, CPU installation tool, back I/O dust cover and SLI bridge. The Q Connector is a really handy tool which eliminates the frustration factor when attaching front panel headers. Furthermore, the CPU installation tool is designed to minimize the contact time and pressure between your fingers and the CPU. While it’s not necessary for veteran builders, it could prevent beginners from causing damage during the build process.

Asus Announces TUF Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1 Motherboard

Asus has officially unveiled the latest addition to its TUF motherboard line-up which is based on Intel’s Skylake architecture. The Z170 Sabertooth Mark 1 features a number of specialities exclusive to the TUF range including TUF Thermal Armour, Dust Defenders, and a hefty backplate marketed as the TUF Fortifier. Additionally, premium components are used throughout such as the Japanese caps rated to 10K+, ESD Guards, 8+4 power delivery, Alloy Chokes, Titanium Cap MOSFETs and more! When combined, this creates a staggeringly reliable motherboard tested to 24/7 durability and comes with a 5 year warranty as standard.In a similar vein to previous models, the TUF Z170 Sabertooth Mark 1 contains the Thermal Radar 2 software to accurately analyse various temperatures and offers impeccable PWM fan control across 12 integrated fan headers. Another interesting inclusion is the 2 mini fans to help with airflow underneath the thermal armour. Personally, I never use these because they are obnoxiously loud and fairly ugly. Notice how the motherboard’s centre fan cover is now constructed from a premium metal plate instead of plastic.

Here is the backplate in all its glory and provides a rigid structure to withstand any pressure from huge coolers like the Noctua NH-D14. Aesthetically, it also looks rather lovely and adds a premium feel.

On the rear IO, there is an ample supply of connectivity options including 5 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 3.1 (Type-A), 1 USB 3.1 (Type-C), USB BIOS Flashback switch, Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and a 7.1 audio solution. Storage wise, Asus provides 8 SATA 3 6 GB/s ports, 2 SATA Express and 1 M.2 slot. The 1151 chipset brings DDR4 to the mainstream and supports up to 64GB of memory with potential speeds in excess of 3000MHz. For multi-GPU configurations, the Z170 Sabertooth Mark 1 is superb and features 3 PCI-E 3.0 x16 (x16/x8/x8 Electrical) and PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots.

Do you feel the TUF Thermal Armour has any impact on temperatures, or is it a marketing gimmick?

ASUS TUF X99 Sabertooth (LGA 2011-3) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


X99, the chipset that has brought workstation power to the consumer level, has been around with us for a few months now. In this time, motherboard manufacturers have had time to tweak and release their top of the line motherboards with the best features and settings. A little out of the gates with the trademark TUF SABERTOOTH motherboard is ASUS.

That’s right, we have received our sample of the legendary TUF (The Ultimate Force) series motherboard, based on the X99 chipset. This particular model series allows ASUS to cram as much military grade inspired technology as possible into one motherboard. Covered from top to bottom in a checkered plate style cover and using only the finest capacitors in the world.

ASUS cherry pick and test all of the components to server specifications, giving them the confidence to grace this motherboard with a 5 Year warranty period. The attention to detail on the TUF series allows the users to take full control of the system in terms of cooling, allowing you to control 9 adjustable fan headers in tandem with 12 real-time temperature sensors to really choose the best fan placement. Along with the ultra durability and cooling features presented by the TUF range, ASUS along include the brand new USB 3.1 format, capable of 10Gp/s transfers.

Let’s take a look if all these features really make an ounce of difference.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, ASUS is no exception and has crammed a huge array of features into this motherboard.

  • USB 3.1 Boost
  • USB BIOS Flashback
  • USB Charger+
  • Remote Go!
  • ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ mode
  • Turbo LAN
  • Push Notice
  • AI-Suite 3
    • Q-connector
    • Q-Shield
    • Q-LED
    • Q-Slot
    • Q-DIMM
    • OC Profile
    • CrashFree BIOS 3
    • ASUS EZ-Update
    • Disk Unlocker
    • EZ Flash 2

Now because this is one of ASUS’ trump cards, they’ve crammed in a little more ‘TUF’ features:

  • Ultimate Cool
    • Thermal Armour
    • Thermal Radar 2 with Thermistors
    • ICe
  • We Got Your Back
    • Fortifier
  • TUF Engine
    • 8+2 Phase Power
    • TUF  Components (10K capacitors, Chose & MOSFET)
    • DIGI+ Power Control
  • SAFE & Stable
    • TUF Detective
    • TUF ESD Guards 2
    • Dust Defenders
    • MemOK!

For more information on these functions, please visit the ASUS TUF X99 SABERTOOH product page.

Packaging and Accessories

The box is feature covered, yet simple; very plain and neutral colour scheme. It’s a shame really, I was expecting a metal briefcase similar to the AMD R9 295×2, that would really drive home the “TUF” standard.

Inside the box is a huge amount of accessories; consisting of manuals, driver disk, 6x SATA cables, 1x SLi bridge connector, 1x Q-shield (backplate), 1x Q-Connector kit (easy front panel header connector), 1x 40mm fan, 4x DRAM slot dust covers,  assortment of PCi-e dust covers, 3x thermistor cables, assortment of addition I/O and internal header dust covers.

ASUS Announces TUF Trooper B85 Motherboard

ASUS’ Republic of Gamers division created a new motherboard that is something a little bit out of the ordinary, the new TUF Trooper B85 motherboard. The new Trooper is built around the B85 Express chipset and with an Intel LGA 1150 socket for the 4th and 5th generation Intel Core CPUs. It uses DDR3 memory of which it supports up to 16GB with the two DIMM slots. Being a TUF board it also comes with all the extra tested and reliable TUF components, and it also has support for Quad-GPU CrossFireX setups.

If you think that the motherboard looks a bit out of shape, then you aren’t wrong. The height is still the standard ATX form factor, but ASUS cut 64mm off the width of the board and moved the southbridge between the PCIe slots. Nothing looks cramped in there and there’s plenty of room for everything, so why not. The long design allows the use of more PCIe cards over a square design such as the mATX.

The TUF Trooper motherboard comes with six SATA ports where four of them are SATA3 and the last two are SATA2 ports. It has onboard headers for both USB 3.0 and 2.0 and also comes with two USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 on the IO panel. The network is covered by an RJ45 gigabit ethernet connector powered by a Realtek 8111GR controller. Users who want a great sound aren’t left out either as the Trooper has an onboard and shielded 8-channel Realtek ALC887 HD codec.

The ASUS TUF series of motherboards isn’t just built with extra reliable components and tested rigorously, they also come with a row of exclusive features. The TUF Thermal Radar Core keeps track of all your components with more sensors than usual and allows for easy setup of your fan profiles. The TUF ESD Guards 2 is the second generation of protection against inadvertent electrostatic discharges when connectors are inserted into the IO panel and it’s been improved with a 30% better resistance over the previous generation.

The TUF LANGuard helps your network to keep a better and more stable network connection, which even improves the throughput with extra surface-mounted capacitors. The TUF Audio design keeps the sound pure with extra shielding that is LED-lit and uses a dedicated audio layer.

ASUS Announce TUF Sabertooth X99 at CeBIT

ASUS’ TuF team has taken the Intel X99 motherboard and created an awesome looking and feature rich motherboard with the Sabertooth X99. The new motherboard looks great and comes with great features such as the second generation Thermal Radar, Thermal Armor, and fortified backplate.

USB 3.1 ports have obviously been added, but ASUS also added protective covers for all ports to protecting them while not being used. Also added is an exclusive and all-new technology that displays live system information on your smartphones and tablets, without even switching on the PC. Plug in your Android smartphone via the dedicated USB port on the rear IO. It can remotely turn on, restart, clear CMOS, view voltages and live system clock speeds.

All ports are protected from overvoltage, including USB sockets and audio connectors. Like the previous Sabertooth boards, this one is also built with the best of the best components such as Alloy Chokes with greater surface area, low RDSon MOSFETs, and TUF 10K Ti Caps.

USB 3.1 isn’t the only highlight on this motherboard, it also comes with support for all NVM Express options, including new 2.5-inch SSDs. There’s also plenty of storage options with 2 SATA Express and lots of SATA connections on this motherboard that’s backed by a 5-year warranty.

The X99 chipset has plenty of PCI lanes at disposal, so SLI and crossfire options should run great on this board. It also features M.2 sockets, Intel Gigabit LAN, Realtek ALC1150 8-channel audio and much more.

Thanks to ASUS for providing us with this information

ASUS Z97 Gryphon Armor Edition (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


The ASUS TUF line is always one of the more exciting product ranges to come out of the ASUS consumer motherboard platform, albeit a very niche form of excitement (well I find it exciting anyway…). I took a look at my first ASUS TUF series motherboard last year when ASUS kindly sent over their Z87 Sabertooth board. My general thoughts were that the board was a very good piece of kit although the monitoring, reliability and stability aspects of it seemed to be quite niche, aimed at a specific form of power user. I don’t really expect that to change given that the TUF series is still about giving you military grade reliability and stability but I am hoping there will be lots of new features on offer with the new Z97 TUF series. Today we are looking at the ASUS Z97 Gryphon motherboard which is the micro-ATX version of the TUF line. More specifically we have the ARMOR EDITION equipped with the ASUS thermal armor but ASUS do offer a version without for users who find it garish or unnecessary. The full specifications of the motherboard are fairly basic given that there’s no M.2, no SATA express, no WiFi and so on. However, for a micro-ATX motherboard it still has all the key features a desktop user would expect such as Gigabit LAN, dual PCIe 16X lanes, SATA III ports and decent spec audio.

Packaging and Accessories

The flagship feature of the ASUS TUF series is that 5 year warranty, that really is the selling point for all the reliability and stability features.

The back breaks down the key features of the motherboard, most are related to reliability and stability aspects such as reducing dust and heat.

Included is an extensive bunch of documentation including details on how to install all the extra accessories.

The “standard” accessories include a rear I/O shield, four SATA cables, SLI bridge and some Q connectors for the front panel I/O.

The “TUF” accessories include a small fan for the rear I/O (part of the Dust De-Fan feature), thermal sensor probes and a variety of slot covers for things like the unused rear I/O ports and so on. These are to prevent dust build up.

You also get dust covers for the PCIe lanes, the RAM slots and some miscellaenous screws and fittings for attaching things. The included guide explains all if you get overwhelmed by the mass of accessories.

Asus White TUF Motherboard Prototypes

It was only a few days ago I was still in Taipei enjoying the sights and sounds of the city, as well as the awesome technology show that is Computex 2014. Unfortunately the Asus booth was crazy busy and my meeting got mixed up, this is unfortunate because we completely missed these incredible motherboard prototypes!

The first white motherboard was the “Sabranco”, a white TUF grade board, which you’ll remember is part of their extreme durability and stability range of products. Of course the specifications will be awesome, it’s a premium grade board, but the special part is that awesome arctic white finish!

The board has been given thermal armour with a white and grey camoflage finish over the white PCB of the board, while the back of the board has also been treated to a similar design back plate. This is one of the coolest motherboards I’ve seen in a long time. Unfortunately the board is marked as a prototype, but most likely just to gauge consumer feedback, so if you want to see this board, start messaging Asus and tell them to put it into production.

We know you love white motherboards, especially since you seemed to go crazy for the MSI H97M ECO we saw at the show. So, would you have this in your system? If so, then what components would you match it up with?

Thank you Toms Hardware for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Toms Hardware.

ASUS TUF Sabertooth Z97 and Gryphon Z97 Motherboards Revealed

ASUS has revealed the latest editions to their range, the new TUF Z97 Series motherboards. These new boards are designed around the new Z97 chipset which launches alongside the upcoming Haswell refresh. The TUF Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1, Sabertooth Z97 Mark 2, Gryphon Z97 and Gryphon Z97 Armor Edition motherboards all support Intels 5th-generation Core processors and most importantly of all, Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 has exclusive support of the new 10 Gbit/s SATA Express interface for high-speed external storage. Each is available in both ATX and mATX form factors.

“TUF motherboards are world-renowned for their toughness, long-term stability, durability and bold styling, and the new models continue this proud tradition with a powerful new military-inspired design and the use of premium components throughout.” Said ASUS in a recent press release.

The TUF series of motherboards have thermal management, ICe cooling for precise fan control, Dust Diverter reversible fan technology and VGA fan. TUF Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 and Gryphon Z97 Armor Edition feature TUF Fortifier, a system turns the entire backplate of the motherboard into a huge heat-sink, helping keep the heat away from components such as the VRM, all of which will help the high-end components of your system stay in tip-top condition while also helping with system stability thanks to the lower temperatures these features can provide.

Packed full of cooling and stability features these boards do sounds great, but their build quality is also some of the best in the business thanks to the military-certified TUF components and strict testing procedures.  No words on price just yet, but you can expect to pay a premium for one of the most popular brands in the business, especially on a range that supports a new chip, chipset and high end features such as 10 Gbit/s SATA Express ports.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of TechPowerUp.

ASUS Z97 Motherboard Launch Coverage

Introduction


The official Intel Z97 chipset launch day is finally here but it’s hardly been a surprising arrival. There have been leaks left, right and centre so most of today’s revelations probably won’t come as a surprise to most of our readers. However, this article (as the title suggests) is about the ASUS Z97 launch. ASUS went to great lengths in April to communicate with the global media about what is actually new with their Z97 motherboards. Making people aware of the “new” is important because as some of you may know, the new Haswell Refresh CPUs are not yet ready, we don’t have DDR4 support and the Z97 chipset doesn’t really bring anything new. In fact the Z97 chipset still has 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes, six SATA III and six USB 3.0 ports just like Z87. Don’t let that fool you though, Z97 does bring some new features to the table even if many of these features will be vendor specific. A couple of the more important features that Z97 is pushing are storage related – SATA Express support and PCIe M.2 support. Most vendors will vigorously taking advantage of these and ASUS are certainly no exception.

Today we will be taking an in-depth look at all the Z97 motherboards ASUS are launching today across their three main areas: the Channel Series, the TUF Series and the ROG Series. In this article we will be going through the new features specific to each series before taking a look at each of the motherboards individually. ASUS have certainly pulled out all the stops with Z97 and we can tell that a lot has been learnt from the Z87 generation. Without any further ado let’s proceed to take a look through the ASUS Z97 lineup! Please do skip past any motherboard ranges that are not of interest to you, by the end of it we hope to have given you a good idea of why you might want to upgrade to a (ASUS) Z97 based motherboard.

ASUS Z87 Sabertooth (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction


The ASUS Sabertooth/TUF series of motherboards is well known throughout the computer hardware industry as being one of the most rugged motherboard designs available. ASUS put the Z87 Sabertooth that we have here today through hell and back before the motherboard is delivered to end users. Of course the motherboard has to survive this endurance test before it makes it to consumers and the fact we’ve received this one here today with its certificate of reliability tells us it has passed the strict testing procedures. The ASUS Sabertooth Z87 is a feature packed motherboard but it isn’t your average enthusiast class motherboard. Unlike most motherboards which are often targeted at budget users, gamers and overclockers the ASUS Sabertooth Z87 is aimed at at different niche – those concerned with stability, reliability and durability.

The biggest selling points and features about the ASUS Sabertooth Z87 are to do with stability, reliability and durability. They include ASUS’ newly designed TUF Thermal Armor, the TUF Thermal Radar, TUF Fortifier, Dust Defenender and TUF Engine Power Design using military-spec components. Of course it also has other ASUS mainstay features such as their UEFI BIOS, OC Tuner, USB 3.0 Boost, TurboV Core and so on. Being an Intel Z87 motherboard you’ve also got the full benefits of the Z87 chipset including native SATA III support, native USB 3.0 support and the LGA 1150 socket which includes Haswell CPU support and PCI Express Generation 3.0 support. The Z87 Sabertooth balances a combination of abundant features and high performance with the Sabertooth/TUF philosophy of stability reliability and durability. Before we proceed don’t forget to check the full specifications below for a recap of what the Sabertooth Z87 from ASUS has to offer:

Computex: ASUS Display Sabertooth and Gryphon Haswell Z87 TUF Motherboards

ASUS hasn’t launched the Republic of Gamers series motherboards yet for Haswell Z87 so the TUF (The Ultimate Force) series motherboards are the best that they had on display at Computex 2013. The TUF series currently features the Sabertooth ATX Z87 motherboard and the Gryphon Z87 micro-ATX motherboard while ASUS have already hinted that we can expect more models to be added to the TUF series soon.

The main feature of the Z87 TUF series is the new thermal armor design with temperature sensors scattered underneath the thermal armor, ASUS call this Thermal Radar 2. ASUS has tweaked and tuned these motherboards for maximum stability and durability and they have things such as 10K rated black metallic capacitors which provide up to 5 times longer life span compared to rival motherboards.

Interestingly ASUS has also added a reinforced backplate to prevent motherboard flex and this gives a level of structural rigidity to the TUF series motherboards that I have seen on very few motherboards in the past.

These motherboards launched just 4 days ago and are currently available for $259.99 for the Sabertooth and $169.99 for the Gryphon. You can get more details on the ASUS Z87 TUF series here.

Stay tuned to eTeknix for more Computex coverage in our Computex section.

Image(s) courtesy of eTeknix at Computex

Asus Unveil Their Z87 Lineup – Including Never Seen Before Models

With Haswell on a close horizon and Intel still holding the fort under close guard with regards to their 4th Generation chips, we’ve been seeing the lid slowly lift from each of the motherboard vendors on what their new boards will have to offer. Asus is next in line to show off some of their new boards from their Series , TUF (The Ultimate Force) and ROG (Republic of Gamers) lines and at each level they are offering up the best they can in terms of performance, user experiences, stability and upgrade paths.

Jackie Hsu, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Worldwide Sales commented “ASUS possesses the best research and development expertise, and as always we are confident that we offer our customers the finest quality with these new motherboards. We’re including a variety of media-praised exclusive features with each model, and are proud to announce that we have the most comprehensive Z87 motherboard launch line-up, all available simultaneously”

On the bottom end of Asus’ new line-up is a completely re-branded set of Series boards. The most notable part of this re-brand is the drop of the blue and black colour scheme that we have come to know with Asus entry level boards – the new colour scheme is based around a two tone yellow/gold, but thankfully this is not a shiny gold which would be rather displeasing to the eye. Whilst there are a number of boards in the Series range, looking at both ends of the range, Asus have covered all the grounds when it comes to compatibility – something which we have seen previously on their Z77 boards of a similar level. Between this board is a number of models that make a transition from a board for more mainstream builds, offering all the Z87 features. These include the Z87-C, Z87-PRO, Z87-PLUS and the Z87I-Delux (a mini ITX offering).

Top top end of the Series range see native PCI fully replaced with PCIe amongst other subtle changes. All the new series boards will see the integration of Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-way optimisation, DIGI+ Power Control, Fan Xpert 2 amongst other now offerings from Intel.

Moving up one stage and on to the TUF line of boards, this line only see some subtle changes with a full ATX board that in some respects looks very similar to the previous generation Z77 board. This is all because of the thermal armour that is laid across the PCB to keep the board as cool as possible and keep dust away from all empty slots with a series of Dust Defender plugs that fill empty ports. On the back of the PCB we see a new Fortifier metal plate that reinforces the PCB to prevent it warping whist in use and an airflow boosting valve design around the CPU power areas.

Making a fresh appearance to the TUF line-up is one of Asus’ many new boards. The Gryphon is a mATX version of the Sabertooth and like its bigger brother, it features all the same top quality components and features as well as the extended expected lifetime from its higher temperature tolerance. What is missing though is the thermal armour, however Asus will be supplying this separately and the two piece kit can be quickly mounted to the Gryphon’s PCB.

Top top of the new Z87 range is Asus’ top end ROG boards. These boards for a number of generations now have been renowned for their top end performance and overclocking abilities. New to the ROG line of boards and sitting mi-range is the HERO. This new board’s purpose is to offer mainstream the gamers the stepping stone into the ROG brand, but at a price point that is far more manageable compared to the flagship Maximus IV Extreme. As well as these two boards, Asus will also be launching an updated Maximus IV Gene and all these boards will feature Supreme FX audio as well as a new on-screen ‘Sonic-Radar’ that works as a viual overlay to any game to indicate the direction a proximity of a gun fire for example in a visual format.

The flagship Extreme board see a new overclocking tool, that unlike the previous generations OC-key is set to be far more user friendly and intuitive to use and alongside this in the Extreme box, users with find a 5.25″ drive bay adaptor to allow the OC Panel to operate as a fan control panel from the front of a case.