Beer pockets and champagne taste, it's what I have but what type of taste is yours? I have gone through life craving the best but sometimes the best is just out of reach. I will say I never did skimp on any of my computer components or cars. What I do is either wait until I can afford what I want or I look at something with just a little less option. Well, I guess that relays mostly to computer components. With computer components if you take the time to look at the differences in different skus, you may just find that diamond in the rough that gives you close to everything you desire.
Since you have seen the title, yes I am talking about a motherboard but buyer beware, there are brands out there that appear to be giving you the moon at a great price. These boards usually boast great overclocking potential or even have more than an enthusiast board would have, but if you look real hard under the skin, they don't. I would give you my bear in the woods analogy but I don't have the time. So look at it this way, the quickest way between two points is a straight line. If there are too many forks in the road then travel becomes longer, this is what many of those great looking boards have and that is too many forks. One of a few boards I have found to be just shy of enthusiast level is the ASUS Deluxe Series. I have found that other than a few BIOS differences and Ichibon 10k capacitors, the features and highways are the same as those found on the more expensive boards.
The ASUS Z87-Deluxe Motherboard offers many features you would expect to find on an enthusiast level motherboard. The Z87-Deluxe, built for the 4th Generation Intel Core Processors, comes with dual LAN (one being Intel), a Wifi/Bluetooth module, which is 802.11 ac as well as a software package and UEFI BIOS that many consider second to none. The ASUS Z87-Deluxe is LGA 1150 and is built upon the Intel Z87 chipset. It also has CPU Level Up options that can be either done manually by turning on the TPU switch right on the motherboard, via the BIOS, or in your OS using the new ASUS AI Suite III.
Unboxing and Product Overview:
4 Way Optimization with DIP 4 ( TPU and EPU )
The Digital revolution continues in the Z87 platform with the expansion of the DIGI+ Power Control beyond the CPU VCore. In the latest ASUS Z87 DELUXE motherboards, the DRAM Voltage get precise power control as well through a new inclusive Digital Power Design. With DIGI+ Power control over the DRAM, the overclocking adjustment possibilities increase exponentially and configurations that were once impossible are now achievable. All of these are adjustable through the UEFI BIOS or through the AI Suite.
USB Boost 3.0:
With the introduction of providing both the front and rear USB 3.0 ports, users can enjoy ultra-fast external storage experience. ASUS Z87 DELUXE motherboards also feature an onboard UASP USB3 controller to boost performance further when a UASP device is plugged in. The driver automatically boosts the performance of any device plugged in whether it detects a UASP compatible device or even any regular USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 device. USB devices plugged into ASUS motherboards also can be charged 3X faster than in other mainboards, saving users hours of wait time, and provides fast charging solution to a wide range of products that is not only limited to Apple iProducts but other smartphones and portable devices, as well.
AI Suite III:
ASUS AI Suite III is a one-stop access software for managing an ASUS motherboard’s features. It includes the TurboV overclocking tool, DIGI+ VRM controls, EPU controls, Fan Xpert, Sensor Report, System Information and Probe II system monitoring software. The video below demonstrates the AI Suite III software inside a Microsoft Windows 8 Pro OS environment:
To test all systems, processors, and motherboards, Hi Tech Legion has compiled a list of popular programs to test performance; these benchmarks are taken from programs that are available to the public. We have compiled these to create the Hi Tech Legion Benchmark Suite, which includes system, graphics, processor, rendering, compression, and word processing. All scores will be graphed for each specific test under its category: video benchmarks (gaming will be rated in FPS: Frames per second), system scores will be graded by numbers which are given as results by their respective programs, higher will be better unless otherwise specified. If file compression is chosen, then all times will be in seconds. All temperatures will be measured in Celsius. LAN Speed test v3 will be conducted with another Gigabit ethernet (Intel 82579V) capable system running the LAN Speed Test server plugged in to the Gigabit router with 6ft. long Cat5e cables.
Discreet Video Card Gaming
Performance Tuning was done through the UEFI with the following settings:
Memory Performance Enhance:
Designed for Windows 7, PCMark 7 benchmarks your system with a variety of tests including video, photo editing, gaming, and communications. For results, a total PCMark score will be given (default setting) and individual scores for the tasks that are tested. To learn more about PCMark 7 visit Futuremark's website.
AIDA 64 is a diagnostic and benchmarking tool. AIDA 64 will be used for its Cache and Memory benchmark. System memory, L1 cache, L2 cache, and L3 cache will be benchmarked for latency, read, write, and copy. Final Wire is the producer of this software.
One of our favorites, Sandra from SiSoftware is a system benchmark that individually tests all components of your system. For our benchmarking purpose, we will use the processor section with Cryptography testing (bandwidth, AVX and AES) as well as run a memory transaction test. All scores will be listed as given by benchmark, higher will be better unless otherwise stated.
Created by Maxon, Cinebench R11.5 tests rendering of your CPU and GPU and scores their performance individually. We will be using the CPU rendering portion of the program and benchmark single CPU and multiple CPU performance.
WinRAR is a popular file compression and decompression tool it is a multi-threaded application that reads most compressed file formats. HiTech Legion uses WinRAR to measure Speed (MB/s) using the WinRAR benchmark and hardware test found in its Tools section. We also use our own 5GB uncompressed file folder and compress it to a RAR file (normal setting) measuring the amount of time required to compress the file.
LAN Speed Test 3.0
LAN Speed Test is designed to be a rock solid tool to measure your file transfer and network speeds (wired & wireless) easily and accurately. It does this by building a file in memory, then transfers it both ways (without effects of Windows file caching) while keeping track of the time, and then does the calculations for you. Simple concept and easy to use. Both the LAN Speed Test v2 and LAN Speed Server software used in this review are the full retail versions. This software was developed by Totusoft and a free version is also available for download.
JPerf 2.0.2 is a simple JAVA based tool that is designed to test the network bandwidth of a system. It does this using client/server setup and by transmitting packets over 100 second period between the systems. JPerf then automatically measures the bandwidth based on how much data can be transferred within the 100 seconds. HiTech Legion uses JPerf for two reasons, to measure bandwidth and to see bandwidth jitter. When measuring bandwidth a sustained transfer rate is more important than the final result. JPerf also graphs bandwidth jitter, what we are looking for is a smooth straight line which will denote sustained transfer rates.
Crystal DiskMark 3.0 x64
Crystal Mark is a disk benchmark software that features:
File Transfer Tests
The 1 and 5 GB files are placed on the desktop then sent to the SSD. This allows the SSD to both read the file before transfer then write it to the SSD. Times are calculated in Seconds for the 1 GB file and Minutes and Seconds for the 5 GB file.
Prior to the first actual on-die GPU, integrated graphics was delegated a position of a system's motherboard. Being placed on the motherboard doomed any type of gaming performance, due to bottlenecks caused by onboard controllers, the motherboards architecture or the lack of bandwidth produced. Intel's first CPU with on-die graphics was codenamed "Clarkdale" and was launched in March of 2010 (Core i5 661). Although many of the bottlenecks were bypassed, performance was still nowhere near the caliber of a budget discrete video card. A year later, Intel launched their second generation of CPU with on-die graphics, which was codenamed "Sandy Bridge". We saw many advances and were even introduced to a technology called Quick Sync, which uses the power of the CPU and GPU combined to accelerate video transcoding (encode and decode). Unfortunately, it still lacked a few qualities a discrete video card had to offer and one of those was DirectX 11. With the launch of "Haswell", Intel has overcome many obstacles and those who seek the performance of a budget level discrete video card will no longer have to spend the extra money. They can now purchase the entire package in the form of a 22nm processor and game at 1080p (Low Settings).
Intel 4600 Series HD Graphics was tested on multiple motherboards with exact system specifications (other than the motherboard) and our results were virtually identical throughout. The benchmarks below represent an average of all tests combined.
X.264 HD Benchmark
X264 by VideoLAN is a free application which contains a software library for encoding video streams into the H.264 and MPEG-4 AVC formats. HiTech Legion uses X264 to measure conversion times of predetermined files. X264 is also a multi-threaded application. AMD has also been working closely to develop an OpenCL accelerated x264 application that provides even better performance. X.264 is measured in Frames Per Second.
With Intel Quick Sync Technology and Lucid Virtu, the user can take advantage of Multimedia Multitasking. When set to D-Mode, Lucid Virtu enables the user to game with the benefits of their discrete video card while utilizing the parallel processing capabilities of the on-die GPU of the "Haswell" Processor to transcode video. When set to I-Mode, the user still has full control over Intel Quick Sync Technology but will also consume less power to run their system.
"With Virtu software, next-generation PCs with 2nd, 3rd and 4th Generation Intel® Core™ processor platforms will dynamically balance the advanced power-efficient, built-in media features of Intel Core processor graphics with the high-end, DirectX 11 3D, anti-aliasing and performance features of discrete GPUs, while significantly reducing the power drain of traditional entertainment desktops. Ultimately, the consumer is assured optimal simultaneous performance in 3D gaming and video functions like transcoding and HD playback without the need to swap video cable connections between GPUs."
"Express video conversion software MediaEspresso is the hassle-free solution for converting all your favorite videos for playback on iPhone, PSP, Xbox, YouTube and more. Simply choose the preferred media player or medium, and let MediaShow Espresso do the rest."
Cyberlink Media Espresso
Provided by: MSI
No compensation was received for review of this product.
Class: High End Mainstream
At a price point of $289.00, the ASUS Z87-DELUXE is in the High End Mainstream category of Intel Z87 motherboard systems.
Benchmarks – Benchmark results for the Z87-Deluxe board performed as expected. The SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 speeds from the Z87 chipset were excellent, and the integrated Intel LAN performed at a very high speed.
Board Layout - The Z87-Deluxe is a standard ATX motherboard measuring 12 inches in length and 9.6 inches in width. The topmost PCI-E 3.0 slot is positioned at the second ATX slot, with two PCI-E x1 slots between it and the second PCI-E 3.0 slot. This allows not only for clearance for large heatsinks but also for airflow between multiple graphics cards. The Asmedia SATA ports are in line with the first PCI-E slot and can be hard to get to if a long video card is used. The heatsinks around the socket allow enough room to reach screws and standoffs that mount a waterblock. On the I/O port there are 6 USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt, three USB 2.0 ports and a back to BIOS port. Dual LAN is present with one being an Intel. For video connections, there are both an HDMI and Display Port.
Pre-bundled Accessories – Accessories for the Z87-Deluxe board are more than would be expected with a mainstream motherboard. This includes six locking SATA 6G cables, both are angled on one end and straight on the other, a case badge, SLI Bridge, I/O shield, detailed English and multi-lingual installation guide book, quick start guide, as well as a disc containing drivers and bundled utilities.
Wireless – The ASUS Z87-DELUXE provides on-board wireless 802.11 ac with Bluetooth.
LAN – The LAN chipset included on the mainboard is both an Intel and Realtek and is designed for the best throughput. In testing, the LAN was solid, providing some of the fastest wired speeds that I have seen on an integrated NIC. On the Intel LAN, Jperf had minimal bandwidth jitter producing a constant throughput, while the Realtek LAN did have a suffucient amount of jitter at times dropping into the 600 Mbits per second.
USB 3.0 – Eight USB 3.0 ports are provided in total, two via onboard header and six more built into the rear I/O. These USB 3.0 ports are natively provided by the Intel Z87 Express Chipset. The transfer speeds observed were on par with what the typical Z87 USB 3.0 bandwidth provides.
SATA 6G – SATA ports 1 through 6 are the SATA 6G ports and are controlled natively through the Z87 Express chipset there are also four more via Asmedia controller.
Peripherals – There are four system fan connectors available on board, allowing the fans to be controlled by the motherboard, or via AI Suite III's Fan Expert 2.
Performance Tuning – ASUS UEFI BIOS was easy to navigate and provided all the overclocking settings necessary to get the i7-4770k to a stable 4.7 GHz. The XMP profile was also loaded for the memory bringing it up to the proper speed. The OC settings are all organized under an AI Tweaker Tab (Advanced Mode) and options are available to set memory timings, voltage controls, and CPU clock speeds. I did not have to make any changes to the voltages to get a stable 4.4 GHz, the CPU ratio was simply pushed to 44 Above 4.4 the board and CPU needed more voltage. ASUS does provide three ways of preset overclocking, via the BIOS (OC Tuner), via the Motherboard (TPU Switch) and via AI Suite III (Four Way Optimization).
UEFI BIOS: The ASUS UEFI BIOS Utility has a new interface which is crisper and easier on the eyes, the addition of quick notes as well as last modified and My Favorites is a plus for those of us who always forget something or other. ASUS UEFI BIOS is responsive and smooth as well as being easy to navigate.
The ASUS Z87-DELUXE series board is designed with the budget enthusiast in mind. It is populated with all the options you would expect from an enthusiast motherboard at a price that won't break your piggy bank. Sure, it's at the top end of the mainstream spectrum but haven't you seen other motherboards in this price point that had half the options and just about bent when you picked them up? I'm not bragging about the board, I am stating the facts. Over the last few years, I have had many people ask me what they should purchase and I normally give them a couple options and I do recommend the ASUS Deluxe series. It always seems that they never take my advice. They will go out and purchase one of those boards that looks real great on paper but when you bring it home, all you have are problems. If you remember, I was talking about forks in the road, well I will now give you my bear in the woods analogy. You are walking 400 yards away from your friend and you are in dense woods, you see a bear behind him and scream for him to run. Unfortunately, he gets eaten by the bear because the sound had to reflect and go through all the dense woods. It had to find different pathways because a direct pathway was populated. Same scenario but you are now in a field and are 400 yards away and you scream at your friend, he immediately hears you and he gets away. In an open field, sound doesn't have to find different pathways and bounce off things before you hear it so the transmission is clear and uninterrupted.
A well-developed motherboard has clear pathways from PCI lanes to memory controllers thus there is less resistance because there is very little or nothing at all blocking the data. A poorly developed motherboard will occupy pathways with hybrid controllers that share a pipeline or utilize the same PCI lane to power something on the I/O port. I have found that these boards tend to shut down or shunt all data when overclocked or populated with multiple hard drives or peripherals (The other Guy). In years of testing, I have had a few bad experiences with ASUS Deluxe boards but for the most part they are spot on. It's only because ASUS limits the amount of pathways that are shared.
Getting back to the ASUS Z87-Deluxe, after testing the motherboard, we have found that it performs on par with or better than other boards we have tested at its price point. Also having added options, such as WiFi/Bluetooth (WiFi 802.11 ac Dual Band), 10 SATA 6G ports, Dual LAN, Dual Thunderbolt and ASUS AI Suite III, just to name a few, makes this board no slouch at its suggested price.
4 Way Optimization found in AI Suite III will not only performance tune your processor it tunes your whole system from CPU to Power Saving features with the click of a button. Ours was auto (CPU) tuned to 4.7 GHZ. USB 3.0 Boost that actually works and can read UASP. I can talk until I'm blue in the face about this. My suggestion to you is read the rest of the review and take time to watch the videos so you can experience it for yourself.