Performance Summary: Our time with the ASUS Z97 Pro (Wi-Fi ac) was interesting, as it proved to be a capable Z97 motherboard when run at "normal" settings, but it shines when run in its "optimized" mode which essentially overclocks the system with just a click. Based on what we saw in testing, we think it's safe to say ASUS plays it pretty safe right out of the box, but as soon as you begin the let the system tune itself it comes up with very aggressive profiles that can have a significant impact on performance. If the way ASUS overclocked the system caused us to experience Blue Screens of Death, or reboots, or instability we'd chastise them for it, but we never experienced any issues in testing, so we'd say the ASUS software did its job well. Out of the box this is not the fastest Z97 board we've seen, but with just one-click in the BIOS we were able to tweak performance considerably. That shows you just how good the ASUS
tuning software is, and we love the fact that ASUS makes system tuning both super-simple and as complex as you want it via the UEFI Advanced Mode.
Find The Asus Z97 Pro (Wi-Fi ac) @ AmazonOverall we think this is a very well fleshed-out board, and has all the next-generation storage one could ask for currently. It allows at least two cards to be used in SLI/Crossfire, has six onboard fan controllers, plenty of USB 3.0 ports, up to eight SATA 6Gbps ports, and its proprietary five-way system tuning as well. We love the Wi-Fi AC capability, and also appreciate the inclusion of both SATAe and M.2 for future storage. Overall, there's nothing missing from this board, and its performance when "optimized" was great. T Sadly we didn't have any M.2 or SATA Express SSDs on hand to try out those unique features, but honestly nobody reading this has a SATA Express SSD either, and M.2 is still very much in its infancy on the desktop. It's highly possible these features will become must-have items on future boards, so at least with the Z97 Pro (Wi-Fi ac) you've got those bases covered. And since this board will support Intel's upcoming Broadwell processors for desktops, you've got at least one generation of processors in the future to consider for upgrading.
At this point you might be looking at this board and eyeballing your wallet, but before you do hold up just one second. ASUS has cranked out several versions of this board, so this particular one might not be what suits your fancy, or your budget. To be specific, at the upper end of this range lies the Z97 Pro Deluxe for $275, then there's this one right below it at $209, then the Z97 Pro at $189, then the Z97-A at $125. Each one has features and connectors stripped away to shave dollars off its price tag, so do some investigating before you pull the trigger. As far as its competition goes it's right in the sweet spot at $209, making it extremely competitive with other offerings. Here is pricing for all the variants of the ASUS Z97 board as of this writing...
ASUS Z97 Pro Deluxe - $275
ASUS Z97 Pro (Wi-Fi ac) - $209
Asus Z97 Pro - $189
ASUS Z97-A - $125
his is a stable, feature-rich motherboard that would make a great foundation for a Z97 system, and if you can take advantage of the built-in system tuning, you should have a system that runs pretty damn fast.
Asus Z97 Pro (Wi-Fi ac)