Z87 Motherboards: ASUS and Gigabyte
Next up, we have the Asus Z87-Deluxe. The Asus Z87-Deluxe is one of the more feature rich motherboards we’ve tested, both in terms of both its hardware and software / UEFI. Asus clearly puts a ton of effort into UEFIs on their boards and it shows with the Z87-Deluxe. This board also features Asus’ new black and gold color scheme, which has received somewhat of a mixed reaction from enthusiasts.
In addition to exploiting all of the features inherent to the Z87 Express chipset, the Asus Z87-Deluxe offers Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, additional SATA 6Gbps ports, and what Asus calls its “Dual Intelligent Processors 4”. The Dual Intelligent Processors consist of Asus’ EPU unit, which we’ve covered in the past, and the TPU processing unit. The processors work together with the Asus Z87-Deluxe’s programmable 16+2 power phase digital VRM (DIGI+ VRM) and give users the ability to monitor and adjust power delivery. According to Asus, the combination of the programmable digital VRM and Dual Intelligent Processors 4 results in superior power efficiency and improved longevity over less sophisticated motherboards.
The Asus Z87-Deluxe is also outfitted with a PLX PCI Express 3.0 switch, which give the board to the ability to have all of its PCIe expansion slots enabled with full bandwidth at all times, regardless of the CPU installed. In addition to the aforementioned items, the Asus Z87-Deluxe has quite a few other interesting features as well. For example, you can flash this board’s BIOS even if there is no CPU or memory installed via its “USB BIOS Flashback” feature. It also supports the USB Attached SCSI Protocol, which can be enabled via Asus’ AI Suite software, to boost USB 3.0 throughout significantly.
The Asus Asus Z87-Deluxe also supports SLI and CrossFireX multi-GPU configurations (up to three way CF and Quad-SLI), DTS Ultra PC II and DTS Connect audio, and Asus includes a copy of their AI Suite software, which gives users easy access to all of the Asus-proprietary features mentioned here in a single utility. As we’ve mentioned, the P8Z77-V Deluxe sports an excellent UEFI with one-click overclocking and tuning and a wide array of fan controls that accessible during boot time, but many of the options can be controlled via software from within Windows as well. We should also note that Asus is offering real-time network bandwidth and monitoring with the Z87-Deluxe too.
Bundled with the Asus Z87-Deluxe were a user’s manual and exclusive features guide, a driver / utility CD, a WiFi & Bluetooth antenna module, a package of front panel header quick disconnects, an I/O shield, SLI bridge, and six SATA cables.
And here we have the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H. Like the other motherboards featured here, the Z87X-UD3H is an enthusiast class, Z87 Express-based motherboard for socket 1150 Haswell-based 4th Gen Core processors, though the Z87X-UD3H isn’t quite as loaded up with the numerous bells and whistles of the others.
The Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H offers all digital voltage regulation and the board is part of Gigabyte’s new “Ultra Durable 5+” family of products. As such, it is reportedly outfitted with double the amount of copper within the layers of the PCB and a new fiberglass fabric in the PCB which reportedly offers better humidity protection. Ultra Durable 5+ branded products also reportedly offer enhanced electrostatic and thermal protection as well.
In terms of more tangible features, the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H offers a total of 16 USB ports (10 USB 3.0 and six USB 2.0), eight SATA 6Gbps connectors, CrossFireX and SLI support, DualBIOS technology, and On/Off Charge support. The Z87X-UD3H also offers every display output option available (VGA, DVI, HDMI, and DP).
Other noteworthy features of the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H include on-board power and reset switches, newly designed heatsinks, voltage checkpoints, a POST code error reporter, and a new, totally redesigned BIOS / UEFI. Gigabyte’s new UEFI is much smoother and quicker to navigate than its older “3D BIOS”, but still give’s users the ability to navigate through the BIOS via mouse. We should also mention that the Z87X-UD3H offers Gigabyte’s Dual-BIOS feature as well, should which gives users the ability to quickly recover from a bad flash.
Gigabyte provides a pretty nice accessory bundle with the Z87X-UD3H as well. Along with the board, we found a couple of manuals, a driver / utility CD, a case badge, a I/O shield, an SLI bridge connector, and four SATA cables.