ASUS Z87-Deluxe LGA 1150 Motherboard Review

The ASUS Z87-Deluxe motherboard is one fine piece of hardware. Its feature set and ASUS' attention to detail not only raise the bar but break the old bar over its knee. If you’re looking for a home for a Haswell CPU, then you’ve got to see the Z87-Deluxe in action and all the very usable features it packs in.

Introduction

ASUS is a world leader in motherboards and other consumer electronics and PC related goods. These range from network equipment to laptops, tablets, to monitors and more. ASUS started with motherboards in 1986 and has continued to be one of the most dominate forces in that market and it remains the business it is best known for.

Article Image

Today we are taking a look at the ASUS Z87-Deluxe motherboard which is based on the Z87 Express chipset. The last ASUS motherboard we looked at was the Z87-A which is the no-frills enthusiast model ASUS offers in North America. The Z87-Deluxe is just about on the complete opposite end of the spectrum comparatively. This motherboard features the core enthusiast improvements which were seen in the Z87-A, as these carry across the entire product stack for this generation. We talked about some of these features in the Z87-A review, but these are worth mentioning again.

For this generation ASUS upgraded to 5K capacitors which last for 5,000 hours @ 105c or 50,000 hours @ 65c. New for this generation ASUS introduced ESD guards and enhanced DRAM over current protection (OCP). The ESD guard feature is comprised of special ICs embedded on the PCB near I/O ports and connectors.The Advanced DRAM OCP feature is a polyswitch or resettable fuse that prevents over current conditions from frying your hardware. This generation even includes an updated CPU fan header of ASUS’ own design. The CPU fan header allows for the same level of control whether you are using 3 or 4 pin fans. All retail channel boards gain the Ai Suite III software which is a vast improvement over Ai Suite II. Fan Xpert2 makes an appearance on all boards this time around. Last generation’s offerings were limited to Fan Xpert+ or Fan Xpert2 as denoted by market position. All boards in this lineup feature a special anti-corrosion coating on the back panel ports. This can be a huge advantage in humid environments.

Being a higher end offering the Z87-Deluxe has even more going for it. It features an all digital 16 phase power design, PLX chip for additional PCIe lanes, upgraded dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11/AC + BT 4.0 support, I series Intel NIC, and 4-Way Optimization with Dual Intelligent Processors 4. Thanks to the Z87 Express chipset itself, up to 32GB of RAM is supported (and we have tested this with Success up to 1866MHz) along with PCIe 3.0, native USB 3.0 support and of course all the SATA ports are 6Gb/s capable now. Naturally it supports AMD’s CrossFire using up to 4 GPUs or three cards, and NVIDIA’s SLI / Quad-SLI technologies.

Main Specifications Overview:

Article Image

Detailed Specifications Overview:

Article Image

Article Image

Packaging

Article Image Article Image Article Image

Article Image Article Image Article Image

The ASUS Z87-Deluxe ships in a fancier package than the Z87-A. At first glance the box looks like the one used for the Z87-A albeit thicker. There is a flap which opens up showing the board in a frosted anti-static bag. I can’t really fathom why ASUS did this as you can’t actually see the motherboard too well. There is some information on the flap which tells you about the motherboard itself. Our motherboard arrived damage free with the following accessories inside: I/O shield, exclusive features user guide, Z87-Deluxe user guide, driver disc, SATA cables, Wi-Fi antenna, Q-Connectors, and an SLI bridge.

Board Layout

Article Image

ASUS has been in the motherboard design business since the 1980s. As a result ASUS know a thing or two about crafting a workable motherboard layout. This expertise wasn’t wasted on the Z87-Deluxe as its layout is superb. At first look it seems crowded but I assure you it’s quite functional despite the packed PCB. The attention to detail is noticeable right away. One of the first things I noticed while handling the Z87-Deluxe motherboard was that the cooling solution is screwed in place. There are not tension pins holding the cooling in place like we saw on the Z87-A. The large cooling system cools the board’s mighty 16 power phases. The cooling solution has an embedded heat pipe for extra heat dissipation. The black and gold color scheme is subject to personal tastes, but it is certainly striking and the cooling being gold in color looks good against the black PCB. DIP switches, ports, and connectors are all placed in well thought out locations.

Article Image Article Image

The CPU socket area is tight but serviceable. Some larger air coolers might run into the memory modules but ultimately this is avoidable if you choose your RAM and cooling solution wisely. The self-contained water cooling units are all the rage right now and would be perfectly at home on the Z87-Deluxe.

Article Image

The Z87-Deluxe has four DIMM slots supporting a total of 32GB of RAM. (Editor's Note: I did a system build with a friend this last weekend and we did successfully install 32GB of Corsair Vengeance RAM at 1866MHz without issue.) These slots are color coded black and gold to denote dual channel memory mode operation. These use ASUS’ single sided locking mechanisms for memory module retention. The expansion slot area has been laid out in such a way as to avoid the need for this type of slot, but it seems to have become ASUS’ de facto standard for all its motherboards these days.

Article Image Article Image

The chipset is located in the lower left corner of the motherboard PCB. It is cooled by a large, flat heat sink which is gold in color. This avoids any expansion slot clearance problems by being thin enough to fit under any expansion card. In front of that is the vast array of SATA 6Gb/s ports. There are ten of these color coded to denote what controller serves these. The gold colored are native Intel ports and the black ports belong to the ASMedia ASM1061 controller. The Intel controller supports RAID 0, 1, 10, and RAID5. The ASM1061 is AHCI only and supports no RAID functionality.

Article Image

The expansion slot area is well designed but not necessarily ideal. I won’t necessarily ding ASUS for this as its lineup includes motherboards I think are ideal in this regard and some which aren’t. In some circumstances one model may be better in this regard than another given user preference and configuration. Slots are ideal for a dual graphics card setup but not for three video cards. A third card can be installed but your chassis must support the card hanging off the bottom edge of the board. The first slot is a PCIe x1 slot which moves the primary PEG slot down and avoids clearance issues with the board’s DIMM slots. This motherboard supports a PCIe x16, 8x8, or 8x4x4 configuration. It doesn’t support 3-Way SLI as a result, but does support 3-Way CrossFire. The motherboard’s CMOS battery is in a nice location near the bottom edge of the board. It would still necessitate removal of a secondary graphics card to replace, but this is unavoidable on virtually all systems.

Article Image

The I/O panel features a corrosion resistant coating to prevent rust from humidity or salt water exposure. ASUS literature on the subject indicates that it can pass a 72 hour salt-water spray test which is 3X the industry standard. We didn’t test this so we’ll just take ASUS' word for it at the moment. The motherboard has the following ports on the back panel: 6x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0/1.1 ports, 2 RJ-45 LAN ports, 2 WiFi antenna connectors, 1 optical output, 6x mini-stereo jacks, 1 HDMI port, 1 DisplayPort, and one mini-DisplayPort. Additionally there is a BIOS flashback button for BIOS recovery.