Aggressively works the Haswell chip; bundled 802.11ac.
A bit pricey; we miss the blue.
Motherboard shopping used to be like buying a Model T—you could buy any color you wanted as long it was black. Today, we have a serious Nerd World problem in the dizzying array of motherboard choices, with Asus offering no less than 10 Z87 boards just in its “standard” line, at prices that range from ultra-budget to luxury.
With the exception of Goldmember, PC users may miss the old blue heatsinks.
The Z87 Deluxe comes in near the top of Asus’s consumer line, and immediately raises the question, “Is it worth it?” given its price tag of about $290 on the street. That’s hard to say, but Asus has ladled on enough features to make a convincing argument.
There’s 802.11ac with a redesigned antenna, Bluetooth 4.0 for support of ultra-low-power devices such as the Fitbit, and multi-GPU support for up to two Nvidia cards in SLI or up to three AMD cards in CrossFireX. The wireless support may seem extraneous on a desktop board, but Asus has a few tricks to get you to use it. You can, for example, set the 802.11ac to access-point mode and use it to sync files with your phone. Another mode allows you to use your phone as a remote desktop session. Sounds nifty, but we couldn’t figure out how to zoom in on the Android app, making it useless. It would also be nice if there was a way to know that the mode is on, lest someone remotely control or—watch—our screen without our knowledge.
Elsewhere in the board, Asus does a polish job on its already excellent UEFI implementation. For a long time, Asus’s UEFI has been our pick of the litter and only recently have competitors come close. New features include a notebook, favorites, and—the most handy—a list of what you just changed in the UEFI as you exit. Asus’s other strong suite has been its AI Suite software, which also leads the pack in usability. It too has been polished up.
Other extras include dual NICs, with one using an Intel PHY, and the latest Realtek audio codec, the ALC1150. We put on a set of analog gaming cans and did some close listening to lossless audio while hammering the USB 3.0 ports with data and couldn’t discern any of the electrical noise that can crop up with onboard audio.
Moving to performance, we configured an Intel DZ87KLT-75K with the exact same components and then quickly watched the Z87-Deluxe mercilessly smack the Intel board around. Magic? Well, yes, if the magic is running the Core i7-4770K at higher boost clo cks. The Z87-Deluxe consistently ran the Haswell at 4.2- or 4.3GHz when the Intel board would nary go past 3.9GHz on Turbo Boost. That let the Asus board run away with most of the benchmarks. There was even a little overclocking room left. Using the board’s auto-overclock, it set a clock speed of 4.6GHz. That’s pretty audacious for a Haswell chip. The only place where the Intel board came out ahead was in storage, where it edged out the Z87-Deluxe in I/O across the native Intel SATA ports as well as the USB 3.0. Overall, though, we give the “performance” nod to the Asus board because it pushes the chip far harder than Intel does with its own motherboard.
So, is it worth it? Yes and no. We’ll be honest. Not everyone needs the fancy Wi-Fi/Bluetooth features nor 10 SATA 6Gb/s ports. But then again, do you really need the leather seats in your car? Or the heated mirrors and HID lamps? No, but that doesn’t make it bad to have them, either. It’s just a question of whether you want to be pampered or to drive around in a strippo.
|Asus Z87-Deluxe||Intel DZ87KLT-75K|
|3DMark Firestrike Score ||8,694||8,563|
|3DMark Physics ||11,676||10,137|
|PCMark 8 Home Score ||5,824||5,146|
|PCMark 8 Creative Score||5,925||5,340|
|PCMark 8 Work||5,562||4,947|
|Sandra Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)||24.07||24|
|CrystalDiskMark Seq. R/W SATA (MB/s)||531.1 / 507.1||541 / 520|
|CrystalDiskMark Seq. R/W USB 3.0 (MB/s)||428.7 / 371.7||432.8 / 348.9|
|Valve Particle (fps)||211||196|
|Hitman Absolution low-res (fps)||82.3||71.9|
We used a Core i7-4770K, 8GB of DDR3/1866, Cooler Master 212 Evo, Corsair 240GB Neutron GTX , GeForce GTX 780, and Windows 8 for our testing. Crystal disk mark scores used a 250GB Samsung 840 Pro on SATA 6Gbps and in an Asmedia enclosure on USB 3.0.