The ASUS Z87-DELUXE is a high-end socket LGA1150 motherboard targeted for the “Haswell” processors (fourth-generation Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors). Its main highlights include the presence of the next-generation Wi-Fi standard, the IEEE802.11ac, which supports a maximum theoretical transfer rate of up to 1 Gbps, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, Bluetooth 4.0 interface, and more.
The new Intel Z87 chipset provides two important upgrades compared to its predecessor, the Z77: six USB 3.0 ports instead of four and six SATA-600 ports instead of only two. Another important difference between the two chipsets is where the video outputs of the motherboard are connected. While with both chipsets the video is generated by the CPU, on the Z77 the video signal was routed to the chipset, and the video outputs were connected to the chipset. On the Z87 chipset, the video outputs are connected directly to the processor. Both chipsets support up to three independent video monitors. The Z87 supports all other features provided by the Z77, such as Smart Response (installing an SSD as a cache for the main hard drive), Smart Connect (allowing the computer to receive emails and refresh webpages while it is in sleep mode), and Rapid Start (faster boot times) technologies.
You can see the ASUS Z87-DELUXE motherboard in Figure 1.
Figure 1: ASUS Z87-DELUXE motherboard
The ASUS Z87-DELUXE comes with two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x4 speed), and four PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots.
The two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots are controlled by the CPU, with the first slot working at x16 when only one video card is installed, and with both working at x8 when two video cards are installed.
The third PCI Express x16 slot is 2.0 and works at x4. If you plan to install a dual-slot video card in this slot, you will have to buy a case with at least eight slots. (Computer cases usually have seven.)
The PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots support both SLI and CrossFireX technologies. It is important to note that, according to the motherboard’s manual, the PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot supports CrossFireX but not SLI.
In order to accommodate the several additional PCI Express devices that come with this motherboard (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc.), it comes with a PLX PEX8608 switch chip.
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
Intel socket LGA1150 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket LGA1150 processors supports DDR3 memories up to 1,600 MHz. According to ASUS, the Z87-DELUXE supports memories up to 3,000 MHz.
The ASUS Z87-DELUXE has four memory sockets. Since DDR3 memory modules can be found in capacities up to 8 GiB, you can have up to 32 GiB with this motherboard if you use four 8 GiB modules.
In order to enable the dual-channel mode, you must install two or four memory modules. On the ASUS Z87-DELUXE, the first and third memory sockets are yellow, while the second and fourth are black. When installing two memory modules, use the yellow sockets.
Figure 3: Memory sockets; install two or four modules for the best performance
[nextpage title=”On Board Peripherals”]
The Intel Z87 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip has six SATA-600 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). The ASUS Z87-DELUXE comes with four additional SATA-600 ports, controlled by two ASMedia ASM1061 chips. The SATA ports are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards won’t block them.
Figure 4: The six SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (yellow) and the four SATA-600 ports controlled by the ASMedia chips (black)
The Intel Z87 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and six USB 3.0 ports. The ASUS Z87-DELUXE offers eight USB 2.0 ports, four located on the motherboard rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. There are eight USB 3.0 ports, all of them controlled by the chipset. Four of them (two on the motherboard rear panel and two available through a header) are connected directly to the chipset, while the other four are connected to a single USB 3.0 port from the chipset by way of an ASMedia ASM1074 hub chip.
The ASUS Z87-DELUXE doesn’t support FireWire ports.
This motherboard supports 7.1+2 audio format, i.e., eight channels plus two independent channels for audio streaming. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using the new Realtek ALC1150 codec, which is the best audio codec available today, providing an impressive 115 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 104 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. This means you are able to capture and edit analog audio (e.g., converting LPs to CDs or MP3, converting VHS to DVDs or any other digital format, etc.) with this motherboard without adding any background noise.
The analog audio outputs are independent and the motherboard also comes with an on-board optical SPDIF output. It also has a two-pin header labeled “SPDIF_OUT”, where you can install an adapter for a coaxial SPDIF output or to connect a cable to older video cards that required a physical connection to have audio on their HDMI outputs.
The portrayed motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel I217-V chip and the other controlled by a Realtek RTL8111GR chip.
The main highlight of the ASUS Z87-DELUXE is the presence of a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module. This module supports the forthcoming IEEE802.11ac standard and, of course, the existing IEEE802.11n/g/b/a standards. It is very important to understand that the IEEE802.11ac standard is scheduled to be released only next year, but there are a few routers supporting it already on the market. The maximum transfer rate of this standard will depend on the antenna configuration and on the channel bandwidth. The portrayed motherboard uses two antennas, making its bandwidth 867 Mbps or 1.69 Gbps, depending if you use 80 MHz or 160 MHz channels, respectively. ASUS doesn’t say whether its product supports 160 MHz channels or not.
The motherboard supports Bluetooth 4.0 and it is also compatible with Bluetooth 3.0.
In Figure 5, you can see the motherboard rear panel with six USB 3.0 ports, Mini DisplayPort output, optical SPDIF output, HDMI output, DisplayPort output, “BIOS Flashback” button, the integrated Wi-Fi module, four USB 2.0 ports, the two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and the analog audio jacks.
Figure 5: Motherboard rear panel
[nextpage title=”Other Features”]
This motherboard comes with two POST displays, so you can see, through a four-digit code, which component is preventing your computer from turning on.
Figure 6: POST diagnostics displays
The “MemOK!” button, shown in Figure 7, allows you to test the compatibility of the memory modules that are installed.
The ASUS Z87-DELUXE comes with the “TPU” and “EPU” switches. The “TPU” switch enables automatic overclocking, while the “EPU” switch allows the motherboard to reduce the CPU voltages while it is idle in order to save energy. A button called “DirectKey” allows you to enter directly on the motherboard setup program. And the “BIOS Flashback” button, shown in Figure 5, allows you to upgrade the motherboard BIOS by installing a USB memory on a USB 2.0 port containing the new BIOS file, without the need to turn on the computer and load the operating system or the motherboard setup program.
Figure 8: DirectKey button, TPU switch, and EPU switch
The portrayed motherboard supports the installation of a TPM (Trusted Platform Module), in charge of storing encryption keys in order to increase the security of the computer.
In Figure 9, you can see all of the accessories that come with the ASUS Z87-DELUXE.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the ASUS Z87-DELUXE has 16 phases for the CPU. The voltage regulator is controlled by an ASUS DIGI+ ASP1251 chip, which uses a digital design. Each phase is driven by one NTMFS4955N MOSFET and one NTMFS4937N MOSFET, which provide a maximum RDS(on) of 8.5 mΩ and 6 mΩ, respectively.
Figure 10: Voltage regulator circuit
The ASUS Z87-DELUXE uses solid capacitors and all coils on this motherboard are high-end models with gold-plated cores. According to ASUS, these coils support up to 60 A.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
[nextpage title=”Overclocking Options”]
The ASUS Z87-DELUXE has several overclocking options. Below, we list the most important ones (1008 BIOS):
- CPU Base Clock: From 80.0 MHz to 300.00 MHz in 0.1 MHz increments
- Memory Frequency: From 800 MHz to 3200 MHz in 266 MHz increments
- Host/PCIe Clock: Min: From 80.0 MHz to 133.33 MHz in 0.01 MHz increments
- CPU Core Voltage: From 0.001 V to 1.9200 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Cache Voltage: From 0.001 V to 1.9200 V in 0.001 V increments
- System Agent Voltage Offset: From 0.001 V to 0.999 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Analog I/O Voltage Offset: From 0.001 V to 0.999 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Digital I/O Voltage Offset: From 0.001 V to 0.999 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Input Voltage: From 0.800 V to 3.040 V in 0.010 V increments
- Chipset (PCH) Voltage: From 0.7000 V to “DRAM Voltage” in 0.0125 V increments
- Chipset (PCH VLX) Voltage: From 1.2000V to 2.0000 V in 0.0125 V increments
- Memory Voltage: From 1.20 V to 1.92 V in 0.005 V increments
- Memory Termination Voltage (VTTDDR): From 0.6000 V to 1.0000 V in 0.0125 V increments
Figure 11: Overclocking options
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the ASUS Z87-DELUXE include:
- Socket: LGA1150
- Chipset: Intel Z87 Express
- Super I/O: Nuvoton NCT6791D
- Parallel ATA: None
- Serial ATA: Six SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5) and four SATA-600 ports controlled by two ASMedia ASM1061 chips
- External SATA: None
- USB 2.0: Eight USB 2.0 ports, four on the motherboard real panel and four available through two headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: Eight USB 3.0 ports, six on the motherboard rear panel and two available through one header on the motherboard; four ports are connected to a single USB 3.0 port of the chipset by the way of an ASMedia ASM1074 hub chip
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): None
- Thunderbolt: None
- On-board video: Controlled by the CPU; Mini DisplayPort, DisplayPort, and HDMI
- On-board audio: Produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC1150 codec (7.1+2 channels, 24-bit resolution, 192 kHz sampling rate, 115 dB SNR for the outputs, and 104 dB SNR for the inputs), on-board optical SPDIF output
- On-board LAN: Two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel I217-V chip and one controlled by a Realtek RTL8111GR chip, and one Wi-Fi module supporting the IEEE802.11ac/n/g/b/a standards
- Buzzer: No
- Infrared interface: No
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: Two PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots (working at x16/x0 or x8/x8), one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x4 or x1), and four PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots (PLX PEX8608 switch chip)
- Memory: Four DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-3000, 32 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: One four-pin connector for the CPU cooler and five four-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: Two POST diagnostics displays, support for Bluetooth 4.0, “TPU” switch, “EPU” switch, and support for TPM
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: One
- Programs included: Motherboard utilities
- More Information: https://www.asus.com
- MSRP in the U.S.: USD 289.00
The ASUS Z87-DELUXE is a motherboard targeted to the sophisticated user who wants to build a high-end computer using one of the new “Haswell” CPUs (fourth-generation Core i3, Core i5, or Core i7 processors) and wants all the bells and whistles possible, including support for the forthcoming IEEE802.11ac networking standard.
The highlights of this motherboard include the support for the coming IEEE802.11ac standard, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, Bluetooth 4.0, eight USB 3.0 ports, 10 SATA-600 ports, two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, a high-end voltage regulator circuit with 16 phases, the best audio codec available today (112 dB signal-to-noise ratio), and more.
Another important feature of this motherboard is the presence of a PCI Express switch chip, which makes it possible for the motherboard to have so many additional features and the ability to switch bandwidth automatically to the device that is requiring it.
Differently from all other socket LGA1150 motherboards we’ve seen so far, the third PCI Express x16 slot can be used on a CrossFireX configuration.
The only drawback we see with this motherboard is the way the USB 3.0 ports are configured. The Z87 chipset supports six USB 3.0 ports, but the manufacturer wanted to add eight. While four of them are connected independently to the chipset, the other four are connected to a single USB 3.0 port of the chipset, by way of a hub chip. If you use two or more ports that are actually connected to the same USB 3.0 port on the chipset at the same time, the performance will drop. Unfortunately the manufacturer doesn’t label which ports are shared.
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