ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark S Overview
Immediately upon taking the motherboard out of the box I was immediately taken back at how awesome the white camo TUF Armor and all white PCB of this motherboard looks. I am really glad ASUS went with the all-white PCB, remember they could have just stuck white TUF Armor on this thing and called it “Limited Edition”. There have only been a few motherboards in history that have had an all-white PCB and it just looks great!
The white Thermal Armor actually covers most of the motherboard. You can actually install two fans in the Thermal Armor for added cooling. There are flow valves that can be opened and closed depending if you have the fans installed or not. Along the left eidge of the board there is a Sabertooth logo and it also lets us know the run number of our specific board, which is 1926.
At the center of the board we have the Intel LGA1150 socket that supports both 4th and 5th generation Intel Core processors. ASUS uses an all-digital VRM for this board and also quality components on the power delivery system like 10K Ti-Caps which offer a +20% temperature tolerance and 5X longer lifetime usage, TUF Alloy Chokes that run 13.6% Cooler for extra-unbeatable durability, and TUF MOSFETs military-grade certified with lower RDS(on). How sexy does that white PCB look in the photo below?
On the top edge of the motherboard you have a few connections. These include your 8pin EPS connector, smaller fan connector for the optional fan you can install, a 3pin fan header, 4pin optional CPU fan header and a 4pin CPU fan header.
Moving over to the right side of the motherboard you have your DDR3 DIMM slots that are color-coded for dual-channel operation. One thing I always love about the memory slots on ASUS motherboards is the bottom ends don’t have the locking mechanism, this allowed you to install and remove memory without having to take out your graphics card. Along the far end of the board you have the MemOK button that helps your system get started if you are having memory problems, it will find the right timings so your system will boot. Below that is a 4pin fan header and your 24pin ATX power connection.
Going down the board there is a angled USB 3.0 header, 4 SATA 6GB/s ports and a single SATA Express ports. All of the SATA ports and SATA Express port are controlled by the Z97 chipset and support RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 modes. If you happen to not use the SATA Express port it opens up two more SATA ports for use.
Along the bottom of the board you will find the rest of your headers, buttons, and connections. From right to left you have your front panel header, a 4pin fan header, two SATA 6GB/s ports, two USB 2.0 headers, a USB 3.0 header, two more 4pin fan headers, HD audio header, and a TPM header. The two SATA 6GB/s ports are controlled by the ASMedia ASM1061 controller.
ASUS’s audio solution on this board is based off of the Realtek ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio codec. This solution is separated from the rest of the motherboard by PCB isolation. The left and right audio channels use different PCB layers to guard the quality of the sensitive audio signals. It also has a audio amplifier and unique de-pop circuit that reduces start-up popping noise to all audio outputs.
When it comes to expansion slots you have two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, a single PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slot and three PCI-Express x1 slots. With one graphics card installed the top slot will run at x16 speeds, and with two cards installed the slots will run at x8 speeds.
Moving on to the rear I/O you have four USB 2.0 ports, BIOS flashback button, DisplayPort, HDMI port, four USB 3.0 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports (Intel I218V / Realtek 8111GR), and audio. You can also see the large space where the optional fan can be installed.
Flipping the board over we can see the TUF Fortifier, which is a large metal reinforced backplate. This not only provides protection for the motherboard, but also helps components stay cool. Of course ASUS has continued their Arctic camo onto this as well, and it looks damn good! There is also a TUF logo and limited edition printed on the back. We can also see that beautiful white PCB!
This board also has ESD protection for extended component lifespan, the TUF ESD guards are tested to standards that are 30% higher than industry standards, ensuring electrostatic discharges are properly grounded from all onboard connectivity.