Intel Z97 chipset - First impressions

Intel Z97 chipset - First impressions

If you haven’t already heard, Intel have launched their Z97 chipset, and motherboards are already available.

So what’s new in Z97.

[ul]
[li]Support for the existing 4th generation Haswell (LGA1150) CPU’s.
[/li][li]Support for the new Haswell refresh CPU’s.
[/li][li]Support for the 5th generation Broadwell CPU’s (die shrink to 14nm).
[/li]
[li]Support for SATA Express at up to 10Gbps.
[/li][li]Support for M.2 SSDs at up to 10Gbps.
[/li][/ul]

There may well be other minor improvements that I’ve forgotten about, but the main updates are listed above.

I have my hands on an Asus Z97 Deluxe, which so far is awesome, in terms of features and stability.

It has a brand new, and much improved UEFI, and more subtle colour scheme which I like a lot.
The board has WiFi ac support, and support for SATA Express and M.2.

The storage configuration is very flexible, and is configured as follows.

[ul]
[li]10 SATA 6Gbps ports, six from the Intel Z97 chipset, 4 from two AsMedia 1061 SATA controllers.
[/li]
[li]Or other combinations, as follows.
[/li][li]2X SATA Express plus six SATA 6Gbps.
[/li][li]1X SATA Express and 8 SATA 6Gbps
[/li][li]1X M.2 plus 8 SATA 6Gbps.
[/li][li]1X M.2 plus 1X SATA Express, plus 6 SATA 6Gbps.
[/li][/ul]

Note: Not all Z97 have this configuration.

Anyone planning on Z97 in the near future?

I am thinking that it’s time to update my test PC, but to be honest only M.2 PCIe x2 or x4 make sense to do that, SATAExpress to me looks and feels like a bad joke, not to mention that on paper it appears to be slower that RAID0.

Also the new 5way optimization from ASUS looks very promising but I am sure that this will come with a premium price tag. I also hate this gold color, and the same applys for the red ROG boards.

On the CPU side I might wait for the unlocked Pentium mainly because i dont need much power, and also hoping that the price will be better from the ****K CPUs.

As far as I know the 5 way optimization is carried right through the range. The more upmarket boards have more phases to the CPU and RAM though.

It isn’t really gold on the heatsinks, it’s very subtle, and not gory like the Z87 boards. The picture doesn’t do it justice, you would have to see it with your own eyes.

Regarding SATA Express. I’m keeping an open mind. If someone can launch a single controller SATA Express SSD capable of nearly 1GB/s then I’d take that any day over two SATA SSDs in RAID 0. It’s less complicated, and none of the overheads of RAID stripping.

I should have mentioned in the first post.
1X SATA Express is via the Z97 PCH, the other is AsMedia.
The M.2 slot is also native to the Z97 chipset.

As far as I can tell, there is only one SATA Express enclosure from ASUS that does RAID0 on two M.2 or mSATA SSDs, I guess that we will have to wait and see if manufacturers will push this.
I personally dont see any reason to do that, when you have the M.2 form factor that it more slimmer and can also give the same, if not better performance.

I havent seen an ASUS z97 board, so I can only tell from the pictures, and I am not happy.

Going through the BIOS on my Z97 I see an Infrared Port. I know this has something to do with remote control but not sure how I would use it but I am wondering whether to disable it in the BIOS or just leave it enabled.:confused:

[QUOTE=alan1476;2728125]Going through the BIOS on my Z97 I see an Infrared Port. I know this has something to do with remote control but not sure how I would use it but I am wondering whether to disable it in the BIOS or just leave it enabled.:confused:[/QUOTE]
A Windows Media Center remote? 2 of my PCs can wake from sleep using one. Of course they are pretty much dedicated HTPCs.

[QUOTE=olyteddy;2728136]A Windows Media Center remote? 2 of my PCs can wake from sleep using one. Of course they are pretty much dedicated HTPCs.[/QUOTE]
Thanks, I believe you are correct. These new BIOS in the Z97 are very complex ( for me anyway) its sort of like turn it on and then if you don’t have any issues leave it that way LOL.:slight_smile: