The New ASUS Z97 Series
On ASUS’ regular range of Z97 motherboards, you’ll find the new 5-way Optimization feature that now comes with an upgraded Fan Xpert 3 and a new Turbo App that lets you change system settings dynamically, all controlled from within a single app. The rest of the features like TPU, EPU and DIGI+ Power remain pretty much the same as their previous Z87 series of motherboards.
For Fan Xpert3, ASUS has incorporated multiple thermal sensors on the motherboard for easy monitoring. There’s also an extra thermal header that you can easily attach a thermal probe to monitor whatever device you have inside your PC. With all the critical temperatures being monitored closely, Fan Xpert 3 then gives you further control of all the fans you have in your system. Now with a more precise hardware-level PWM/DC support for all kinds of fans, you can have very precise fan speed control to get that perfect balance between temperature and fan noise.
The other component of their new 5-way optimization feature is the new Turbo App. It is basically a performance management application that runs in the background of Windows. What it does is it remembers all your performance settings so that it’s automatically activated when the application is executed. Inside the app, you can preset the system performance (the processor clock speed) to use for each individual app as well as audio settings and network prioritization. You can also use it to automatically overclock your PC too.
Besides enhancement on the software side of the board, ASUS will also be bringing SATA Express to their new 9 series motherboards. With speeds comparable with M.2, the new SATA Express ports will give M.2 storage devices a run for their money since a SATA Express drive can be in the same 2.5-inch/3.5-inch form factor, unlike M.2, which is in its own unique form factor. SATA Express ports are also backward compatible with existing SATA cables and the ports are reusable for normal SATA drives if you choose not to use it for SATA Express. ASUS will be supporting SATA Express with a new HYPER EXPRESS enclosure that lets you use either two M.2, mSATA or 2.5-inch SSDs. ASUS did not show us a working sample of the enclosure although they promised it will be ready in June for Computex.
On the audio portion of the motherboard, ASUS has upgraded it to Crystal Sound 2 by enhancing the board layout with audio shielding and dedicated PCB layers for audio. According to ASUS, the shielding helps greatly in reducing digital noise while the dedicated layers improve channel separation of the left and right audio channels. The audio circuitries have also been enhanced with premium Japanese grade audio capacitors while the built-in audio amplifier will support high-end headphones with high impedance.