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Z97 Close Up: Gigabyte and Asus ROG boards

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Z97 Close Up: Gigabyte and Asus ROG boards

We've already posted images from a recent Asus press event and also MSI's plans following somewhat of a kerfuffle over non disclosure agreements surrounding Intel's next chipset.

In short, Intel has had some quiet words with both press and manufacturers about not publishing full blown reviews of its next-gen chipset quite yet. However, you've probably noticed that previews for the most part are definitely on the cards.

Z97 Close Up: Gigabyte and Asus ROG boards

So, as we get stuck in with the build up, we thought we'd share some images with you of some of the latest Z97 motherboards we've received from Asus and Gigabyte. First up is Gigabyte's duo of enthusiast offerings - the GA-Z97X-SLI (red) and GA-Z97X-UD5H (yellow).

Z97 Close Up: Gigabyte and Asus ROG boards Z97 Close Up: Gigabyte and Asus ROG boards

Both boards appear to offer isolated audio circuitry as well as the full range of features we're seeing advertised to come along with Z97 including SATA Express and an M.2 port, with Asus' numbers showing speeds of 800MB/sec in both as reported here.

Z97 Close Up: Gigabyte and Asus ROG boards Z97 Close Up: Gigabyte and Asus ROG boards

The inclusion of SATA Express and M.2 appears to be one of the main deciders as to what price segment a board is aimed at, with several seemingly low end boards we've seen lacking one or the other, or both.

Z97 Close Up: Gigabyte and Asus ROG boards Z97 Close Up: Gigabyte and Asus ROG boards

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However, it's great to see storage yet again taking the front page in terms of must-have features, especially with SSDs having languished in 550MB/sec territory for a while now (with the exception of the odd PCI-E-based drive or Samsung's RAPIDMode for its Evo and 840 Pro SSDs).

Keen-eyed viewers may have noticed that the red heatsink-clad GA-Z97X-SLI features a slightly reduced PCB width too but despite this, along with SATA Express and M.2 connections, CrossFireX as well as SLI are both supported.

Both boards are attractive and we're pretty keen to see what Gigabyte's high-end offerings look like, especially if the obligatory UD7 and UD9 models look even better than the already racey-looking UD5H.

This is especially important as Asus' budget conscious Maximus VII Hero looks set to offer most of the bells and whistles for a reasonable price tag.

The GA-Z97X-UD5H goes one step further and adds a third 16x PCI-E slot and combined with on-board power and reset buttons it looks like a very solid offering indeed - price depending of course.

**edit - Thanks to eagle-eyed forum member lancer778544, who spotted Gigabyte's motherboards listed under pre-order over at Aria, it looks like the Z97X-SLI will retail for around £105 in VAT while the UD5 will be yours for £149.**