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Asus Z87-A Review

Asus Z87-A Review

Manufacturer: Asus
UK Price (as reviewed): £110.24 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $139.99 (ex TAX)
Preferred Partner Price: 103.04 (inc VAT)

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When it comes to Asus' ROG brand, we're like everyone else in that we believe its motherboards are usually swoon-worthy, feature-packed PCBs of awesome. However, they're also far more expensive than its mainstream models and indeed some of their competitors too. For example, one of MSI's relatively high-end board, the MSI Z87-G45 Gaming, costs just £112 but still managed to push our Core i7-4770K to its limit of 4.7GHz.

Thankfully, Asus' Z87 chipset-based line-up is out in force following the release of Intel's new CPUs a couple of months ago and the Z87-A represents the lower end of the mainstream selection of its motherboards, which sell in far greater numbers than it's ROG-branded ones. At £110, the Z87-A is the cheapest Z87 motherboard we've tested so far - even cheaper than the Gigabyte Z87N-WiFi mini-ITX board.

It's not an unattractive motherboard, but the gold and yellow trimmings are, in our opinion, not as good-looking as their predecessors. There's also the issue of power phases - the Z87-A only has eight, whereas even the Z87i-Pro sports ten thanks to its VRM daughterboard, so this could potentially limit overclocking.

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When it comes to layout, all the important connectors are located right at the edge of the PCB, which is great to see. All of the six SATA ports operate at 6Gbps and as well as laying parallel to the PCB for easier cable routeing, the upper four slots are only single-stacked so not to interfere with graphics cards - a nice touch. If you're gunning for a dual GPU setup, then you'll be pleased to hear that the upper two 16x PCI-E slots will both run at x8 speed. The lower 16x slot is limited to x2 speed, though, but along with two 1x PCI-E slots and two PCI slots, you won't be left wanting, whatever you have when it comes to sound cards or video capture cards.

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There's no insulated sound gadgetry here, though, as you might expect on the ROG boards. Instead the Z87-A uses the standard Realtek ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio codec. Overclocking tools are also fairly sparse - there's no power or reset buttons, CMOS clear switch or LED POST error code readout but the MSI Z87-G45 Gaming also lacks a majority of these features. USB ports at the rear total six, which is a bare minimum these days, with four of these being USB 3.0. WiFi and Bluetooth are also absent.

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Specifications
  • Chipset Intel Z87
  • CPU support LGA1150 compatible
  • Memory support 4 slots: max 32GB
  • Sound Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel
  • Networking Realtek 8111GR Gigabit LAN
  • Ports 6 x SATA 6Gbps via Intel Z87, 6 x USB 3.0 (2 x via header), 8 x USB 2.0 ( 6 via headers), LAN, audio out, line in, mic, Optical S/PDIF out, HDMI, DVI, mini-DP, VGA
  • Dimensions (mm) 305 x 223 (mini-ITX)
  • Extras None