Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 Motherboard Review

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Intel’s Z97 chipset has launched and TUF series motherboards are part of the Asus welcoming party. Sporting the new Intel chipset and old TUF features that have made previous generation Sabertooth boards lucrative components, we put Asus’ Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 in the firing line of our critical analysis.

Do Thermal Armor and military-standard component testing have a place in the consumer market?

Main Image 2 Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 Motherboard Review

Since its inception many generations ago (P55, if I remember correctly), Asus has been onto a winner with The Ultimate Force (TUF) series motherboards. A distinctive design straying away from the typical gaming and overclocking products made TUF components desirable parts to users wishing for a unique motherboard.

Longevity is the key philosophy behind the design of TUF series motherboards. Asus tackles the issue of durability in two distinct manners: reliability-certified electronic components and an all-out war on thermal degradation.

The former employs electronic components tested to a number of military-standard certifications by Integrated Service Technology (IST). The latter sees a plastic heat transfer-management cover, known as Thermal Armor, and an upgraded suite of temperature sensors combating heat-induced component degradation.

I see the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 motherboard as a ‘hybrid’ of sorts – an approaching-workstation level motherboard that also offers potent gaming and general usage features. The target market? Users, perhaps such as myself, who desire stable operation for their demanding, home-accessed academia/employment workloads, but also value gaming features when they are called upon.

installed 650 Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 Motherboard Review

Feature-wise, Asus outfits the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 with an array of consumer-orientated components. Dual LAN chips, add-on USB 3.0 and SATA host controllers, support for SLI and CrossFire, Realtek ALC1150-based audio, and a 10Gbps SATA Express connection are some of the board’s user-orientated design points.

Backed by a 5-year warranty (in the EU and North America) and retailing at £184.99, can Asus’ Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 contend with the heat of battle in our strenuous analysis?

The Z97 Chipset

To consumer audiences, the most important new feature that Z97 brings with it is native support for PCIe 2.0 x2 M.2 storage devices with speeds of up to 1GBps. Other features include enhanced security and updated storage support (based around PCIe SSDs).

Features:

  • Thermal Armour.
  • TUF Fortifier.
  • Thermal Radar 2.
  • Dust Defenders.
  • 10Gbps SATA Express.
  • Intel LAN.
  • Realtek ALC1150.
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Rating: 4.3/5 (25 votes cast)
Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 Motherboard Review, 4.3 out of 5 based on 25 ratings
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  • Ben

    Luke, brilliant review and so much detail, took me 30 minutes reading it this morning. I love Kitguru’s motherboard (and GPU) reviews! This is top of my shortlist when the new K series come out.

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  • Harris

    What is going on? Why is everyone copying the ASUS red and black board designs? Nice to see ASUS (who started it all) using different colours.

    Sabretooth are my favourite boards. always have been. ill be getting this one soon

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  • Joe

    I think thermal armor is a gimmick in regards to temperatures, but I like the dust protection and protection over the capacitors. I can be rough on the boards when installing them. Nice looking board – interested in SATA express too, as I have a lot of large files I move around often

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  • Badgamer67

    based on your reviews I included the sabertooth mark 1 in my new build, also your reviews let me decide my gpu, gigabyte GTX770OC, psu seasonic X-Series 650W KM3 gold and now my ram, G.Skill ARES 16 g kit. Cheers for taking the stress out of my build

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