ASUS Z87-WS LGA 1150 Motherboard Review

asus-z87-ws-intro

Holy gold!  Said pretty much everyone ever everywhere when ASUS rolled out there Z87 motherboard lineup.  I think ASUS was making a statement, and their Z87-WS appears to stand tall as a gold standard which we will be comparing Z87 motherbaords to for some time.  Feature-rich, extremely expandable, and reliable are a few adjectives you'll see quite a bit on the following pages.  In the end though, it really means is that it's the motherboard that has a lot of everything while making careful sacrifices in the name of 24/7 reliability that pros and average joes alike will appreciate.

Overview


The Asus Z87 WS motherboard offers unprecedented reliability as you equip it to the most recent Intel processor lineup. It is in socket 1150 chipset so you can enjoy using the most powerful 4th generation Intel processors of today. This motherboard is built very tough and offers several revolutionary features such as Supports Intel InTru 3D, Intel Quick Sync Video, Intel Clear Video HD Technology, and Intel Insider. This Asus motherboard also possesses speedy SATA 6Gb/s connectors for a supreme hard disk or solid state drive data transmission. With its 4x DDR3 memory slots, installing more memory modules is done without sweat. Moreover, it has Realtek ALC1150 8-channel high definition audio CODEC to easily suffice your system’s audio needs plus an Intel i210 Gigabit LAN controller for impressively stable wired networking scheme.

 

  • Best Graphics Performance with 4-Way Gen3 CrossFireX™ and Geforce® SLI™Intelligent
  • PSU Detection with ASUS Dr.Power
  • 4-Way Optimization improves performance, efficiency, stability and cooling
  • Better networking with new dual server-grade Intel® I210 Ethernet
  • New UEFI BIOS provides full-scale Performance turning with easy BIOS settings

 

*Courtesy of ASUS

asus-z87-splash

Specifications


CPU Intel® Socket 1150 for 4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron®/Xeon® E3-1200/12x5 v3 series Processors
Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU
* The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types.
Chipset Intel® Z87
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2500(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C./2133(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1800/1600/1333 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
Graphic

Integrated Graphics Processor *1
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DisplayPort /Mini DisplayPort ports *2
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 1024 MB
Supports up to 3 displays simultaneously

Supports NVIDIA® 4-Way SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD 4-Way CrossFireX Technology

Expansion Slots 4 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (dual x16 or x16/x8/x8 or quad x8)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
Storage Intel® Z87 chipset :
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), yellow
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Marvell® PCIe 9230 controller :
4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), black
Support Raid 0, 1, 10
ASMedia® ASM1061 controller :
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
LAN  Intel® I210, 2 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Audio Realtek® ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
- High quality 112 dB SNR stereo playback output (Line-out at rear) and 104 dB (Line-in)
Audio Feature :
- Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
- DTS Ultra PC II
- DTS Connect
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
- BD Audio Layer Content Protection
USB Ports Intel® Z87 chipset :
3 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (1 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z87 chipset :
9 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (4 at back panel, , 5 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
3 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (3 at back panel, blue)
Workstation Features Quick Gate: 1 x vertical USB 2.0 on board
ASUS Dr. Power
Special Features

ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-Way Optimization

ASUS EPU

ASUS Digital Power Design

ASUS EZ DIY

ASUS Q-Design

100% All High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors
Overclocking Protection

Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s
2 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0
4 x USB 2.0 (one port can be switched to USB BIOS Flashback)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
1 x Mini DisplayPort(s)
Internal I/O Ports 1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin, blue)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x USB 2.0/1.1 vertical port(s)
1 x TPM connector(s)
1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
10 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x mSATA connector
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
4 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 x 4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
2 x 8-pin EATX 12 V Power connector
1 x 6-pin EATX 12 V_1 Power connector(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s)
1 x Chassis Intrusion connector(s)
1 x DirectKey Button(s)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x TPU switch(es)
1 x EPU switch(es)
1 x Dr.Power switch(es)
Accessories User's manual
Accessory Guide
ASUS Q-Shield
1 x COM port cable(s)
10 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x 3-Way SLI bridge(s)
1 x 4-Way SLI bridge(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x 2-port USB2.0 + 1394 bracket(s)
BIOS 64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.7, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3, My Favorites, Quick Note, Last Modified log, F12 PrintScreen, F3 Shortcut functions, and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information
Manageability WfM 2.0, DMI 2.7, WOL by PME, PXE
Support Disc Drivers
ASUS Utilities
ASUS Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
Note *1 Intel® HD Graphics support
*2 DisplayPort 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport compliant, supports DisplayPort 1.2 monitor daisy chain up to 3 displays
*3 These SATA ports are for data hard drivers only. ATAPI devices are not supported.
*4 supports ASUS USB 3.0 Boost

*Courtesy of ASUS

**More detailed specifications available at the ASUS Z87-WS product page

 

Meet The Family - ASUS WS Series


ASUS's workstation motherboards can at times be a bit puzzling in where they fit in in terms of ASUS' overall segmentation.  The table below is meant to highlight the differences by comparing the basic Z87-C model, the high-end Z87-Deluxe/Dual, and the Z87 WS.

 

NOTE: For the love of everything that's good, this unwieldy table I created below wasn't really meant to be gone through line-by-line.  But, if you so want, you can read through it all.  My attempt here was to show the primary differences between the different boards, so I don't show common features in the table.  My hope is you'll be able to give it a quick scroll to see how the featuresets are different, but not anything more, for your own sake.  The full specs are shown above for your reference.

 

Alright, with that out of the way, what you'll see scrolling the big, massive, ugly, boring spec table is that the Z87-WS sits near the Z87-Deluxe model in terms of the overall featureset, but you'll find with the workstation model that some of the ancilliary bells-and-whisltes are absent (namely enthusiast-grade overclocking features) and the overall I/O functionality inside and out is buffed up, including Xeon processor support.  The workstation motherbaords are really meant to be solid workhorses for 24/7/365.25 usage (let's not leave out that ever-important quarter of a day per year we make up for once every four years), which means maximizing expandability (that PS/2 mouse and e-SATA drive of yours don't get left out), focusing on proffesional-grade connectivity (ditching Thunderbolt for DisplayPort), improving stability (removing some of the fancy circuitry to help push overclocks harder), providing more rendering / GPU bandwidth via 4-way SLI at full x16, and adding some "just works" functionality with Dr. Power which automatically detects if your PSU rails are trying to go out of spec and proactively prevent failures.  There's more to it that we'll discuss in a bit, but there's the primer on where the Workstation boards fit in the grand scheme of things.

 

Z87-C

Z87-DELUXE/DUAL

Z87-WS

CPU
Intel® Socket 1150 for 4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU
Intel® Socket 1150 for 4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron®/Xeon® E3-1200/12x5 v3 series Processors
Memory
4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 3000(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2500(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600/1333 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2500(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1800/1600/1333 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory 
Graphic
- Supports DVI-D with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
- Supports RGB with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
- Supports Thunderbolt with max. resolution 4096 x2160 @24 Hz / 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz - Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz
Multi-GPU Support
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology *1 Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology *2
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports NVIDIA® 4-Way SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD 4-Way CrossFireX Technology  
Expansion Slots
1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode) *2
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
3 x PCI
3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8 or x8/x4/x4)
4 x PCIe 2.0 x1
4 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (dual x16 or x16/x8/x8 or quad x8)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1  
Storage
Intel® Z87 chipset :
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), yellow
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Intel® Z87 chipset :
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), yellow
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
ASMedia® ASM1061 controller : *4
4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), dark brown
Intel® Z87 chipset :
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), yellow
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Marvell® PCIe 9230 controller :
4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), black
Support Raid 0, 1, 10
ASMedia® ASM1061 controller :
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s port(s), red  
LAN
Realtek® 8111GR, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s) Intel® I217V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Realtek® 8111GR, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers- 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) appliance
Intel® LAN- Dual interconnect between the Integrated LAN controller and Physical Layer (PHY)
Intel® I210, 2 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)  
Audio
Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC Realtek® ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- High quality 112 dB SNR stereo playback output (Line-out at rear) and 104 dB SNR recording input (Line-in)
Audio Feature :
- Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection 
- DTS Ultra PC II
- DTS Connect
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
- BD Audio Layer Content Protection
USB Ports
Intel® Z87 chipset :
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z87 chipset :
8 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, black, 6 at mid-board)
Intel® Z87 chipset :
4 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z87 chipset :
8 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (4 at back panel, black, 4 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
4 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue)
Intel® Z87 chipset :
3 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (1 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z87 chipset :
9 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (4 at back panel, , 5 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
3 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (3 at back panel, blue)  
Special Features
ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 2 with DIGI+ VRM :

ASUS 5X Protection :
- ASUS DIGI+ VRM - 4 Phase digital power design
- ASUS Enhanced DRAM Overcurrent Protection - Short circuit damage prevention
- ASUS ESD Guards - Enhanced ESD protection
- ASUS High-Quality 5K-Hour Solid Capacitors - 2.5x long lifespan with excellent durability
- ASUS Stainless Steel Back I/O - 3x more durable corrosion-resistant coating
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 4 Phase CPU Power Design
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-sink solution
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM

ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-Way Optimization :
- The tuning key perfectly consolidates ASUS-exclusive DIGI+ Power Control, TPU, EPU, and Fan Xpert 2 optimize the digital power setting, system performance, power saving and whole system cooling configuration
ASUS 5X Protection :
- ASUS DIGI+ VRM - 16 Phase digital power design
- ASUS Enhanced DRAM Overcurrent Protection - Short circuit damage prevention
- ASUS ESD Guards - Enhanced ESD protection
- ASUS High-Quality 5K-Hour Solid Capacitors - 2.5x long lifespan with excellent durability
- ASUS Stainless Steel Back I/O - 3x more durable corrosion-resistant coating
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
- EPU switch
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 16 Phase CPU Power Design
- Industry leading Digital 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
ASUS Wi-Fi GO!
- Wi-Fi GO! Function: Cloud GO!, Media Streaming Hub, Smart Sensor Control, Remote Desktop, Remote Keyboard & Mouse, File Transfer, Capture & Send
- Wi-Fi Engine for network sharing and connection: Client Mode, AP Mode
- Wi-Fi GO! & NFC Remote for portable Smartphone/Tablet, supporting iOS & Android systems
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- USB BIOS Flashback
- MemOK!
- Onboard Button : Power/Reset
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fan Xpert 2
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Code
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector

ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-Way Optimization :
- The tuning key perfectly consolidates ASUS-exclusive DIGI+ Power Control, TPU, EPU, and Fan Xpert 2 optimize the digital power setting, system performance, power saving and whole system cooling configuration
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
- EPU switch
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 8 Phase CPU Power Design
- Industry leading Digital 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- TurboV EVO
- GPU Boost
- USB BIOS Flashback
- MemOK!
- Onboard Button : Power/Reset
- ASUS SSD Caching II
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Code
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector
Back I/O Ports
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0 (blue)
2 x USB 2.0
6 x Audio jack(s)
2 x Thunderbolt port(s)
1 x HDMI
2 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
6 x USB 3.0 (blue)
4 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
1 x ASUS Wi-Fi GO! module (Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS)
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s
2 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0
4 x USB 2.0 (one port can be switched to USB BIOS Flashback)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
1 x Mini DisplayPort(s)  
Internal I/O Ports
3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (3 x 4 -pin)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)

2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
10 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
4 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 x 4 -pin)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x TPU switch(es)
1 x EPU switch(es)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x USB 2.0/1.1 vertical port(s)
1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
10 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x mSATA connector
4 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4x4-pin)
2 x 8-pin EATX 12 V Power connector
1 x 6-pin EATX 12 V_1 Power connector(s)
1 x Chassis Intrusion connector(s)
1 x TPU switch(es)
1 x EPU switch(es)
1 x Dr.Power switch(es)  
Accessories

I/O Shield
2 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
ASUS Q-Shield
6 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x NFC EXPRESS box with 2 extra USB 3.0 ports + NFC EXPRESS tag + ASUS NFC EXPRESS utility*6
1 x ASUS 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compliant)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
User's manual
Accessory Guide
ASUS Q-Shield
1 x COM port cable(s)
10 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x 3-Way SLI bridge(s)
1 x 4-Way SLI bridge(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x 2-port USB2.0 + 1394 bracket(s)  
Thunderbolt
VGA output support
Data transfer rate up to 10 Gbps
Daisy-chain up to 12 Thunderbolt devices
   
Wireless Data Network
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac*5
Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz
   
Bluetooth
Bluetooth V4.0
Bluetooth V3.0+HS
   
IEEE 1394
   1 x IEEE 1394a port(s)
(1 at mid-board)  
Workstation Feature
   Quick Gate: 1 x vertical USB 2.0 on board
ASUS Dr. Power  

 

Included Accessories


asus-z87-ws-included-accessories

I mentioned that the Z87-WS puts a focus on maximizing I/O capability as well as expandability, the literal pile of stuff that comes with that is the first sign that the worstation boards really mean business.  Tons of SATA cables (a whopping 10 of em'), SLI bridges (2, 3, and 4-way), rear I/O brackets, and several other less-common accessories to be included with a motherboard now-a-days, like a COM port cable and a USB 2.0 bracket with firewire, you know, in case you're a pro with some pro-level stuff that still likes to have Firewire.  It's all there, and then some.  Seriously, ASUS' workstation line has you covered.  Obviously the obligatory manual and driver disk is also included.

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