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May 16, 2013

ASUS Announces its Mainline Z87 Classic Series, with a New Look

ASUS announced a fleet of socket LGA1150 motherboards, covering its mainline (classic), Republic of Gamers (ROG), and The Ultimate Force (TUF) lines. With this series, ASUS is adopting a new color scheme for its mainline motherboards, breaking away from the black PCB with blue heatsinks scheme it maintained since the first LGA1156 motherboards, almost four years ago. The new mainline motherboards from ASUS feature black PCBs with golden-colored heatsinks covering the VRM and PCH, and simpler naming. ASUS' first wave of Z87-based mainline (classic) motherboards include the entry-level Z87-C and Z87-A, mid-range Z87-PLUS and Z87-PRO, and premium Z87-DELUXE.

The Z87-C covers the basics, including 4- phase CPU power, four DIMM slots supporting up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR3 memory, a single PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot wired to the CPU, a PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (electrical x4) wired to the PCH, two other PCI-Express x1 slots, and three legacy PCI slots. Display outputs include DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. Storage connectivity includes eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports. 8-channel HD audio, four USB 3.0 ports, a single gigabit Ethernet connection, make for the rest of the board. This is the most affordable Z87-based motherboard from ASUS, and could occupy a sub-$100 price-point.

The Z87-A is a few notches above the Z87-C, with a stronger 8-phase CPU power, an expansion-slot loadout that includes two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (electrical x16/NC or x8/x8), wired to the CPU, a third PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (electrical x4), wired to the PCH, and two each of PCI-Express x1 and legacy PCI; ten SATA 6 Gb/s ports, and other connectivity that includes 8-channel HD audio with optical SPDIF, gigabit Ethernet, and a few other ASUS-exclusives. The board supports 2-way SLI and CrossFireX, and should be the cheapest option for multi-GPU builds.

Moving on to the mid-range, we begin with the Z87-PLUS, which builds on the feature-set of the Z87-A. It features the same electrical system, while upping the ante with overclocker-friendly features, and connectivity. You find features that stabilize memory and CPU overclock at the push of a button, an obscene twelve SATA ports, the same expansion slot layout as the Z87-A, and the same connectivity options.

The Z87-PRO is designed for people who will opt for nothing less than the top socket LGA1150 processor. You get all ASUS-exclusive features of the Z87-PLUS, and 12-phase CPU power backed by EPU, three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots wired to the CPU (x16/NC/NC or x8/x8/NC or x8/x4/x4), four PCI-Express x1 slots, eight internal and two external SATA ports, six USB 3.0 ports, 8-channel HD audio, gigabit Ethernet, WiFi (802.11 b/g/n), display outputs that include DVI, D-Sub, HDMI, and DisplayPort.

Leading the pack for ASUS' mainline Classic series, is the Z87-DELUXE. This board is probably the most connectivity-rich model in ASUS' entire portfolio of LGA1150 motherboards. It offers 16-phase CPU power, the same expansion-slot layout as the Z87-PRO, but drops in ten SATA 6 Gb/s ports, eight USB 3.0 ports, 802.11ac WiFi, dual gigabit Ethernet, and display outputs that include HDMI and/or DisplayPort. There are a few more overclocker-friendly features on offer.