Introduction of the ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1
When you talk about worst kept secrets, the Haswell Refresh on a whole has to be one. The whole thing got so bad that it just felt like Intel no longer cared what people did with it. If you had it, just review it. They seemed to just throw their hands in the air and give off the vibe that they just don't care what people do.
After testing the i7 4970, which is part of the new Non-K series refreshes, it kind of makes sense why Intel aren't all that fussed about everything just coming out. There's really not a whole lot that you're going to be getting excited about here. If the word refresh was ever appropriate, it was certainly here.
Along with a new line of CPUs coming, though, Intel brought with it the new Z97 platform. The new platform doesn't bring a ton of new features, but there's a couple that we will highlight as we move forward and take a closer look at the board. We don't need to say a whole lot, and considering we've really had a ton of Z97 boards arrive in the last week, we should just get a move on.
So, let's leave it at that and see just what's going on with the ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 motherboard here today.
Package - What comes inside the box
Taking a look at the front of the box, you can see there's not too much going on. We've got the model and chipset clearly shown along with a bunch of logos across the bottom, including the 5-Year Warranty that comes with the board thanks to it being part of the TUF line up.
Turning the box over, we get our first look at the board, but more importantly, we get an idea of what exactly the TUF labeling brings to the table. Starting from the left, you can see we've got the Thermal Armor, which helps not only make the board look better but also help direct airflow over the heat sinks that sit on top of the VRMs. The next big feature is the TUF Fortifier, which adds a massive backplate to the rear of the board to help reduce bowing of the PCB and damage of the rear circuitry.
The other two big features that are offered on the board include the Thermal Radar 2 feature, which lets you control the fans in your system along with your ASUS Video Card. Included cables let you monitor key areas in real-time, so you can adjust the fan speeds as needed. Finally, we finish off with the Dust Defenders that not only help make the board look great, but also help reduce the dust build up around key areas. Outside of that, you can see the main specifications of the board and a look at the I/O panel, which we'll look at in more detail later.
Moving inside the package, you can see we've got the normal line up of paperwork, including a certificate of reliability to go with that TUF naming scheme. You can also see the standard driver CD in the bundle. Outside of the paperwork and driver CD, you can see we've got four SATA cables, I/O back plate, SLI bridge, and some EZ Connectors, which make the hook up of the board a little bit easier and faster.
One of the really cool features of the SABERTOOTH series is the Dust Defenders, which can be installed throughout the empty slots on the motherboard. With PCIe covers to USB ones, and everything in between, you can end up with a board that looks absolutely awesome. This is one of those features that outside of being functional is just also really cool.
Finishing up our look at the bundle, you can see we've got a pair of fans along with a couple of thermal probes and a dust filter. We're not the biggest fan of these smaller fans as they can tend to be a little loud, but there's no denying that if you want to get the most performance out of your system, adding these into the mix is a good idea.