Close up with the ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1
Moving away from the bundle and straight to the board, you can see that TUF Armor makes for just an awesome looking board. While I'm not the biggest fan of the dual tone brown color scheme, we can't deny the simple fact that it's just perfect for this kind of motherboard. You can see everything sits nicely throughout the TUF Armor, and with the Dust Defenders we saw on the previous page, you can have a board that looks very sexy once all hidden away.
Starting to move around the motherboard, you can see we've got what would be considered a fairly standard expansion slot setup. We've got three PCIe x1 slots along with three PCIe x16 slots.
As for the setup of those PCIe x16 slots, the bottom most black one runs at just 4x. As for the other two, if you're using just one, your video card will run at 16x. If you're going to be making use of CrossFire or SLI, though, like the Z87 platform, both cards will be running at 8x.
Taking a look across the bottom of the board, you can see the normal line up of connectors and headers, which include USB 2.0, fans, and our main front panel ones. Here, though, you also see that ASUS has put two SATA3 boards along the bottom. These two ports run off of the ASMedia controller. They're not going to be your first option, but if you're in need of some extra storage space, they'll come in handy.
Turning the corner, you can see we've got a total of six SATA ports alongside our first look at a SATA Express port, which is one of the main features that is added to the new Z97 platform. SATA Express brings with it improved speed, but the adoption rate at the moment is indeed slow and is, of course, the main reason why ASUS would've chosen to include only a single port.
Next to that, we've got six SATA3 ports, which also run off of the Intel Z97 chipset. Finally, we finish up with a green USB 3.0 header to round things off in this corner of the board.
Making our way to the top half of the board, you can see we've got our main 24-Pin ATX Power Connector along with our standard four DIMM slots. These support up to 32GB of DDR3 memory with speeds ranging from 1333MHz to 1866MHz DDR officially. Via overclocking, though, you can achieve higher, which you'll see today as we use Corsair Vengeance 2933MHz DDR RAM.
Sitting in the other corner, you can see our standard 8-Pin CPU Power Connector along with a couple of fan headers, including a smaller header for one of the smaller fans that comes in the bundle. Moving out, you can see the CPU area, which is pretty clean thanks to that TUF Armor. You don't see a whole lot, and to be honest, it's not a bad thing. The TUF Armor makes for a really sleek motherboard.
Finishing up with the I/O side of things, we start with four USB 2.0 ports; of course, the main thing lacking here is the inclusion of any kind of PS/2 port. While most companies choose to still include a PS/2 port, ASUS is generally one who doesn't have too much of an issue leaving it out. Next to that, we have our BIOS Flashback Button along with two video out ports in the form of DisplayPort and HDMI.
Dual networking is offered via the Intel I218V and Realtek 8111GR controller, and the ports sit above four USB 3.0 ports that run off of the Intel Z87 chipset and ASMedia controller. Finally, we finish up with five auxiliary ports and an optical out one that runs off of the Realtek ALC1150 HD Codec.