Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts
Before we get into the specifics on the motherboard, I just want to cover the Z97 chipset a little. When it comes to new features, the chipset doesn't see a whole lot of extras. The first comes in the form of M.2 SSD support being more widespread. M.2, which was formally known as NGFF or Next-generation form factor, is the replacement for mSATA. While we'll indeed see it supported on Z97 boards, it will no doubt be like mSATA was: few and far between.
The other addition comes in the form of SATA Express, which we see on the SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 here today. While offering improved performance, the adaption, like most new technology, will take time.
Probably the main addition we like, though, is the support of Devil Canyon CPUs. Bringing with it higher clocked processors and higher overclocking ones, this is probably the main addition that will get you to jump. Outside of the extra speed, extra protection is offered by Intel Device Protection with Boot Guard.
While technically not a Z97 feature, because the Z97 supports the new crop of chips, it's indeed something that stands out. The problems is, outside of some leaked information regarding speed and models, we don't know when these are coming nor how much they will cost.
On a whole, the Z97 platform isn't doing much for most people at the moment. The main reason to make the jump will be to make use of the Haswell Refreshed K processors, but with nothing solid yet, we don't know when that will be. With that said, though, with the pricing of the new Z97 boards being similar to that of the previous generations Z87 boards, you'd kind of be crazy to not choose this chipset over the older one. This is the main reason Intel delayed the chipset, so motherboard companies could dump what is essentially going to become an unappealing chipset for most.
Moving away from the Z97 chipset and talking about the board we have on hand today, we can see it's a really nice, strong, typical offering from ASUS. It's everything you'd want and expect plus a little more under the SABERTOOTH name. Coming in at around the mid $200 mark, the board sits in the middle of the pack when it comes to pricing. Considering the feature set and bundle that ASUS offers, we would say that the pricing is more than fair.
Performance is strong, and overclocking is really good by hitting 4.95GHz. What we really like, though, is the Auto Tuning. Clicking just a few buttons, we found our system running at almost 4.6GHz. The big appeal to this is that the heat numbers at load weren't nearly as bad as the 4.95GHz clock. We'd feel a lot more confortable running at the Auto Tune speed daily versus the manual overclock speed we achieved.
Overall, it comes as no surprise that ASUS has put together a really nice board here that comes in at a good price point and offers some great features. If you're a fan of the SABERTOOTH series and you've bought one in the past and find yourself ready for an upgrade, then the move to this might be easy. If you're after something a little different, though, keep an eye out over the coming weeks as we offer you a look at more and more boards that fill different requirements. I'm sure that there's something here that will fit your requirements.
PRICING: You can find the ASUS SABERTOOK Z97 MARK 1 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The ASUS SABERTOOK Z97 MARK 1 retails for $249.99 at Amazon.