The ASUS Z97 Pro uses very good hardware for its voltage regulation, and while ASUS didn't use the IR branded doublers for all phases, they still get the same low power modes and the CPU can idle at 3w, which is impressive.
Although ASUS is taking bandwidth sharing to a semi-extreme level providing 12 devices with the bandwidth meant for 6 (through sharing or swapping), they have done it in a way that won't impact performance to where it would be noticeable. ASUS made sure to put the four devices that use the least bandwidth on the 1 to 4 switch chip, provide bandwidth intensive hardware the proper bandwidth it needs, and of course feed the NIC its own unaltered PCI-E lane.
ASUS even went as far as to provide a PCI-E re-driver for the USB 3.0 controller at the top of the board, so that its signal would be strong. This type of efficient engineering is what ASUS is known for in the industry, and it shines through here.
Overclocking the Z97 Pro is just like any other ASUS board I have used in the past; its CPU, BCLK, and memory overclocking is strong for the board's price. The 5-Way Optimization, TPU, and EPU provide nice profiles for those who don't know how to tune their UEFI, but in the end, they are just auto profiles which can be improved by doing things manually.
One thing I feel is missing from the Z97 Pro are voltage read points so that overclockers can read voltages in real-time, with the FIVR we can't just find read points like in the past, manufacturers have to build them in. Other than that little complaint, I conclude that the Z97 Pro is a solid board with great all-around performance.
There were some inquiries into how I run my power consumption tests which I would like to clarify here. When I test auto overclocks, I leave Power Option settings at "Balanced", when doing manual overclocks I increase the power settings to "High performance", and when I use special power saving features such as EPU, I use the "Power Saver" Windows mode.
I have also been made aware a handy feature; a special recovery mode in which you can hold down the Z97 Pro's power button for four seconds if POST fails, and that will engage OC recovery letting you into the BIOS.
There was also an inquiry into the way I do audio testing, ASUS asked that I put the volume of the output to 100% and increase the line in volume to where it would be optimal enough to run the test, when I did this I got the following results:
PRICING: You can find the ASUS Z97 Pro 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 Z97 Pro retails for $209.99 at Amazon.
Canada: The ASUS Z97 Pro retails for CDN$263.22 at Amazon Canada.
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