March 16, 2015

Unboxing & Review: ASUS Z97-PRO Gamer

ASUS has a wide range of award winning products that has been one of the most selected brand when it comes to PC DIY components, especially graphics card and motherboards that is feature rich and packs with great overclocking potential throughout all generations of both Intel and AMD platform.

Greatest thanks to ASUS Malaysia for sending over a ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard for today's review. The ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer comes with features of both the ASUS Z97-Pro and some elements from the ASUS ROG branded motherboards (SupremeFX Audio, M.2, SATA Express but with a lower SRP of RM625.

ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer
3 Years
Form Factor
Supported CPU
Intel LGA 1150 Socket CPU
Intel Z97
Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8) 
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x2 mode) 
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 *1
2 x PCI
Memory Support
4 x DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB
Up to Dual Channel, 1333-3200 MHz
I/O Panel
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0 (blue)
2 x USB 2.0 
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
Internal I/O Connectors
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x SATA Express connector: gray, compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3 for M Key, type 2260/2280 devices
1 x TPM header
1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (3 x 4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s)
1 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)


The front of the box slightly resembles a ROG branded motherboard that is kept simple but with the the ROG logo, as the Z97-Pro Gamer isn't a product under the ROG brand. 

At the back of the box you'll find the prominent features of the motherboard 


The included accessories is pretty simple, a user guide, driver CD, SLI bridge, 2 x SATA cables, rear I/O cover.

Closer Look

The Z97-Pro Gamer might not be a ROG branded motherboard, but we can see some components that is commonly found on a ROG branded motherboard i.e SupremeFX audio, 10k Black Metallic Capacitors.

A closer look around the CPU socket we find that the Z97-Pro Gamer isn't Super Alloy chokes used on the Z97-Pro, but the capacitors used were the 10K Black Metallic Capacitors. 

It supports up to 4 DDR3 Memory with 32GB in total and memory speed up to 3300 MHz, 

The ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer has a total of 4 x SATA III and a SATA Express ports that is capable of 10Gb/s transfer rate, but SATA Express devices but up until now we hasn't seen any SATA Express devices in our local market yet.

The chipset heatsink looks pretty decent but not as unique as the ones on a ROG motherboards or the latest disc shaped heatsink on the ASUS Z97 series motherboards.

The SLI / Crossfire support is something pretty common for intel Z97 chipset motherboard at the price of RM6XX, but the conventional PCI has been around for ages is still used on the Z97-Pro Gamer even though it's rarely seen on high end motherboard nowadays. Some still adopt the standard as there are users who still have the need for certain devices that only comes available in the form of a PCI devices.

The same SupremeFX audio chipset which can be found on a ROG branded motherboard is made isolated from electromagnetic interference (EMI) by a protective shield which ASUS claims to be able to effectively eliminates analog interference to ensure flawless sound quality.

By far the SATA Express devices isn't something common you can find locally, therefore the M.2 SSD with a higher availability and runs at the same speed as the SATA Express (10Gb/s) will be a good alternative to tryout the 10Gb/s standard. 

A look at the I/O panel: 

  • 1 x P/S2 Keyboard Mouse combo port
  • 1 x S/PDIF, Display port and HDMI, VGA and DVI-D
  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 4 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x Intel Ethernet ports
  • 6 x Audio Jacks


The UEFI BIOS interface shares the same color scheme of the UEFI BIOS on the ROG branded motherboards. Accessing it the first time will lead you to the Ez Mode interface that has all the basic functions to allow quick and easy system optimization even to entry level users.

Advanced users may opt for the Advanced Mode for more tweaking options. The main tab basic details of your system and also the option to adjust your system date, time and language.

The Ai Tweaker is where advanced users will spend vast amount of time to tune their system clock speed, voltage, strap, etc. Highlighted in yellow are the brief details on the targeted outcome of the current system tuning.

At the Advance tab, users can further adjust the settings of CPU, storage devices, USB ports, On-board Devices, APM, Network Stack, Platform Misc and so on.

Monitor tab allow users to monitor components temperature and fan speed, adjust fan speed with profiles so the fans will behave accordingly.

Monitor tab allow users to monitor components temperature and fan speed, adjust fan speed with profiles so the fans will behave accordingly.

The Tool tab comes with some useful function such as the ASUS EZ Flash Utility for BIOS update via flash drive (similar to the BIOS flashback button) and the ASUS Overclocking Profile to backup your stable over-clocking profiles.

The functions in the Exit tab is pretty common but still worth to mention.

  • Load Optimized Defaults - Basically this will restore the changes done to the factory default settings.
  • Save Changes & Reset - This will save the changes done and restart your system.
  • Discard Changes & Reset - This will save the changes done and restart your system.

Both option 2 and 3 can be accessed without the need of accessing the exit tab as user will be prompted with a confirmation message when exiting the BIOS via the Esc key.


The AI Suite III software suite is available in the installation disc provided, but just in case, it's always recommended to download the latest from ASUS's website. Opening the suite will lead you to the main interface page consisting of accessible tweaks and toggles as well as full, on-the-fly system information at the bottom.

The Dual Intelligent Processor 5 5-Way Optimization has been a feature that we've commonly see on the higher end ASUS Z97 motherboards, it's good to know that it has been included for the Z97-Pro Gamer as well.

By clicking on the 5-Way Optimization icon, the softwaRe will lead you to this screen for system auto-tuning.

The system will restart few times for the optimization process to take place and the final result of the optimization is then presented in a brief report.

USB 3.0 Boost allows UASP enabled devices to display improvement in transfer speed. 

EZ Update is a BIOS update utility that automatically checks for the latest BIOS updates from ASUS official and BIOS update can be done easily with a single click on the update button after the latest BIOS file is selected.

System information utility allow users to navigate the details of their motherboard, CPU and Memory - similar as the CPU-Z often used by advanced users during over-clocking session.

Push Notice is an utility that notify you on selected event via mobile devices so you will always be updated with your system status when you're few miles away from it.

Test Overview
Moving on to test, we've build the following system configuration using the ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer:

Test Rig Configuration
CPU Cooler
Corsair H100i
Intel Core i7 4790K
ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer 
G.Skill TridentX 8GB@2400MHz
Primary Hard Drive
Crucial M500 120GB
Power Supply
be quiet! Straight Power 10 600W
Vector Bench Case

 Auto Tuning vs. Manual Overclocking

We've done overclocking test manually and via the Auto Tuning features. Each configuration survived the stress test with the same large FFTs option and the result is presented in the graph above.

The Super Pi result shows only minor difference between manual overclocking and auto overclocking. The 5-Way Optimization feature is able to fine tune the CPU frequency to 4.6 GHz but there's still something which it didn't manage to overclock - the memory. We're using a pair of G.Skill TridentX that is capable of 2400MHz via XMP to eliminate the difference in memory speed. 

ATTO Disk Benchmark
We've ran the ATTO Disk Benchmark utility for a quick benchmark on SATA III SSD(s) and the result is shown as below:

Result of sequential read/write for Intel 520 Series 120GB (left) and Crucial M500 120GB (right), everything seems fine at this point.

Result of sequential read/write for Corsair Voyager GO under normal mode (left) and USB 3.0 Boost mode (right). There's a slight improvement after the USB 3.0 Boost is enabled, where the initial read wasn't able to reach even a nibble of 80 Mb/s is now able to reach 80 Mb/s and a little bit more.

Final Thoughts
Comes with combined features of both the Z97-Pro and ROG Motherboard, the ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer is what we would say a good alternative for those who wants something that has a slight resemblance with the ROG branded motherboard and features of the Intel Z97 chipset motherboard i.e SATA Express, M.2 at a lower cost. 

Overclocking wise, the ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer did pretty well in terms of overclocking performance and features accessible from the AI Suite III software. If you're a gamer who wants to give your system a little boost but you're not confident to mess around with the BIOS settings for overclocking, the AI Suite III auto system tuning feature is definitely something you should try as most of the optimization can be done with a simple click on the software itself - Except for RAM overclocking, which we hope it will be a new feature to be added to the perhaps 6-way optimization in the near future.


  • Reasonable price
  • Good alternative for those who wants a balanced point in between ASUS Z97 motherboard and ROG branded motherboard 
  • 5-Way Optimization Auto-Tuning for easy system optimization
  • Simple but handy on-board feature - BIOS flashback, MemOK, EZ XMP, Power button
  • ASUS AI Suite III has many useful features gathered in a single piece of software, as if it's a Swiss army knife
  • Supports the new M.2 and SATA Express interface devices


  • Absent of power ON/OFF switch, reset switch and clear CMOS switch can be tough for those who has less experience in overclocking