The SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1, carrying the signature color scheme of ASUS’ TUF range of motherboards. The SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 is a unique board with ASUS’ Thermal Armor for better cooling.
Right out of the box you’ll see the board is looks really TUF (tough) and indeed is, the special cover on the board is the Thermal Armor that I mentioned, it employs dual fans to provide boosted airflow for rapid cooling. Reversible-airflow technology blows dust up and away from the heatsink VRM, while the exclusive flow-valve design controls the heat-pipe’s air contact â€” great for liquid-cooling setups.
In the L-shaped structure around the processor is not only the heatsink but also an air-flow tunnel of which you may attach the provided fan (comes in the box). The air-flow tunnel also comes with 2 switches for you to decide how the flow should work.
Under the cooling system are TUF 10K Ti-Caps, TUF New Alloy Chokes for extra durability and TUF MOSFETs.
On the other side of the heatsink are the connection components, there’s little to no clearance for connectors so make sure you plan out your installation process.
At the front, nothing new. Just the DIMM slot and power connector.
As for the CPU socket area, the clearance is very tight as well so be sure to plan your cooler installation as some areas might be difficult to reach.
The board comes with a good amount of SATA port, including one for SATA Express.
For multi-GPU configuration the board has 2x PCI-E x16 slots that run on x8 / x8 configuration when 2 cards are in place.
Nothing out of the ordinary here but for a high-end board I’m quite disappointed that ASUS doesn’t include buttons for power on/off and debug LED on it.
The board comes with the following I/O ports…
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
2 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0 (blue)
4 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
5 x Audio jack(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
At the back is the TUF Fortifier that not only act as a back-plate to strengthen the board but also provides additional cooling.
Lastly the accessories that comes with the board, fans and dust protection components. The dust protection components are called Dust Defenders, they’re pieces of plastic that are inserted into I/O ports and PCI slots to protect the board from dust collection.
Phew, that’s a whole lot of feature on a single board. More details available at the official product page.
The board worked great, as always I’m most interested in the UEFI and as always ASUS provides the best user interface.
For those who aren’t familiar or aren’t picky on settings, there’s the EZ mode.
Advanced users will surely prefer the Advanced Mode for better control over the board.
The Ai Tweaker section is where overclockers like myself would likely make a bee-line for.
If you’re not familiar with overclocking then there’s the EZ Tuning Wizard to do the job for you. From my experience the Tuning Wizard will get you better performance but it’s not necessarily optimized and you’ll have to find tune them to get the best out of it.
One last thing I wish to highlight is the fan setting as it comes with an interface that allows you fine control on how the fast the fan should spin at stated conditions.
ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1 retails at RM 1,099 – a very good price for a board with such outstanding quality, and not forgetting the 5-year warranty.
It’s no where near the price of the highest ROG series board, the TUF board focuses on durability and in this case the board would be great all-rounder with focus on stability and anti-dust.