Final Thoughts – ASUS Z87-Deluxe
Gold was not a popular color choice, and this is as close to the right amount of gold as I would want to get. Barring this subjective opinion, the ASUS Z87-Deluxe easily set up to handle some of the most extensive benchmarking yet. The stability of the board is a sign of the quality implementation of the platform. The built in hardware features like Direct Access and the DRCT header which boots to the BIOS, TPU performance switching, extra UASP/USB 3.0 Boost performance, and 4-Way digital Intelligent processors all improve performance and the end user experience.
Like any Haswell system, overclocking the Deluxe comes with a learning curve. Adaptive voltage is an intuitive scaling CPU power feature that helps with power conservation and preservation of your processor. Offset voltage is still there for those used to the format. Given Haswell’s visible gains with overclocking memory, users should find the BIOS Easy Mode XMP settings extremely handy. In fact, if you’re serious about getting your overclock on and have extremely good CPU cooling, the Deluxe will help your Haswell K-SKU processor reach 4.9GHz or higher. New advanced BIOS features let you save progress notes, control cooling, and customize the layout as you see fit.
Finally, AI Suite III continues to add the most comprehensive maintenance and new enhanced performance package yet. Users unfamiliar with the UEFI BIOS will feel just like a pro when using the suite to control fans, performance settings, and the built in 4-Way Intelligent utility.
Priced as low as $264.99 US, this board offers a great deal of connectivity, performance, and another positive end-user experience which makes it worth its weight in gold.
- Solid on-board features and performance
- AI Suite III: The end-user’s refuge!
- Intuitive UEFI BIOS – Great Easy Mode
- 4-Way Intelligent Optimizer
- Excellent overclocking potential
- Improved power consumption and cooling
- Realtek ALC1150 Audio is surprisingly decent
- PCI, DIMM, and other ports don’t quite match the gold
- USB port polling a bit slow to activate
Overall Rating: 9.0 / 10.0
Final Thoughts – GIGABYTE GA-Z87X-UD5H
The GIGABYTE GA-Z87X-UD5H is a solid high performance board underneath the conservative facade. As expected, it kept up with the ASUS Z87-Deluxe board pound for pound, refusing to give up during the repeated onslaught of testing. When pushing the board too far, it was always quick to recover. The quality of the UD5H is excellent, and operates at cooler temperatures without so much as a squeak. The high quality components give the board its stability and continued good audio quality which is what I’ve come to expect from GIGABYTE as of late.
Overclocking doesn’t look like something the GA-Z87X-UD5H supports but I found the board eager to support the new Easy Tune performance utility’s overclocking selections as well as the UEFI BIOS’ selections right up to 4.8GHz. Just make sure you have excellent CPU cooling as the CPU voltage is just a tad bit high when using 4.7 and 4.8GHz respectively. The new UEFI BIOS has a new design and configuration adding quite a few new options like customized pages, default BIOS page, improved cooling control, and works well with Easy Tune. It’s far better and more intuitive than the 3D BIOS of yesteryear. I suspect GIGABYTE will continue bringing new options to their platform.
As an end-user, I found the new App Center a step in the right direction. It wasn’t quite ready when Z87 first launched, but it now has more programs and better support. I like it because you can easily update, add, and customize what you want within the App utility. While you can find this board for as low as $209.78 US, I wouldn’t mind seeing a UD5H-WiFi bundle again for a few dollars more.
- Solid stability and quality
- Continued power conservation and cooling
- Great overclocking potential
- Much improved UEFI BIOS
- App Center with many new option controls
- Easy Tune more aggressive than ever
- Good price for the performance
- BIOS mouse could be smoother
- Improved BIOS descriptions for us noobs
- Outdated VGA port
Overall Rating: 8.5 / 10.0
Final Thoughts – MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming
It’s about time MSI broke away from previous designs by offering an affordable platform for gamers looking for great stability, decent audio performance, and a theme that is anything but boring. The Z87-GD65 Gaming performed admirably and was quite stable, keeping up with the competition well. While I’m very fond of the fantastic dragon motif, I’m not too fond of the slightly crooked Ferrite chokes visible even on the MSI promotional page. This has been a major nitpick of ours for years. Granted it doesn’t hurt the board’s performance and isn’t noticeable when installed, but it is worth MSI’s attention when competing in such a tight price point.
Even though this is a more affordable $210-220 motherboard at retail, it still feels like an aggressive platform. With an updated Realtek ALC1150 audio processor implemented for a better gaming experience, along with OC Genie 4, it makes it makes for a very easy 4.2 GHz with the push of a button. And, there’s still enough heart underneath to get near 4.7GHz with manual tuning via the UEFI BIOS.
The added Go2BIOS button boots your board right in to the BIOS should something require attention. Unfortunately, the BIOS could use some updating like a visible Save and Exit button, added information as to what’s in each parent tab, and a less cluttered boot device slider up top. Despite a few rough edges, I’m still pleased with the MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming motherboard. I think this series will continue to grow in popularity especially as MSI improves the platform.
Not everyone can afford the elite GIGABYTE G1.Killer or ASUS ROG series motherboards, which gives MSI a unique opportunity to strike. And priced as low as $177.16 US, it most certainly will strike hard.
- Very attractive gamer and dragon theme
- Killer E2100 Gigabit networking
- Improved Realtek ALC1150 – Audio Boost
- Low power consumption and thermal output
- Command Center – impressive first step
- OC Genie V – easy overclocking
- Affordable bang for buck gamer platform
- UEFI BIOS not as intuitive as others
- Consolidate page buttons need notes
- Cluttered bootable device tree
- Outdated VGA port and crooked components
Overall Rating: 8.0 / 10.0
Three Intel Z87 Super Hero Motherboards for Different Enthusiasts
Overall, base level performance between motherboards is so similar it’s really like splitting hairs. If you’re an overclocker or need the hairy edge of performance along with plentiful connectivity, you’ll want to spend more money for the higher end boards like the ASUS Z87 Deluxe and GIGABYTE GA-Z87X-UD5H. If you’re not really a tweaker, then the MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming may be more what you are looking for. The decision really comes down to what features you need, the end-user experience that appeals to you, and finally, whichever fits into your budget.
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