Overclocking and Conclusion
To give a feel for the Overclocking performance potential of the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 board, we attempted to push it to known CPU-supported performance parameters with minimal tweaking. The Sabertooth board did not disappoint, managing a stable run for well over 4hrs with the CPU running at 4.67GHz, the CPU ring bus purring along at 4.0GHz, and memory at 1780MHz, all with the base clock set to 167MHz. System stability was tested running the AIDA64 stability test in conjunction with EVGA's OC Scanner X graphical benchmark running at 1280×1024 resolution and 8x MSAA in stress test mode.
Note that this is is meant only as a quick preview of the board's performance potential. With more time to tweak the settings to a greater extent, pushing to a higher base clock and ring bus speed may have been achievable, in addition to an overnight stability run without issue.
Performance-wise, the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 clawed its way to the top, performing on par or better than the other Intel Z97-based systems. Its overclocking performance and potential were also exemplary with the design work ASUS put into the CPU digital power circuitry very evident.
Before continuing with our final thoughts on the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 motherboard, we would like to take this opportunity to give our friends at ASUS a hearty “Thank You” for giving us the opportunity to review another example of their engineering prowess. As with board's from its other lines, ASUS used the Intel Z97 chipset launch as an opportunity to tweak and further perfect their Sabertooth board design, culminating in the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1. They kept to the TUF series' aesthetics and signature Thermal Armor, giving the board a militaristic look that appeals to a vast number of gamers world-wide. Their design tweaking did not stop with the armor airflow and back plate enhancements, but included refinement of the VRM digital circuitry. The included power chokes are alloy based and covered by a heat dissipating metal outer layer, aiding in optimal heat dispersal and cooler running under all conditions. ASUS also included their updated audio design with separated audio PCB and enhanced left and right channel amplifiers for crisp sound reproduction. For the most part, the board layout was well thought out with adequate space around all component for uninhibited use of those ports. They even included a dust dispersal protocol on system shutdown, forcing the Thermal Armor fans (when attached) to run in reverse to help disperse dust from the Thermal Armor air channels.
Unfortunately, we did have an issue with the Corsair H100i cooler fit to the CPU socket that we hadn't encountered before.
This issue stemmed from the placement of the capacitors directly above the CPU socket and their proximity to the socket. With our Corsair H100i all-in-one cooler that we have used for countless Intel Z77, Z87, and Z97 reviews, the CPU block came to rest on top of the lower edge of the capacitors as you can see from the thermal paste imprints highlighted in the motherboard shot. In a vertical orientation as recommended by Corsair (with the barbs facing either the top or bottom of the board), the base plate fits the socket without issue. So you must be careful when installing this type of cooler into your new motherboard!
- Stock performance
- Overclocking performance
- Motherboard manual
- Board layout and design with exception of CPU socket area (see below)
- Board aesthetics
- Utility and enhanced function with redesigned Thermal Armor and Fortifier back plate
- UEFI BIOS design and usability
- Accessible PCI-Express x1 slot with all PCI-Express x16 slots populated
- SATA Express 10Gbps-capable port
- CMOS battery placement
- Five year warranty
- Capacitor proximity along upper side of CPU socket
- Bandwidth sharing between tertiary PCI-Express 16 slot and PCI-Express x1 slot 3 and the ASMedia USB 3.0 rear panel port