Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Asus Z97 Deluxe - its problems and hidden traps

Preamble:  I`m back on Asus. Since my post where I wrote that I`m leaving Asus serious changes happens. Asus made a large work to lift up quality and engineering.   But there are still some "spots on the sun".
After about a year spent on Asus Z87 Deluxe/Dual that was about perfect  I moved to Z97 Deluxe WiFi &NFC. I thought upgrade will pass smooth since both systems about the same except  few small changes. But I was wrong. Looks like Asus made this board in a hurry and miss some pesky things. First of all strange accessory pack - why they put wireless charger to this motherboard  ? It does not have any relation to it. But the main mystery is Thunderbolt EX II /Dual PCI ex card.
Why they put this accessory board instead of placing those 5520 chip on main board.  Now its not only took one PCI ex port but also add dangling wires inside and outside. So , if you would like 3-way SLI or Crossfire you will have to decide - SLI or Thunderbolt ? Lets have a look on other surprised on this board:

A.  Weird SATA port configuration on board:

1. Z97 own SATA and SATA Express ports. Please, check the manual for port numeration - its very unusual !  Problems - only if you have connected M.2 SSD - SATA Express port will be disabled.

2.  ASmedia first channel  SATA - no possible problems.

3.  ASmedia second channel SATA and SATA Express - this is most tricky thing !!! If you connect device to any of this ports it will work ONLY if you DISABLE PCI Ex 3 slot  in BIOS.  So if you plug Thunderbolt EX II/DUAL board you will not be able to use this SATA ports and front USB 3.0 ports connected to USB3 1_2 and USB3 4_5.

Users reports that their devices not working when connected to this ports and return boards think its faulty - in fact Asus does not pay enough attention of users to this tricky moment. So you have to choose  what is more important - third PCI ex port or  additional SATA connections.

B. Enabling Thunderbolt ports.

Plugin in PCI ex slot is  not enough to make it work !

1. Also require to connect internal TB_Header link  and both cords from Mini-Display Port and Display port.

2. You also have to enable CPU graphics to turn on this board even if you have discrete graphic board. 

3. Check if PCI Ex 3 slot enabled in BIOS (mean you disable SATA ports on second ASmedia channel). Refer to motherboard manual how to do that.

Now your thunderbolt ports working ! It works fine with apple Thunderbolt to... converters
For example I use Thunderbolt to FW800 converter to get FireWire port to my system ! Very handy !

In addition I should notice that there are many misprints in manuals. For example, in Thunderbolt EX II/DUAL Manual book Z97 motherboard not mentioned as a compatible board ! Link to online video guide in Z97 Motherboard manual links to Z87 video manual etc.

Hope this post answered your questions  and solve your problems with this board !
But besides this board is very powerful  and well done ! Complements to ASUS !

P.S. Still wonder why Asus trying to convince users that they able to make Hi Fi sound with on-board Realtek chip ! It is waste of time and money - Realtek Sound chip is not even a pretender ! So there are no way to make any serious sound system with it  ! Those Crystal Sound with separate channels are just a marketing trick !