Monday, May 26, 2014

[Rant] Which Z97 board should I get?

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This PC downsizing project is getting closer to becoming a reality. There are only  two parts of the puzzle left. First one is getting rid of the case. And the second one is getting rid of the motherboard. I've already decided on the case to get. The Silverstone Sugo SG09. If the prices of the SG10 come down closer to the price of the SG09, I would go with the SG10. As it stands today, the price difference ($30) doesn't justify getting the SG10. (Intrigued by my decision? Check out my reasoning here.)

So, what's next? I need to find a motherboard that fits my requirements. I currently have the Core i7 4770K CPU which is a bad overclocker. I would most probably be ditching it for a 4790K depending on the pricing (in Japan) and ease of getting rid of the 4770K via auctions. My aim is to overclock it as high as possible. Thus, a board made for overclocking is a good motherboard to get.

There aren't many choices in the micro-ATX segment. I checked kakaku.com to see what options I had but was a bit disappointed in the range of products listed and the pricing of them. It is not surprising that the initial prices will be high, because the shops want to exploit the wallets of the early adopters. I originally wanted to get the ROG Maximus VII Gene. But that's $260 - too overpriced in my opinion.

Then I checked what else Asus had to offer. The Z97 Gryphon from the TUF Series and the Z97M-Plus from the mainstream series were there but both of them carry the old Realtek ALC892 audio codec. So that's a deal breaker. If I had to choose one out of the two, I would go with the Gryphon because of the better build quality and the potentially higher overclock I can get out of the 4790K chip thanks to the stronger VRM circuitry.

But it seems that I wouldn't have to buy either of them as Gigabyte had a model with the ALC1150 codec for a little cheaper than the Gryphon called Z97MX-Gaming 5. Yes, it is still on the expensive side especially when you compare to the prices in the US. But this is only a problem for the early adopters. The prices will eventually settle down at a much reasonable level. In fact, sometimes the prices could get even cheaper than the US price.

Ok, I digress.

I am not a fan of MSI motherboards so I skipped checking them out. They are not really cheap either. The Gigabyte board was cheaper than any comparable MSI board.

I felt the choices that I had were too limited, so I checked around the web to see if there were better motherboards released in the US. Perhaps they haven't been released in Japan yet. They would definitely come to the Japanese market in the next few weeks. I found such board and I think this is the one to get after all. ASRock Z97M OC Formula. This motherboard has had the blessing of ASRock's in-house overclocker Nick Shih. It has Killer NIC and the ALC1150 codec. The name suggests great overclocking potential. (Edit: The motherboard was listed today on kakaku.com. The price is steep. I expected it to be much lesser than that. JPY19,980. Yikes!)

Z97M OC Formula(m)

None of these micro-ATX boards haven't been reviewed by anyone yet. So I'm going with just the specs and the word of mouth. Who knows, in reality the Asus Z97M-Plus could be better than anything else out there. So if I manage to sell my current motherboard, I might end up buying something that has a brilliant spec sheet but has subpar performance in real life. I'm going to hope that I won’t be caught in that spot of bother. I still believe that my luck isn't that bad. However, I have something else coming up in the next few days that might require all the luck that I can get. Maybe you'll hear about it someday but not very soon.

Say that reviews on these boards come out soon. It still doesn't fix the problem. That's because if the reviews come out soon, the reviewers would be using the Core i7 4770K CPU for overclocking testing, but guess what? There isn't a big differentiation between how far you can take this CPU with either boards. This CPU isn't a good CPU to test the motherboards. I wish that all the things in the world will get together to create the ideal situation for me. That would be, nobody bids for my motherboard until the reviews of these motherboards with the 4790K CPUs are out; I would also get a decent sum of money for the motherboard and I would manage to get the best motherboard for a reasonably low price. That's a lot to ask, I know. But hey, there are way luckier people in the world. Why cannot I be someone like that for a change?

Let’s first get rid of the Hero first.

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