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Old 02-23-2015, 06:38 PM   #1
SKI
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Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark2

I've had some time now to live with my new rig, and I thought I'd share a few of my experiences. First, here are the specs:

Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 2
Processor: Intel Core i7-4790K Haswell Quad-Core 4.0GHz
RAM: Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB (2 X 8GB)
Video card: Asus Strix GTX-980
Processor cooling: Noctua NH-U9B SE2 (2 fans)
PSU: CORSAIR HX-850
OS/key apps drive: Samsung 850 Pro SSD 256 GB
Storage drive: WD Black 3TB HDD (64MB Cache, 6.0Gb/s)
Optical drive: Pioneer BDR-2209 Blu-Ray Burner
Operating system: Windows 7 Pro, 64 bit

Nothing is overclocked... this is "pure vanilla". The basic concept was to create a high-performance ATX-based PC that would excel at gaming and would fit into a really small case, while not spending an absurd amount of money.

First of all, this is an "all air-cooled" rig, and it's exceptionally quiet. There are 4 80mm case fans and 2 92mm HSF fans running, and this is still the quietest rig I've ever built. As an unexpected bonus, the speed of the case fans, which are all connected to fan headers on the mobo, are managed along with the HSF speed. This is the default setting in BIOS! So, if you're looking for simple case fan speed management, this mobo has it.

The "real-world" experience of using this rig is pretty sweet. Cold-boot time is 30 seconds to get to the log-in screen, and it takes me 10 seconds to type in my password and begin surfing the web (LAN connection established and Firefox running). Full shutdown takes 7 seconds. Outlook takes under 2 seconds to load (1500+ messages currently in the inbox), and 17 seconds to start Quickbooks and load my company file. FarCry 4 loads pretty fast, too: it's playable in 1 minute 20 seconds. And with a GTX-980 video card, the graphics are stupendous! I'm trying to justify the expense of a G-sync display ($$$ Yikes!), which has at least gotten me to work hard at my business!

The Pioneer Blu-Ray drive is exceptional... quiet & smooth, it has worked perfectly for me so far.

Were I to do things over again, I'd have built with a 512GB SSD for OS and key applications. This is a "minimalist" motherboard, so there is no option to run some drives in RAID and others by themselves: it's "all or nothing" RAID. Frankly, the storage system runs fairly quickly as it is. However, it would be nice to have to option to do RAID and non-RAID disks without having to move to a more expensive mobo.

Also, I miss the option of using a PS2 keyboard, old-school though they are. With no PS2 keyboard, the "cold-boot via keyboard" option is lost, which is something I've always used previously. However, this rig is set to use hybrid sleep, and resumes from keyboard or mouse. Thinking back to all the headaches we went through with "suspend to RAM", this is a pretty nice trade-off, and it wakes up in seconds (I haven't timed this one yet).

The bottom line is that I'm really pleased with this set-up, and I'm looking forward to a few more tweaks as time & money permit.

I'm working on a detailed write-up of the build (with pictures) that some of you old-school guys may enjoy... stay tuned!
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Old 02-23-2015, 07:46 PM   #2
Sandog
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Re: Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark2

Great rig! There a few things nowadays that make desktops quiet as a mouse.

First the lower power chipset, I believe they are down to single digit wattage for the I/O chip on mainstream chipsets. Also the real-time frequency/power control on CPU's which allow them to run very cool when not loaded which also puts less load on the mobo. The Haswell can drop from 70C to 30C in about 10s. Last, the sophisticated voltage control chips that can provide 6-7 four pin PWM fan headers with up to 2A on them which keeps fan noise and speed to a minimum. Many instances the case fans do not even run.

Besides having a low-wattage CPU you also have a pretty low-wattage video card compared to the last generation. Very easy to have a quiet rig nowadays indeed.

One thing I did notice and really doesn't matter is your power supply which might be over rated. I doubt your system will ever require more than 400W.
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Old 02-23-2015, 07:53 PM   #3
PeterT
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Re: Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark2

Very nice rig and mini review! Glad you're enjoying it.
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Current systems in the house, in chronological order. Mine in bold:
Desktop:
Corsair 550D & AX750, Asus Sabertooth
Z87, i7-4770K, 4x4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600, Asus Strix GTX 970 4GB, Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD
Antec SOLO II, Corsair TX650M, Asus ROG Crossblade Ranger, AMD A10-7890K, 4x4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600, Asus R9 270X DirectCU II TOP 2GB,

Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD
Antec SOLO, Corsair TX650, Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P, Intel Q9550, 4x2GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 800,
EVGA GTX560Ti SC 1GB, Asus U3S6, Corsair Force GT 120GB SSD
Mobile:
Acer Aspire V5-552G-x852, AMD A10-5757M, Radeon 8750M 2GB, 2x4GB DDR3,
Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SSD
Acer Aspire V3-551G-X419, AMD A10-4600M, Radeon 7670M 2GB, 2x4GB Corsair DDR3 1333, Corsair Force GT 120GB SSD

Asus Eee PC 1215B-PU17, AMD E-350, 2x4GB Corsair DDR3 1333, OCZ Vertex 2 120GB SSD

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Old 02-23-2015, 08:46 PM   #4
SKI
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Re: Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark2

I got a deal on the PSU, so it was hard to turn it down... I paid $110 for it!
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Old 02-24-2015, 07:51 AM   #5
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Re: Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark2

Very nice Ski, glad your enjoying your new build. Can't wait for the pictures!
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Old 02-24-2015, 08:05 AM   #6
Sandog
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Re: Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark2

Quote:
Originally Posted by SKI View Post
I got a deal on the PSU, so it was hard to turn it down... I paid $110 for it!

Well that is good enough reason. Forgot to add, any build with the i7-4970K Devil's Canyon and especially the ASUS STRIX GTX980 is going to be kickassX2. I am also glad someone else got the STRIX GTX980 besides me lol.
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Old 02-24-2015, 10:49 AM   #7
Sir Skully
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Re: Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark2

Hey congrats SKI, thats a killer rig. Should be good for a few years to come.
Needless to say enjoy, also I'll be looking forward to some pic's...
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Old 02-24-2015, 08:08 PM   #8
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Re: Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark2

Quote:
Originally Posted by SKI View Post
?..
I'm working on a detailed write-up of the build (with pictures) that some of you old-school guys may enjoy... stay tuned!
cant wait for pics and write-up
Congrats on the build!

Love the quick boot, out of the box case fan management and quietness features. It seems we really have reached an excellent nexus of performance versus noise/heat with the current gear. Its time someone uplifted game graphics, features and quality another notch for the PC!
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