Asus Rampage IV Black Edition Price: $585
This is another Asus board, this time not part of a bundle
but still part of the ROG family. The Rampage IV Black Edition is an
overdocking board that allows users to tweak the performance of their system in
real time using a graphical interface. It's an excellent board for advanced
system tweakers who like to get the most out of their hardware, and as a gaming
board, it's got it where it counts.
Asus Rampage IV
The LGA2011 CPU socket allows support for the Core i7 range,
as well as Intel Xeons, and you can install up to 64GB of DDR3 RAM, along with
ten SATA drives and two eSATA units. There's on-board HD audio, Bluetooth,
gigabit Ethernet and wi-fi (including 5GHz ac).
It's a pricey board, sure, but one that offers far more
performance out of the box than most, and if you don't like that, the powerful
overclocking features will allow you to address any issues.
Asus Crosshair V Formula-Z Price: $267
Asus Crosshair V
Yes, it's another Asus board, but this time it's an AMD CPU
compatible model, supporting the FX, Phenom II, Athlon II and Sempron 100 CPUs.
Like the Intel options we've looked at already, this is an ROG model board, so
it's designed for gaming and for users who need more power, and better
The AMD 990FX chipset supports dual SLI and CrossFireX, and
you can cram up to 32GB of RAM onto it, install eight internal hard drives, two
eSATA units and utilise gigabit Ethernet. Sadly, there's no built-in wi-fi with
this model, but the board has plenty of expansion slots, should you wish to
install a wireless card. The on-board audio is better than most, however, with
the SupremeFX 111 device offering clean and crisp HD audio.
MSI Z97 XPOWER AC Price: $450
If there's one word to describe this MSI board, it's
durable. The board has gone through rigorous military level tests, including
burn-in tests to ensure its reliability. In terms of actual features, it
supports Intel's fourth and fifth generation of Core CPUs, as well as Pentium
and Celeron, and it can handle 32GB RAM. It has full four-way support for 5LI
and CrossFire graphics tech, and there's even an easy-to-access on-board VGA
MSI Z97 XPOWER AC
MSI's OC Genie makes overdocking easy with the Z97 and, as
always, it's a tweaking tool designed for everyone, even those with no prior
experience, and any extra heat generated is taken care of by the specially
designed thermal heatsink, which incorporates water cooling.
Other standard features include six SATA connectors and full
RAID support, as well as Bluetooth, gigabit Ethernet and wi-fi (802.1
It's an impressive motherboard and is a high-quality
performer, even right out of the box without any tweaking. Well worth a look.
EVGA Z97 Classified Price: $467
EVGA may not have the high profile enjoyed by the likes of
Asus and MSI, but that doesn't mean its boards are any less impressive from
time to time. The EVGA Z97 Classified is a great example, and it's a unit that
puts the focus on cutting- edge tech and user-controlled overclocking.
The board supports Intel's fourth and fifth generation of
Core CPUs for its LGA 1150 socket, and the Z97 chipset setup has some great
features up its sleeve, Up to 32GB of RAM can be installed, along with six hard
disk ports (with RAID support), and there's four-way SLI and CrossFire to be
utilised, making this another perfect choice for gamers.
Overdocking is supported too, with the added bonus of the
new GUI BIOS interface, which eliminates those worrying text screens of
yesteryear and replaces them with a much more user-friendly interface. An
evolution of motherboard settings we're all thankful for.
Asus Sabertooth Z77 Price: $534
If we said the MSI Z97 board was durable, this model from
Asus is just plain bulletproof. Well, almost. The striking design of this
board, covered as it is with black panels, flip-down dust defenders and
'thermal armour', clearly demonstrates its hardy construction.
This build uses special thermal air tech to improve airflow
around the components and has a 'thermal radar', which monitors internal
temperatures in real time so it can alert you to any problems. This is very
useful when overclocking, and all of this is tested to military standards.
The LGA 1155 socket supports Intel’s Core CPUs, and the
board can hold up to 32GB RAM. There's room for ten hard disks and support for
both SLI and CrossFire.
All of the protection is also designed to limit the amount
of dust and detritus that can get into the system, which can also help overall
system health and performance. So if you want a powerful, durable and unique
motherboard option, you could do worse than this.
That just about covers our brief look at some of the more
pricey motherboard options around, and as you can see, there's no need to worry
about too many limits or restrictions when you're not limited to a smaller
budget. You can start a PC build off with a bang, boasting a powerful
motherboard for all that lovely, expensive hardware to sit on.
Next time well continue our look at the more expensive side
of the PC hardware market with a focus on CPUs. See you then.