Motherboard tier list: Z97 chipset

Z97 chipset:


Intel’s latest 9-series OCable MoBo platform, though it varies very slightly from 8-series, there are some minor improvements, like addition of M.2 slot for instance. Being the latest OCable chipset from Intel’s most active socket right now, it comes in all shapes and sizes. From sub $100 budget boards to $300+ enthusiast level monsters, this chipset has it all.

This chipset will also support Intel’s upcoming Broadwell CPUs, though a BIOS update may be required. As of now though, all current LGA1150 chips are supported w/o the need for any BIOS updates. The overall MoBo quality is rather decent, with almost no low quality units (boards which can fry your CPU), but they should be appropriately matched with the overall build. Features and OCing ability vary quite a bit. That is where tiers play a role, look for Tier descriptions for more info.

Key:

Red: MSI
Blue: ASROCK
Green: GIGABYTE
Gold: ASUS
Gray: ECS
Pink: BIOSTAR
Black: EVGA


____________________________________________



Tier One-Class A: Extreme Enthusiast Level. 4 Way SLI supported, power packed with superb VRMs and thermals for extreme OCing, all premium features, these boards are the best Z97 you’ll get in the market. Extreme boards shall be a right term to define them. You can’t go wrong quality wise, they’re solid boards.

Note: The 4 Way SLI on this chipset is not as effective as in X99 due to 16 PCIe lanes from the CPU (vs 28 in i7 5800 or 40 in 5900 series,ie, X99), even after usage of PLX chips.

E-ATX Form Factor:

Z97 Classified
XPOWER AC

ATX Form Factor:

EXTREME9
Z97X Gaming G1 (WIFI-BK edition as well)
Z97X Gaming GT
Z97-WS


Honorable mention: Z97X-SOC-FORCE, the LN2 version of this board broke world OCing records. This one is no less, minus the 4 way SLI ability.



Tier One-Class B: Enthusiast Level. Premium featured MoBos with SLI capability, M.2 and enough power to run any current CPUs with very high-extreme OCing capabilities. Just a step lower than Extreme Enthusiast boards, they’re no less than feature laden. Solid quality, shall serve you long.


ATX Form Factor:

MSI GAMING 7
MPOWER (MAX AC edition as well)
Z97-GD65 Gaming
Gaming 9 AC (ACK as well)
EXTREME6 (AC as well)
OC Formula
PROFESSIONAL
Z97X-Gaming 5 (not to be confused with MX version)
UD5H (BK as well)
Z97X-SOC (No M.2)
Z97X-Gaming 7
GA-Z97X-UD7 TH (No M.2)
G1 SNIPER (No M.2, but this MoBo hit 5Ghz mark stable in some reviews)
Z97X-SOC-FORCE (no M.2, but great for OCing, has SATAe)
Z97-PRO (AC as well)
MAXIMUS VII HERO/ RANGER/ FORMULA (great boards for OCing)
DELUXE (NFC&WLC edition as well)
Sabertooth Mark1/ Mark 2 (no M.2, great for OCing)
Z97 FTW

mATX Form Factor

Z97M OC Formula
MAXIMUS VII GENE
Z97 Gryphon

Mini-ITX Form Factor:

MAXIMUS VII IMPACT


____________________________________________

Tier Two-Class A: High end. Mainstream performance oriented boards, SLI capable with good enough thermals and power to take up any CPU, great for some serious OCing. Have many premium storage features such as M.2 and/or SATAe as well. Quality is good, no known persistent issues.

ATX Form Factor:

GAMING 5
Fatal1ty Z97X Killer
EXTREME4
UD3H (BK as well)
Z97-A
Z97-AR
PRO GAMER
GAMING Z97X
Z97 MACHINE

mATX Form Factor

MX-Gaming 5
Z97M Gaming

Mini-ITX Form Factor:

Z97 GAMING AC
Z97I GAMING ACK
GA-Z97N-Gaming 5
Z97I-Plus
Stinger AC (Core 3D as well)


Tier Two-Class B: SLI Capable. Entry level SLI capable boards with good enough thermals for decent OCing, not the best choice for very high OCing though. M.2 isn't a compulsion. These bring the SLI ability at an affordable price point.

ATX Form Factor:

Z97S SLI Krait Edition
Z97S SLI Plus
G45 Gaming
G55 SLI
Extreme3 (no M.2)
Z97X-Gaming 3
Z97X-SLI
Z97-E
Hi-Fi Z97WE
Hi-Fi Z97Z7
GAMING Z97W


____________________________________________

Tier Three: Mid range. Crossfire Capable MoBos with SATA III for budget oriented gamers. Power phases and thermals are not awesome, still decent for everyday use and some decent OCing, but not with the highest TDP CPUs. Have all the standard features, M.2 is not a compulsion though. Quality is decent, OCing ability is moderate for most boards.

ATX Form Factor:

PC MATE
GAMING 3
Z97 G43
MSI U3 Plus
Guard Pro
Z97 Fatal1ty KILLER (Not the ‘Z97X’, which is SLI capable- Both are good at OCing)
PRO4
Z97 HD3
Z97 D3H
Z97P D3
Z97-K/CSM
Z97-C
Z97 PK

mATX Form Factor

Z97M G43
Z97M PRO4
Z97M D3H
Z97M Plus (has M.2)

Mini ITX Form Factor (Not CFX capable):

Z97I AC
Z97E-ITX/ac
Z97M-ITX/AC
GA-Z97N-WIFI
Z97I DRONE

____________________________________________

Tier Four: Basic Motherboards. They have all the basic features, ie., 4 DIMMs, one x16 slot, SATA 3 with USB 3.0 headers. Suited for gamers on tight budget and mainstream general-purpose users. Don’t expect high performance in terms of OCing. Not suitable for high end builds. Average quality, but fine for OCing lower TDP CPUs like Pentium.

ATX Form Factor:

Z97 PRO3
Anniversary

mATX Form Factor

Z97M-DS3H

____________________________________________

Currently Untiered.The board is either new and/ or there aren't enough comprehensive reviews about it.

Z97X GAME PLUS

____________________________________________

NOTE: This thread is a part of the article series 'Motherboard tier list'.
341 answers Last reply
More about motherboard tier list z97 chipset
  1. By the Extreme3 in Tier 2 High End, Is this the mobo, cause I have this: ASRock Z97 Extreme3 LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
  2. bobybrown123 said:
    By the Extreme3 in Tier 2 High End, Is this the mobo, cause I have this: ASRock Z97 Extreme3 LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard


    Yes the board you mentioned is Tier 2.
  3. Shouldn't the z97-a and msi gaming 5 be in the same tier?
  4. MSI Gaming 5 uses higher quality components (primarily the capacitors) than Z97-A. That accounts for the higher rank.
  5. Fair enough. I too want to build with the gaming 5 in the coming months as it looks so awesome, but the amount of hate msi's QC receives on the forums here really worries me. Could you please address it here so that anyone interested in msi isn't put off by it :)
  6. MSI currently has no such issues, a couple of their boards, from AMD platform, were (rightly) critized of having overheating VRMs and DOA memory slots. Currently MSI has the same RMA rate as Asus, and they infact use high quality components, such rumours are biased and one should not be put off by it. MSI is as good as other brands, if not better.
  7. Thank you. And it's a great list btw, will help potential buyers a lot. As choosing a motherboard is probably the trickiest part of a build.
  8. No worries, and I appreciate your positive feedback :)
  9. So you're saying Asrock Extreme 9 is the best Z97 board you can get?
  10. so which one is the best bang for your buck?
  11. ocer9999 said:
    So you're saying Asrock Extreme 9 is the best Z97 board you can get?


    Along with the other 5 boards mentioned in the Tier One Class A, yes.
  12. Great list. Thank you!
  13. You're welcome.
  14. Another missing board, the Asus Maximus VII Impact. Good job on these lists.
  15. Mac266 said:
    Another missing board, the Asus Maximus VII Impact. Good job on these lists.


    Added, thanks for informing.
  16. Well played brother!

    A person asked above of the best bang for the buck motherboard? Do you have any insights?

    IMO, Gigabyte Z97X SLI.
  17. You mentioned broadwell working in 1150 socket. That's no longer the case. The chipset may be the same but the socket will be 1151 instead
  18. Nathan White said:
    You mentioned broadwell working in 1150 socket. That's no longer the case. The chipset may be the same but the socket will be 1151 instead


    Sorry mate, but you're incorrect here. Broadwell is confirmed for all 9 series chipsets.

    Skylake is socket 1151, with the 100 series chipsets.
  19. For the best bang for buck, it really depends on the money involved. Z97X-SLI is a good entry level SLI board but can't really match Z97 Gaming 5 or Z97-A in performance, which in turn are kinda lowish in front of Z97 GT or M7 Hero.

    Also, Nathan White, can you provide a source?
  20. Quote:
    Having two microarchitectures launching for client computing in one year makes us wonder if there's much reason to opt for delayed Broadwell-based processors when they become available in six months' time. Perhaps Broadwell's one redeeming factor is compliance with the current LGA 1150 socket used on Haswell chips/boards. Skylake, meanwhile, will use a new socket known as LGA 1151.


    As seen here: http://hexus.net/tech/news/cpu/74481-intel-broadwell-skylake-client-cpus-launching-2015/
  21. Can someone tell me why there's such a difference in tier levels for Asrock motherboards between H97 and Z97? Particularly the Z97 PRO3 & Anniversary. Here they're listed as Tier 4, but in the H97 list they are Tier 2.
  22. pwiebe said:
    Can someone tell me why there's such a difference in tier levels for Asrock motherboards between H97 and Z97? Particularly the Z97 PRO3 & Anniversary. Here they're listed as Tier 4, but in the H97 list they are Tier 2.


    Because the H97 and Z97 Pro and anniversary editions are not the same board. The Z97 boards are built with overclocking in mind while those two H97 boards are more mainstream and not necessarily intended for enthusiast builds.
  23. ^Pretty much. Z series boards have lots of competition due to more features, the two major ones being SLI ability and OCing ability. Since ALL H series boards lack both of them, there's nothing much to tier Pro3 and Anniversary lower than Tier 2.

    Reading the tier description would help. Tier 1 H series boards are CFX capable, while tier 2 aren't. Since build quality is reasonably good for the price and specs of the board, all non-CFX capable H series boards are Tier 2. Z series have a lot more to look out for, VRMs and thermals, OCing ability, SLI ability, etc.
  24. What about ASUS Z97 GRYPHON Armor Edition?
    Is it on the list? Can't see it in any tier. If not, why not?


    Plus, how do you compare it with Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5 Sockel 1150 M-ATX? Also, is this one in tier TWO?
  25. mac3pc said:
    What about ASUS Z97 GRYPHON Armor Edition?
    Is it on the list? Can't see it in any tier. If not, why not?


    Plus, how do you compare it with Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5 Sockel 1150 M-ATX? Also, is this one in tier TWO?


    Gryphon was somehow missed from adding in the list, has been added in Tier 1 Class B.

    MX Gaming 5 is in Tier 2. Gryphon has better chokes, more RAM phases and a phase doubler compared to MX, thereby accounting for it's higher rank. Gryphon is the TUF equivalent of the ROG Gene. But either of them are great quality wise, it's just that Gryphon is better than MX.
  26. Excellent! Thank you for the prompt answer. Gryphon it is! I was leaning towards it anyway but just wondered why it wasn't there :)

    Amazing list and a great help for new buyers. Thanks a lot
  27. It is a helpful list, isn't it. Very glad to see you put the work in after all despite the naysayers who said it was pointless.
  28. Thanks for the encouraging words, they mean a lot to me! I'm glad I could put it up :)
  29. MeteorsRaining said:
    ^Pretty much. Z series boards have lots of competition due to more features, the two major ones being SLI ability and OCing ability. Since ALL H series boards lack both of them, there's nothing much to tier Pro3 and Anniversary lower than Tier 2.

    Reading the tier description would help. Tier 1 H series boards are CFX capable, while tier 2 aren't. Since build quality is reasonably good for the price and specs of the board, all non-CFX capable H series boards are Tier 2. Z series have a lot more to look out for, VRMs and thermals, OCing ability, SLI ability, etc.


    That makes sense. Thanks for the reply!
  30. No worries!
  31. wow the Z97X-Gaming 5 is ranked higher then the Z97X-Gaming7, whys that?
  32. Julian_c said:
    wow the Z97X-Gaming 5 is ranked higher then the Z97X-Gaming7, whys that?


    It's not. They are both on the same Tier level.
  33. Julian_c said:
    wow the Z97X-Gaming 5 is ranked higher then the Z97X-Gaming7, whys that?


    As said, it's not. Inside the individual tier, order does not stand for ranking.
  34. MeteorsRaining said:
    Julian_c said:
    wow the Z97X-Gaming 5 is ranked higher then the Z97X-Gaming7, whys that?


    As said, it's not. Inside the individual tier, order does not stand for ranking.


    Hi Meteor! First gaming PC build. I currently have the Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 5, brand new in the box, but I am now deciding if I should get the Asus Maximus VII Z97 Hero instead.

    I already have a dedicated sound card so the audio doesn't matter. I am fine with 6 SATA ports (Gaming 5). But the better OC of the Hero is what intrigues me. The Hero vs Z97X Gaming 5, how many more frames do you think the Hero would be able to get from overclocking?
    Is there any benchmark tests that compare a VII Hero OC potential vs Giga Gaming 5 or others?
    Does the Hero have much better/faster networking/online/internet connection?
    Any other reasons one is better?

    I am willing to go through the hassle of selling the Gaming 5 to get the VII Hero if it is much better at OC (sort of future proofing for the CPU to compete against future CPU power.) The cost difference really isn't a factor if the Hero is much better. I am betting I should go with the Hero if I want to future proof my rig more with the extra OC potential.

    Reliability (long lasting and with little to no issues) is most important to me. Need a reliable rig for daily work purposes. I like the Hero's better OC, even though not sure how much better, but the reviews on Newegg on the 2nd page alone, there is SIX 1egg reviews, which makes me hesitant on the Asus, but I know it is usually said to be reliable.

    My current rig not yet assembled:
    i7 4790K
    Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 5
    Gigabyte GTX 970 G1 (only 1 for now)
    8GB G.Skill Trident X 2400MHz
    630W Enermax REVOLUTION X't 80+ Gold PSU (probably will upgrade in future if needed)
    Corsair H60 cooler (will upgrade when I overclock more)
    Fractal Define R4 case with 5 case fans
    250GB 840 EVO SSD, 1TB WD HDD
  35. There's absolutely no need to spend more on something not worth the money spent. As you may have seen, M7 Hero and GB Gaming 5 are both in the same tier. Nowadays, OCing is much more dependent on the CPU lottery. Up from Tier 2 (which are good for OCing as well), the Tier 1 boards are all superb for OCing.

    I'm certain M7 Hero and G5 (Gaming 5) will have the same frame rates with same hardware. OCing the 4790k will not yield any significant boost as the stock speeds are itself so amazing. Furthermore, if you get a good enough CPU, surely the G5 will be more than enough for OCing, VRMs and thermals wise. You'll most likely reach your CPU temp boundary before the MoBo stops you.

    Does the Hero have much better/faster networking/online/internet connection?

    No.

    Any other reasons one is better?

    Since you have the G5 already, no.

    GB boards are one of the most solid boards on the market, so reliability is not an issue.

    Not saying M7 Hero is not worth it but since you already got such a good MoBo, I'd strongly suggest you keep it as M7 will have no real world advantages.
  36. Just wanted to give a Big Thanks to Meteor for ALL the help! (believe me I have ran into many of your helpful past posts). I really appreciate it.
    I will keep the G5, since as you say the CPU temps would limit me before the MoBo would. I am sure it will be great (although I hear it is a bit short and doesn't fully rest on all the ATX supports, but hopefully that won't cause any issues).

    Thanks again Meteor and Happy Holidays!
  37. No worries, glad to help! :)
  38. Thanks so much for this. Was going to get the Z97-A but started leaning towards the pro with wifi built in. Now I'm sure. Really not much of a step in price either.
  39. As with the X99 chipset, MSI released a Z97 Gaming 9 ACK: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130809&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-na-_-na-_-na&cm_sp=&AID=10446076&PID=3938566&SID=

    @jhg100, the Z97 Pro isn't well worth it IMO unless you can find it for ~150$. For Wi-Fi, a PCIe adapter can be bought for 10$.
  40. zeyuanfu said:
    As with the X99 chipset, MSI released a Z97 Gaming 9 ACK: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130809&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-na-_-na-_-na&cm_sp=&AID=10446076&PID=3938566&SID=

    @jhg100, the Z97 Pro isn't well worth it IMO unless you can find it for ~150$. For Wi-Fi, a PCIe adapter can be bought for 10$.


    Gaming 9 ACK has been added to the list, thanks.

    And Z97 PRO isn't amazingly better than Z97-A, but it does use better chokes and has WiFi. So if jhg100 is getting it for upto around $160-170, it'd be well worth it.
  41. Thanks again guys. The A is £108 which I think is the best price in the UK. And the pro with wifi is £141 ($186 and $220 respectively).

    Is $40 difference worth it or too much (ie. stick with the standard A)
    Cheers
  42. The 40 pounds can be better spent. Get the Z97-A.
  43. If you want something in between, though, I'd get this:
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    Motherboard: Asus Z97 PRO GAMER ATX LGA1150 Motherboard (£112.76 @ Scan.co.uk)
    Total: £112.76
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-12-20 19:45 GMT+0000
  44. $168 not $186 :p but yeah so not worth it. Thanks all!
  45. No problem:)
  46. That's quite a difference jhg100, as said, not worth it. Pro Gamer ironically is cheaper.
  47. MSI Z97 Guard Pro? I don't know how good it is, just heard of this model. Where do you think it will be (in which tier)?
  48. The Guard-Pro isn't too bad, but better ones can be found.
  49. Z97 Guard Pro, a very decent tier 3 MoBo with M.2. Reviews indicate it OCes decently for the price. Nothing really bad about it, nothing too amazing either. It's in lines with Asus Z97-K. I'd buy it if it falls in the same price bracket or less than that of Z97-K.
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