The ASUS Z97-PRO is a mid-range socket LGA1150 motherboard based on the new Intel Z97 chipset, supporting the fourth and the forthcoming fifth generation Core i processors. It brings a high-end audio codec, eight SATA-600 ports (allowing one SATA Express connection), and eight USB 3.0 ports. Let’s take a good look at it.
The “new” Intel Z97 Express chipset is a Z87 chipset rebranded for marketing reasons. They are identical and, therefore, have the exact same specifications. Most motherboards based on this chipset support the new SATA Express and M.2 (successor to the mSATA) connectors, but these are mechanical features provided by the motherboard, not by the chipset.
Like the Z87, the Z97 supports six USB 3.0 ports, six SATA-600 ports, Smart Response (installing an SSD as a cache for the main hard drive), Smart Connect (allowing the computer to receive emails and refresh webpages while in sleep mode), and Rapid Start (faster boot times) technologies.
You can see the ASUS Z97-PRO motherboard in Figure 1. It uses the ATX form factor, measuring 12” x 9.6” (305 x 244 mm).