With the new Arctic-Camouflage theme, now your rig can run cool and look cool.  The new look on the TUF Sabertooth Z97 Mark S is fresh, while the promise of extreme durability and ultra-efficient cooling remains the same.  It certainly strives to appear to be built to withstand extreme conditions;  if I was to move to the arctic, my motherboard of choice would be a no-brainer.  It will be exciting to see what kinds of mods people come up with using this board.   Thus far, the box feels much warmer than anticipated...

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Being bundled with lots of goodies goes without saying whenever ASUS is labelled on the box.  But it looks like I have enough pieces to build a PC and a model airplane.

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The motherboard comes with:

  • User's manual
  • Accessory Guide
  • ASUS Q-Shield
  • 4 x SATA 6Gb/s cables
  • 1 x SLI bridges
  • 2 x Q-connectors
  • 2 x Accessory Fans ( 35 /40 mm )
  • 1 x TUF Certification card
  • 1 x TUF 5 Year Warranty manual
  • 1 x TUF sticker

For protection against the elements (right picture):

  • 3 x PCIe x16 slot dust covers
  • 2 x DRAM slot dust covers
  • 3 x PCIe x1 slot dust covers
  • 2 x Short fan screws
  • 4 x Long fan screws
  • 3 x Thermistor cables
  • 1 x back I/O dust frame
  • 1 x back I/O dust grid
  • 1 x connector dust cover collection (On board USB 3.0, DVI, HDMI, DP, LAN)
  • 2 x On board USB 2.0 connector dust covers 
  • 8 x back I/O USB 2.0 connector dust covers
  • 7 x On board SATA connector dust covers 
  • 1 x SATA Express connector dust cover
  • 5 x Audio connector dust covers

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There's even a dust filter that goes on the IO port!  

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Let's take out the TUF Sabertooth Z97 Mark S.

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This thing of beauty ain't all looks, the Z97 chipset allows for 22nm Socket 1150 Intel processors (4th Gen. and future 5th Gen.), a maximum of 4 DIMMs of DDR3 with XMP and Dual-Channel Memory support, and Intel HD graphics support.

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There are two PCIe 3.0 X16, a PCIe 2.0 X16 and three PCIe X1 ports.  There is support for Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX up to two cards, four GPUs.  For connectivity, there is a SATA Express port (backward compatible to act as two extra SATA III ports), six SATA III ports, Dual Gigabit LAN controllers (yes, two!) , four USB 2.0 and four USB 3.0 ports (expandable to eight).  

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A key-feature that comes with the Mark S is TUF ICe; it is a dedicated hardware chip to intelligently monitor and control the cooling of the system.  It can control each fan independently wherever needed.  In the picture below you can see the vents next to the CPU socket which you can manually adjust to control airflow.  This is a Limited-Edition board; you can find the unique ID number next to the Sabertooth logo above the IO ports.

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Here is how Q-Connectors can make building a PC easier, you can connect all the connectors (clearly indicated) for the case buttons, LEDs and USB to the Q-Connectors first, so you don't have to poke your face and flashlight in the case trying to figure out what connector goes where.

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The two Chinese characters on the TUF Fortifier backplate translates to Tiger Spirit; signifying the ability to persevere in the face of adversity.  With the ability to sustain a 10KG load, a more accurate description would be that the Fortifier laughs in the face of adversity.  Apart from the ability to take physical punishment, the temperature of the components underneath the motherboard can be reduced up to 7°C!

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The Dust Defenders covers included are not there to be aesthetically pleasing (although they surely are), they are actually dust covers for all the PCIe ports, SATA Express, SATA ports and all IO ports at the back to ensure dust and dirt stays out.  PC modders rejoice!

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We take off the TUF Fortifier backplate to reveal the motherboard naked, you can see where components can transfer heat to the the Fortifier next to the CPU backplate.

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Without the armor you will find the six New TUF Alloy Chokes next to the CPU socket; they have a heat-sink design for 18.5% larger heat-dissipation area which translates to 9.35% cooler alloy chokes compared to standard counterparts.  In the name of durability, there are also Japan-made TUF 10K Ti-Caps and military-grade certified MOSFETs with lower RDS.  For reliability there are ESD Guards to ensure electrostatic discharges are properly grounded from all onboard connectivity.  Each motherboard goes through more than 7000 hours of compatibility checks for over a thousand devices!  You are getting a motherboard that underwent serious server-level burn-in tests, filled with military-grade components and comes with a five-year warranty

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This is how you install the bi-directional fan (one direction blows away dust and the other draws out heat); just remove the cover using a screwdriver, screw the fan onto the cover, put it back while using the slit on the side to hold the power cable, then plug the connector in (as illustrated).

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The second fan can also be installed easily by removing the cover, screwing the fan in the connecting the power connector.

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This is one ultra-cool motherboard!