The new 4th Gen Core processors from Intel are set to touch down around Computex time next month and in preparation Asus have announced their full line-up of Z87 motherboards. Along with a new range of gold-colouring on their standard Z87 boards, the real interesting stories are coming from the TUF (The Ultimate Force...sigh) and RoG (Republic of Gamers) ranges.
Traditionally the RoG range has been the key line-up for the Asus PC enthusiast looking to get the absolute most out of their CPUs, and with the largest number of extras attached to their boards. That's not changing with this new generation of mobos, and we're still getting the usual top-end Maximus VI Extreme for the ultra-enthusiast and the Maximus VI Gene for the mini-enthusiast.
For the first time though we're going to see the RoG range dipping its techie toes into the more mainstream-priced area of the market with the slightly cut-down RoG Maximus VI Hero.
Asus are looking to it as being “tailored to hardcore gamers who want to experience the world-famous RoG brand at a more accessible price point.” What that should mean is that we'll get the top-end mobo components used in the rest of the RoG range, but without the sort of extras you get with the full Extreme board.
And what are these extras? As well as the Extreme board allowing for DDR3 to overclock to 3GHz Asus are also bundling something called the OC Panel. I checked it out at an event in Holland last month and it's an overclocking/monitoring tool that looks suspiciously like a Taser and can fit in either a 5.25-inch drive bay or be used externally.
The TUF range is also getting an extra member this time around. So as well as the armoured form of the Sabertooth Z87 Asus is releasing the Gryphon Z87, a mATX mobo in keeping with the Gene/Extreme pairing in the RoG line-up.
The difference with the Gryphon though is that it wont come with the mobo armour as standard. Instead Asus is looking to give a little price flexibility to the Gryphon and is selling the Gryphon Armor Kit separately if you want the classic TUF aesthetic.
My only concern here is that, where there was a bit of clear air between the Sabertooth Z77 and the bottom-priced RoG boards, the Maximus VI Hero is likely to be bumping heads with the Sabertooth Z87.
Realistically both are going to be for the enthusiast builder, but the ones who aren't looking to get the voltage meters out and make with the LN2 cooling on a regular basis. And as such I'm afraid there may end up being a little confusion over which board to go for.
We'll know for sure once we've got our Haswell chips humming away in both of the boards. It'll be an interesting head-to-head anyways.