The market has switched from Z87 and H87 series motherboard chipsets, to the Z97 and H97 motherboard chipsets. The switch to the 9-series motherboard chipsets is one of the biggest upgrades in the PC industry in years.
The new platforms will continue to support Intel’s current LGA1150 CPUs, as well as future LGA1150 CPUs.
The first CPUs to come out specifically for the 9 series motherboards, are the Intel Devil’s Canyon CPUs. The Z97 motherboards support the newest version of Intel’s 4th generation Haswell CPU, the Haswell Refresh K, also known as Devil’s Canyon. These K series CPUs include improved Thermal Interface (NGPTIM – Next Generation Thermal Interface Material) allowing for better cooling, as well as overclocking support. The K series CPUs also contain additional capacitors for more even power, resulting in improved performance.
The 9 series chipset will also support the Broadwell CPUs, due out Christmas of 2014. Intel Broadwell CPUs are estimated to include a 40% improvement in performance at the same thermal design point.
The new motherboards also allow for Intel rapid storage technology (RST) for PCIe Storage, reducing PCI-express SSD compatibility issues. The updated Z97 boards include M.2 and SATA Express connectors. Previous boards used SATA III (operating at 600 MB/s), which created a bottleneck for SSD drives. These new boards should be able to offer almost double the SSD performance at 1000 MB/s.
Onboard audio has also been improved with the new lines of motherboards. Onboard physical shielding, professionally engineered design and premium components, and the inclusion of Japanese-made audio capacitors and operational amplifiers (op-amps), result in sound that has exceptional clarity and fidelity. The updated audio layout separates layers for left and right channels to guard the quality of the sensitive audio signals.
Finally, most of these new motherboards also support a Thunderbolt expansion card. You can read about Thunderbolt HERE.
Z97 & H97 Benefit Summary
- Support current LGA1150 CPUs
- Support new Devil’s Canyon CPUs (Haswell Refresh K)
- Devil’s Canyon CPUs are cooler and are Intel’s top performing CPUs
- Support future LGA1150 CPUs including Intel Broadwell CPUs due out Christmas of 2014
- Intel Broadwell CPUs should boast a 40% improvement in performance at the same thermal design point
- Reduction in SSD compatibility issues
- Nearly double actual SSD performance
- Improved onboard audio
- Thunderbolt 2 expansion card support
- Thunderbolt 2 boasts 20 Gb/s maximum throughput