Z87 Sabertooth Overview
The thing that sets ASUS’s Sabertooth motherboards apart from other motherboards is the Thermal Armor which covers most of the motherboard. Not only does this give a pretty cool look to your motherboard it keeps your components nice and cool. A new addition to the Thermal Armor on the Z87 Sabertooth is the Dust Defender. There are small pieces that you can clip onto internal connections that are not in use to protect them from dust and other debris. While most of the motherboard is covered ASUS still has a pretty cool color scheme going on which looks really good.
Of course the heart of the board is the Intel LGA1150 socket that supports Intel’s fourth generation Core Haswell processors. This board uses an 8-phase VRM design which is all digital. The board also makes use of 10K TUF Ti-Capacitors. All of the capacitors, chokes and MOSFETs have passed reliability tests that have been outlined on the included certificate of reliability. You will notice the Thermal Armor is raised up towards the the top of the motherboard. This is to make room for the heatsinks covering the power delivery components and the Flow Valve. These are small valves that can be set opened or closed to let air flow in from the downdrift of an air CPU cooler. If you are using a liquid CPU cooler you keep the valve closed to direct air in one direction.
Moving to the top of the board you have an 8-pin CPU power connector, 3-pin fan connector that is made for one of the small included fans, a 4-pin fan connector and your CPU optional fan connector and main CPU fan connector. You will notice a little tab on the end of the CPU fan connector. This is actually a detection latch that will determine if you have a 3pin or 4pin fan connected. This way you can use ASUS’s software to control this fan no matter if its 3pin or 4pin. Previously you were only able to do this with 4pin fans. Moving over to the memory slots you have 4 DIMM slots, which are color coded. They support up to 32GB of DDR3 memory. There is also the MemOK! button another 4-pin fan connector and your 24-pin ATX power connector.
The internal USB 3.0 header is just down from the ATX power connector. It is color-coded green and is at a 90-degree angle like the SATA connection, which I really like. You have a total of 8 SATA 6GB/s ports. The top six are controlled by the Intel Z87 PCH and the bottom two are controlled by the ASMedia controller. Moving down to the bottom of the board you are going to find the rest of the headers and buttons. Moving right to left you have your front panel connections, DirectKey button, a 4-pin fan connector, headers for the included thermal probes, two USB 3.0 headers, TPM header, clear CMOS jumper, another 4-pin fan connector, Thunderbolt header and HD audio header. If you are counting you have a total of 4 fan headers not including your CPU and CPU optional fan headers.
As far as expansion slots go you have PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (x16 and x8 electrical), a single PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (x4 electrical) and three PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots. If you have a single card installed in the top slot it will operate at x16 speeds. If you have two cards installed they both will operate a x8 speeds. Remember if you are not using any of these slots they can be covered up with the Dust Defender pieces.
The back I/O shield starts out with four USB 2.0 ports, then there is a large open section where you can install one of the included fans, BIOS flashback button, two USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA 6GB/s ports, optical, HDMI, DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, two more USB 3.0 ports and your audio connections. A new feature to the Z87 Sabertooth is the TUF Fortifier, which is a metal backplate attached to the back of the motherboard. Much like the ones you see on video cards it makes the board more rigid and cools the components on the back of the board.