ASUS Z97 Pro Gamer Motherboard Review
There has rarely been a trickier beast to pin down than the ASUS Z97 Pro Gamer. How you view it depends largely upon what you're expecting it to be.
So let's start with what ASUS expect. "Pro Gamer". That's a definitive statement. Any time you attach the word gaming to something it means one of two things; either it's awesome for gaming, or it's a stripped down speed machine designed nearly entirely for gaming at the cost of all else. The Pro Gamer might not bring the most eye-popping 3D results, but it performs incredibly well for such a low priced motherboard. It was regularly in the middle of the graphs and never found itself dropping away from more illustrious offerings.
Come at it as a motherboard that sits on the right side of £100, then there is plenty to like too. It's feature rich for a start. Many of the features we've come to know and love from ASUS, the LANGuard, SupremeFX II audio, 10K Black caps and easy to use UEFI BIOS are all present and correct. The black and red might make you think of RoG, but that's because those particular motherboards are arguably the most famous on earth and a large part of the reason that so many bits of bling for your case come in red. So you can be certain that whatever you want to do the Z97 Pro Gamer opens up a world of possibilities. Or rather it frees you from the constraints you might be under if you were wishing to build a rig in anything other than the dominant blue or red.
In nearly every scenario the Pro Gamer performs with aplomb. It's in the middle of the graph in PC Mark Vantage, much like the 3D results, but not very far from the ones at the top. Although in PC Mark 7 it finds itself on the summit of the graph. This excellent, and be in no doubt it is excellent, application performance is matched by the pure CPU capabilities we saw in SiSoft's Sandra benchmark, or the calculation tests, or even CineBench. This wonderful performance in nearly every test demonstrate that the price is the only thing small about the Pro Gamer.
If you want a good looking motherboard with plenty of features for a price so low it feels like a steal, then the ASUS Z97 Pro Gamer is a great well-rounded option that deserves our OC3D Value For Money Award and because it frees you up to spend more on the graphics card side of things it wins our Gamers Choice too.