Aside from the Asus ROG Z97 lineup, the next generation Asus TUF or “The Ultimate Force” has also been revealed way ahead of its official launch date. The new TUF Z97 lineup includes Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1, Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 2 and Asus Gryphon Z97 motherboards. Check out more details regarding these upcoming Z97 motherboards below.
UPDATE: Asus Z97 and H97 Full Range Motherboards Now Official – See Features and Specifications
Asus TUF Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1
The Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 is the flagship motherboard in the next TUF lineup. Like its predecessor, it features the same color scheme and is protected by a TUF Fortifier shielding on both sides. It sports 4x DDR3 DIMM slots, 4x SATA 6GB/s ports, 2x SATA Express ports, 3x PCIE 3.0 x16 slots, 3x PCIE 3.0 x1 slots and a few header connectors. It features an 8-Phase DIGI+ power design and draws its power from an 8pin power connector, as well as the 24pin ATX power connector.
Unfortunately, since the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 is covered with a shielding, we cannot see what lies beneath the armor. We also cannot confirm if it will have a built in M.2 PCIE slot for NGFF SSD. But basically what features does the current Sabertooth Z87 have, will most probably be incorporated in the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1, only that those features are improved.
Asus TUF Sabertooth Z97 Mark 2
Next is the Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 2, which looks like an unshielded variant of the Mark 1. It doesn’t have the TUF Frontier shielding but it looks like is shares the same number of ports and slots like its big brother. It has 6x SATA 6GB/s ports for storage, but I don’t see any SATA Express ports. And I don’t see any M.2 slot as well, this could probably mean that the Mark 1 really doesn’t have an M.2 slot.
Asus Gryphon Z97
And finally there is the Asus Gryphon Z97, successor of Gryphon Z87. The next generation Gryhon Z97 and current Z87 Gryphon looks very much identical. They have the same color scheme and board layout and probably share similar features as well. But it is noticeable that the heatsinks have a slightly different design.
The Asus Gryphon Z97 also features an 8 Phase DIGI+ VRM, 3x PCIE 3.0 x16 slots, 1x PCIE 3.0 x1 slot, and 6 x SATA 6GB/s ports as well as other input/output ports and headers. And like its predecessor, the Gryphon Z97 will also have an Armor Kit or the TUF Frontier shielding for additional cooling and protection.
The Asus TUF Z97 motherboards are also expected to be officially announced next month (May 2014) together with the Asus ROG Z97 lineup and Asus Z97 Legacy motherboards. What turns me off about the new Z97 TUF series is that it doesn’t have a M.2 PCIE slot which is supposed to be a common feature in Z97 motherboards.
See also: Asus ROG Z97 Motherboards: Maximus VII Gene, Maximus VII Hero and Maximus VII Ranger Revealed, and Asus Z97-WS, Z97 Deluxe, Z97-Pro, Z97-A and Z97I Plus Mini ITX