Throughout our Asus Sabertooth Z77 review we pointed out its advantages and drawbacks. Now time has come for us to sum everything up and draw some conclusions. The mainboard has thought-through and very convenient layout, good set of features meeting all contemporary requirements. Numerous BIOS options allow very extensive system fine-tuning in broad ranges, and the proprietary software adds indisputable value and extends the mainboard’s functionality even further. Unfortunately, the board’s power consumption is a little above average, and it was unable to overclock our test processor to its maximum. But despite these facts, Asus Sabertooth Z77 is so fast that in some applications it clearly outperforms the competitors, which managed to achieve better overclocking results.
Speaking of the specific unique features of a “TUF” series mainboard, things aren’t so straight-forward here. Of course, no one will be against a digital voltage regulator circuitry powering the processor, integrated graphics core and memory. The use of high-end electronic components as stated by the enclosed quality certificate is also worth a lot. However, we have some doubts about the efficiency of a few other technologies. Take, for example, “TUF Thermal Armor”, which is in fact a plastic casing covering almost the entire mainboard PCB. This “armor” is designed to separate the mainboard from other components inside the system that may run very hot, such as a graphics card or a CPU, and also to improve the mainboard cooling by optimizing the airflow from the cooling fans. But will the separation help, if there is a fan in the very center of the mainboard, right between a hot graphics card and a processor, which will suck hot air underneath the casing? The recommended positioning of the second fan is also somewhat questionable, as it is supposed to cool the heatsinks on the processor voltage regulator circuitry components by pushing hot air into the system case. On top of that these small high-speed fans generate quite a bit of noise.
Anti-dust caps for the empty slots and connectors, which are part of the “TUF Dust Defender” technology is definitely a good thing. However, most dust usually collects around the processor socket. This is where the dust accumulates in different patterns depending on the specifics of the CPU cooler installed in your system. However, you won’t be able to completely isolate the area around the processor socket, so the actual benefits from this technology will be quite insignificant. Even the seemingly flawless “TUF Thermal Radar” technology still has room for improvement. The users do not really care whether the temperature around the SATA or USB ports is 33, 35 or 37°C. In any case, it will never reach critical levels and therefore is of no significant value. However, this technology wasn’t able to slow down the small 35 mm fans while maintaining sufficient cooling efficiency. It is also not capable of adjusting the rotation speed of three-pin processor fans, and although there are two processor fan connectors onboard, both of them are four-pin connectors.
As a result, we cannot deny the benefits of “TUF Thermal Armor”, “TUF Thermal Radar” and “TUF Dust Defender” technologies, but we dare question their necessity. The only thing we know for sure is that these technologies do affect the mainboard price. However, any “TUF” mainboard has one indisputable advantage - 5-year warranty. No other mainboard maker offers anything like that, that is why we are confident that Asus Sabertooth Z77 will find its fans and their choice will undoubtedly be the right one.