With Intel’s launch for their Broadwell desktop processors possibly coming in the next few weeks, motherboard manufacturers like ASUS are working behind the scenes to make their H97 and Z97 motherboards ready to support the new processors. Broadwell for the desktop will only come in two K-series versions – one Core i5 quad-core and one Core i7 with hyper-threading, both sporting a 65W TDP. They’ll still be working with DDR3 memory, so it can just be a drop-in upgrade for most, but will it be worth the cost? If you only want to use Intel’s graphics hardware, maybe. Anyway, hit the jump for a table showing which ASUS boards will support Broadwell desktop processor upgrades.
ASUS Motherboards supporting upgrades to Broadwell-K
|Motherboard model||Chipset||BIOS Version|
|Z97-Deluxe (NFC and WiFi AC)||Z97||2205|
|Z97-Deluxe (USB 3.1)||Z97||0401|
|Z97-Pro (USB 3.1 and WiFi AC)||Z97||2302|
|Z97-Pro (WiFi AC)||Z97||2205|
|Z97-A (USB 3.1)||Z97||0501|
|Sabertooth Z97 Mark I (USB 3.1)||Z97||0401|
|Sabertooth Z97 Mark I||Z97||2205|
|Sabertooth Z97 Mark II||Z97||2205|
|Sabertooth Z97 Mark S||Z97||2205|
|Gryphon Z97 Armor Edition||Z97||2205|
|Maximus VII Formula||Z97||2304|
|Maximus VII Hero||Z97||2304|
|Maximus VII Ranger||Z97||2304|
|Maximus VII Gene||Z97||2304|
|Maximus VII Impact||Z97||2304|
That covers most of the ASUS lineup, but as with all mid-cycle product releases or refreshes, this complicates things for buyers. You’ll need to have an older Haswell or Haswell Refresh processor to be able to update the BIOS of some of these motherboards. ASUS does have the BIOS Flashback feature on some of their higher-end boards, which allows for BIOS upgrades while there isn’t a CPU inside the socket.
But for any of the other boards in this list here, you’ll have to buy a cheap Celeron chip, install Windows, run the updater for the board, and only then insert the Broadwell CPU to continue on with your system setup. Inevitably, this means you may end up buying all the hardware required, but you’ll be unable to use it without having another Haswell chip on hand to do the upgrade. Hopefully we’ll be able to answer the question of whether anyone should be upgrading, or prioritising Broadwell over Skylake. I’ve said before that Intel should drop Broadwell from their roadmap to make Skylake’s launch more straightforward, but this throws a big spanner in the works.