Most would agree that motherboards aren't particularly exciting components, so it's good to have a hook to stand out. ASUS' new Z87 mobo series for Intel's Haswell chips may not be waterproof, but the Deluxe / Dual model has plenty to offer nonetheless, including two Thunderbolt ports, on-board 802.11ac WiFi support, ASUS' "4-Way Optimization" tech and more. What really got our eyebrows lifting at this specific board, however, was the new NFC Express accessory that comes bundled with it (you'll also be able to purchase one separately). It's not just your standard USB-connected NFC reader and writer, as it has features like automatic photo and video syncing with mobile devices, one-touch Windows 8 login, and quick-launch options for loading software or sites with a tap. An NFC tag is included, but you'll need an equipped smartphone for some of the functions, like quick-pairing in ASUS' Wi-Fi GO! utility for remote desktopping. If you're not a big NFC user (and let's be honest, who is?), then at least the little box's got two USB 3.0 ports, meaning you're still getting a free, if not overqualified USB hub.
ASUS Showcases Exclusive Z87 Motherboard Features
Performance, efficiency, and connected living enhanced through 4-Way Optimization, NFC EXPRESS, and Intel® Thunderbolt™
Following the reveal of an entire lineup of motherboards based on the Intel® Z87 chipset for 4th Generation Core™ processors last month, ASUS today announced additional information on specific product features.
As ASUS Z87 motherboards officially launch worldwide, they bring with them exclusive innovations towards better user experiences. Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-Way Optimization dynamically detect and adjust the best PC configuration based on actual usage. An updated UEFI BIOS improves usability by adding access to a wealth of new user-friendly functions, and Wi-Fi GO! includes new generation 802.11ac wireless connectivity and cloud-dedicated capabilities. NFC EXPRESS allows for convenient wire-free pairing of desktop PCs with Android smart devices, quick content sharing, and remote PC control, all with one tap.
ASUS is also proud to share that the Z87-DELUXE/DUAL is the first Intel® 8 series-based motherboard certified for Intel® Thunderbolt™, shipping with two ports of the advanced connectivity standard. The previously unannounced Z87-EXPERT was unveiled today, joining the ASUS Z87 motherboard range and also featuring Thunderbolt™ technology.
"Intel and ASUS have worked closely on the implementation of Thunderbolt technology onto ASUS motherboards over the last year", said Jason Ziller, Intel's Director of Thunderbolt Marketing. "The Z87-DELUXE/DUAL is the first Thunderbolt-certified Intel 8 Series motherboard in the industry, once again demonstrating their solid design and compatibility."
NFC EXPRESS: innovation redefines convenient access
Based on near field communication technology, the external NFC EXPRESS accessory enables instant pairing with Android smart devices and the included NFC tag through simply touching them to the sensor box.
Content such as photos and videos can be transferred from smart devices to desktop PCs with a tap. NFC EXPRESS automatically backs up content added to Android devices since last syncing them with a desktop PC. The Remote Desktop function allows for viewing and controlling PCs via Android smartphones and tablets, while Quick Launch saves shortcuts to favorite apps, which can then be started with the ease of a single tap. NFC EXRPESS also allows for password-free Windows 8 login, so users can go directly and quickly into the operating system.
With NFC EXPRESS, simplified Windows 8 access and interaction become available to a wider user audience, whether for personal or professional use. As an added bonus the device includes two USB 3.0 ports that transfer data at up to ten times the speed of USB 2.0. The Z87-DELUXE/DUAL motherboard ships bundled with NFC EXPRESS, which is also available to purchase as a separate accessory.
Wi-Fi GO!: faster and stronger networking
Onboard Wi-Fi GO! support for new generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi translates into desktops that are ready-made for three times faster connectivity than 802.11n standards. Contributing to truly connected living, ASUS Z87 motherboards employ dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz 2T2R antennas with up to 867Mbit/s bandwidth. New Wi-Fi GO! makes ASUS Z87 boards perfect for cloud computing. The Cloud GO! function offers detailed yet user-friendly file management, which syncs and backs up content from desktops to ASUS WebStorage, Dropbox, and Google DriveTM with one click.
UEFI BIOS: upgraded with new functions and sleeker mouse control
Redesigned especially for ASUS Z87 motherboards, the latest version of media-acclaimed ASUS UEFI BIOS has been made even more accessible to customers, irrespective of skill level.
Shortcuts lead to favorite BIOS pages and frequently-accessed settings, and a simple but useful Quick Note feature allows users to write down performance tuning ideas and info for future reference. UEFI BIOS now has a Last Modified activity log that records setting changes, and allows naming SATA ports for instant storage device identification. UEFI BIOS EZ Mode has received a major makeover, now supporting more intricate system fan controls, XMP (extreme memory profile) settings, and extra-quick mouse-controlled system clock adjustments, which are as easy as changing the time on a smartphone or tablet.