Awarded By – Gavin/Ben
Design – MSI Z97 GAMING 9 AC
This was probably the hardest tie up I have had to make all year when choosing a product for an award; so many motherboards could have won this and all of them would have deserved it. However the award goes to a board that at the time of writing this, I am actually still testing it which might seem odd, but the design is highly superb; especially for an MSI GAMING series motherboard.
Yes the red and black colour scheme is the most used of 2014 in components and literally every brand now has a red and black “gaming” series but no-one does it better than MSI; in my opinion of course! That being said, the next closest board to me was the ASUS Z97 MAXIMUS VII Hero but the MSI GAMING 9 AC just has that little bit more about it; more features, better performance and of course a better aesthetic which is why the GAMING 9 AC wins the 2014 design award.
Performance – MSI X99 MPOWER
The MSI X99 MPOWER was an easy winner for the performance award as not only did if fair well in all the synthetic benchmarks I ran on it, it was also the motherboard I was furthest able to overclock my 5820K on using the x99 platform. Looking at the benchmark results for the X99 tests and they were a bit all over the place which is why I decided to give the performance award based on the overclocking ability of the motherboard.
Value – ASROCK Z97 Extreme4
When the ASRock Z97 Extreme4 came out it was one of the best price to performance ratio boards there was, it was running with the big dogs on the block offering great performance with a price tag that didn’t quite seem to add up to the performance on hand. even looking back now at the Play3r Z97 benchmarks results and it is still somewhere among the top ranks when it comes to results. Not only did the ASRock Z97 Extreme4 perform well, it had a nice design and was not red which was way overdone in 2014.
Overall – ASUS Z97 MAXIMUS HERO VII
The ASUS Z97 MAXIMUS HERO VII motherboard has the perfect combination of price, performance and of course style to sit on top of the pile for 2014 in my opinion. Of course the X99 chipset offers more performance as when you factor in DDR4/hex core performance, you get exactly what it says on the tin; an enthusiast platform. However, the Z97 chipset still makes more sense to me than the X99 and for a board that gives amazing value, tons of features, oodles of style and of course performance worthy of the ROG name, then the HERO VII is a clear choice for the overall motherboard of 2014 award!