Z97 vs Z87: Which motherboard should I buy?

If you're upgrading your PC you can spend hours deciding which are the best components to use. We make that decision a little easier by discussing the differences between the Z97 Express and Z87 Express chipset motherboards. 

A reader wrote into Helproom with the following question: "I’m upgrading my PC and I’m in the market for a new motherboard. Should I go for one of the new Z97 boards or try to save a little money and stick with the previous generation Z87?" 

This is how we solved their problem. See all PC Upgrades How tos. 

Z87 Express vs Z97 Express 

The Z97 Express chipset is an evolution of the previous generation Z87 Express and there are a few very good reasons to go for the newer chipset. 

First of all, the Z97 Express chipset officially supports the latest fifth generation Intel Core processors. Whereas Z87 Express offers support only up to the fourth generation chips. This means if you plan to upgrade to a ‘Broadwell’ chip in the future, you’ll need Z97 Express. If you’re planning on sticking with Haswell, then you could stick with Z87, but there’s only a small price premium to pay for Z97, so we would recommend opting for the latest chipset rather than trying to save money and go for a Z87 board with limited upgrade potential. 

Some Z87-based motherboards support ‘Devil’s Canyon’ CPUs, such as the Core-i7 4790K, but may require a BIOS update.

One of the most important new features of the Z97 chipset is the addition of support for SATA Express and M.2, which will greatly increase maximum throughput for SSDs. Also see SSD vs SSHD.