Our Final Thoughts
The new Z97 Xpower AC is a superb board on paper and looks pretty damn good as well, and one major good point is it now can fit in a case!
The enthusiasts socket component layout allows for easy insulating of the socket area for extreme overclockers.
The Delid Die Guard is a great idea for those running 4770K chips with bad IHS mount you can now direct die cool your chip.
The native PCIe lanes are only applied to a single slot so if benching a 2 Way card setup you have to run through the PLX Bridge which can induce some latency and while this is not a huge issue, however we saw this on the Z87 model as well and while I have not seen the Z97 Maximus Extreme board I do know that the Z87 version had dual card X8 native as a possibility.
The boards WiFi card pin header is small and I am concerned as to fragility here.
The board delivers on a much more versatile package by taking away the XL-ATX requirement of the Z87 model and I think that as benching picks up in Z87 as I have already seen some benching with this board it could be one of the boards to beat. there are a lot of innovations here but how much value it adds depends on your application.