TUF stands for "The Ultimate Force" and there are only a few motherboards produced by ASUS under this banner - but what does it mean to system builders and why would you choose a TUF board over something else?
ASUS markets the board with a focus on being rugged and the inclusion of Military Grade components. This is backed up with a "Certificate of Reliability" that lists the standards as set out in the table below.
I had a look at some of the tests on various accreditation sites to see what is involved and it's no gimmick - these test push the components beyond what they should see in real life use, even in harsh dusty or humid environments. The ASUS Certificate of Reliability accompanying our review sample stated that the motherboard was tested by Integrated Service Technology.
ASUS designers also implemented Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) guards to protect components. There are additional holes in the board for attaching the optional armor plate to protect from physical/contact damage.
Knocks, Bumps and Dust
The armor kit includes slot covers to ward off dust and the top armor has a 40mm fan built into it to provide thermal relief to the zone below the plastic cover. The plastic shroud also helps to protect the board if you are installing components in a tight case as it covers most of the board's components and circuit paths. This means that a Z87 Gryphon fitted with the armor kit should be more forgiving if you get a case of "butter fingers" when performing an upgrade or installation.
There is also the Thermal Radar software that comes with the motherboard which is designed for the TUF series motherboards and allows for customising all fans attached to motherboard headers (PWM or 3 PIN) to maintain a temperature or acoustic balance. There are also motherboard headers for 3 temperature probes (included in the armor kit) so that you can monitor areas of the case like hard drive bays, ambient case temperatures and other warm spots of interest.
The 40mm fan in the thermal armor also has the option of running for a set period of time (1 minute by default) after shutdown the cool the components.
Some of the above sounds like overkill but it's good to see a comprehensive approach to build quality.