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EVGA Z77 Stinger

Four Z77-Based Mini-ITX Motherboards, Reviewed

EVGA loves part numbers, often referring to the Z77 Stinger as its 111-IB-E692-KR or simply the E692. Interestingly, this platform seems to have been designed with bundled Wi-Fi in mind (including a spot for an antenna bracket, two knock-outs in its I/O panel for them, a mini-PCIe slot, and pre-launch photography with the adapter on-board. But there is no Wi-Fi on the version of the board we're testing.

We still find Bluetooth though, and that's a feature missing from one of the other boards in this round-up. Depending on your wireless needs, it might even be considered as valuable as Wi-Fi.

EVGA places a mini-DisplayPort connector next to an HDMI output, forgoing DVI and VGA, and keeping the rear I/O panel clean. We're sure the assumption is that anyone using an EVGA motherboard and Z77 Express-based chipset won't be bothered to use integrated graphics. Whether or not that applies depends on the role your mini-ITX platform is destined to fill.

The Z77 Stinger presented us with several surprises, the first of which was its use of an add-in controller for a pair of eSATA ports, even though two of the PCH's integrated ports went unused. This is also the smallest board we’ve seen with a Port 80 diagnostics display, power, and reset buttons. EVGA even managed to squeeze in a third four-pin fan connector, which didn't seem to be manageable for its competition.

An even bigger surprise came when we began looking for the Z77 Stinger’s front-panel audio header. It’s simply not there, even though we expect front-panel audio connections on any modern case we review. Perhaps the redundant SATA controller consumed its space?

EVGA has the best-looking case badge we’ve seen, complete with faux carbon fiber insert stickers. The company bundles both round and flat SATA cables, just in case you want to change the look inside your chassis. Braided four-drive and basic two-drive SATA power adapters are also included.

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