While some companies add features and others reduce prices to win over different types of consumers, Gigabyte tries to do both with its Z87N-WiFi. We found this board, with its two GbE and Wi-Fi controllers (with Bluetooth support), for a mere $127.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch though, and 802.11ac capable of 867 Mb/s performance is certainly a big cost-adder. We instead find Intel’s 802.11n-based single-band module on-board, which is rated for up to 300 Mb/s in a 2x2 configuration. Hop online and you can buy that card for as little as $15 or so. And the second GbE controller isn’t free either, as the board also has a reduced-cost four-phase voltage regulator.
Gigabyte drops two of the chipset’s six SATA 6Gb/s ports. Even though the four remaining ports are more than adequate for most builds, the loss of a pair internally also highlights the fact that the board lacks eSATA. And the VGA output capability of its DVI-I connector is lessened by the installation kit’s lack of an adapter block.
None of those exclusions dissuade us from seeing high value in the Z87N-WiFi’s low price though, since available connections and power still surpass the maximum needs of most miniature builds. The Haswell architecture's heat issues even mean that most overclockers will run out of thermal headroom before they reach the voltage regulator’s maximum output.
Mini-ITX chassis- and CPU-imposed limitations don't save the Z87N-WiFi from harsher feedback over only including two fan connectors. Most of our tiny cases have both intake and exhaust fans. And the CPU cooler still needs at least one fan header.
Close spacing between the Z87N-WiFi’s CPU socket and graphics slot raise a second concern: cooling. Eight Low-Profile CPU Coolers For Your Compact PC, Reviewed probably has enough offset data to help an owner of this board figure out what will work, but we had to turn our tower-style heat sink sideways in order to fit a graphics card. Then, memory clearance becomes a concern.
The four-pin CPU power connector (ATX12V) is also uncomfortably close to the CPU socket, and will likely compel owners of low-profile coolers to install the cable, heat sink, and motherboard in that order.
The Z87N-WiFi includes a wireless networking antenna, two SATA 6Gb/s cables, and an I/O shield.
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