Biostar Releases New Gaming Z97X and Gaming Z97W Motherboards

Biostar announced that it has two new flagship motherboards for Intel's Haswell and Broadwell processors with the Gaming Z97X and Gaming Z97W.

The new motherboards, which look very similar to one another, are predominantly black with a black PCB, black heat spreaders, and various other black components. The boards have brown as a secondary color, on two of the RAM slots and two or three PCI-E x16 ports. There are also traces of gold coloring on the capacitors, red on the chipset's heater spreader, and a little white in places, but overall it's all-black everything.

In addition to the typical chipset and MOFSET heat spreaders, Biostar also placed them around the back I/O connections and between the expansion slots, as well as on the edge of the board where several different chips are commonly placed.

The good news about the odd color scheme is that users won't need to worry too much about matching the brown. Once RAM and a graphics card are inserted into the board, the brown will almost complete vanish, letting users go for an all-black build or a mixture of black with a different color of their choosing.

The boards use the Intel Z97 chipset and feature four RAM slots, with support for dual-channel DDR3 overclocking up to 3000 MHz. They make use of the Realtek ALC898 codec for high definition audio, with a few high-end metalized polypropylene film capacitors to help reduce static and improve clarity. Lastly, their USB support is the same, making use of the ASMedia ASM1142 controller and the Z97 chipset to bring a total of two USB 3.1 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, and a few on-board USB headers.

The Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201 LAN controller is on both boards, but the Gaming Z97X differentiates itself from the Z97W a bit by incorporating Intel I218V as a second NIC. Featuring the typical Z97 chipset storage connectors, the Z97X board also has an ASMedia ASM1061 chip for an additional two SATA 3 ports.

Users examining the boards might start to wonder, is there an M.2 connection? The answer is yes, Biostar did include one but decided to do something unusual. The M.2 connector is located inside of a small heat spreader compartment located in the middle of the board. Likely, this was done for aesthetics and not heat. Most M.2 SSDs available on the market come on a bright green, old-fashioned PCB, which isn't the most attractive thing in the world and can be easily viewable through many modern cases. With a heat spreader hiding the PCB, the M.2 device is hidden from sight and is not an eyesore.

The boards differ when it comes to expansion slots, too. The Gaming Z97W comes with two PCI-E x16 3.0 slots, two PCI-E x1 2.0 slots, and two legacy PCI slots each. The Gaming Z97X does away with the legacy PCI slots to make room for an additional PCI-E x1 and a PCI-E x16 slot.

Included with both motherboards is a front-panel header, which Biostar called "Gaming Commander." The Gaming Commander has a set of basic front audio connectors and allows you to adjust the volume. In addition, the header has a CPU temperature indicator, with a series of diagnostic LEDs included.

There is no word as of yet on availability or pricing.

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Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.
  • dovah-chan
    Not too shabby at all, Biostar. Hardly did I ever expect them to come out with a decent looking and quite possibly feature filled Z97 board. The brown is a little questionable but they're trying to go in a different direction than everyone else and I can see it working out. I love the clever design of the M.2 port and hope to see other manufacturers doing this. I like the front 5.25" bay device thing (like the ROG base station thing) as a nice value add-on and the ALC898 is a solid codec (although the ALC1150 is a bit more standard on higher-end boards).

    My one complaint is that it could use more SATA ports. I mean 4 on the Z97W board? That's one SSD boot drive and one storage drive and you only got two ports left. Sheesh. Even my MSI Z87-G45 which was only $120 on sale has 6 ports.

    Hoping to read the reviews and maybe grab one for myself to play around with.
  • FFH
    Can someone explain to me why it needs heat spreaders? It doesn't make it look nicer. I have heat spreaders on my RAM, but I never overclocked it so it's kind of useless. I guess it would be great for overclocking, but it would probably get in the way of installing some of the larger aftermarket air-cooled CPU heatsinks. Anyway it has a nice design. It reminds me of the Asus Republic of gamers motherboard.
  • IInuyasha74
    Biostar often gets looked at as a bad maker of boards, but they really aren't so bad. They usually build very solid boards and save cost by not adding additional software they would need to pay licenses for, like THX, using cheaper chips, and cutting features that are rarely used. So they tend to do well.

    It would of been better had they added a few more SATA ports on the 97W though. Likely most won't use them, but its not a big cost.
  • EagleDesignInc
    Appearance doesn't look to bad at all, but without the price is hard to say if I would buy it or not...
  • Lutfij
    In Biostar's defense, both mobo's support 6 SATA devices native off the Z97 chipset if and when you aren't going to use the M.2 slot and/or SATA Express. I was skeptical at first but I followed on the products site and manuals.

    All in all, the boards are a break from the red and black generic "gaming" market and they seem to have a few more bells and whistles as the other mid-high end boards. Question would be how well laid out is their BIOS's?
  • Terry Perry
    I have had 3 Bio Boards over the years and all 3 went out in 6 months. But my Gig. boards are still working a P35 and a 968 they are 5-7 years old and still fire up. My new Z97 is a Gig and it went up with no hassle. Plus the Duo Bios is a real seller for me a back up never hurts. I will always be a Gigabyte Man.
  • Calculatron
    My previous main rig had a Biostar board which served me faithfully, and now my secondary rig sports one. They're good boards for the price-point, because that is what they are built for.

    It's interesting that Biostar has decided to enter the "gaming" market. (Or have they produced other gaming-orientated products? I don't think they have...)
  • Icon86
    What warrants a manufacturer to use the word "Gaming" as a tag for their equipment? Buzz words where there is no spec just irritate me.
  • thekyle64
    they look nice