The $150 Z77E-ITX is surprisingly feature-packed, providing a half-size mini-PCIe-based 802.11n wireless card and a third pair of USB 3.0 ports, in addition to the features you get built in to Intel's Z77 Express chipset. And, unlike the wary competitors who chose not to participate in today’s round-up, ASRock almost invites users to overclock aggressively by adding a CLR_CMOS button to its I/O panel (oh yeah, we know why that's there).
ASRock finally ditched the space-consuming on-board VGA connector in favor of a breakout block for DVI-I, also including HDMI and DisplayPort outputs.
Quite frankly, the mini-ITX form factor doesn’t leave enough room for companies to make many good or bad layout decisions, but we were a little disappointed by the Z77E-ITX’s lack of space for oversized CPU cooling. Crowding by the graphics card limited us to a 92 mm CPU fan and similarly-sized heat sink.
Internal connectors include four of the chipset’s six SATA ports, with one of the remaining ports re-routed to the I/O panel as eSATA. Two of the chipset’s four USB 3.0 ports also correspond to a front-panel connector, along with four of the chipset’s ten USB 2.0 ports.
Keeping in mind the size restrictions of mini-ITX, the only place we found the Z77E-ITX coming up short was its fan headers. Admittedly, many small cases have only a single fan. Several of ours have a pair, though, and one of the Z77E-ITX’s two fan headers is needed by the CPU cooler.
Though only accessible prior to system assembly, an mSATA slot on the Z77E-ITX's underside offers onboard storage capability to at least a few users, without further crowding the board's top side.
Two SATA cables are adequate for most mini-ITX and DTX cases, though enclosures designed to fit slim optical drives often require that you purchase an adapter cable separately to interface with its smaller power plug. It would have been nice to get one of those bundled. But because neither ASRock nor its competition includes it, the one thing separating the Z77E-ITX’s installation kit from the other boards we're reviewing appears to be the Magix multimedia suite on its software and driver CD.
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Years ago, decent mITX boards were slim pickings.Reply
where are the dtx mobos for those that want a gaming graphics card as well as a dedicated sound card that isnt onboard crap?Reply
Asus maintains a list of other technologies only found on its platform, including the ability to charge smartphones and tablets through its USB portsReply
That technology is available from MSI and Asrock (and Gigabyte, but that's irrelevant in this roundup). Look up MSI i-Charger and Asrock App Charger.
tarkheinAsus maintains a list of other technologies only found on its platform, including the ability to charge smartphones and tablets through its USB portsThat technology is available from MSI and Asrock (and Gigabyte, but that's irrelevant in this roundup). Look up MSI i-Charger and Asrock App Charger.All three companies have similar high-current charging features, but Asus extends them to non-Apple devices. The comment was originally left out due to the similarities and added later due to the differences.Reply
There was a big discussion between editors over whether or not the P8Z77-I Deluxe should get an award. The only award for "best features" is Tom's Hardware Approved, and that award is reserved for products that are clearly and obviously superior. The P8Z77-I Deluxe was a better board, but we had to look fairly hard to see it (it wasn't clear or obvious).
So many variations between each board when it comes to OC......Reply
amuffinSo many variations between each board when it comes to OC......LOL, welcome to Windows 8.Reply
"We retained most of the hardware from our previous Z77 motherboard round-ups, but were not able to reach the same CPU clock speeds. A shift over to Windows 8 was our biggest change, and services crashing under that operating system appeared to limit what we could achieve compared to Windows 7."Reply
CrashmanLOL, welcome to Windows 8.
How about using Windows 7? Was a reason you HAD to use 8 despite encountering issues? Is there some contractual obligation or monetary incentive to use the lastest version regardless of performance issues? Or at least test them both, it's only 4 motherboards.
I think Mini-ITX will be the new standard size.Reply
It's not like the 80s/90s where you needed a full size AT/ATX motherboard with many slots for the ST-506 controller, floppy disk controller, serial port, parallel port, Sound Blaster card, VGA card, token ring card, and an extra cooling fan.
I will later get a Mini-ITX later & Silverstone case, stick in a Noctua NH-C12P & Haswell i7, and my Nv 680. That will have very high power density and worthy of being my "main" PC. (and it will OC)
One issue I see is the PCI-E x16 slot is at the very bottom of these boards, and most video cards use two slots, requiring a larger case than one that simply supporting the motherboard based on ITX/mini-ITX dimensions. I'd be interesting in exploring the limitations of such configurations, and whether these boards are effectively limited to single slot video cards (and performance), require larger cases than is assumed, or specific case configurations.Reply
abbadon_34Was a reason you HAD to use 8 despite encountering issues?Standardization. The thought of having a spare drive on hand simply for testing O/C never even crossed my mind after hearing the "s" word.abbadon_34One issue I see is the PCI-E x16 slot is at the very bottom of these boards, and most video cards use two slots, requiring a larger case than one that simply supporting the motherboard based on ITX/mini-ITX dimensions. I'd be interesting in exploring the limitations of such configurations, and whether these boards are effectively limited to single slot video cards (and performance), require larger cases than is assumed, or specific case configurations.It's called DTX, it's mentioned in the article's FIRST paragraph, and Tom's Hardware even has DTX case reviews. Since most people don't know what DTX is, most case manufacturers have changed the label to read "Mini ITX". Still, there are a bunch of DTX cases out there caring the Mini ITX label.Reply