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Five Z87 Motherboards For Your Mini-ITX Build, Reviewed

Z87N-WiFi Software

Gigabyte’s APP Center resides under the Windows task bar, popping up when selected to reveal a scrolling menu. The image below shows these menu items pasted side-by-side for a quicker view, and the applet links a variety of handy applications such as USB Blocker for port security and Live Update to poll Gigabyte’s server for new drivers.

Gigabyte @BIOS allows firmware updates within windows, polls from Gigabyte’s server, and includes its “Face Wizard” boot image modification application.

Gigabyte’s EZ Setup provides a simple interface for the functions of Intel’s SATA controller.

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Smart Recovery 2 provides file backup and system recovery functions.

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Gigabyte Smart TimeLock gives PC owners additional user management options, as described on its info page.

The company's EasyTune hasn’t changed significantly since our previous verbose description, but its tuning options are still governed by each motherboard model's feature set. We find the full range of clock, multiplier, and voltage controls repeated from firmware into this easy Windows-based interface:

Automatic overclocking is also an option, with both pre-defined overclocking profiles and an overclocking algorithm at your fingertips. The top profile (OC Extreme) increases the CPU frequency range to 3.7 through 4.5 GHz, depending on the number of cores in use, at 1.30 volts.

Gigabyte’s Auto Tuning algorithm managed to get our CPU stable at 4.40 GHz with all of its cores loaded. The voltage level for this somewhat-impressive O/C was on the high side at 1.475 V unfortunately, causing near-instant thermal throttling from our Haswell-based Core i7.

  • lp231
    Here is another MSI ITX board
    Reply
  • PEJUman
    Why would one pay extra for ASUS's power delivery if it didn't yield any additional OC/DRAM stability? In the end, ASRock features & cheaper price should be a better option here.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    12025866 said:
    Here is another MSI ITX board
    Yes, they've sent one for another article. If the site did multiple items per manufacturer the article would take weeks to finish. That wouldn't be a problem if all Tom's Hardware did was motherboards :p
    12025873 said:
    Why would one pay extra for ASUS's power delivery if it didn't yield any additional OC/DRAM stability? In the end, ASRock features & cheaper price should be a better option here.
    ASRock's cheaper features also made it a competitor with the cheaper boards for the value award. Since it competed well for both awards, it had to get a different award.

    Reply
  • nukemaster
    While some may not like the layout, the Gigabyte and MSI layout should work well in some cases like the SG05 from SilverStone. The top mounted power and sata ports help keep wires out of the air flow path.

    More room between the PCI-E and CPU LGA is nice on the Asus as are all the features.

    I am still running an older H55n usb3 24/7 and it has been quite stable and cool and low on power consumption. Shame that this new gigabyte board has higher power and temperature levels.
    Reply
  • xkm1948
    Since most of them has built in Wi-Fi. Will it be better to include a Wi-Fi test column?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    12025986 said:
    Since most of them has built in Wi-Fi. Will it be better to include a Wi-Fi test column?
    We formerly had a controller reviewer, and I'd like to see someone take on this task again. A separate article on the controllers (with everything else identical) wouldn't tell you anything about the antennas included with different products, but antennas are cheaply replaceable.

    Reply
  • KrazyKap
    Is the Asus Z87 Pro the same as the Deluxe? Seems to be region specific but I can't find the difference. Help? I've just bought the Pro for myself as it is only slightly more than the MSI or Gigabyte options.
    Reply
  • unipablo
    I think that the Pro version comes with wifi-N instead of wifi-AC.
    Reply
  • vertexx
    Let's just roll some dice and toss out some awards, eh? Couldn't help but laugh through the conclusion.

    Overall it's good to see the roundup. Would have liked to see post times. With SSD storage, motherboard post times are now becoming the longer wait in a system boot up.

    Also interested in thoughts on reasons for Z87 mobos for a standard non-overclocking build. For a non-overclocked gaming ITX PC, say with an I3 or low-end I5, are there any compelling reasons to pay the Z87 premium over, say an H81, which can run $100 cheaper?
    Reply
  • rolli59
    Nice review and boards, conclusion is all good buy's depending on what features you want except the EVGA.
    Reply