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Five Z87 Motherboards For Your Mini-ITX Build, Reviewed

Asus Z87I-Deluxe

Asus packs its Z87I-Deluxe I/O panel with six USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports, but loses PS/2 and eSATA compared to ASRock’s competing product. Internal connectors are moved around to make room for a far-larger 12-phase CPU input voltage regulator.

The I/O panel also gains a USB BIOS Flashback button. This Asus-exclusive feature allows builders to flash a new firmware version using nothing more than a power supply and USB thumb drive, and is particularly useful when installing a newer, unsupported CPU on an older board. We shouldn’t need to worry about that for a while, since all of the Haswell-based processors compatible with LGA 1150 are pretty recent.

Analog connectivity on the rear panel drops to three jacks, though DTS Connect technology encodes live audio streams to 5.1-channel surround over a single digital output.

Asus saves space by placing Broadcom’s dual-channel, 867 Mb/s-capable 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth controller on a vertical I/O panel riser. And since the vertical voltage regulator impedes access around the CPU socket, the Z87I-Deluxe’s eight-pin CPU power connector is relocated to the board’s front edge. Large CPU coolers may force builders to connect fan header cables before placing the board into a case.

The USB 3.0 front-panel header is a little close to the CPU socket, which may cause clearance issues with some coolers. Though most large heat sinks can be rotated out of the way, the upright voltage regulator may prevent low-profile models (those with little motherboard clearance) from being rotated. Those factors make cooler offset and vertical clearance equally important, which is why they’re listed on page one of Eight Low-Profile CPU Coolers For Your Compact PC, Reviewed.

Asus surprises us by including all six SATA 6Gb/s internal cables with its six-port board. An I/O shield, Wi-Fi antenna, and front-panel lead extender round out the kit.

  • 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