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.