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Four Z77-Based Mini-ITX Motherboards, Reviewed

Power, Heat, And Efficiency

ASRock’s minor loss in a few benchmarks is offset towards efficiency by its lower power consumption under full load. MSI appears to idle down a little better, while Asus packs its board with extra features.

EVGA’s Z77 Stinger had the lowest voltage regulator temperatures at default fan settings, while ASRock had the lowest CPU temperatures. Asus’ default fan profile appears to be more focused on quiet operation, though its firmware has several settings between 100% duty cycle and low noise.

Efficiency compares energy to work, which is most easily accomplished by comparing average power to average performance. We’ll need to average the performance of each board to use this method.

Repeated for this comparison, the efficiency formula from our recent System Builder Marathon is weighted at 30% games, 60% other applications, and 10% hard drive performance. Without any big performance differences between boards, we can expect the Z77E-ITX’s low power consumption to top our efficiency charts.

Comparing each motherboard’s performance to the average performance of all motherboards gives us a 100% baseline, which is zeroed-out for this chart by subtracting one (100%) from the result. The Z77E-ITX is 6.9% more efficient than the average of today’s boards, while the P8Z77-I Deluxe is 5% less efficient than that average. Though most people are willing to accept a few extra pennies a month on their electric bill, this chart is simply a reminder that extra features consume extra energy.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.