ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac Motherboard Review
Posted by Heath Coop on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 7:03am
Long gone are the days when an ATX motherboard was required to build a full featured PC. Now features like sound, network, and a host of other features can be found on every consumer motherboard on the market. Thanks to these advances, previously seldom used form factors, like mATX and ITX are now far more common. Sure the ATX still reigns supreme, but you don’t need a massive case to have a really great PC anymore.
Enter the ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac, a motherboard with a list of features as long as your arm, but in a 6.7” x 6.7” ITX package. The Z97E-ITX/ac supports Intel Core4th Generation Haswell/Devils Canyon processors. On the networking side, Intel I218V Gigabit LAN does the duties. A Realtek ALC1150 115dB SNR HD Audio controller with a TI® NE5532 premium headset amplifier supplies your audio needs. ASRock’s Super Alloy construction features an XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink, premium 60A power choke, premium memory choke, Ultra Dual-N MOSFET (UDM), NexFET™ MOSFET, Nichicon 12K Platinum Caps, and Sapphire Black PCB. There’s also 2T2R 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, SATA Express, and M.2 connectivity as well.
ASRock has not been remiss on the software side either. They have revised their UEFI BIOS, which has exclusive ASROCK Overclocking features. There is also an application center that allows quite a bit of control over the BIOS, overclocking, and other various features from inside the Windows environment.
ASRock's take on the Z97E-ITX/ac
Premium Alloy Choke
The new generation alloy chokes effectively increase up to 90% saturation current and feature a highly magnetic and heat resistant design, making the motherboard more efficient, stable and reliable.
Dual-Stack MOSFET for CPU Power
Dual-Stack MOSFET (DSM) is another innovative MOSFETs design by ASRock. The silicon die area is increased by stacking two dies into one MOSFET. The larger the die area, the lower Rds(on). Compared to traditional discrete MOSFET, DSM with larger die area provides extreme lower Rds(on) 1.2 mΩ, so the power supply for the CPU Vcore is more efficient.
NexFET MOSFETs in memory areas use a special design for protecting them from electrostatic discharge and offer up to 7.5 times the ESD protection levels compared to traditional MOSFETs.
NexFET MOSFET for Memory Power
The next generation NexFET MOSFETs control the power supply to DRAM slots more efficiently. They provide lower RDS(on) 2.9 mΩ, delivering higher efficiency and lower temperature.
Nichicon 12K Platinum Caps
Supreme 12K platinum capacitors with lifespans of at least 12,000 hours. Compared to other counterparts on high-end motherboards that merely have lifespans of around 10,000 hours, ASRock applied Nichicon 12K Platinum Caps that offer 20% longer lifespans and provide more stability and reliability.
Sapphire Black PCB
Pure black PCB appearance. The new Sapphire Black PCB represents rock-solid quality and gives the motherboard a more mysterious touch.
M.2 Socket (PCIe Gen2 x2 & SATA)
The onboard M.2 socket is a new interface for connecting Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF) solid state drives or other devices. ASRock supports M.2 SATA3 6Gb/s modules and M.2 PCI Express modules up to Gen2 x2 10Gb/s, which is 2X faster compared to other M.2 Gen2 x1 solutions that are limited to 5Gb/s.
Nichicon Fine Gold Audio Caps
ASRock applied Nichicon Fine Gold Series audio capacitors that every audiophile has been longing for on a PC! Compared with traditional solid caps, the leakage current of Nichicon audio caps is merely 10uA. This is the key to reduce noise level significantly and satisfy even the pickiest audiophiles.
ASRock APP Shop
ASRock APP Shop is designed for your convenience. We provide various apps and support software for users to download. You can easily optimize your system and keep your motherboard up to date with ASRock APP Shop.
ASRock APP Shop is the only all-in-one software package that delivers you the most practical PC apps and tools, in one integrated interface – from ASRock exclusive tools to the most update-to-date options of the latest technology.
2T2R 802.11ac WiFi
No one has time for weak WiFi signals and sluggish internet! That's why this motherboard comes with an exclusive 2T2R 802.11ac WiFi (2.4G / 5G WiFi) module that supports up to 867Mbps wireless networks and Bluetooth v4.0. Experience up to 289% speed boost compared to your old WiFi!
SATA Express Connector
The SATA Express* interface provides PCIe Gen2 x2 (10Gb/s) data transfer speed. This motherboard offers the latest SATA Express connector to enthusiasts to enjoy the ultimate performance.
That is only a partial list of the Z97E-ITX/ac’s many features. Let us take a look at the product specifications and packaging next.