ECS Z97-Machine Motherboard Review

Packaging

Here’s a look at the Z97-Machine’s packaging. The back highlights some features of the motherboard.

Included in the package are four black SATA III cables, a CD driver installer, product manual, a quick starter guide in full color and the I/O shield.

Here’s a look at the Z97-Machine motherboard.

Closer Look

Taking a closer look at the motherboard, you can see that ECS have wisely chosen a black finish on the PCB. We all know that builders nowadays are very picky with appeal which is largely determined by the color of the hardware. With it being black, you will surely not have a hard time pairing it with other hardware components in your rig. Secondary color of the board is gold thus completing the black and gold theme of the board. The looks does have a ‘gaming’ aura on it with the cool heat sink design and stealthy black color.

Even the back of the motherboard is coated with the same black finish. No branding on the back as well which kept it clean and simple.


Here’s the heat sink that cools the CPU power phases and the power phases themselves. The ECS Z97-Machine has a 6-power phase design. It may not be as many as the gaming motherboards coming from other brands but note that high overclocking isn’t really necessary for gaming purposes. Some brands have overclocking boards with double the power phases to those that enjoy overclocking for records and for fun. ECS doesn’t have an overclocking board under Intel’s 9 series but as for gaming, the Z97-Machine should suffice which we will later find out.

Moving on to the back of the motherboard, you can find 4 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, DVI-D and VGA ports for video output, 1 PS/2 port, 1 Optical S/PDIF out port, 1 RJ-45 port and 1 audio port complete with 1 line-in and 4 line-out.


Moving on to the bottom-left portion of the motherboard is the power and reset buttons along with the debug LCD display. This feature is usually provided with high-end motherboards which tends to be around $200 or more. It’s nice coming from ECS to have these included even with the Z97-Machine on a much cheaper price tag of around $110.

On the bottom-right are 4 SATA III ports. They are old school upright ports and not the 90-degree kind that’s very popular nowadays. Most of the Z97 boards available today would have more SATA III ports but we do think even four is enough.

Still at the bottom portion of the board is the M.2 or NGFF port. It doesn’t have a screw in fastening a M.2 SSD but you use one of the silver nuts attached to the board as seen in the image above.

Here’s a closer look at the chipset heat sink which has the L337 gaming logo on it in gold.

Here are the four DDR3 DIMM slots. Notice that the spacing of the DIMM slots are rather odd. You can also notice this odd spacing with the Z87 boards of ECS. Doesn’t really affect performance but just in case you are wondering about it, we are wondering as well.

Here are the two PCIe 3.0 express slots which can support dual graphics cards either CrossFireX or SLI.

Lastly, here’s the processor socket of the board.

Now let’s move on to the system configuration and setup.



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