ECS Z97-Machine Motherboard Review

System Configuration

Testing Hardware

  • ECS Z97-Machine Motherboard
  • Intel Core i5-4670k Processor
  • Raijintek Ereboss CPU Cooler
  • Kingston HyperX Beast 16GB 2400MHz Memory
  • Kingston M.2 120GB SSD (OS Drive)
  • Plextor M6M 256GB mSATA SSD (Storage Drive)
  • QDIY PC-D60 Acrylic Test Bench
  • EVGA SuperNOVA P2 1200w Platinum Power Supply
  • Gigabyte GTX 770 OC 2GB Video Card
  • Windows 7 Ultimate OS

General Benchmarks

  • PC Mark 7
  • PC Mark Vantage
  • Super Pi

CPU Benchmarks

  • Cinebench

Memory Benchmarks

  • AIDA64
  • MaxxMEM 2

Storage Benchmarks

  • PC Mark 8 PRO
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark

Game and Graphics Benchmarks

  • Unigine Heaven 3.0
  • Unigine Valley 1.0
  • Fire Strike
  • Aliens Vs Predator
  • Battlefield 3
  • Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag

BIOS

Here’s a look at the Z97-Machine’s BIOS page. You can navigate the BIOS using your mouse and keyboard. If you look at the left portion, you can see a golden shield icon which indicates that the system is running on normal configuration.

Clicking one of the two arrows will change the configuration from normal to performance. The system will automatically optimize your hardware after a reboot. There are also the monitoring tools such as temperatures, voltages and fan speeds. There’s also the default button for you to reset your BIOS configuration and the Language button which only has English for now.

Advanced Mode

The advance mode is where you can edit configurations for overclocking, setting up RAID, configuring C-states and others. Playing around with the BIOS under advanced mode will also require an advanced level of knowledge. Getting the configurations wrong can be troublesome and could lead to hardware malfunction. As experts, configure the BIOS at your own risk.

Moving on, here’s the main tab. Just the date, time and language used in the BIOS.

Next is the advanced tab. Here you can configure particular sections of your motherboard. If you are new to configuring the BIOS, I would recommend leaving this alone.

Next is the chipset tab where you can configure the features controlled by the Z97 chipset.

Next tab is the M.I.B. X tab where you can overclock the processor and memory. Below you can see the current speeds our i5-4670k processor and memory speed. We will go back to this later as we overclock the processor and increase memory speed.

Next is the security tab wherein you can set a password for accessing the BIOS.

Next is the boot tab where you can configure booting sequence and other boot options.

Lastly, the exit tab where you can save you configuration, discard changes and reboot options.

Drivers and Software

Aside from the necessary drivers, there’s a bunch of software bundled with the Z97-Machine. Some are office applications which are mostly just trial versions and the rest are utilities that go with the features of the board.

Upon running the driver and software CD, this will appear in your screen. Clicking the gold setup button will launch a complete driver installation. Unlike installers from other brands, it doesn’t give you the option to select which drivers you want installed or not installed. The setup will run and complete its process with a few reboots.

Moving on to the software and utilities, as you can see in the images above, there’s a bunch of them and other promotion links for CyberLink products as well. The utilities that go with the motherboard are on the third page.

eBLU

eBLU is the utility for updating the BIOS of the motherboard. It automatically detects the current version installed and checks for updates if you are connected to the internet.

eDLU

eDLU is the utility for automatically updating the drivers of the motherboard’s components.

eOC

eOC is the overclocking utility for the Z97-Machine. The software has four tabs you can navigate which we will explain below.

On the monitor tab, it just shows you the temperature of the processor and the system. Nothing to tweak here.

Under the Easy Tuning tab, you can tweak the block frequency of the processor which in this case I set to 106.0 Mhz.

Under the Advance Tuning tab, you can tweak more variables along with the block frequency.

Under the options tab are certain overclocking settings. Here you can turn on or off the overclock based on desired circumstances which depends on the use of the eOC utility.

eSF

This utility is basically the fan control utility of ECS. It controls CPU Fan 1, CPU Fan 2 and all the system fans under one section. There are five presets to choose from with the fifth being customizable.

EZ Charger

The EZ Charger allows you to continue charging any device plugged in the USB port even if the computer is off. It also allows you to turbo charge devices.

Overclocking with eOC

We did test the eOC utility and overclock the processor with it to see how good it works.

You will be prompted with a warning before you apply an overclock. Based on my experience, it takes a few seconds for it to be applied if successful. If not, the computer hangs and shuts down then you will be prompted with an error message when you restart your computer.

As far as overclocking and downclocking the block frequency, it does work well which you can see in the images below where it was decreased to 98.0 Mhz then increased to 102.0 Mhz.


However, it wasn’t able to accept a 105.0 Mhz overclock which resulted to an error. Hence, if you want to overclock your processor using the Z97-Machine, best to do it at the BIOS. Using the eOC is very limited and isn’t as stable compared to doing it from the BIOS. Hence, we like the fact the ECS is doing this since other brands have such tools as well. But sad to say, eOC needs a lot of catching up to do because the others already have an auto-overclocking feature which the eOC doesn’t have.

Let’s move on to the next page for some real overclocking.



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