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EVGA Z77 Stinger mini-ITX Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: EVGA

Features, Layout, and Bundled Accessories

Features

Courtesy of EVGA

  • USB 3.0 Support
  • SATA 6G Support
  • HDMI 1.4 connector
  • Supports Intel Core i5 and i7 Socket 1155 Processors
  • 8 Channel High Definition Audio
  • 100% Solid State Capacitors
  • EVGA Vdroop Control
  • EVGA E-LEET Tuning Support
  • Onboard Clear CMOS, Power and Reset Buttons
  • Onboard CPU Temperature Monitor
  • DisplayPort 1.1a
  • PCI Express 3.0 Support

Motherboard Layout

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Even with its small footprint, the EVGA Z77 Stinger is not forcibly packed with components with a flat black and red color scheme giving it an appealing appearance. EVGA even included rubberized and labeled port covers for the onboard USB 2.0 and 3.0 headers. Don’t let its size fool you though, EVGA spent time designing in most of the add-ons you would expect in a full sized board, including SATA and eSATA ports, PCI-Express x16 3.0 and mPCIe ports, USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports and headers, 2 varieties of onboard networking, and onboard power button, reset button, and diagnostic LED display.

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EVGA made up for some of the lost space on the rear side of the board, placing some low profile power circuitry around the critical board areas, as well as the normal soldering points, wire traces, and steel LGA1155 back plate.

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The Z77 Stinger’s rear panel layout includes the support for the following: 2 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports (blue colored ports), 2 eSATA ports, and Intel GigE NIC port, a Bluetooth adapter, a mini DisplayPort port, an HDMI video port, a CMOS reset button, an optical digital audio output port, and 6 analogue audio ports. Directly behind the rear panel assembly are a chassis fan header and the CMOS battery. The CMOS battery was also placed adjacent to the rear panel in an upright position, allowing for easy access to it.

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In between the rear panel assembly and the Intel Z77 chipset is the onboard micro PCI-Express port. This port can be used to enhance the board’s capabilities with a micro PCI-Express add-in card, such as a wireless networking adapter. The USB 2.0 and 3.0 headers are also located in this area.

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EVGA chose to include 1 PCI-Express 3.0 x16 port in addition to the micro PCI-Express port. While the passively cooled Intel Z77 chipset looks close to the PCI-Express x16 slot, there is enough room for use with video cards with backside coolers. However, the outside SATA II port is a little close for comfort to the PCI-Express x16 slot. Use of this SATA port will require careful planning with cable routing when putting the system together.

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In between the onboard DIMM slots and the Intel Z77 chipset are the onboard SATA ports. There are a total of 4 SATA ports, with the red colored ports being the SATA III ports and the black colored ones being the SATA II ports. The 4 onboard ports offer support and RAID 0, 1, and 5. The 2 onboard memory slots are located along the bottom of the board, with dual channel memory mode active with modules seating in both slots. The board offers support for up 16GB of memory with speeds of 2133MHz, 1866MHz, 1600MHz, 1333MHz, and 1066MHz. Note that memory speeds above 1600MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. The color-coded front panel header and the 24-pin power connector are below the memory slots along the board’s edge.

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In the lower right corner of the board, EVGA placed some enthusiast friendly devices including a 2-digit diagnostic display and onboard power and reset buttons. The diagnostic display codes can be used in conjunction with the table included in the motherboard manual to troubleshoot boot related issues. Note that the LED display shows the CPU temperature once the system has completed initialization.

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The 8-pin power connector, as well as an audio output header and several fan headers, are located along the right-most edge of the board.

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The included LGA1155 socket is a shiny steel assembly with more than adequate room around it for use with most coolers. The power circuitry just above the CPU socket is covered by a large passive aluminum heat sink. To provide power to the CPU, the board is designed with a 7+1 phase power system with the MOSFETS arranged above and to the right of the CPU socket..

Included Accessories

In keeping with the small size of the board, EVGA kept the accessory bundle for the Z77 Stinger small and minimized.

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For the onboard SATA ports, EVGA included a total of 4 SATA cables and two power cables. One of the included power cables is a triple ended black-sleeved cable, similar in nature to what you would normally see bundled in with a PSU, while the other power cable is a dual ended un-sleeved cable. The 2 flat SATA cables are rated for 3GB/s operation, while the rounded cables are rated for 6 GB/s use.

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The board’s rear panel shield is well labeled in a flat black color-scheme, keeping consistent with the board looks.

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The included user manual and install DVD give only the essential information and drivers needed to get the board up and running. The manual was found to be very lacking with no explanation provided for the BIOS screens or the included E-LEET Tuning Utility. However, EVGA did include a very detailed breakdown for the diagnostic display codes shown during board initialization.

December 3, 2012 | 10:12 AM - Posted by Daniel Nielsen (not verified)

Will you ever do a Mini ITX round up sort of thing? By the looks of the recent ones that been featured on PCP'er i will strongly consider a Mini ITX Motherboard for my next upgrade.

December 3, 2012 | 03:38 PM - Posted by Kitten Masher (not verified)

This should have the "mini-itx" tag.

December 3, 2012 | 03:41 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

indeed, added

December 4, 2012 | 01:07 AM - Posted by Justin 150 (not verified)

NO MSata?

Having used Mini-Itx boards in a couple of builds the crucial area that MB makers need to consider is cable management - in most mini-itx cases it is a real pain. There is not a lot that can be done with the Sata cables, in an ideal world I would want a MSata 3 socket on back of board, but there is something that can be done for the 24 pin ATX and 4/8 pin Aux power sockets: it is not enough to have them on the edge of the board they need to be at right angles to current norm.

Personally I would go with the ASRock z77 e-itx board over the EVGA

December 18, 2012 | 01:49 PM - Posted by TheBoss (not verified)

If anyone goes Asus over EVGA you are either misinformed, have never dealt with Asus before, are filthy rich and do not care about throwing money away, are just an Asus fanboy, or possibly retarded.

I have built 100's of PC's this year alone. I bang them out like Rihanna gets hit. All the time. They have a higher than failure rate than EVGA, use inferior parts in most cases, and WORST of all you can not do an Asus RMA to save your freaking life.

ASUS = HEADACHES AND HASSLES

EVGA = GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE, SUPERIOR COMPONENTS, GREAT DESIGN, GREAT ENGINEERING

I sell more Asus stuff than EVGA, so don't count me a "Fanboy" by any means. But for someone to PREFER an Asus MoBo to this little stinger is just dumb. No offense inteded here btw.

TheBoss
BossRigs.com

December 31, 2012 | 08:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Strange, but I have had almost the exact opposite experience. I have had problems of bad capacitors leaking in a few EVGA products, and few construction problems with ASUS. I have had a dead MOBO or two from ASUS, and getting an RMA was not difficult (I do live close enough to drive down to ASUS and pick up the replacements). I'm happy with the quality of both EVGA and ASUS, in fact just installed a couple of the new ASUS ac routers.

February 27, 2013 | 10:28 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I believe he suggested an ASrock board... not ASUS. Seems like you blew a gasket about nothing

June 3, 2013 | 11:20 PM - Posted by Mason (not verified)

I really love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme.
Did you build this website yourself? Please reply back as I'm trying to create my very own blog and want to know where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Thanks!

Here is my website - his comment is here

December 4, 2012 | 07:13 AM - Posted by orvtrebor

This really should have been compared to the Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe (ITX) board. They are at the same price point and trying to accomplish the same level of performance.

But I understand you guys don't have an endless supply of hardware to compare with :)

Either way its great to see another high performance ITX board.

December 4, 2012 | 08:54 AM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

There will likely be more mini-ITX reviews in the future, along with the possibility of some type of comparison article as well.  Stay tuned...

December 9, 2012 | 01:28 PM - Posted by Rocco (not verified)

"It's [sic] performance both at stock settings and while overclocked were nothing short of astounding"

Astounding? 4.36GHZ is downright anemic compared to the other mini-itx boards and the vdroop issues and memory OC failure don't scream quality. Considering the price, I would give this board a 6/10.

December 10, 2012 | 07:47 AM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

While 4.36GHz may not seem high comparatively speaking, but for the 3570K CPU we use in testing, it is on par with what we've seen with other boards.  Also just in terms of base clock overclocking, aq 104MHz base clock is nice, since most won't go above 103MHz if you're lucky.

The memory o/c was a bit odd to me also, but it wasn't something to distract from an otherwise stellar board - on the Intel side, o/c'd memory does not buy you a huge performance gain for most things (read real-world gaming).

The VDroop issue can be controlled via careful BIOS tweaking, so that in my mind is a non-issue...

December 26, 2012 | 09:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What about the power consumption numbers without an add-on video card?

January 7, 2013 | 12:43 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Good point, something we'll consider adding in future m-atx and m-itx reviews...

January 7, 2013 | 04:10 PM - Posted by Luxferro (not verified)

Avoid EVGA at all cost. This board does not work correctly. The bios settings are all messed up, don't save, don't clear either optimized defaults or the clear CMOS button.

EVGA ignores all the problems related to this board on their forums. They don't even answer support tickets.

Save yourself a huge headache and just buy another brand. It's pretty clear they did no validation on this motherboard.

March 2, 2013 | 11:48 PM - Posted by Anonymal (not verified)

...no , it`s a pretty nice MB, some peoples or programers just made wrong stuff on BIOS or bad flash bios, that`s all... any brand have some trouble , i remember downloaded a Bios from ASUS for a ROG.mATX board...
Very bad thing...the worst is that they changed the bios update some days after...with the same name and denomination 1.xx ,i had 2 downloaded files with the same name , frome the same place at ASUS...but with diferent bios inside...thank you ASUS you crushed my very expensive ROG MB ^^

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