GIGABYTE Z77N-WiFi Mini-ITX Motherboard Review
Power Consumption and Conclusion
The Z77N-WiFi's power consumption numbers fall a bit higher than those reported with the ASUS mini-ITX board when using a dedicated video card or onboard video. However, the ASUS board was over-engineered for extreme overclocking (not in small part because of its 10 power phase design). However, power consumption measured with the Z77N-WiFi's do fall within expectations.
Note that the power consumption numbers are consistent with what you would see using a medium to high-end video card with the board, since the AMD Radeon 5870 series cards are notoriously power hungry.
With the GIGABYTE Z77N-WiFi, you definitely get what you pay for and then some. The Z77N-WiFi's performance in both stock and overclocked modes was better than expected in spite of the lack of enthusiast-centric BIOS settings. While the board's performance at stock did lag in a few of the benchmark tests, the performance differences were low enough to be within the margin of error for those tests. The overclocked performance was simply amazing since most of the voltages were running at defaults. And the memory speed was one of the fastest I've seen out of those modules - 2200MHz is no small feat.
As of April 22, the GIGABYTE Z77N-WiFi motherboard was available at Newegg.com for $119.99. The board was also available from other retailers such as Amazon.com for $119.99 and is Prime eligible and TigerDirect.com for $120.00.
Before continuing with our final thoughts on this board, we would like to take this opportunity to give our friends at GIGABYTE a hearty “Thank You” for giving us the pleasure of reviewing the Z77N-WiFi motherboard. GIGABYTE did a great job in designing this board, from the layout shifting to free up more space in all areas, to the board's performance overall. While the Z77N-WiFi doesn't include all the frills of higher priced boards, GIGABYTE did include exactly what would be needed for using this board in an HTPC capacity - onboard WiFi and LAN, SATA ports, and plenty of video output ports. As has been said previously, this board is not slouch and did perform well within expectations. The overclocking performance was the most impressive feat of all.
The board does have a few shortcomings though. The most obvious is the lack of enthusiast-centric BIOS settings for tweaking board performance. This is one of the few boards I've seen come across my test bench in quite a while that only had a single configurable voltage setting. However, the Z77N-WiFi still managed a solid overclock with only that single voltage tweak. While testing, I found that the CPU power circuitry would get hot, requiring the use of a fan for cooling. If you are using an air-based CPU cooler, this may not be as much of an issue. The only other concern with the board is in the proximity of the PCI-Express x16 slot to the CPU socket. In testing with a Noctua NH-D14 cooler, we could not orient the cooler so that it did not overlap the PCI-Express slot. So this board gives you a choice - an over-large CPU cooler or a standalone video card.
- Performance, both stock and overclocked
- Included Intel Centrino 802.11n/Bluetooth mPCIe card
- Intel Z77 chipset and onboard component placement
- CPU shift to left of board
- Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports
- UEFI BIOS design and usability
- Audio quality (both playback and recording)
- Motherboard manual
- Lack of onboard cooling for power components
- Lack of enthusiast-centric BIOS settings
- CPU socket placement not large cooler friendly
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