ECS Launches L337 Gaming Z97I-Drone Mini ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 12, 2014 - 01:27 AM |
Tagged: z97, PCI-E 3.0, mini ITX, M.2, L337 Gaming, intel i218v, haswell, ECS

ECS recently introduced the mini ITX Z97I-DRONE under its L337 Gaming series. This new motherboard is aimed at gamers and overclockers looking to put together a high end small form factor system based around Intel’s Haswell processor and Z97 Express chipset.

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The Z97I-DRONE is a mini ITX form factor board measuring 170mm x 170mm. It is based around the Intel Z97 Express chipset and supports Haswell processors. ECS has integrated several features aimed at gamers including Sound Blaster Cinema 2 audio, PCI-E 3.0, and an Intel I218V NIC. Beyond that, the Z97I-DRONE also incorporates high end power management hardware that enables overclocking. ECS uses what it calls “Hybrid Power” technology on the new mini ITX board which entails a 5-phase PWM to manage stable power delivery to the processor and memory, dual MOSFETs (which are reportedly 90% power efficient), Nichicon Japanese capacitors, and Icy Chokes which ECS states are more stable and produces 13% less heat versus ferrite chokes.

The internal layout is unique, with the internal headers, PCH, and five SATA III ports placed along the top half of the motherboard and the LGA 1150 socket sitting in the bottom right corner. The right edge of the board hosts two dual channel DDR3 memory slots that support a maximum of 16GB clocked at 3000+ MHz when overclocked. The power management “Hybrid Power” hardware sits to the left of the processor socket. A single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot sits on the bottom edge of the board. Further, Morry will be ecstatic to know that the CMOS battery is vertically mounted on the opposite side of the GPU slot and sits directly to the left of the M.2 slot above the processor socket (to the right of the southbridge). The board has internal headers for two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. ECS is using a Realtek ALC1150 8-channel audio codec to drive the audio outputs and an Intel I218V Gigabit LAN NIC for networking.

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Rear IO on the mini ITX Z97I-DRONE consists of the following ports:

  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x Video Outputs
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x DisplayPort
    • 1 x HDMI
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x RJ45 (Intel I218V)
  • 6 x Audio Outputs
    • 5 x Analog Audio
    • 1 x Optical S/PDIF

Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, but if you are interested in this board keep an eye on this ECS product page.

Also read: ECS 2014 Press Event: LIVE, LIVA, LEAD, L337 @ PC Perspective.

Source: ECS

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October 12, 2014 | 05:19 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Still waiting for an AM3+ mini itx...

Now that there are 95w vishera 8cores available i see no reason why intels 95w cpus get so many mini itx boards and amd`s dont.

Even 125w never was that big a deal ffs.

Am i really going to have to wait till 2016 to be able to build a amd cpu + nvidia gpu system?

October 12, 2014 | 08:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You can go FM2! Except those CPUs are terrible. The reason is, and JJ from ASUS said it best "if there was real interest, and a real market, they would make one".

October 13, 2014 | 11:22 AM - Posted by collie

I feel for ya, I also choose amd whenever possible, it's not a power issue, it's just that the mother board manufactures do not think there is enough demand. They might be right or they might be wrong but that's what they have decided, for now. You can get a FM2+ system and use a Nvidia gpu in mini itx, but you probably want more cpu horsepower than that, and personally it bugs me when silicon is dormant (the apu's graphics cores just sitting there, doing nothing, that drives me crazy)

October 13, 2014 | 01:08 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Agreed on that part, I recently built a system around a FM2 part and added a 750Ti so the integrated GPU is wasted space. Fortunately, there has been some success in getting the integrated GPU working alongside a dedicated card in Kaveri chips.

It's a start at least.

Now that you mention it though, you're right, there really are not any AM3+ mini itx mobos 0.o.

October 13, 2014 | 04:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I wrote a question about this to amd support a while back.

The response was that there is not technical limitation. Just that the mobo manufacturers just choose not to do it.

What a load of hot pile of steaming shit.

The APUs are meant to be used by themselves. Not with a dedicated gpu.

October 13, 2014 | 10:02 PM - Posted by collie

Are you talking about FM2/FM2+ with a graphics card? Cuz you can crossfire a low powered AMD card with an APU, either a 6670 or below or a r7-250 or lower, no prob, and it's simple to disable the GPU portion of the APU and add whatever high end card/cards you want, you could even technically have a A6 processor with 4 way SLI graphic cards if you wanted, so what " hot pile of steaming shit" are you referring to?
If it's the fact that there are no AM3+ mini ITX, the manufactures feel that this would not be profitable to produce, and they are in the money making business, so what exactly is so wrong with that?

October 13, 2014 | 05:30 AM - Posted by Justin150 (not verified)

"Still waiting for an AM3+ mini itx..."

Why bother with a 95W cpu, the i5 Haswell mostly comes in at 65W, unless you go for very top of range. An i5-4690T would be my choice

October 13, 2014 | 07:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Never cared about the Watts, just thought that was a limitation for why amd`s 125W cpus dont have a mini itx board...well, now their 95w as intel`s are... so...

And ye, i need that glorious multitasking that an amd 8core makes possible,... you need to spend into stratosphere to get the same from intel,
fuck intel sideways... sick of their marginal improvements and market bullying bullshit.

October 13, 2014 | 11:30 AM - Posted by Milkman (not verified)

That CPU socket seems too close the the PCIe slot? Not sure what large air coolers would work on that for overclocking? Have to use water cooling on this?

October 13, 2014 | 12:25 PM - Posted by Shortwave (not verified)

I never really noted that, it does seem closer now that I look than normal on mini-itx. Would just have to be sure you can orient any after-market cooler the right way, maybe only fit a single 120mm on a double fan cooler even? Curious.

I won't pay more than 150 for a micro-itx board (usually I get the cheapest that didn't chimp out on USB3 mobo headers n' little things) so I doubt I'll get to try it soon.

Though I did fit a V8 in a V1.
So anything is possible I'd say.
With a few cutting tools and courage.


October 13, 2014 | 02:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

ROFL. CPU socket should not be next to PCIe slot (and there are miniitx motherboards that get this right). What idiot designed that? It would be understandable if this was for office PC that usually doesn't get any dGPU.

December 31, 2014 | 01:55 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

with this one, which is better?

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