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ECS Z97-Machine Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ECS

The ECS Z97-Machine motherboard is one of the boards in ECS' L337 product line, offering in-built support for the Intel Z97 Express chipset. ECS rethought their board design with the Z97-Machine, creating a stripped down enthusiast-friendly product that does not compromise on any of the design areas important to the expected performance of the board. At an MSRP of $139.99, ECS hits a lucrative price-point that many other manufacturers have failed to reach with an integrated Intel Z97 chipset in light of the offered features and performance.

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Courtesy of ECS

The ECS Z97-Machine motherboard offers an interesting cost-to-performance proposition, cutting back on unnecessary features to keep the overall cost down while not sacrificing on quality of the core components. ECS designed the board with a 6-phase digital power delivery system, using high efficients chokes (ICY CHOKES), MOSFETs rated at up to 90% efficiency, and Nichicon-source aluminum capacitors for optimal board performance under any operating conditions. The Z97-Machine board offers the following in-built features: four SATA 3 ports; an M.2 (NGFF) 10 Gb/s port; an Intel I218-V GigE NIC; two PCI-Express Gen3 x16 slots; 3 PCI-Express x1 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power and reset buttons; voltage measurement points; Realtek audio solution with ESS Sabre32 DAC; integrated VGA, DVI, and HDMI video port support; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z97-Machine motherboard!

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Courtesy of ECS

Technical Specifications (taken from the ECS website)

CPU º Supports New 4th & 4th gen Intel® Core™ family, Pentium, Celeron series processors in LGA1150 socket
º DMI 5.0GT/s
º 6 Phase Thermal Design Power
º VRD 12.5
º 100% Solid capacitor design
º Intel® K Series Unlock CPU Support
CHIPSET º Intel® Z97 Express Chipset
º Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology & Intel® Rapid Start Technology
GRAPHICS º Supports DirectX® 11 .1
º Supports Intel® HD Graphics, InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
º Supports HDMI 1.4a & Premium Audio
º Supports ATI® 2-Way CrossFireX™
MEMORY º Dual-channelDDR3 Memory architecture
º Supports DDR3 3000 non-ECC, Un-buffered SDRAM Memory
º 4 X 240-pin DDR3 DIMM socket
º Support up to 32 GB*
º Intel® extreme Memory Profile (XMP) 1.3/1.2 Memory Modules
EXPANSION SLOT º 2 X PCI Express X16 Gen 3.0 slot(s)
º 3 X PCI Express X 1 Gen 2.0slot(s)
º Supports ATI® CrossfireX Technology
º 1 X M.2 slot for SSD
• For 2242/2260/2280 SSD
º *When using two VGA cards, the bandwidth is @8 bandwidth; when using one VGA card, the bandwidth is @16.
Storage º Support by Intel® Z97 Express Chipset
• 4 X Serial ATAIII 6Gb/s
• RAID0, RAID1,RAID5, RAID 10 configuration
º Supports Intel® Rapid Storage Technology
Audio º 8-Channel HD audio CODEC
º Realtek ALC1150 8-channel High Definition audio CODEC
º ESS SABRE32 ES9010K2M DAC provides DNR 116dB and THD -106dB listening experience
LAN º Intel I218-V Gigabit Fast Ethernet Controller
º Wake-On-LAN
USB º Support by Z97 Express Chipset
• 6 X USB3.0 port(s) up to 5Gb/s
Back Panel 4 port(s)
Onboard 2 port(s)
• 6 X USB2.0 port(s) Up to 480 Mb/s
Back Panel 4 port(s)
Onboard 2 port(s)
º ECS EZ Charger (Gray USB header)
REAR PANEL I/O º 1 X PS/2 combo connector
º 1 X Audio port (Line-in,4x Line-out, SPDIF out)
º 1 X RJ-45 port
º 1 X HDMI port(s)
º 1 X DVI-D port(s)
º 1 X D-Sub (VGA) port(s)
º 1 X Optical S/PDIF Out port(s)
º 4 X USB3.0 port(s)
º 4 X USB2.0 port(s)
CONNECTORS & HEADERS º 1 X 24-pin ATX Power Supply connector
º 1 X 8-pin ATX 12V Power Connector
º 2 X 4-pin CPU_FAN connector
º 2 X 4-pin SYS_FAN connector
º 1 X 3-pin SYS_FAN connector with smart fan
º 1 X 3-pin PWR_FAN connector
º 1 X Power on button
º 1 X Reset button
º 1 X Front Panel switch/LED header
º 1 X Front panel audio header
º 1 X Speaker header
º 1 X USB 3.0 header
• Support additional 2 USB ports
º 1 X USB 2.0 header
• Support additional 2 USB ports
º Support EZ charger (gray color)
º 1 X S/PDIF out header
º 4 X SATA III 6Gb/s connector(s)
º 1 X CLR_CMOS header
º 1 X Debug LED
º 1 X Chassis intrusion header
º 1 X Voltage measure points
SYSTEM BIOS º AMI BIOS with 64 MB SPI Flash ROM
º Supports M.I.B X Utility
º Supports ACPI 5.0 & DMI
º F7 hot key for boot up devices option
º Over-Clocking
º Graphic OC Support
º Triple Display
º Support ECS EZ BIOS
º Plug and Play, STR (S3) / STD (S4) , Hardware monitor, Multi Boot
º Multi-Language BIOS
º Audio, LAN, can be disabled in BIOS
º Supports PgUp clear CMOS Hotkey
º CPU FSB adjustment(increase of 1MHz)
º * Adjustable CPU Voltage
º * Memory Voltage Adjustable
º * Support CPU over-clocking function: Adjustable CPU Clock Multiplier
º * HT Voltage Adjustable
º * Graphic Voltage Adjustable
FORM FACTOR º ATX Form Factor
º 305mm X 220m
OS Support º Windows 7 32-bit
º Windows 7 64-bit
º Windows 8 64-bit
º Windows 8.1 64-bit
Certifications º CE/FCC Certification
º ErP/EuP Certification
º WHQL Certification
º WHCK Certification
Bundled Software º ECS Intelligent EZ Utility : eBLU, eDLU, eOC, eSF
º Free Bundle: Norton Internet Security ,CyberLink PowerDVD, CyberLink PowerDirector 9, Muzee with trial version
º Creative Sound Blaster Cinema2 software

 


January 12, 2015 | 11:54 AM - Posted by madhatter256 (not verified)

So if the board had a better location of the CMOS battery it would received a gold award? lol.

Anyway, I see the lack of SATA express and having only 4 sata ports very fitting for most value-minded buyers like me. Having an M.2 SSD is like a luxury compared to the cheaper 2.5" SSDs

That baseclock issue may be remedied by a simple BIOS fix if the VRM hardware is up to par to similar performance boards.

Anyway, good write-up!

January 12, 2015 | 03:14 PM - Posted by psy2222

One of the questions I always wait to see an answer for, is that you and the Manufactures, all talk about USB Ports on the Main Boards, But unless I miss it, it would great to know if the area single Chip per bank or a Chip per port, meaning if like this one, it has 4 USB 3.0 ports on the back, If I connect 4 USB 3.0 Drives, will I be getting the theoretical 5Gb/s on each port? I always made you when I buy 3.0 expansion card, the if it had 4 ports the total bandwidth was 20Gb/s. (there are very few out there)

Or I'm I to assume there best scenario for every board?, that "word" should I be looking for? Channels? Or should Still should be buying add-on cards?

If not, is there a Board out there that each port is a separate "channel"?

January 13, 2015 | 09:47 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

On the board, all USB 3.0 ports are controlled by the Z97 chipset and feed into a single root hub.  According to the Intel spec, the Z97 USB 3.0 controller sits on the PCIe bus with a maximum bandwidth of 5 Gbps (which is equivalent to a single PCIe lane - x1).  Since all ports go through a single hub, all connected devices share the 5 Gbps available bandwidth.

In my experience, the integrated Intel chipset control USB 3.0 ports always have better performance than those controlled via a 3rd party controller embedded in the board.  This is most likely because the 3rd part controller has to share the PCIe bus and bandwidth with other devices/ports in the system.

If you went with a PCIe card for USB 3.0, the card would be limited by the bandwidth it is granted by the PCIe slot, which would most like also be x1 or 5Gbps.  So if you added a USB 3.0 PCIe controller card, you would get another 5Gbps, shared between the ports on the card.

Hope that helps...

January 24, 2015 | 01:10 PM - Posted by raffriff42 (not verified)

[quote]Hope that helps...[/quote]
It helps me anyway! Thanks. Also appreciate all the photos; very useful.

January 26, 2015 | 12:42 PM - Posted by psy2222

Thanks for your response, I like to hear back from you after you view this link from the USB 3.0 Card I usually get and refer to on my comments. This are 4 dedicated and claim a total of 20 Gbps (4 x 5)
http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA_new/series_RocketU1144C.htm

I'm disappointed to find out the USB ports on most Motherboards are shared (I seen some with 2 Controllers, that may give me 2 channels, guess). I happy to report, that with the Highpoint above card, I get close to 80% of the USB 3.0 speed when using 3 USB drives at the same time (comparing it so a single drive in use on the same card), sadly I don't have an new Motherboards with 3.0 ports yet to compare.

One of the biggest problem that this card solves for me, is that I often copy data between external drives and with this card I get much better performance in that scenario (I compared it to copying the date from one drive to the computer and then back out to the other drive, never mind the time to takes to do that).

Thanks again, please let me know your thoughts on the Highpoint cards.

January 26, 2015 | 12:42 PM - Posted by psy2222

Thanks

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