EVGA Z87 Stinger Mini ITX Motherboard Review
Features and Motherboard Layout
Courtesy of EVGA
- 300% more gold content in the CPU socket
- Onboard Clear CMOS, Power and Reset Buttons
- USB 3.0 Support
- Onboard CPU Temperature Monitor
- SATA 6G Support
- PCI Express 3.0 Support
- 100% Solid State Capacitors
- Supports Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 Socket 1150 Processors
- EVGA Vdroop Control
- Creative Sound Core3d
- EVGA E-LEET Tuning Support
EVGA went with a very compelling black theme with red highlights for the design of the Z87 Stinger. Two aluminum heat sinks are included on the board for cooling the CPU VRMs and Intel Z87 chipset, both passively cooled. Even though the board is tiny with it mITX form factor, EVGA was able to include sufficient room around components without making the layout overly cramped. The CMOS battery was placed in the upper left corner of the board, along the left edge of the mSATA/mPCIe port in a vertical fashion to minimize its footprint.
To help with space utilization on the front of the board, EVGA liberally spread capacitors and other components on the back of the board, including two chips just above the CPU back plate. This is something to be very careful with, depending on the cooler back plate used for cooler mounting.
To add to the looks of the board EVGA included a black cover that fits snugly over the rear panel with the board name and logo in slick red lettering. The following ports were integrated into the Z87 Stinger's back panel: 4 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports, an Intel GigE NIC port, an eSATA port, a Bluetooth antennae, an HDMI video ports, a DisplayPort video port, a CMOS reset button, an optical S/PDIF audio output port, and 5 analog audio ports.
The Z87 Stinger includes a single PCI-Express x16 slot along the left side edge of the board. Even though several of the on board device ports and headers look close to the PCI-Express port, like the USB 3.0 header and SATA ports, we conflicts between a seated video card and use of those ports/headers.
In the upper left corner of the board (to the right of the upper portion of the PCI-Express slot) are the USB 3.0 header, the CMOS battery, an mPCIe port, and the front panel audio header. Just below the mPCIe slot is the Intel Z87 chipset, covered by a finned low profile aluminum heat sink. The CMOS battery sits vertical on the board to conserve space to the left of the mPCIe slot. The mPCIe slot doubles as an mSATA port as well.
EVGA designed four total SATA 6Gb/s ports into the Z87 Stinger, sitting to the lower right of the PCI-Express x16 slot in between the Intel Z87 chipset and the memory slots. All four ports are usable even with devices plugged into the mSATA and eSATA port, since the Z87 chipset supports a total of six connected SATA devices. The front panel header is located in the lower left corner of the board, multi-colored for easy plug identification.
EVGA includes two DIMM slots on the board with support for up to 16GB total, running at up to a maximum speed of 2666 MHz. This is one area where EVGA had to make a design compromise in order to fit all the desired features into the small mITX board design. However, two DIMM slots should be more than enough for most users. Below the DIMM slots are the front panel header, the 24-pin ATX power connector, a system fan header, and a 2-digit diagnostic display. The diagnostic LED can be used in conjunction with the table provided in the user manual to identify and troubleshoot board boot-related issues.
To the upper right of the DIMM slots are the on board power and reset buttons, two fan headers, and an unidentified four pin header that looks like a debug header used for internal EVGA testing.
EVGA kept the space surrounding the CPU socket clear of conflicting components with a unique design implemented for the VRM heat sink to open room along its top as well. The upper VRM heat sink has a heat transfer plate over the VRMs with the body of the heat sink above the VRMs, opening up significant space along the top side of the CPU socket area. EVGA includes a 6-phase digital power delivery system on the board to power the board through any conditions thrown at it.
The on board 8-pin ATX12V power connector is to the upper right of the CPU socket, directly to the right of the VRM heat sink.
Tucked in between the rear panel assembly and the VRM heat sink is the on board USB 2.0 header.