ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac Intel LGA1150 Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

Layout, Design and Features …

In this cardboard box the ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac LGA 1150 motherboard is delivered:

Here you can see a comparison of the ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac ITX mainboard box with the ASRock Z97 Extreme6 ATX motherboard box:

Here is a first look at the content:

Like the larger ATX, this board was also carefully wrapped with foam and fastened with cable ties for safe delivery:

The ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac board is very well finished, has Digi Power and 6 Power Phase Design. The ITX space is pretty small, but you still get a full fledged Z97 motherboard with PCIE slot, 24-pin ATX power connector and two fullsize DDR3 slots:

Thanks to the ASRock Super Alloy design, there are instead of conventional capacitors even the durable 12K Platinum caps, the new premium alloy chokes, NexFET MOSFET for the memory and Dual-Stack MOSFET for the CPU.

Here is the LGA1150 Socket, which is assembled in the test with an Intel Core-i5 4670K:

Another feature of this Z97E-ITX/ac motherboards is the preinstalled Wi-Fi 802.11ac module with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac support, as well as Bluetooth v4. 0 and an included external WiFi antenna. By the way, currently there is no ASRock Z97E-ITX mainboard version without the WiFi module:

It is worth to take a look on the back of this Sapphire Black ASRock board, because there is a M.2 slot for PCIe Gen2 x2 M.2 PCI Express modules installed:

Our recently tested Plextor M6e 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD could not be installed on this motherboard, because it is an 80 mm long PCIe M.2 2280 SSD and not the supported PCIe M.2 2230 or PCIe M.2 2242 SSD of this motherboard:

Equipment and other features …

The ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard came with a manual, software setup guide, one DVD, two SATA data cables, screws for the M.2 socket and one ATX I/O shield. USB slot brackets or the ASRock 3.5-inch USB3.0 frontpanel are optional available.

The ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac offers numerous features like for example the ASRock A-Tuning Tool, ASRock Instant Flash, ASRock Internet Flash, ASRock APP Charger, ASRock Fast Boot, ASRock Restart to UEFI, ASRock XFast LAN, ASRock XFast RAM, ASRock Crashless BIOS, ASRock Online Management Guard, ASRock UEFI System Browser, ASRock Dehumidifier Function, ASRock Easy RAID Installer, ASRock Easy Driver Installer, ASRock Good Night LED, ASRock USB Key, ASRock Cloud, 6 Power Phase Design and ASRock FAN-Tastic Tuning.

Expansion cards …

The motherboard offers one PCI Express 3.0 video card slots for one video card with x16 band-width. Additionally to the PCI Express 3.0 slot there is one mini-PCI Express slot available.

Memory …

The ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac can be equipped with up to two DDR3 modules and is expandable depending upon operating system used (see list) to maximally 16 GB memory.

Here is a picture of both DDR3 memory slots with dual channel support:

The Intel LGA1150 motherboard supports DDR3 memory modules and can be optimized in the BIOS for DDR3-1600 Dual Channel modules with an Intel Haswell processor. The UEFI also offers DDR3-1800, DDR3-1866, DDR3-2133, DDR3-2400, DDR3-2800, DDR3-2933, DDR3-3000, DDR3-3200, DDR3-3465, DDR3-3730, DDR3-4000 settings and higher clock-rates are possible with BCLK overclocking. Thanks to XMP support (Intel eXtreme Memory Profiles), XMP memory modules are set correctly with one mouse click in the UEFI. There are of course far more memory adjustments and even more OC-features, but more on that later. You can also visit ASRock’s memory support page to see the officially supported modules.

Hard disk drive connectors …

The ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac offers six SATA3 connectors (6 Gb/s) and one SATA Express connector.

Here you can see the shared SATA express connector on the left bottom and the other SATA3 ports above and right beneath:

The Intel Z97 SATA3 ports supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, Intel Rapid Storage Technology 13 and Intel Smart Response Technology, NCQ, AHCI and the Hot Plug function in AHCI mode (AHCI stands for Advanced Host Controller Interface and can be selected in the UEFI). Thanks to UEFI BIOS also drives with more than 2 TB for the installation of Windows 8, Windows 7 x64 or Vista x64 can be used.

32-Bit and 64-Bit drivers for Windows 8 and Windows 7 can be installed over the Easy Driver Installer or Easy RAID Installer point in UEFI and are provided on the DVD and can be downloaded at the ASRock support page.

USB and Firewire …

The board has four ready to use USB 3.0 connectors and two USB 2.0 connectors at the ATX-panel, one more internal USB 3.0 plug for up to two optional USB3.0 ports and two internal USB 2.0 plugs for up to four optional USB2.0 ports. The 20-pin connector can be connected either to an optional USB3.0 front panel or to an enclosure with USB3.0 ports.

Network …

The ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard comes with the Intel I218V on the PCB to provide the 10/100/1000 network port at the ATX Panel. The LAN connection is WoL capable, offers LAN cable detection, supports energy efficient 802.3az ethernet and supports Intel Remote Wake Technology.

Serial and parallel port …

This motherboard does not provide a parallel port nor a serial port.

Sound …

The ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard is equipped with the ALC1150 audio codec with content protection and TI NE5532 Premium Headset Amplifier, which supports 7.1 surround sound for example analog over 5x 3.5mm connectors on the ATX panel or over an internal frontpanel audio connector. Furthermore, there is an optical digital SPDIF output, DTS Connect support and premium Blu-Ray audio support. So most users do not need to buy an additional sound card with digital outputs.

Graphics …

The new Intel Z97 chipset offers in combination with an Intel Haswell processor a full integrated Graphics Technology (GT) graphics solution with DX11.1 support. Depending upon processor used, there is another graphics unit, whereby the Intel Core i5-4670K CPU used in this test is equipped with the HD Graphics 4600.

Over UEFI setup,the graphics unit can be overclocked from 1200 to 3000 MHz, but the Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU has even without overclocking a good performance. So the GPU of the Intel Core i5-4670K CPU achieved in Windows 7 with 3DMark 51280 Ice Storm points and with 3DMark06 7789 3DMarks !

In contrast, here are a few more 3DMark06 are benchmark results: AMD Athlon 5350 AM1 APU (Radeon R3) auf ASRock AM1H-ITX 3250 3DMarks AMD A10-7850K FM2+ APU (Radeon R7) on ASRock FM2A88X+ Killer Fatal1ty 7976 3DMarks AMD A10-6800K FM2 APU (HD8670D) on ASRock FM2A88X+ Killer Fatal1ty 7833 3DMarks AMD A10-5800K FM2 APU (HD7660D) on ASRock FM2A88X+ Killer Fatal1ty 7695 3DMarks AMD A8-3870K FM1 APU (HD6550D) on ASRock A75 Pro4 6181 3DMarks Intel Core i5-4670K APU (Intel HD Graphics 4600) on ASRock Z97 Extreme6 7762 3DMarks Intel Core i5-4670K APU (Intel HD Graphics 4600) on ASRock Z87 Extreme4 7892 3DMarks Intel Core i5-2500K APU (Intel HD Graphics 3000) on ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP 4310 3DMarks Intel Celeron J1900 APU (Intel HD Graphics) on ASRock Q1900M 2452 3DMarks AMD E350 Dual Core CPU (AMD HD6310) on Sapphire IPC-E350M1 2299 3DMarks AMD Phenom II 710 X3 CPU on ASRock 890GX Extreme4 (ATI HD4290 IGP) 2204 3DMarks. Intel Atom 330 CPU on ASRock AMCP7AION-HT (nVidia ION DX10) 1694 3DMarks.

Furthermore the integrated video processor supports DirectX 11, HDCP, Full HD 1080p, 4K and offers thanks to its onBoard HDMI connector and the low power consumption optimal conditions for a tiny, well overclocked Gaming PC.

ATX backpanel connectors …

From left to right, one can see 2x USB 2.0 ports and the PS/2 connector for a PS/2 keyboard or PS/2 mouse, WiFi antenna connector and DVI-I, DisplayPort and HDMI, Clear CMOS button, 2x USB 3.0 and HDMI In, Intel RJ45 Gigabit LAN and 2x USB 3.0, optical SPDIF out and 5x 3.5mm jacks for analog sound.

ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac BIOS and Overclocking …