ASRock Z97M-ITX/ac Versus MSI Z97I AC

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Luay

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Well, the reason WI-FI on mitx doesn't matter is because a simple USB WI-FI dongle will do the trick. Arguably, sound chips don't matter either becasue a USB headsets, or even better, HDMI from the video card through an AV receiver will also free up a motherboard's budget for the more important features we want.

What's unforgivable in those two models is the lack of an M.2 slot.
 

i7Baby

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Dongles don't work as well as pcie wifi cards mainly because dongles don't have good antennae.

I don't think M.2 is worth it yet. The SSDs aren't any faster than sata SSDs - so far any way.
 

Crashman

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Former Staff

Don't worry about 4k, think about QHD (2560x1440), particularly in work environments such as displaying large spreadsheets. People say the previous-generation HDMI and single-link DVI is limited to 1080p, but I think that's because they forget about the 1920x1200 option.

The problem is that the ASRock board doesn't allow ANY resolution above 1920x1200, including the ever-present QHD.

The solution is that the MSI board allows EVERY resolution up to 4k, including the ever-present QHD.

I hope when I phrase it like that, you'll understand why 4k isn't the issue: It's the "up to 4k" part--those in-between settings like 2560x1440--that matter enough in typical integrated graphics markets to make this an important feature.
 

dvanburen

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This Asrock board doesn't make a sensible purchase. Asrock offers a much nicer version (Z97E-ITX/ac) with a 6-phase power controller, Display Port, Intel LAN, VRM Heatsink, better audio and more. It's usually about $117 AR in the US, only a $15 premium over the reviewed Z97M-ITX/ac.

Asrock also offers the H97M-ITX/ac, which is virtually identical to the reviewed Z97M-ITX/ac other than the chipset. Seriously, it's the same PCB. It's also $19 less expensive. I doubt that anyone is going to buy the Z97M-ITX/ac to overclock, so what's the point of choosing Z97 over H97? Oh, the H97M-ITX/ac can overclock too. So again, why does the Z97M-ITX/ac even exist?

TL,DR: Save your money and get the H97M-ITX/ac if you want a decent HTPC/NAS/Whatever. Buy the Z97E-ITX/ac if you want more features and better OC potential. Skip the Z97M-ITX/ac.
 

logainofhades

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I wonder why Asrock sent there inferior board? Maybe someone at Asrock goofed. The Z97E-ITX/ac is definitely a far better board and includes an M.2 slot. Also the other companies that declined to offer a review sample, makes me feel they didn't see their product as good enough to compete. I shall avoid their ITX boards, in the future.
 

Onus

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Perhaps other mITX offerings will make an appearance soon...
(If you don't care about overclocking, the H97M-ITXa/c is indeed a nice board)

Reviews are sometimes centered around a particular price point, which may be why the more premium products aren't shown here.

I just built Minion using a Maximus VII Impact. The only thing I wish it had, and this is minor, is a second USB2.0 header so I can use an existing card reader with it. I'll just buy an external USB3.0 card reader instead.
 

logainofhades

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Their price is similar enough, that I don't see the point of the Z97 board we were given, vs the one we really wanted to see.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Motherboard: MSI Z97I AC Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($122.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $122.99
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-04-21 16:27 EDT-0400

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Motherboard: ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($129.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $129.99
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-04-21 16:27 EDT-0400


PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Motherboard: ASRock Z97M-ITX/AC Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($117.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $117.99
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-04-21 16:28 EDT-0400
 

logainofhades

Titan
Moderator


Yes, I am just curious as to why they didn't send their better board, or if someone at Asrock goofed up and sent the wrong one. Easy to do, when the names are so damn close.
 

Onus

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They may have been asked to limit their submissions to a certain budget, or a certain target market, or other constraints. These would normally be described at or near the beginning of the article. Since they're not, perhaps Thomas will enlighten us as to what they were, if any.
 

Crashman

Polypheme
Former Staff
Agreed, I would have liked to see the 6-phase board :)

I wondered the same thing. All I could come up with was "It's the cheapest, so they sent it hoping for a value award". But we all know features and overclocking are major components in value award calculations.
No price restrictions here, we said "Anything Mini ITX with Z97, multiple awards are available at different price points, send two samples if you'd like" and most companies said "we don't have anything appropriate" or something to that effect.


Yep.

Me Too.

 

goinginstyle

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I'm surprised ASUS didn't take part, their Z97 ac board is rather good,
though I bought the Z97I-Plus.

Ian.
Agreed, I bought the Asus Z97I-Plus also, incredible board for the money ($153) and wonder why it is not included in the article. I have a good friend with the Maximus VII impact and that thing is a beast. It appears Asus and Gigabyte are not sampling boards anymore for articles so something must be up with all the changes here.
 

Onus

Titan
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I am running a Maximus VII Impact now myself. The only thing I wish it had was another internal USB2.0 header. As is, I must choose either my card reader OR my case's USB 2.0 ports, not both (I've since ordered an external USB3.0 card reader). The board also includes a fair amount of bloatware (e.g. Home Cloud stuff), but there's no need to install it.
One truly remarkable thing about this board is that it provides THREE chassis fan headers, not just the one found on any other mITX board; that alone is worth calling out.
 

mapesdhs

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Indeed, odd that ASUS didn't send in any of its relevant products. I really like the Z97I-Plus.
Was tempted by the Maximus VII Impact, but the build wasn't for gaming, it's an HTPC
driving a 48" Samsung TV, though with a GTX 750 Ti it does run games rather well; I wasted
an hour playing Crysis when first getting it set up (and surprisingly smooth given the system
only has A Pentium G3258, not yet oc'd). C-drive is a SanDisk X300 256GB. Built for low-power,
silence, etc. Especially like the sleep function, wakeup is fast. Cable TV? Who needs it!
Bluedrake42 on youtube is just the ticket. ;)

Hmm, these ASUS boards have been out for a while though, maybe they're planning a
refresh and thus don't want to push older models too much?

Have to say btw, as someone more used to building speed machines where quiet
operation is often difficult (quad-580 is a giggle), it was a fascinating challenge to
build a system for low power & silence instead.

One tip btw: make sure the PSU you buy has the right mbd connectors, not many
SFX/etc. PSUs have what is required for some boards.

Ian.

PS. FWIW, here's the 3DMark11 result.

 

Mikhail Miller

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why this board instead of the Z97E-ITX/AC? The Z97E board is far superior for just a few more dollars. I would've prefered to see how that one compares to it's peers instead of this model which just seems like a crippled version of the board people might really want to buy.
 
Apr 29, 2015
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I don't think M.2 is worth it yet. The SSDs aren't any faster than sata SSDs - so far any way.
Plextor M6e, Samsung XP941, Samsung SM951 and Kingston Hyper X all blow away the performance of the top SATA drives. Plus m.2 is just getting started. We will see >3GB/s (and corresponding random I/O specs) before the year is out.
 
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