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ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review

We find out if good things can come in small packages with the new ITX based Z77 motherboard from ASRock.
@TweakTown
Published Tue, Jul 17 2012 10:16 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Package

ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 02 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 39 IMAGES

Moving back onto the Intel Z77 motherboard pile again we're going to be looking at a board that took my fancy a while ago. The ASRock Z77E-ITX is as the name might suggest a Mini-ITX based motherboard which of course means it comes in at a very small size.

With companies like BitFenix releasing Mini-ITX cases like the Prodigy, we're seeing a shift in where people can now have these tiny little systems that still have room for large dual slot video cards. No longer does having a small PC mean that you have to be contempt with a slow PC.

Today we're going to find out just how this ASRock Mini-ITX board goes against some larger ATX based motherboards to see what we're losing when we move to such a small form factor, if we are losing anything at all.

The first thing we're going to do is take a look at the box, cover some of the main features that are present on the board and move inside to see what's going on with the bundle. Once we've done that we'll take a closer look at the board itself to see what this small board is able to offer us.

From there it's time to check out the BIOS to find out what our options look like and we'll of course check out the overclocking area before we move into the testbed and then the overclocking capabilities of the board. First, though, as we mentioned let's check out the package and see some of the main features that are offered from the ASRock Z77E-ITX.

Package

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On the front we can see it's all about the 555 XFast technology that ASRock has been promoting for a while. Turning over we can see that the 555 XFast technology is expanded upon.

Along with that you can see we've got Lucid Virtu MVP technology, Intel Smart Connect and Rapid Start Technology along with Premium Gold Caps, something we've seen ASRock offer on more and more of their boards. You can also see some of the other main features include Digi Power, Internet Flash, mSATA and WiFi 802.11 b / g / n.

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Moving inside the box you can see we've got the normal line up of paperwork along with some more information on 555 XFast and Lucid VIRTU MVP alongside the driver CD. In the cable department you can see we've got two SATA cables along with a DVI to VGA connector and the standard I/O panel.

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Finally we finish up with a WiFi antenna that goes into the back of the motherboard. We'll cover that a little more later on, but you get a good idea looking above what exactly we're dealing with.

ASRock Z77E-ITX Motherboard

[img]08[/img]

Looking straight ahead you can just about see everything we're dealing with extremely clear thanks to the small nature of the board. We've got a fairly standard design which is again due to the small size of the board, but everything looks pretty tidy. Let's move in a little closer to see just what exactly we're dealing with here on the ASRock Z77E-ITX.

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Having a look across the bottom of the board you can see we've got a single PCIe x16 PCIe 3.0 slot that will house what will most likely be some form of video card. One slot is all we ever see on an ITX based board and of course this one is no different. To the left of the slot you can also see some of the gold caps that are present on the board.

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Turning the corner you can see two DIMM slots which support up to 16GB of DDR3 at speeds ranging from 1066MHz DDR to 2800MHz DDR via overclocking. We can also see the main 24-pin ATX power connector, front panel header to the left of that and a fan header on the far right hand side.

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Heading to the top of the board you can see we've got a USB 3.0 header on the left, next to that we've got two USB 2.0 headers and next to that we've got four SATA ports with two being SATA II and the other two being SATA III. All four SATA ports run off the Intel Z77 chipset.

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Sitting around the DIMM area you can see we've also got a WiFi 802.11n module present which supports speeds of up to 300Mbps when using the included antenna that we looked at on the last page.

ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 13 | TweakTown.com

Tucked up a little in the back corner behind the I/O ports you can see the 8-pin CPU connector and next to that you can see the CMOS battery that is set vertically which helps save room. When it comes to these ITX based boards every little bit of room you can save is important.

ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 14 | TweakTown.com

Taking a look at the CPU area you can see even though we're dealing with a very small area, the area itself is pretty clean. We can also again see the gold caps that are present on the board here too.

ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 15 | TweakTown.com

We quickly turn over the motherboard and you can see we've got an mSATA slot present on the back. Again due to the small room available companies have to get a bit more creative with the placement of extras and you can see in this case ASRock offer the mSATA port on the back of the board.

[img]16[/img]

Finally we finish up with the I/O side of things and starting from the left we've got two USB 3.0 connectors and a combo PS2 port. Moving across we've got a Single-Link DVI connector and above that are the two headers for our wireless antenna to plug into. Next up we've got a HDMI and DisplayPort connector and next to that is a clear CMOS button.

Continuing to move across we've got an eSATA II connector and two USB 2.0 connectors, next to that we've got two more USB 3.0 connectors running off the ASMedia ASM1042 controller and above that we've got Gigabit networking via the Broadcom BCM57781 controller. Finally we finish off with five auxiliary connectors and an optical port which all run off the Realtek ALC898 HD audio codec chip.

BIOS

Looking at the BIOS it would be very easy to mistake this for one of ASRock's larger more premium boards as everything you'd expect to have being present with that wonderful UEFI BIOS that we've grown extremely used to.

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The chances are if you're heading into the BIOS you'll want to look at the OC Tweaker section which brings us all the overclocking features that we're used to seeing. The question is just how well does the board overclock considering its smaller size. We'll cover that in just a moment, though, first let's keep moving through the BIOS to see what else in on offer.

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Moving through the rest of the BIOS there's no real surprises present and the small ITX based motherboard really brings with it all the options you'd hope for. So let's get into the testbed side of things, cover some of the boards we'll be looking at today and then see how this ITX based motherboard overclocks.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital, MemoRight and Corsair.

Looking above you can see the testbed information so there's no real need to go into that. Instead we'll quickly cover the boards we'll be using today in our graphs today with the first being the ASRock Z77E-ITX which will be ran at both stock and overclocked which we'll tell you in just a minute what kind of speed we got out of it.

Outside of that we've also got the larger ASRock Z77 Extrem6 which is going to be an important comparison. The ASRock X79 Extreme4, ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z and ASUS Maximum V GENE are also included to round off our collection of motherboards here today. So with that covered let's get into the overclocking side of things.

As always we head into the BIOS to see what we can get out of the board we're testing today. Being an ITX based motherboard we didn't expect it to perform as strong as our ATX offerings or even our Mini ATX ones. We did expect it to perform fairly well, though, since this isn't the first performance ITX board we've seen out of ASRock.

ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

Looking above you can see we ended up with an extremely strong overclock that rivals our other setups. The 4.79GHz clock is achieved via 47x multiplier and a 102 BCLK. This is overall a very strong overclock that is made even more impressive by the fact we're dealing with such a tiny motherboard.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 32 | TweakTown.com

Hyper Pi and AIDA64 performance shows that out of the box the Mini ITX offering performs just as strong as its big brothers. Overclocked, though, we see some really nice gains in performance which should transition well to our other benchmarks here today.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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PCMark 11 and MediaEspresso show performance that again matches the Z77 Extreme6 offering from ASRock. We can see that our Maximus V GENE from ASUS does sneak out a little in both benchmarks.

Overclocked, though, you can see some really strong performance gains with MediaEspresso showing us the real-world benefits of such a strong overclock as 3 1/2 minutes is shaved off our encode time.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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You can see when it comes to USB 2.0 performance that the ASRock offering is again quite strong looking as we see XFast technology is really taken advantage of.

USB 3.0 performance doesn't see the same type of gains as we see all our boards perform fairly similar to each other with very little difference being seen.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

[img]37[/img]

HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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SSD performance is very strong and lines up with our other boards for the most part with little difference being seen. In both our benchmarks, though, we do see that the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z come ahead which has always shown us strong SSD performance.

mSATA Benchmarks

HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 44 | TweakTown.com

mSATA performance is strong with it performing in line with our other setups here when looking at the read performance. Looking at write performance you can see we sit closer to the Gigabyte offering which is the fastest out of the three. It looks like the adapter that ASUS use on the Maximus V Gene does impact mSATA write performance slightly.

Memory Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 39 | TweakTown.com

Memory performance lines up as we'd expect when compared to our other Z77 offerings and we can see overclocked that performance is boosted with a really nice increase in write performance.

Page 99 [x]

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Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Gaming performance sees this ITX offering line up with our other setups at stock while overclocked we see a boost in the Performance score and a couple of FPS extra across the board when it comes to Metro 2033.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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Even though the board is extremely small we can see that power draw lines up with our other Z77 boards for the most part at stock. It draws slightly less, but nothing that really stands out. Overclocked we see that the idle jumps only slightly which is good and load jumps a decent amount as you'd expect.

Core Temperature

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At stock the temperature numbers line up just as you'd hope while overclocked we see that idle continues to look good. Load on the other hand we can see isn't as attractive looking with 104c being reached.

Our system was 100% stable throughout all our tests, but with these kinds of numbers, we'd probably opt to drop back the voltage slightly and reduce the overall overclock to bring it into the low 90s or even 80s.

Final Thoughts

At $149.99 the ASRock Z77E-ITX isn't a cheap Z77 motherboard, if anything it's more on the expensive side of things as we see a number of ASRock offerings come in under this price. While you do of course sacrifice a number of features due to the size of the board, looking at the performance today you can see the one thing we don't sacrifice is performance.

That comes in terms of out of the box performance and overclocked performance. For someone looking at building a system based on an ITX build, there's no reason in the world that we wouldn't recommend this board. Paired with a high-end video card and a CPU like the i7 3770k that we used today, you can have a system that can offer unbelievable performance in a very small footprint.

The smaller footprint of course comes at a cost. We've got less "typical" features that you'd see on a board that is larger. What ASRock does offer us in terms of features, though, on a board this size, is really quite amazing. We've got plenty of USB 3.0 ports and a header for even more. Excellent overclocking features that help offer us an extremely strong overclock and the one feature that probably really stands out is the mSATA port tucked away underneath.

The package side of things is small, but again it comes as no surprise. When you've got a board that only offers four SATA ports due to its size, you don't need eight SATA cables included. With four USB 3.0 ports on the back of the board, another two probably aren't the end of the world either. With that said, though, you can see that ASRock has offered us an 802.11n wireless antenna and that's something we don't usually see included.

The Z77E-ITX is clearly a board targeted for a specific market and you can't deny it's a market that is growing as more companies start to offer ITX cases that have performance in mind. If you don't need a small board, though, you're better off with an ASRock ATX offering which can actually come in cheaper.

Some people are going to see the board they've been waiting for here, others are going to see a board that's too small and costs too much. If you're the latter that's fine, this board isn't designed for you. If you're the former, though, then ASRock has got a fantastic board here for you that can offer some great performance in a small space.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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