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ASRock Z87E-ITX (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

ASRock Z87E-ITX (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

We check out our first Mini-ITX motherboard for the new Z87 Haswell platform from ASRock and find out what kind of performance this tiny board offers.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Jun 19 2013 9:07 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 37 IMAGES

I've always been quite the Mini-ITX fan. With the last few generation of motherboards, a Mini-ITX based board didn't mean you had to sacrifice large amounts of performance. Mini-ITX boards are often just as fast as their bigger brothers. At the same time they tend to come in at a slightly cheaper price because they have less on it due to the size.

Today we're taking the time to have a look at our first Z87 Mini-ITX motherboard and it comes from our friends at ASRock who tend to be one of the first companies to offer motherboards based on this format. The two main things we want to find out today is what the out of the box performance is like and how the Mini-ITX form factor affects our overclocking ability, if at all.

We haven't had the best luck with our particular 4770K CPU to date and we're sure that overclocking on this Mini-ITX board isn't going to be quite as strong. There's a few things we've got to do before we get into the overclocking side of things.

So, saying that, let's gets into the package of the board and roll on through to the performance side of things, which we'll look over the next few pages.

Package

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ASRock Z87E-ITX (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 04 | TweakTown.com

Being quite a small box we never get a ton of information. You can see the front has the brand and model number along with a couple of logos. Turning over we get a bit more detail in regards to what's on offer. You can see some of the main features shown including Intel Ethernet, Premium Gold Caps, DrMOS, Digi Power and 6-Power Phase design.

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ASRock Z87E-ITX (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 06 | TweakTown.com

Moving inside the box we've got a fairly standard affair with a pair of manuals and driver CD. You can see the main I/O back plate, four SATA cables and a DVI to VGA connector. We've also got a wireless antenna included in the bundle.

ASRock Z87E-ITX Motherboard

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ASRock Z87E-ITX (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 08 | TweakTown.com

In typical Mini-ITX fashion we have just a single slot present. As usual it's a PCIe x16 slot, which runs at x16 electronically. Around here you can also see a Mini PCIe slot that has a wireless card attached to it.

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As we turn the corner you can see we've got two DIMM slots supporting up to 16GB of DDR3 ranging from 1066MHz DDR to 2933+MHz DDR via overclocking. You can also see the 24-pin ATX power connector, a single USB 3.0 header, along with six SATA III headers, which all run off the Intel Z78 chipset.

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Looking at the CPU area side of things you can see it's all pretty plain. We've got the socket area, which is pretty clean, along with a small heatsink to the left. Just below the heatsink you can see the main 8-pin CPU power connector.

ASRock Z87E-ITX (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 11 | TweakTown.com

Starting from the left we've got two USB 2.0 port and a PS/2 port. Next to that you can see we've got two ports for our wireless antenna that is included in the box. It supports 802.11 a/b/g/n and the latest ac technology. Video out options are provided by DVI-I, HDMI and DisplayPort.

Continuing across you can see a small black switch that resets the BIOS, along with four USB 3.0 ports, next to an eSATA port. You can also see we've got Gigabit networking that runs of the PHY Intel I217V chip. Finally we finish up with five axillary ports along with an optical out port that runs off the Realtek ALC1150 codec.

BIOS

While the board might be small, you can see once we head into the BIOS, we've got pretty much the standard setup.

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While OC options are fewer than the Z87 OC FORMULA, you've still got all the normal options available in the OC Tweaker section that we'll be using a little later.

As for the rest of the BIOS, though, it's all very much a standard affair. If you've used a recent ASRock BIOS in the last few generations, you'll be at home here.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Overclocking

ASRock Z87E-ITX (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 99 | TweakTown.com

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.

We're slowly starting to add more and more Z87 boards to our graphs, and today along with the ASRock Z87E-ITX, you'll also see the ASRock Z87 OC FORMULA and the ASUS Z87-Expert. Along with those options we've also got the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt, MSI Z77S-GD65 Gaming and GIGABYTE X79S-UP5-Wi-Fi.

We always cover the overclocking side of things before we get into the performance. We headed into the BIOS and decided to work off the presets that are available on the board.

We jumped to the 4.8GHz option and moved the multiplier down to 47x. We got into Windows with no problems and started testing. What we noticed, though, was that due to the heat of the processor, it was throttling the speed back to around the 4.4GHz mark.

We headed back into the BIOS and dropped down the multiplier again to 46x, bringing us in at 4.6GHz. We again got into Windows with no problems and fired up MediaEspresso. Again, though, we noticed our CPU throttling, so we decided to head back into the BIOS again to do a little tinkering.

ASRock Z87E-ITX (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

In the end we moved our CPU multiplier to 45x, which brought our CPU in at 4.5GHz even. Everything was looking good in the BIOS, so this was the speed we decided to leave our CPU at for testing.

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 Z87E-ITX (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 32 | TweakTown.com

Starting off with Hyper PI performance, you can see we're a little slower than the Z87 OC Formula, which was around 30 seconds slower than the ASUS option.

AIDA64, though, shows that the numbers we received from the Z87 OC FORMULA are looking correct on the latest version. You can see our numbers are sitting around the same level and overclocking in both our tests show a nice improvement to overall performance.

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 7 and MediaEspresso performance sees the ASRock Mini-ITX option sit between the two other Z87 boards here. Overclocking, though, as you'd expect, helps boost overall performance, but not by quite as much, due to the overclock not being quite as strong.

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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ASRock Z87E-ITX (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 36 | TweakTown.com

USB 2.0 and 3.0 performance is fairly standard in both our benchmarks. As we mentioned the other day we'll be working to replace our USB 3.0 device soon and USB 2.0 is becoming less prominent on the latest crop of Z87 motherboards with some companies choosing to skip it.

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.

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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 on the Z87E-ITX is fairly similar to the OC FORMULA. You can see in AIDA64 it lines up with our other motherboards for the most part, but when we move to HD Tune Pro, you can see performance dips right back, like the other ASRock Z87 motherboard.

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.

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Memory performance is a little all over the place. You can see that write performance is up compared to the other options, but read and copy performance falls in line with the ASUS option, which is behind the Z87 OC Formula.

We have to admit, memory performance numbers are a little all over the place on the latest Z87 platform, and causing some confusion at this stage.

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 is very typical with the out of the box numbers being very similar across all platforms. Overclocking brings a slight increase in the lower resolution results, but apart from that, there's little change seen across the board.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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It comes as no surprise that power draw at idle is a little lower than the other options. The simple fact is that we've just got less on this board compared to larger ATX ones.

Load comes in almost 20w higher than the ASUS option, but almost 20w lower than the OC Formula. Overclocking bumps the idle and load up slightly, but not by a significant amount.

Core Temperature

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Idle temperature at both overclocked and stock is pretty good, load numbers at stock also line up with the Z87 OC FORMULA, which comes in a little lower than the Z87 Expert.

When overclocked, that load number skyrockets to an even 100c.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

One thing that I absolutely love about the Mini-ITX platform is the price that the boards tend to come in at. The Z87E-ITX retails at $164.99, which is a really good price point for a Z87 motherboard. Sure, it's going to be cheaper than other options due to the fact that the smaller size means that it can't quite hold as many features. Out of the box, though, you can see that performance is still very strong, and it has no trouble going up against more expensive full size boards.

Paired with the BitFenix Prodigy, truly one of my personal favorite cases, you're able to really build quite a power house system with a small foot print. While small, though, the board continues to carry a strong list of features that make for a quality product.

Features like Gold Caps, Digi Power, 802.11ac networking, six SATA III ports and still some great overclocking options make for a small board that really has the ability to stand out from the pack. It really feels like ASRock have become quite the master of the ITX platform. They chose to embrace it probably a little earlier than others, and making sure ITX options are available day one of new chipset launches seems to be something they're concentrated on offering.

The platform on a whole, though, is a bit of a funny one. For the most part unless you're in the market for an ITX case, you're probably better off not buying an ITX board. While you can of course put a Mini-ITX motherboard in an M-ATX case or an even larger ATX / E-ATX case, you're probably better off not doing so.

The ITX platform does come with a slight premium. For example, the M-ATX Z87M Extreme4 motherboard from ASRock comes in at $137.99. For that reason, if you're buying a case that supports an M-ATX board, you may as well save yourself a little money and buy something like that.

It's for this reason that Mini-ITX motherboards aren't for everyone. Not everyone is going to see the value in them. If you're in the market to build an ITX system, though, and still want something that is able to push out some serious performance, your options are indeed limited. And for that reason, the Z87E-ITX is a good option.

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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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