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Supermicro C7Z87-OCE (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review

Supermicro C7Z87-OCE (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review

With a strong name in the server environment, we see how Supermicro goes with its new consumer orientated Z87 motherboard, the C7Z87-OCE.

@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Thu, Aug 1 2013 9:03 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Supermicro

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 39 IMAGES

Supermicro isn't a company name that pops up at all when it comes to consumer motherboards. It's also fairly safe to say that a lot of people actually haven't heard of them before. The company, though, has been around for 20 years, and created a strong name in the server market.

With the latest Intel chipset we're seeing the company start to offer something a bit more consumer orientated with the first board we're seeing being the C7Z87-OCE, with a clear focus being on the "OC" in the name. I have to admit, though, there's a certain level of hesitation when it comes to the "OC" capabilities of this board.

We don't mean it in a cruel way, but with companies like ASUS, GIGABYTE, MSI and ASRock having been in the consumer overclocking mobo game for so long, we do really wonder what Supermicro can do today with this new board. Saying that, the one thing we do expect out of Supermicro here today is an unbelievably stable motherboard, due to their server background experience.

One of the first things that actually came to mind when Supermicro told us about this board, though, was just how it probably couldn't come at a better time. With Intel stepping out of the consumer motherboard market, there's really a space for someone to come in and start taking some newly available left behind market share. While Intel weren't exactly known for overclocking, the one thing Intel was well known for was quality.

Having a company like Supermicro come in, one that is well known for reliability and build quality, means that they could really come in and take over in areas that Intel left behind - especially when it comes to people who don't need any fancy flair, and instead just want solid performing boards that work perfectly out of the box.

Package

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Looking at the box, you can see that it's informative, giving us an idea on a number of the main features offered. You can see Supermicro is highlighting the OC features a fair bit, along with a more detailed description of the specifications on the back of the box, alongside a picture of the board.

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Moving inside the box, you can see it's a fairly simple package. We've got a small quick reference guide for the board, driver CD, I/O backplate and six SATA cables. We're not all that surprised with the bundle being on the light side of things considering Supermicro's background in the server side.

Supermicro C7Z87-OCE Motherboard

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Above we get a good overall idea of what's going on here, but let's move in closer and check out everything in more detail.

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Looking above you can see the expansion side of things. We've got three PCIe x4 slots that run at x1, along with three PCIe x16 slots. As always, these don't run all at x16. If you're using just the top slot, your card will run at x16. If you use the top two slots, both will run at x8. If you use all three slots, they will run at x8 / x4 / x4 - this is all very standard for Z87 motherboards.

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Heading to the bottom of the board, you can see the standard line up of connectors that you'd expect to see. Towards the middle of the board and slightly up, you can see a LED debug readout, while the right side of the board is a little busier. Here we've got three buttons that move to preset overclocks. Two are already done, while the third can be saved by you. You can also see next to these we have a USB 3.0 connector.

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Turning the corner you can see we've got a total of eight SATA III ports on offer with six running off the Intel Z87 chipset and the other two running off the ASMedia ASM1061 chipset. We can also see another look at the USB 3.0 header and the overclock buttons.

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Heading north on the board, you can see four DIMM slots supporting up to 32GB of DDR3 at speeds ranging from 1600MHz DDR to 3000MHz DDR via overclocking. You can see the main 24-pin ATX power connector, along with a second USB 3.0 header, and a small onboard speaker next to it. We've also got a number of fan headers floating around this part of the board.

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Looking at the CPU area you can see the main 8-pin CPU power connector and the socket itself. Supermicro opted for a simple heatsink, much simpler than anything else we've seen from the Z87 line up of boards we've tested so far. The small heatsink means we've got a huge amount of room around the CPU area.

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Looking at the I/O side of things, there's nothing too out of the ordinary. We've got two USB 2.0 ports, along with four USB 3.0 ports. Video Out options include HDMI, DVI and VGA and you can also see a Thunderbolt port is on offer. Networking includes two gigabit ports - one runs off the Intel i217V, while the other runs off the Intel i210AT controller. Finally we finish up with the audio outputs which include five auxiliary plugs and an optical out port all running off the Realtek ALC1150 HD codec.

BIOS

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"Argh!" Honestly, it was the first word that came to mind when I jumped into the BIOS.

It's been ages since we've seen a non-UEFI BIOS and had to use our camera to take pictures. While the mouse support for the UEFI design has always been something I've never cared about, the new layouts and colors really are so much nicer to work with.

It's not just us thinking that, though. Supermicro already said to us this is an area that they know they need to concentrate on.

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As always, if you're heading into the BIOS, you'll probably want to go into the overclocking section. This is all done under the advanced section. Going into the Performance Tuning area you can see the overclocking options. At the bottom, you can also see the Overclocking Button Option, which lets you set the profiles for the OC Buttons that we showed you on the previous page.

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Moving on you then see the other typical BIOS options you'd expect to see. We won't go into much more detail on the BIOS here, though, and instead cover our thoughts in more detail later on.

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.

We've got a number of boards in our graphs here today starting with the Supermicro C7Z87-OCE, which we will be running at stock and overclocked speeds - the latter information we'll cover in just a moment. Along with that, though, we've also got the ASRock Z87E-ITX, ASRock Z87 OC FORMULA and GIGABYTE Z87X-OC to round off the Z87 list.

Along with those boards, we've also got the Z77 based MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming and X79 based GIGABYTE X79S-UP5-Wi-Fi to finish things off.

While Supermicro have focused on the overclocking side of things in both a naming and feature point of views, I have to be completely honest when I say I didn't expect big things from the board when it comes to overclocking. The BIOS was one reason, while the other was the fact that this area feels very new to Supermicro. As always, though, we headed in to see just what we could do.

Initially we had some problems with the settings being applied properly in Windows. When the CPU was placed under load, it wouldn't move to the speed we had set. If we used only one core, though, it would jump up to the set speed with no problem. Talking to Supermicro, the issue was the IA Core Current Max (1/8 Amp) not being high enough. Once we got this adjusted, we didn't have any problems.

When it came to the overclocking, the numbers started off looking great. We managed to get 4.8GHz up and running with no issue. Media Espresso and Hyper Pi ran with no problem. As we moved through our testing, though, we ran into problems under both 3DMark 11 and PCMark 7. Because of that we had to head back into the BIOS to do a bit more tweaking and more than likely lower the clock speed.

Supermicro C7Z87-OCE (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

After a while we ended up with a final overclock of 4589.91 MHz or 4.59GHz, as shown in our graphs here today. Considering we had 4.8GHz stable under some of our more intensive benchmarks, we wouldn't be surprised if we could achieve that speed on this board. The problem is the BIOS, though. It's really just not user-friendly at all when it comes to overclocking and not having a UEFI design, something we've become extremely accustom to seeing, we have to say that it's lacking in many ways. We'll cover our overall feelings on the BIOS, though, when we wrap the board up on the final page.

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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Out of the box, the numbers look good under our CPU benchmarks, lining up with other Z87 offerings for the most part.

While the overclock might not be the biggest, you can still see some strong improvements in performance when running at 4.59GHz.

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´┐Ż 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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At stock the performance on the Supermicro offering continues to be strong. The only board that manages to come out ahead is the GIGABTYE Z87X-OC. While not the biggest overclock by any means, we again see a nice boost in performance.

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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Checking out USB 2.0 and 3.0 performance, the numbers line up, with no real change being seen between all Z87 boards.

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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Looking above you can see that SSD performance is a little on the low side of things, which becomes even more noticeable in HD Tune Pro. We actually spoke to Supermicro about this and they suggested a couple of things to fix the issue.

We tried both and looking above you can see at the top of the graphs the scores with the adjustments made. While we see some strong numbers improvements, you can see when it comes to the minimum score, it continues to sit behind other boards.

What we wanted to do, though, after we made these adjustments, was also run through our other benchmarks to see if the extra performance was coming at the cost of another area. The good news is that gaming, CPU, RAM performance never changed with only fluctuation being seen. Like the BIOS, though, this is something we'll go into a little more detail when we get to wrapping up the board in just a few pages.

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 strong and lines up with the other higher-end boards with no issue. As always, though, you can see overclocking does nothing to memory performance - something we've seen consistently on the Intel Z87 platform.

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 for the most part is fairly standard. You can see out of the box, though, 3DMark 11 Performance is a little behind the other options.

We do see a nice little bump when we overclock the CPU, though.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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Power numbers are great, with the idle numbers beating out all the other boards at not only stock speeds, but also overclocked speeds.

Load numbers at stock line up with the ASRock ITX and GIGABYTE board, while overclocking, as always, sees a little bump.

Core Temperature

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Temperature numbers at stock are also very good coming in lower than the other Z87 offerings at both stock and overclocked speeds.

At stock the load number is also lower than the other boards, while overclocking, as always, sky rockets that number. Looking above, though, you can see we're still under the 90c threshold, which means the CPU will not throttle back its clock speed.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

I have a ton to talk about with this motherboard today. The first thing I want to quickly cover, though, is the pricing and availability, which at the moment isn't seen over at Newegg. We're sure the board isn't far away, though, from coming to fruition.

This board isn't without its flaws and some are clearly more obvious than others. The first is the BIOS. I hate to say the word "horrible", but it's probably the best way to describe it. We have really been spoiled with the UEFI BIOS since its introduction and we understand why Supermicro hasn't used it here. Engineers for the UEFI BIOS are few and far between. The ones that are available have already been snapped up by the major motherboard players in the consumer division.

With some of the best in the world already taken, it would come as no surprise that the first rendition of a UEFI BIOS from Supermicro would be lacking. Considering that a number of companies on the UEFI BIOS system since introduction still offer some very lack luster BIOS', this is nothing against Supermicro, but just an educated guess on what we've experienced with the UEFI BIOS system.

We also feel that the BIOS was another reason the overclocking wasn't quite as strong as we'd hoped. We saw that 4.8GHz is clearly doable under the most extreme benchmarks. For some reason, under the less intensive ones, it fell over. It feels like a lot of this is due to the inability to adjust settings easily. We know where everything is on motherboards from all the major consumer players. Going into the Supermicro BIOS, though, we felt so lost. This is again something we know that Supermicro is looking at since they told us directly.

When it comes to the performance, the out of the box numbers look good. Saying that, though, we can't ignore the SSD numbers. With the fix that Supermicro suggested, we saw some strong improvements in some areas that actually put it ahead of other boards. The minimum number continues to really sit far behind, which is evident in the HD Tune Pro test. This is something that Supermicro are aware of now and we're sure they're working on fixing the issue, as we speak. With the SSD running off the Z87 controller, one would assume that hopefully a fix to the issue is only some kind of update away. Time will tell, though, and this is also something we'll be keeping an eye on.

Another issue is the look of the board - it's not exactly the most attractive thing out. It's not always the most important thing, but we feel any time a company throws any kind of "OC" label on a product, it should stand out. This stands out in the sense it looks like a board from five years ago - that's not a good thing. Like everything else we mentioned, though, again this is something that Supermicro know and actually brought up with us during our chat with them at my office.

Reading all this this makes the motherboard sound like an absolute disaster. It's not, though! It's actually a really good motherboard in many ways. Supermicro's background means that out of the box we feel confident with this board. Like we mentioned in the introduction, with Intel getting out of the motherboard market it, we feel that a company like Supermicro, who have a huge reputation when it comes to building quality server motherboards, is really going to come through here. They really do have a chance to pick up some of that huge market share that Intel left behind, or is leaving behind soon.

The looks of the board are also superficial. For some it won't matter, especially if it sits inside your case with no window. The most important thing is going to be stability, and as we mentioned above, that's something we feel extremely confident in with this board.

Also when it comes to the overclocking side of things, there is a clear glimpse that the motherboard is more than capable. Having the board complete a Media Espresso run at 4.8GHz really was a surprise considering the lack of cooling offered on the board - it's a testament to the quality of the board itself.

I have to admit that one thing I would've preferred not to see with this board, though, was the addition of the OC tag in the model name. The board isn't at a level where it can compete with other boards that use the OC label already. This is a good board, but it's not one that can compete against other OC boards from an OC perspective. Because of that, it almost feels that the "OC" label will be tainted for Supermicro for the moment. Maybe they release a next generation board with the OC label and people will remember about the last board that used it and it wasn't quite as strong as it should be.

Supermicro has a great board here and long term it feels that they really could do something special. It feels very much like the days of DFI when they went to the consumer market with the LanParty series. With a strong background in reliability, they had an excellent base to work off. In time they perfected the areas that they weren't good at initially and ended up creating some truly amazing boards.

The support from Supermicro since we got the board has also been absolutely fantastic, rivaling some of the largest consumer motherboard manufacturers. They clearly know they have areas they need to improve in and they're happy to take feedback. If the company continues to listen to people, they can only go onwards and upwards in this area. Again, we feel this experience Supermicro learnt from the server market, and it shines through.

As a base, Supermicro feel like they have a leg up on any other company that is just trying to enter the motherboard market. I would also say at some points they have a leg up on already well established companies, because of the server background. If this is an area that Supermicro really want to go into, it feels like that with the right people on board their ship, they'll really be able to make some amazing motherboards down the road.

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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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