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Supermicro C7Z87-OCE (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review

By: Shawn Baker | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Aug 1, 2013 2:03 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Supermicro

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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