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GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

Another Mini-ITX board arrives. This time it's the Z87N-WIFI from GIGABYTE using the Z87 chipset. It's small, affordable and not lacking in features.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Thu, Aug 8 2013 9:01 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 38 IMAGES

If you've followed my motherboards over the past few years, you'd know that I have this unhealthy love for the Mini-ITX platform. One that is probably made worse by the fact that I still have continued to never personally build a system for myself around one. It doesn't change the fact that I love the platform, though, and continue to test motherboards based on it as soon as they arrive to see just what's going on.

We recently got a chance to see what MSI is doing with the platform in the form of the Z87I. Closer to launch we also got to look at the ASRock offering in the form of the Z87E-ITX. Today it's time to see what GIGABYTE is doing with the platform with its new Z87N-WIFI.

Since the launch of the Intel Z87 platform, we've been able to get a good grasp of what's going on with it and when it comes to the Mini-ITX form factor, having already looked at a couple of boards that use this form factor, it's hardly new to us, and most likely you as well.

So, let's just get into what exactly we're dealing with here today and start off with the package.

Package

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As you'd expect, the box is of course smaller and not quite the same amount of information can be shown on it. Saying that, though, you can see GIGABYTE is showing off quite a bit with the front pushing some of the main features including Ultra Durable 4 Plus along with the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology.

Turning the box over you can see a picture of the board and some of the main features. A lot of these surround the Ultra Durable 4 Plus feature which includes Long Lifespan All Solid Caps, High Temperature Protection, High ESD, Humidity Protection and Anti Surge technology. All features to make for a more stable and longer lasting board. Some of the other major features covered include the UEFI DualBIOS, 15u Gold Plated CPU Socket, along with others that we'll look at on following page, as we move in closer to the motherboard.

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With a small box it comes as no surprise that we're not dealing with the largest of bundles. You can see the standard line up of goodies which include paperwork, driver CD, a pair of SATA cables and a rear I/O backplate. Along with these, though, also included is a Wi-Fi Antenna. We'll take a closer look at the Wi-Fi networking on the next page when we look at the motherboard itself.

GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI Motherboard

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Taking a look at the GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI from above, due to the small nature, you can see just about everything on the board. Present is a matte black PCB which we think looks great.

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As always for Mini-ITX boards, when it comes to the expansion side of things, you can see we've just got just a single slot. Like just about every Mini-ITX board we've seen recently that single slot is a PCIe x16 type that runs at x16, since it does not have to share its PCIe lanes with anything else. The only other thing we can see around here is the dual BIOS chips in the bottom right hand corner.

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Moving over to the next side, you can see we've got two DIMM slots which offer support for up to 16GB of DDR3 with speeds ranging from 1333MHz DDR to 2933MHz DDR via overclocking.

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Starting from the left you can see the main 24-pin ATX power connector. Next o that you can see the main front panel header, along with four SATA ports. All four are SATA III and run of the Intel Z87 chipset. Next to these ports you can also see we've got a USB 3.0 header. In the middle of the board you can see a Mini PCIe port which has an Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 card plugged into it which offers both 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 support.

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Taking a look at the CPU area, you can see the socket area itself which as usual is a little crowded due to the nature of the board being smaller. Without going too insane, though, you do have options for a lot of coolers. You just have to be aware of the PCIe x16 slot and two DIMM slots that do sit closer than normal compared to larger motherboards. You can also see the CPU power connector which comes in the form of a 4-pin one instead of an 8-pin one. This is again something common we see on Mini-ITX boards due to the smaller size.

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Finishing off with the I/O side of things you can see as usual just about the whole board is taken up with connectors. Starting from the left we've got a combo PS/2 port, along with two USB 2.0 connectors. Video out options come in the form of two 1.4a HDMI ports, along with a Single-Link DVI-I connector, which above has two outlets for the included antenna to be plugged into.

We've also got four USB 3.0 ports, along with two Gigabit networking ports - one running off an Intel controller, and the other off an Atheros controller. Finally we finish up with an optical out port and five auxiliary ports, which run off the Realtek ALC892 codec.

BIOS

Heading into the BIOS on the GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI you can see that we're using the new UEFI BIOS design from GIGABYTE, which we love. It's a really big improvement when compared to the 3D BIOS that was used on the last generation of boards.

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As always, if you're heading into the BIOS, you'll be more than likely wanting to hang around the Performance section, which offers us all the standard overclocking features.

In the past we used to always jump into Classic Mode to do overclocking on GIGABYTE motherboards, because it was just so much easier. However, the latest UEFI design is great to use.

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Moving past the performance section you can see all the standard options are on offer. As we mentioned above, though, if you're going into the BIOS, you'll more than likely be spending most your time in the performance area.

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Hitting F2 you can jump into Classic Mode, but as we mentioned above, the new UEFI design is really fantastic, and the desire to jump in here isn't nearly as great as it was before when we used the older 3D BIOS.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Overclocking

GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI (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've got a number of boards in our graphs today and one of the main comparisons we'll be making is the stock performance of the GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI against the MSI Z87I - both are Mini-ITX motherboards. Along with those two boards, though, we've also got the ASRock Z87 OC FORMULA and GIGABYTE Z87X-OC to round off the Z87 side of things.

We've also got the older Z77 based MSI Z77A-GD65 and finally the older X79 based GIAGBYTE X79S-UP5-WIFI which rounds of our collection of boards today. As always, though, before we get into the testing side of things, we'll cover overclocking on this motherboard. Being a Mini-ITX one we figured that we wouldn't have quite as much luck.

We started off with a 47x multiplier to see how we went and we got into Windows with absolutely no problem. With that looking good we worked our way to 48x, which also worked well. We then moved up to 49x, which is about the limit for this CPU, when it comes to being rock solid stable.

GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

49x wasn't an issue and we figured we'd try to see if we could get anything else out of the processor with a bit of BCLK adjustment, but found that this was really our limit. Looking above you can see that we landed on a very solid 4.9GHz almost evenly with our CPU-Z validation coming in at 4900.1MHz.

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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GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 32 | TweakTown.com

Out of the box performance is very strong and you can see across the board it manages to come out slightly ahead of our other offerings a number of times.

Hyper Pi performance, though, really stands out as it comes out with a very good speed out of the box. Overclocking you can see brings a strong boost in performance and you can see that Hyper Pi number looks very impressive as it falls in under the 10 minute mark.

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 looks great and comes out ahead of both the ASRock and MSI offerings out of the box. The only motherboard it falls behind is the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC in both benchmarks.

Overclocking, as you can see, brings with it a strong boost in performance with great gains being seen under both benchmarks. Almost 2.5 minutes is shaved off the MediaEspresso 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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Looking above you can see that USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 numbers fall exactly where you would expect them to with no surprise being found in both sets of results.

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 is very strong with some great looking numbers being seen under both benchmarks.

AIDA64 sees good performance across the board with the numbers being almost even with the best or coming out slightly ahead. In HD Tune Pro the minimum is slightly down, but the average and maximum are strong, coming out ahead of the competition.

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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Looking above you can see that memory performance sits slightly behind our other setups for the most part. Overclocking brings those numbers up slightly, but overall, you can see that very little difference is brought to the table when overclocking is thrown into the mix.

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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Metro 2033 sees a very typical line up of results with little difference between all the setups and the overclock boosts the lower resolution only slightly.

3DMark 11 sees the GIGABYTE Z78N-WIFI fall slightly behind the other boards at stock. Overclocking helps bring that number up, but you can see, the Z87X-OC comes out slightly ahead at the Performance preset.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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Power draw numbers see the GIGABTYE Z87N-WIFI sit above both the MSI Z87I and GIGABYTE Z87X-OC in both the idle and load department.

Overclocking brings a slight increase to the idle number and a decent jump to the overall load. Numbers on a whole aren't too bad, though.

Core Temperature

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Looking at the CPU temperatures, you can see out of the box that they're impressive coming in below the other Z87 offerings at both idle and load out of the box.

Overclocked we see that the idle jumps up slightly and load numbers as usual jump up more significantly. Saying that, though, you can see the load numbers aren't too bad staying in the 80s realm and not hitting the 90c mark that we see so often.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

Coming in at $134.99 at the time of writing, the GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI is the cheapest Mini-ITX motherboard currently available under the Intel Z87 platform. Compared to the MSI Z87I, it comes in just $5 cheaper. Moving away from that, though, the ASRock Z87E-ITX comes in $30 more expensive, and the ASUS Z87I-Deluxe comes in even higher at $189.

The cheaper price tag also doesn't make for an uglier motherboard or something that lacks features. Looking at it today, you can see the matte black PCB looks great and we've got both 802.11 b / g / n and Bluetooth 4.0 being offered. The bundle, as you'd expect, is a little on the light side, but considering the size of the board, box and price tag, it's got probably even more than you'd expect, thanks to the inclusion of the wireless antenna.

Performance on the board is strong. Out of the box we see it more often than not line up around other motherboards. Where we see the board really shine, though, comes in the overclocking department. With a solid 4.9GHz being seen, this little board manages to really pack quite the punch when it comes to overall performance.

If you're in the market for building a small system, this is really an attractive option from GIGABYTE. Hitting at a strong price point, giving us a strong line-up of features, alongside some excellent overclocking performance, there's really little to complain about when it comes to the Z87N-WIFI.

If you're not in the market for a Mini-ITX board, then there's better options out there, which offer more for less. On the other hand, if you really want to build a small system built around a Mini-ITX motherboard, then this is one you should be really looking at thanks to all the features mentioned above and the competitive pricing.

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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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