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GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5 (Intel Z97) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5 (Intel Z97) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

It is Mini-ITX, so I had to have it. Find out what Shawn thinks of the GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5 motherboard. Take a look at his full review now.

@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Fri, Aug 15 2014 5:05 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:33 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Package

Introduction of the GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5

During Computex a few months ago we had a chance to check out a bunch of new motherboards from our friends over at GIGABYTE. On a massive wall of motherboards that focused around the GAMING series, there was a Mini-ITX motherboard that grabbed my attention.

The GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5 looked great from the moment I saw it, and I knew it must be mine to test. A few months later, the board arrived and it was time to test it to see just what kind of performance we can get out of it.

While the new X99 chipset is around the corner from Intel, the Z97 chipset continues to stay extremely relevant, as it focuses on the mainstream market. The upcoming X99 is designed for users wanting the ultimate in performance; huge twelve threaded CPUs or massive four video card setups.

Still, we're a few weeks away from the launch of that chipset, and today is all about the Mini-ITX based Z97N-GAMING 5 from GIGABYTE. So, let's leave it at that, and see what this tiny board can deliver in terms of performance. But first, let's see what's going on with the bundle.

Package - What comes inside the box

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VIEW GALLERY - 37 IMAGES

Looking at the box, you don't see a whole lot going on for the simple reason that the box isn't all that big. You can see we've got the brand across the top, and the model across the bottom. The only feature that is really mentioned on the front of the box is the inclusion of an 802.11ac, and BLUETOOTH 3.0 module.

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Turning the box over, we get a better idea of what's going on here with the board. On the left hand side you can see GIGABYTE break down some of the main features, which include Performance via Durable Black Solid Caps, and High Efficient MOSFET Design. Audio comes from the Realtek ALC1150 Code, Dedicated Audio Hardware Zone, High-End Audio Capacitors, and gold-plated ports.

Networking comes with the well-known Killer E2200 network chip, and the Bluetooth 4.0 / 802.11ac wireless module we just mentioned. We finish off with looks via the all new heat sink design. As for the right side of the box, you can see a picture of the board, and some information on where exactly those features just mentioned are on the board.

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Looking inside of the box, since the box itself is quite small, it comes as no real surprise that there's not a whole lot going on. Although, looking above, you can see all of the standard inclusions covering the manuals, driver CD, networking driver CD, I/O shield, and a pair of SATA cables. Along with all that, you can see we've also got an antenna included in the box, which goes with the Bluetooth 4.0 / 801.11 ac module that we've already mentioned.

PRICING: You can find the GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5 retails for $153.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5 retails for CDN$218.15 at Amazon Canada.

Motherboard Details

Close up with the GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5

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Taking a look at the board from above, we get a pretty good idea of just what's going on here thanks to how small the board is. However, by moving in a little closer, you can see we have a single 16x PCIe slot for a nice, fast video card. There's not too much else going on here, so let's turn the corner.

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Moving around the corner, we find most of our connections. Starting from the bottom, you can see we've got a USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 header, along with our main front panel header connector. Next to that we have a single SATA III port running off the Intel Z97 chipset, and next to that we finish off with our main 24-Pin ATX power connector.

Sitting above all this, we have two DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 16GB of RAM, ranging from 1333MHz DDR to 3200MHz DDR via overclocking. Finally, here you can see we move just above the left section of the two DIMM slots to find four SATA III ports, and like the one sitting by itself, these also run off the Z97 chipset.

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Heading to the other corner of our motherboard, you can see our eight-pin CPU power connector in its standard position, along with the Intel 7260HMW card that offers Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.11ac wireless networking. Moving back, you can see our CPU area is pretty tight thanks to the smaller design, but overall, we have plenty of room for most coolers.

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Finally, we finish up in the I/O department, which offers quite a lot of connections, starting with a PS/2 combo port, and two USB 2.0 ports. Moving across, you can see a point for our wireless antenna to be installed. Below that, we have a DVI-I port, along with a gold plated HDMI 1.4a, and DisplayPort 1.2 connector.

Sitting above those, we have an optical port that goes with the six gold-plated auxiliary ports that run off the Realtek ALC 1150 Codec, while also supporting the Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3. Sitting between all of this, we have four USB 3.0 ports, a single eSATA port running off the Intel Z97 chipset, and a Gigabit networking port that runs off the Killer E2201 LAN chip.

BIOS Images and Information

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Heading into the BIOS for the first time, you're greeted with the Startup Guide, which gives you some basic options, including what version of the BIOS you want to enter. After you've set this up, you can head into the BIOS as you'd expect.

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Once you get out of the Startup Guide, you can head into the BIOS as usual, and you'll find yourself looking at all of the normal options. Looking above, you can see that everything related to overclocking is done within the first three tabs -Frequency, Memory, and Voltage.

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Outside of the overclocking options, we move forward and can see all of the other standard options you'd expect to see from your BIOS. Looking above, you can see everything in a fair bit of detail, and if you've used a UEFI BIOS from GIGABYTE recently, you'll feel right at home with this one.

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If you're not a fan of all the glitz and glamor, you'll be glad to know that by simply pressing the F2 button, we can head into the Classic View BIOS. Here you'll find everything in that classic view. As always, if you're doing anything overclocking related, then you'll be in the M.I.T. section of the BIOS that gives you all of the standard options you'd expect to see.

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.

For the last few weeks we've been testing our latest Z97 motherboards with our new i7 4790K processor. As we're testing more and more motherboards with it, we've been replacing the boards that used our older i7 4770K. In our lineup of motherboards today, we've got the GIGABYTE Z97N- GAMING 5, and it will be running at stock speeds, along with maximum overclocked speeds, which we will discuss in just a moment.

Along with this, we've got the ASRock Z97X Killer, GIGABYTE Z97X GAMING G1 WIFI-BK Black Edition, and ASUS Z97-A; all of which are using our newer i7 4790K. Along with these, we have the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H, and the older ASRock Z87 Killer; both use our older i7 4770K.

Before we get into the testing, we've got to find out what's going on with the overclocking. Heading into the BIOS, and straight into the overclocking section, we see just how far we can push our CPU multiplier up. After a bit of time messing around with the multiplier, BCLK, and voltages, you can see our maximum overclock below.

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With our multiplier at 46x, and our BCLK slightly raised to 100.51, you can see our final overclock comes in at 4623MHz, or 4.62GHz as it's shown in our graphs here today. This overclock isn't too bad. We've seen some boards offer around 4.7GHz, while others come in at around 4.6GHz. Overall, this is pretty standard for our particular CPU.

CPU & System Benchmarks

CPU Test - HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

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CPU Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

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Starting off with CPU performance, you can see performance out of the GIGABYTE Z97N- GAMING 5 is fairly standard across the board. When it comes to overclocking, you can see a slight performance increase, but nothing to get excited about. The two i7 4790K processors we have aren't impressive when it comes to overclocking, and it is limiting us when it comes to showing the maximum performance.

System Test - PCMark 8

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

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System Test - MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

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Firing up PCMark 8 and MediaEspresso, you can see that the performance of the GIGABYTE Z97N- GAMING 5 lines up with our other boards for the most part. Again, overclocking brings slight boost in performance, but because of our CPU not being that strong, the overall increase in performance isn't much.

USB 2.0, USB 3.0 & SSD Benchmarks

USB Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

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USB 2.0 performance lines up with the best of the boards, while USB 3.0 performance sits around the middle of the pack. Overall, both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 perform as you'd hope and expect.

SSD Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: v4.30.2900

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SSD Test - PCMark 8

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.0.191

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SSD Test - HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 5.50

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SATA III performance looks good under AIDA64 and PCMark 8, with the results lining up with our other Z97 boards for the most part. However, moving to HD Tune Pro, you can see that performance is really strong, with the minimum and maximum numbers coming out ahead of our other Z97 boards. As for the average, that sits at around the middle of the pack, with a 295 MB/s average.

Memory & Gaming Benchmarks

Memory Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

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Looking at memory performance, you can see that the GIGABYTE Z97N- GAMING 5 performs well overall. GIGABYTE boards tend to offer stronger write performance, and you can see that here with our three GIGABYTE boards coming out ahead of the ASUS and ASRock options.

Gaming Test - 3DMark 8

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

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Gaming Test - Sleeping Dogs

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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Looking at our gaming performance, you can see the numbers are where you'd expect them to be. At stock, we can see that they pretty much line up with all of our other boards here. When it comes to overclocking, we can see a slight performance boost at the lower resolutions, with no real change seen at the highest.

Temperature & Power Testing

Power Consumption Test

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Power consumption numbers sit at the lower-end of the graph here in both the load and idle department. When overclocking is thrown into the mix, you can see that we get a slight boost in our idle draw, while the load number jumps a little more, to over 400 Watts.

Core Temperature Test

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Temperature numbers sit in the middle of the pack, with pretty solid idle and load numbers seen out of the box. When it comes to overclocking, you can see both numbers jump up. The 83C load number at 4.62GHz isn't too bad considering we often see numbers that go past 90C.

Pricing, Availability, and Final Thoughts

Since the GIGABYTE Z97N- GAMING 5 is Mini-ITX motherboard, you should expect a cheaper price tag, since you just don't get the same amount of features as bigger, more feature packed motherboards. At the moment, the GIGABYTE Z97N- GAMING 5 is going to set you back at around the mid $100 price point, which comes in as one of the cheaper Z97 motherboards we've looked at too date.

This is the price point that you'd pretty much expect the board to hit at considering the features and overall quality of the board. While you can get larger boards for less, GIGABYTE has really packed a nice set of features into this motherboard considering its size. The Killer networking is a nice addition, along with the improved audio features. Throw in the addition of Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac wireless networking, and you find yourself with a board that really offers quite a decent punch for its size.

When it comes to the bundle, there's not a whole lot included, but due to the size of the board, you don't expect a whole lot in the first place. What really stands out from the bundle would be the inclusion of the antenna that pairs with the wireless networking / Bluetooth card that we just mentioned.

As for the performance, the GIGABYTE Z97N- GAMING 5 does a good job. We would've loved to have seen it paired with an i7 4790K that has more overclocking potential, but overall, considering our particular chip, the overclocking ability of the board was pretty standard when compared to larger full-sized options.

Mini-ITX boards are ultimately boards that you're going to love or hate depending on the kind of system that you want to build. If you're happy to go with something bigger, then you're going to get more features for a price that isn't too much higher. The simple fact is, if you're looking for a smaller system, you don't have any other option. The main thing you want to know is that you're getting a quality Mini-ITX motherboard at a strong price point. Fortunately, we can say that the GIGABYTE Z97N- GAMING 5 offers just that.

PRICING: You can find the GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5 retails for $153.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The GIGABYTE Z97N-GAMING 5 retails for CDN$218.15 at Amazon Canada.

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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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