ASRock Z77E-ITX review

  • £103
  • $130

We likes 'em small, but we also likes 'em powerful

TODO alt text

For

  • Good performance
  • Z77 chipset
  • Full roster of connections

Against

  • Only one PCIe slot (understandable though)
  • Performance not best in class
  • Slightly limited overclocking

There is something rather exquisite about the recent glut of small-form factor motherboards. The mini-ITX form factor has been around for a while, but it wasn't until the Sandy Bridge crowd tipped up that we started to see some lovely-looking, teeny-tiny motherboards worth a damn.

With Ivy Bridge and the Z77 platform though things have matured even further. Last month we checked out a pair of beauties from Asus, and here we've got the ASRock competition.

Like the Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe you're looking at a full Z77 motherboard with discrete graphics capabilities and all the overclocking finesse you'd expect of the top Intel chipset.

Where the H77 chipset is rather cut down and lacks real OC support, this Z77E-ITX is fully featured - including some features that you won't even get with full-size ATX boards at this price.

More, more, more

The packed back-plate should give you some idea of how feature-rich the Z77E-ITX is. With three video outputs it's equally at home running off the processor graphics inside the Ivy Bridge CPUs.

There's HDMI, DisplayPort and full DVI too. You've also got four USB 3.0 ports on the back with a single header inside for those chassis with front-mounted USB 3.0 ports. And as well as a pair of SATA 6Gbps and a pair of SATA 3Gbps sockets on the top of the board, on the flipside there's also an mSATA connector if you wanted to add in a PCB-mounted SSD for some space saving.

Unlike some others, that mSATA port isn't used for either Wi-Fi or SSD because there's a second mini PCIe connector next to the DIMM slots fully laden with a Wi-Fi module. But how does it perform?

Without the Deluxe name or premium price-tag of the Asus board we reviewed a while ago we weren't expecting a huge amount out of the wee ASRock, but it can hold its head up.

Turbo-ing at 3.7GHz it's no slouch, but is slower than the pricier Asus. It also doesn't have the same over-clocking chops without the extra power components of the competition. Still, it managed to hit a stable 4.5GHz and had enough juice to keep the discrete GPU flinging polygons around without any trouble.

Benchmarks

CPU rendering performance
Cinebench R11.5: Index score: Higher is better
ASROCK Z77E-ITX: 7.49
ASUS P8Z77-I DELUXE: 7.9
ASUS P8H77-I: 7.39

CPU encoding performance
X264 v4.0: Frames per second: Higher is better
ASROCK Z77E-ITX: 41.1
ASUS P8Z77-I DELUXE: 43.6
ASUS P8H77-I: 39.0

Gaming performance
Batman: AC: Frames per second: Higher is better
ASROCK Z77E-ITX: 181
ASUS P8Z77-I DELUXE: 184
ASUS P8H77-I: 167

For just over £100, though, it's a great little board. It holds its own against the top mini-ITX Asus board and even against a lot of the full-size competitors.

Performance aside there's not really anything you're missing out should you opt to buy this cheaper mini-ITX board. It's got every modern computing feature you could possibly want and would make the basis for an excellent little gaming machine.

Thanks to some impressive design elements, and the amount of motherboard real-estate freed up by components moving onto the CPU itself, we're now starting to see boards in the mini-ITX form factor that are almost impossible to distinguish in performance or feature-set from their full size compadres.

This ASRock Z77E-ITX board is another, relatively cheap, example of this.

Tags

Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelZ77 Express
Onboard VideoCPU Dependent Video
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots1
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket H2 LGA-1155
Brand NameASRock
Form FactorMini ITX
Processor SupportedCore i5, Core i7, Core i3
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory16 GB
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, WEEE
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots2
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
Number of SATA Interfaces5
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots2
eSATAYes
HDMIYes
DVIYes
Number of Network (RJ-45) Ports1
Network (RJ-45)Yes
DisplayPortYes
Total Number of USB Ports6
Number of USB 3.0 Ports4
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports6
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports4
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 3.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots2
Memory Form FactorUDIMM
Number of eSATA Ports1
Processor TechnologyTurbo Boost Technology 2.0, Hyper-Threading Technology, Smart Response Technology
Width170.2 mm
Depth170.2 mm
ManufacturerASRock, Inc
Product ModelZ77E-ITX
Product NameZ77E-ITX Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300, Serial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part NumberZ77E-ITX
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.asrock.com
Marketing Information

ASRock Inc. is established in 2002, specialized in the field of motherboards. ASRock strives to build up its own brand. With the 3C design concept, "Creativity, Consideration, Cost-effectiveness", the company explores the limit of motherboards manufacturing while paying attention on the eco issue at the same time, developing products with the consideration of eco-friendly concept. ASRock has been growing fast and become world third largest motherboard brand with headquarter in Taipei, Taiwan and branches in Europe and the USA. The young and vibrant company targets from mainstream to enthusiast MB segments for different kinds of users, owning reputation around the world market with its reliability and proficiency.

Package Contents
  • Z77E-ITX Desktop Motherboard
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Support CD
  • I/O Shield