ECS Deluxe Z97-PK ReviewBluePanda -
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ECS Deluxe Z97-PK Introduction:
The novelty started with this board, was the quick bundle sale it was originally packaged with. You could get the board and an Intel Pentium G3258 Anniversary Edition for $104 from Newegg. The deal only lasted a couple of days and the short deal was gone. The ECS Z97-PK is now set at $79, but is still one of the cheapest boards for the socket out there. The board and chip were said to be best friends, so we had to go out and get the chip to pair them together for this review – sadly our chip wasn't quite as worthy as some of you might have hoped. Either way…the focus here should be on the ECS Z97-PK motherboard, it is the main case for this review. The actual use of the chip was just a bonus.
The ECS Z97-PK is a low-cost motherboard, designed to handle the Pentium G3258, OC, or run a higher-end CPU on stock clocks. You'll get all the higher-end features that you normally won't get with a low-cost board. It's an mATX form factor, so you can squeeze it into some of your smaller build designs, including, but not limited to, home theater builds. The support of even the Pentium gets you a pretty solid starter gaming build, the idea of gaming only on a quad core or more is not valid, this combo brings affordability to even the most extreme budget gamer. At $150 with current sales, it's a little harder to sell in my opinion, but let's see what the benchmarks say.
ECS Deluxe Z97-PK Closer Look:
This first "box" shot shows off the Intel Pentium G3258 with the ECS Deluxe Z97-PK. The yellow ribbon on both signifies the "Celebrating 20 years of the Pentium brand, with the latest inside". Although I didn't get the packaged deal on this, I had to see what the hype would have been, had I got in on the bundle. To be clear, ECS did not sent the CPU as a sample, but it was rather purchased for my curiosity. So no need to worry about bias here; just felt right to have the combo together since it was part of the original excitement to the boards release. Though, I have heard a bit of rumor that we might see the combo again – but I guess we shall see. Just from looking at the box, these clearly were meant to be a couple!
Focusing back on the motherboard, the box is nice and bright in orange and blue. If you ask me, the colors bring back the retro Bronco colors of the orange crush uniforms, loving it! Besides the yellow 20 year anniversary ribbon on the front, there are the typical support stickers on the lower left of the box. We get two Intel inside stickers, a Radeon Graphics sticker from AMD, the Windows 8 compatibility, a Norton check off, and a Durathon sticker (a special durability testing performed by ECS). It's nice to be able to glance and ensure your plan is going to work out without having to read too much into the box. On the front, we are also reminded that it is for the 1150 socket on the X97 chipset, supporting fourth and fifth generation i7/i5/i3 processors, as well as the Pentium and Celeron processors.
The back of the box shows off some shots of the board itself. We are given a full overview of the board with key features drawn out. You almost forget that this is a lower cost board with all the features being thrown in your face. There is support for 3-Way video output, Gigabit LAN, full 8-channel audio, 6G SATA, support for 4K monitors, as well as the bonus of "EZ-Charger" for active USB ports for charging your phone, tablet, or camera!
Enough about the box now, it's time to get it open so we can see the board and get to overclocking! Opening up the box is just about like any other motherboard box. The flap opens up and there are manuals, SATA cables, and a black I/O plate on top. This is pretty standard, so it's just as good a start as any other. Beneath the white cardboard layer is the ECS Z97-PK itself, wrapped in a nice protective static-proof bag. Pulling it out, we can see it in all its glory of BROWN! Generally I love the ECS boards for its monochrome appearance, but this one is the disappointing brown PCB. Oh well, it's not always about the looks, and for the cheaper cost I'll take it. There isn't much in the box, just the board, some user guides, the back plate, and two SATA cables.
Intel Pentium G3258 ASIDE:
Figured I might as well take an aside here. Many of you have read about, or perhaps even done it yourself, de-lidding a Haswell. We all know they run a bit hotter, thanks to the change in manufacturing, but not all of us have been brave enough to take a razor blade to a brand new chip. Well, since this review didn't have to have this chip to begin with, and since it is a bit more affordable loss than a 4770k, it was the perfect opportunity to crack it open. I have around a box of single thin razor blades. It was a bit nerve-wrecking at first to cut through the edges, and a bit harder to get started than I originally thought it might be from all the videos and demos online. But it came apart and I didn't cut anything on the board nor my fingers – win, win! I had around some CooLaboratory Liquid Ultra to put it back together, and when it was all said and done; the moment of truth, and it booted up in the ECS Z97-PK. Relief!