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ECS Deluxe Z97-PK Review

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ECS Deluxe Z97-PK Closer Look:

The main feature of this board isn't one we can actually see on the board, but rather later in the BIOS images. It has the 'One Key OC', which most of you quickly understand to be a fast one press OC to your system. We have seen this more and more in today's market (MSI's OC Genie for example) and it's neat to see it on this little board as well. Claims are that it can boost the G3258 from 3.2 GHz stock to 4.7 GHz without additional testing. Now that you've taken a double take at the board and realized there's no 8-pin power plug on board, that becomes a bit of an impressive claim. The Z97-PK relies on a 2-3 phase power implementation without any heat sinks. It's not quite as surprising once you realize the G3258 is only a 45W package, and even at 100% load, it isn't going to be hogging much power. I'd assume that this claim covers a wide range of the G3258 dies, but I'm sure there has got to be at least one unlucky bloke out there whose chip just won't play nice (hint hint).

The back of the board isn't exactly anything to get up and do a dance about. It's for the most part all the solder buds from all the components on the other side. There is an outlined region showing the typical "x" bracket for aftermarket coolers. But otherwise there's not too much to look at back here that you haven't seen before.

 

 

This small mATX form factor always makes the components look so big. Even the PCIe slots look like giants on the board. The upper grey PCIe as you might be able to make out is a Gen 3. It's a 3.0 x16 slot ready for your graphics card. The lower black PCIe slot has a different release and is only a PCIe 2.0 x4 slot given by the chipset. This eliminates the idea of SLI, and reduced bandwidth for the second card in crossfire. This isn't surprising considering you likely wouldn't be building a multi-GPU system with something of this caliber. In general, I see this board and CPU combo (even though it's not a "combo" deal anymore) as a build on a budget. If you are going to run more than a single GPU, you're likely going to spend a little more on the board as well because there is likely more in the budget. Anyway, I digress.

Looking at the same general area of the board from the other direction, you can see the pins for the USB and the front panel. There are no dummy pins, so you're going to have to do it "old-fashioned" with your manual. Yea, that's about all you ever use that little book for anyway isn't it? There is also a little passive heat sink here on the south bridge to provide some cooling. You may also notice the grouping of SATA connections back there – we'll take a closer look at these in a few.

 

 

Next to the socket, you'll find your four DIMM slots ready for action. The upper edge of the board labels them DDR3, 1 through 4 ascending from the bottom to the top of this particular picture. Both marked on the board as well as in the specs is support for DDR3-1600. Looking from the other side of the DIMM slots, you'll see the typical 24-pin power connector. It's nothing out of the ordinary, but you do get another look at the board. You may also notice at this point, the USB 3.0 header in the lower left corner of the image. It comes off the side of the board, rather than plugging straight into the board. I prefer this for the sake of cable routing. At least it is clear there was some thought into the layout of this board. The third picture in this grouping shows off your 4-pin CPU_FAN header and an additional 3-pin SYS_FAN header right next to it. They are both in close proximity of the CPU, making it easy to find and setup correctly the first time.

 

 

Getting back to the SATA ports we saw a bit earlier, there are actually six total over here. They are all SATA 6 Gbps port with two at right angles to the board. Because there is no difference between the ports it is completely your choice in the cable routing – you won't have to worry about not getting the "fast" ones on first pick.

 

 

The I/O panel is pretty basic. There are only a set of two USB 3.0 ports back here, which is a bit surprising this late in the market. You still have a full set of four USB 2.0 ports for keyboard, mice, etc – but don't forget you do have likely two more on the front of you case – if your case is new enough. Since the board supports the USB 3.0 ports internally, you'll at least have the option for a couple more up front without 3.0 hub. The audio and networking is from Realtek (yay!) and you'll have the choice of integrated video output from VGA, DVI-D, and HDMI outputs – so depending on your build purpose, you may not even need a discrete GPU! Back here, you'll also note your standard PS/2 port and Ethernet port with connectivity lights.

 

With that said, there is not a whole lot left to look at here. You can see the standard 1150 socket taking up much of the space on the board, again, pointing out the small form factor. Removing the protective cover you can take a look at the pins. I always think this is a neat shot.

 

 

Although there are no aesthetic awards being won here today, it is still a relatively cost effective setup available to overclockers on a budget. So I think it's time we drop in the G3258 and get up some performance numbers, as well as test out this one click OC!




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