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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 06 > ECS Z97-MACHINE

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09-06-2014


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ECS Z97-MASHINE motherboard review and testing

Despite the fact that ECS product is quite rare visitor in our lab, but we could not miss the familiarity with its flagship motherboard based on chipset Intel Z97.  

Model ECS Z97-MASHINE is an item from series of products ECS GANK MASHINE which is designed for gamers. Together with two other series ECS GANK DRONE and ECS GANK DOMINATION they embody the concept of the combined advanced proprietary L337 Gaming.

Let us consider what offers Taiwanese company to customers with price around $ 140 U.S.

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

The specs:

Producer

ECS

Model

Z97-MASHINE (rev 1.0)

Chipset

Intel Z97

SPU socket

Socket LGA1150

Supported CPUs

Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron of 4th and 5th generation: Intel Haswell, Intel Haswell Refresh, Intel Devil`s Canyon, Intel Broadwell

Memory frequency

Up to 3000 MHz in overclocked state

Memory support

4 x DDR3 DIMM-slots with memory support up to 32 GB

Expansion slots

2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16

 

x16

x8+х8

3 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

Disk subsystem

Intel Z97 chipset supports:

1 x M.2 (NGFF)

4 x SATA 6 GB/s

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

LAN

1 x Intel WGI218V (10/100/1000 MB/s)

Sound subsystem

Realtek ALC1150 codec

8-chanel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power connectors

1x24-pin ATX main power connector

1x8-pin ATX12V power connector

Fans

2 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

4 х system fans slots

(2 х 4-pin and 2 х 3-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiator on the chipset

Aluminum radiator on power subsystem elements

External I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 x LAN (RJ45)

4 x USB 3.0

4 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

5 x audio jacks

1 х PS/2 (for mouse or keyboard connection)

Internal I/O

1 x USB 3.0 each with support of two USB 3.0 (19-pin)

1 x USB 2.0 USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

4 x SATA 6 GB/s

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x CMOS jumper

1 х power button

1 х reboot button

1 х set of sockets for direct voltage measurement on key elements

1 х diagnostic LED-indicator

BIOS

64 MB Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty description booklet

Driver and utility disc

4 x SATA cables

1 х faceplate of interface panel

Form factor,

Dimensions

ATX

305 х 220 mm

Producer website

ECS

Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available on support page

Packaging and content

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

The novelty is shipped in a vertically oriented cardboard box and equipped with a handle for easy carrying. Printing is in the company colors concept L337 Gaming, i.e. black and gold. Most of the front side is reserved for logo of the above-mentioned concept and the name of the model. Slightly below there is an information about the support of Windows 8, technologies AMD CrossFireX, Sound Blaster Cinema2 and SABRE SOUND.

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

On the reverse side of the box, in addition to the image of the motherboard, its interface panel, and a short list of specifications there are the main advantages of ECS Z97-MASHINE, namely:

  • Sound Blaster Cinema2 - this technology is responsible for program improvement of sound quality, as well as its fine-tuning in the supplied software.
  • SABRE SOUND – due to preset amplifier the sound subsystem is capable to reproduce audio with signal/noise ratio at the level of 116 dB.
  • 4K Ultra HD Support - HDMI video output on the interface panel supports display image with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD).
  • HYBRID POWER - power subsystem based on digital PWM controller and includes six phases. In addition, it is composed of high quality components: ICY CHOKES inductors with increased in 1.5 stability and expand operating temperature, field-effect transistors Dual Advanced MOSFET with increased on 90% efficiency, as well as solid Japanese capacitors. For cooling the exclusive radiator design that provides improved efficiency of heat dissipation is used.
  • Graphics - technology 2-Way AMD CrossFireX is supported.
  • Memory - RAM modules can operate at a frequency up to 3000 MHz.
  • Networking – network subsystem is based on a qualitative and high-speed Intel controller.
  • Expandability – thanks to flagship Intel Z97 chipset there is a supports of slots M.2 (NGFF) with a capacity of up to 10 GB/s, which is used to connect high-speed storage formats форматов M.2 2242, M.2 2260 and M.2 2280.

Special mention deserves the technology EZ Charger which allows quickly charge portable electronics even when the PC is off.

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

Supplied set of motherboard ECS Z97-MASHINE includes only the essentials, namely: CD with software, user manual, interface panel plug and four SATA-cables.

Design and features of the board

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

The product is made on black ATX (305 x 220 mm).  The design of a new item made very positive impression, as combines black and gold colors. Also note the interesting shape of the chipset radiator.

As for the on-board elements layout, due to the relatively small number, all of them are very competently arranged. The only nuance is the lack of mounting holes on the right edge of the PCB, which is caused by a reduced width of the product. Therefore, you should be extremely careful when connecting the main power cable, memory modules, USB 3.0 connectors and drives.

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

On the reverse side there are massive support plate and screws for reliable mounting of both fans.

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in sockets, S/PDIF Out, diagnostic LED-indicator, power and reboot buttons as well as front panel leading-in socket. Additionally here is leading-in socket for activation of USB 2.0 ports that supports the technology of rapid charging even if the PC is off. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is six: two are internal and two on the interface panel.

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

Separately we note the presence of a group of contacts to measure the actual voltage on the key components of the system using a multimeter.

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is presented by socket M.2 (support of SSD drives of M.2 2242, M.2 2260 and M.2 2280 formats and carrying capacity up to 10 GB/s) with four ports SATA 6 GB/s. The operation of all interfaces is implemented by chipset. There is a support of SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10.

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

Main board ECS Z97-MASHINE is equipped with four DIMM-slots for memory modules DDR3, which are equipped with latches on both sides. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. To implement it the modules must be installed either in the first and third or second and fourth slots. Modules operating at frequencies up to 3000 MHz in the overclocked mode. Maximum memory capacity may be up to 32 GB which is enough for almost any tasks.

Leading-in socket with ports USB 3.0 is placed on the right side of the PCB. The total number of USB 3.0 ports is six: two internal and four on the interface panel.

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

Cooling system of the product includes two aluminum radiators: one for heat removal from chipset Intel Z97 while the other covers elements of power subsystem. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 33.1°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor elements power – 37.8°C.

Due to large area of radiator and reliable screw clamping the temperature on the key elements is low and in general the operation of cooling system can be characterized as excellent.

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

Processor power supply is performed via 6-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller Intersil ISL6376. All power components of CPU have high reliability level: Japanese solid capacitors, ICY CHOKES with improved on 1.5 times stability and extended limits of operating temperatures as well as field-effect transistors Dual Advanced MOSFET with increased on 90% efficiency. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.    

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

Despite the format ATX the novelty uses only five expansion slots. There are the following connectors:

  1.  PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  2. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (х16 or х8 mode);
  3. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  4. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (х8 mode);
  5. PCI Express 2.0 x1.

As you can see, here is a support two graphics cards which can take up to three expansion slots, and you will still have one PCI Express x1. Both PCI Express x16 slots are connected to the CPU and shared all available 16 lines of standard PCI Express 3.0.

ECS Z97-MASHINE 

If you decide to take advantage of the integrated on the CPU graphics core then you have three video outputs: HDMI, DVI-D and D-Sub, switching is carried out by chip ASMedia ASM1442K.

ECS Z97-MASHINE

Multi I/O capabilities are based on ITE IT8728F chip. 

ECS Z97-MASHINE

To support network connection there is gigabit LAN-controller Intel WGI218V.

ECS Z97-MASHINE

ECS Z97-MASHINE

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC1150 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems. It can to play audio with signal/noise ratio at the level of 116 dB and includes additional amplifier ESS SABRE32 ES9010K2M. Technology Sound Blaster Cinema 2 is responsible for software improvement of audio quality.

ECS Z97-MASHINE

Interface panel of ECS Z97-MASHINE model contains the following ports:

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 х D-Sub;
  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 4 x USB 3.0;
  • 4 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 х optical S/PDIF out;
  • 1 x PS/2 for mouse and keyboard connection;
  • 5 x audio jacks.

This layout of interface panel can be called as excellent because it includes frequency used video outputs, a large number of USB ports, convenient connection of multichannel acoustic and optical audio outputs. Also here is a support of image displaying on screen with resolution 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD).

As for the organization of active cooling, the PCB has six fan connectors, two of which are used for cooling the CPU, while the other four for system turntables. Note that two of the four system fan connector are 3-pin, while all the rest are 4-pin.

UEFI BIOS

ECS Z97-MASHINE

Model ECS Z97-MASHINE is equipped with modern UEFI firmware based on the microcode of AMI company with a pleasant graphics interface. The main BIOS screen has the ability to switch between several preset profiles of the system.


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