The Summary Of Six Mini-ITX Mainboard Based On Intel Z77 Chipset (Part 11)

7/16/2013 9:14:55 AM

Power consumption

Power consumption is a critical factor for a Mini-ITX mainboard because it directly affects how quiet and economical the compact computer will be.  A small difference in power consumption can be important for compact PC because it may require an additional fan or a higher-wattage PSU. Mainboard makers can have a serious effect on the power draw of the assembled PC by designing an efficient CPU voltage regulator.

Therefore, we performed an experiment to test the power consumption of the Mini-ITX mainboards based on the Z77 using our Corsair AX760i PSU with its monitoring capabilities. The diagram below shows the maximum consumption of each system (without the screen) is measured at the output of the PSU. It is the sum total of the power draw of each system component. The efficiency of the PSU is not included.

The CPU was running 64-bit version of the Linx 0.6.4. utility. We enable C1E, C6, Enhanced Intel SpeedStep and Turbo Boost to accurately measure power consumption of the system in idle mode and at low load.  As in the performance testing, we test the system at default settings and overclocked ones.

The Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi is highly economical when idle

The Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi is highly economical when idle

The Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi is highly economical when idle. The other mainboard needs more energy, especially the Asus P8Z77-I DELUXE and ASRock Z77E-ITX. The MSI Z77IA-E53 and EVGA Z77 Stinger disable power saving technology of the CPU and thus requires much more power when overclocked.

The single-threaded load evens out the results

The single-threaded load evens out the results

The single-threaded load evens out the results, yet the Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi is still superior in terms of energy efficiency. The SI Z77IA-E53 is the only mainboard which is able to achieve the leading position in the default setting.

At the maximum CPU loads, the Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi losing its leading position

At the maximum CPU loads, the Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi losing its leading position

At the maximum CPU loads, the Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi loses its leading position. The Asus P8Z77-I DELUXE becomes the most economical CPU with default settings, even though the Zotac is quite economical, too. The overclocked Zotac-based system consumes less power than the Gigabyte-based one which has a lower CPU clock rate. By the way, we want to remind you that the EVGA Z77 Stinger is not in the diagram because that mainboard drops the CPU clock rate to the default level at full load.


It is very reward to find out that we were right to assume that the Mini-ITX platform can easily replace a fully-functional personal computer in standard ATX form-factor.

Our test session showed that the contemporary LGA 1155 Mini-ITX mainboard has everything an enthusiast needs. Therefore, they may be used for high-performance machines with discrete gaming graphics accelerators and may even be overclocked. The only real limitation of the Mini-ITX platform may be its inability to support multi-card graphics configurations as well as the lack of unique and rare onboard controller, but that demand does not always appear. In general, compact systems have every opportunity to compete with their full-size counterparts.

However, we should also point out that the market for miniature mainboards for enthusiasts is still somewhat raw. As we have discovered, there are not many existing options for high-performance systems. Also, even mainboards based on the best compact Z77 still have problems. When assembling a full-size computer we have several different mainboard selections without noticeable drawbacks and with very good potential. However, it can be quite challenging with the Mini-ITX platform. Officially speaking, a few mainboards on Z77 are evaluated in this review seem to be a great choice, b but once we get to know them a little better from a practical standpoint, we uncover some concerns with settings and configurations, layout, performance or overclocking. To date, there is no ideal product out there, so we can only hope that after after Haswell and eight series chipsets launch, the situation would turn better.

So what should we do if we really want to build a high-performance LGA 1155 computer on a Mini-ITX platform today? Our recommendations will start from the opposite side. First, you need to exclude those mainboards that limit the overclocking. These are Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI, that doesn’t have any functionality to adjust the voltages, and EVGA Z77 Stinger, that does not work with memory and has several problems in the BIOS. Then we need to eliminate those mainboards, which cannot save power when the CPU is idle and disable all processor power-saving technologies during overclocking. This will take MSI Z77IA-E53 off from the list. Finally, we will exclude slower mainboards, which means the end of the race for the Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi.

As a result, two options remaining are Asus P8Z77-I DELUXE and ASRock Z77E-ITX. Asus's product boasts very thorough design, high performance and a WiFi controller supporting 5 GHz frequency range. However, it suffers from a few frustrating problems in the BIOS, high temperatures and is relatively expensive. The ASRock mainboard, on the contrary, has very reasonable prices, comes with a well-balanced BIOS and an additional mSATA slot, but doesn’t support Bluetooth and has somewhat awkward layout.

After considering all the advantages and disadvantages, we will have to give our vote to ASUS P8Z77-I DELUXE, which will be awarded our “Recommended Buy” title. Especially because of the locking of the processor clock frequency multiplier will most likely be fixed in the upcoming BIOS updates.

But it's important to remember that the other discussed products in this review may be a better choice in certain specific situations. For example, if you do not plan to overclock your system, then the Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI or MSI Z77IA-E53 will be great options to consider.  Gigabyte board is unique due to two network controllers, while MSI mainboard provides a free mini-PCIe/mSATA combination slot. However, if you do not overclock, then you should take look at the Mini-ITX mainboards on H, B and Q series chipsets, which will cost less and can also give you the desired function.


Video tutorials
- How To Install Windows 8

- How To Install Windows Server 2012

- How To Install Windows Server 2012 On VirtualBox

- How To Disable Windows 8 Metro UI

- How To Install Windows Store Apps From Windows 8 Classic Desktop

- How To Disable Windows Update in Windows 8

- How To Disable Windows 8 Metro UI

- How To Add Widgets To Windows 8 Lock Screen

- How to create your first Swimlane Diagram or Cross-Functional Flowchart Diagram by using Microsoft Visio 2010
programming4us programming4us