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ECS Z97-Machine Review – The L337 Gaming Motherboard

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Packaging and Closer Look

When you look at the front of the box, you might be wondering what the name of this motherboard really is. Is it a Machine? L337 Gaming Machine? Or Machine Gank? Well it’s just Z97-Machine and you can see that at the upper right corner on the other side of the box. By the way L337 is actually pronounced as “LEET” akin to “Elite”. The outer box is just a thin layer of covering and you get an inner box that houses the Z97-Machine motherboard and its accessories.

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The packaging includes a user guide, a quick start guide, a driver CD, four SATA cables and an I/O shield.

Above you see the front and rear view of the motherboard. The PCB looks black, but it’s actually dark brown with a semi glossy finish. The MOSFET and Chipset heatsink bares the L337 Gaming logo, and for me the motherboard looks really simple.

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On the upper portion of the motherboard we have the socket LGA 1150 at the center, supporting 4th and 5th Generation Intel Core processors. You can also see the usual 4x DIMM slots, 8-pin CPU power and 24-pin ATX power connector. From this angle you can also see the 6-phase components and a number of solid capacitors. There are also 5 fan headers on the upper portion namely: the CPU Fan 1 and 2, PWR Fan (3-pin), System Fan (PWM) and another 3-pin System fan.

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On the lower half section of the ECS Z97-Machine, it has three PCIE x4 slots, two PCIE x16 slots and an M.2 slot for NGFF PCIE SSDs. Too bad I wasn’t able to test the M.2 since I don’t have a PCIE SSD at the time I tested this motherboard. Next, the motherboard has only four SATA ports and no SATA Express ports. As you can see, the SATA ports are pointing upwards and not the preferred angled position. But at least it doesn’t get in the way of any of the graphics card slot. There is no LED path that “separates” the audio component from the rest of the motherboard (like what we see in most of the competitors’ motherboards), but it does have an onboard power, reset and debug LED. It’s uncommon to see an M.2 PCIE slot and onboard buttons on a motherboard at this price range. And this is actually one of the advantages of the ECS Z97-Machine compared to other motherboards.

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At the rear I/O panel the ECS Z97-Machine has: PS/2 combo port, VGA port, DVI port, HDMI port, four USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet LAN port, and audio ports with optical out. As you can see the motherboard’s PCB is bending a little bit and it was already in this state when I first took it out from its box.

Above are photos of the chipset heatsink, MOSFET heatsink and what’s beneath the heatsinks. Hope ECS could improve the way they solder the components onto the motherboard. Although it is not really a big deal, but it will look better if the chips and whatnot are (at least) perfectly aligned.

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A PC enthusiast and a gamer, and my eyes eat frames for breakfast, I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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