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Thread: Biostar Gaming Z97X Goes Gaming

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    Default Biostar Gaming Z97X Goes Gaming

    Biostar goes gaming.

    GAMING Z97X is a solid, well-rounded motherboard and despite BIOSTAR's relationship with being a budget brand, its a really well-built board that can take a pounding.

    Our Rating

    Full Review
    BIOSTAR has mainly positioned its high-end HI-FI offering as enthusiast audio products with relatively improved audio componentries to enhance the listening experience. For the most part, this worked nicely for BIOSTAR as their flagship lineup but we all know gaming has been a coveted market for motherboard makers and it was inevitable that BIOSTAR would jump in the fray. Earlier this year, the company teased their new motherboard and tied it up with the gaming branding. This was revealed to be the new sets of product from BIOSTAR aimed at gamers that feature more modern styling to cater to gamers who want an aggressive looking product but stays true to BIOSTAR’s roots as an affordable option.

    In the bench today is BIOSTAR’s debut model for its GAMING series motherboard: the BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X. BIOSTAR has made plenty of efforts to hype this release up and to make sure we’re really getting something, we took our time with motherboard using it on our test bench for a lot of overclocking runs at HWBOT including being paired with a TITAN X. That said, this one’s a long time coming but we’re better of making sure this board is solid enough to hang with the big boys so we’re not praising it just for looks or patting BIOSTAR in the back with their efforts. Read on.

    • Support for 4th Gen Intel Core Processors, enables overclocking on Unlocked Intel Core Processors
    • Intel Z97 single chip architecture
    • Support 4-DIMM DDR3-3000(OC)/ 2800(OC)/ 2600(OC)/ 2400(OC) up to 32G maximum capacity
    • Support Killer E2201 LAN
    • BIOSTAR Hi-Fi 3D Technology inside
    • Support USB 3.1
    • Support PCIe M.2(10Gb/s)
    • Support SATA Express(10Gb/s)
    • Support DisplayPort

    Packaging & Contents

    New box design for a new motherboard. We’ve seen the new dark box BIOSTAR has adopted for the HI-FI Z97Z7 and that style gets carried over here but with the new crosshair logo emblazoned in front with the bold GAMING Z97X printed on the top. The BIOSTAR logo gets a bolder shade of red due to the black contrasting background that really makes it pop. Note the huge Killer E2200 bullet in the front along with the Intel icons. BIOSTAR wants to make a statement here.

    BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X package inclusion
    Inside the box is the GAMING COMMANDER bay module, SATA cables, I/O shield, a manual and surprisingly a driver installation flash drive. Yup, a flash drive. Really, really thoughtful.

    Here’s that credit card USB flash drive that BIOSTAR includes filled with their utility and drivers for the GAMING Z97X motherboard. Its 8GB so there’s plenty of space for other stuff. Can’t exclaim how much this is more usable than driver discs since the last time we’ve used an ODD here in the labs was like 4 years ago.

    Closer Look

    BIOSTAR might have gotten some flak from the last release but this one surely didn’t get as controversial with its shroud. With practically all board brands having an SKU with a shroud, its just one of those things that becomes standard after a few generations. The BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X is a standard ATX sized motherboard featuring three PCI-e x16 slots and three PCIe x1 slots. A large portion of the board is covered up by the plastic shroud including the VRM and PCH heatsinks.

    BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X Motherboard Review
    The BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X features a 12-phase power design, something that surprised us given that the last time we saw BIOSTAR’s high-end offering, it only came with an 8-phase VRM so this really took us by surprise in a very positive way. Just goes to show the company wants cover everything in this release to make a statement.

    BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X Motherboard Review

    BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X Motherboard Review

    BIOSTAR conveniently tucks the M.2 slot right above the first PCI-E x16 slot. Here are more

    Test Setup
    Processor: Intel Core i7 4790K
    Motherboard: BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X
    Memory: Kingston HyperX BEAST DDR3-2400 16GB
    Storage: Kingston HyperX FURY SSD 240GB
    PSU: Corsair AX860i
    Cooling: Custom loop (XSPC Raystorm block, XSPC D5 Dual Bayres (set to medium), BlackIce Stealth GT 360 rad)
    Monitor: BENQ XL2420T
    VGA: Palit Jetstream GTX 780Ti
    We’re refreshing our motherboard comparison tables because we will now be using a i7-4790K on our test system to accommodate the upcoming Broadwell and Skylake launches and keep our charts readable. You may refer to our other motherboard reviews for comparatives but note that we use a 4770K on those systems. Please bear with us as we expand our new charts in our future reviews. All methods are still the same for all tests.
    Performance Testing – Synthetic

    We check to see how motherboard makers tune their default BIOS settings and see how it impacts temperatures and power consumption. The system is left to idle for 30 minutes before readings are taken and load data is taken 30 minutes while AIDA64 System Stability Test is running. Power readings are taken for the entire system from the socket.
    At a glance: With little data on the charts, there’s not much to compare with so we’re leaving both boards in there for relative comparison as for now. As we can see the BIOSTAR Z97X GAMING operates cooler and consumes less power than the other board, the reason is that the ASUS board particularly consumes more power which translates to more heat during load where the BIOSTAR one drops to a stable, lower voltage threshold hence its lower temp and power figures.


    OC’ing at a glance: As with the other BIOSTAR board, we still want their BIOS to mature. Still, for experienced overclockers the control are simple enough to grasp but for those just starting out or want to fiddle around it has a learning curve to get accustomed to how BIOSTAR names its overclocking options. For the most part, the BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X handles overclocking pretty decently and provides us with a good overclocking experience. We feel the board can much more but at more than 1.27v our processor is already nearing boiling point.

    BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X Motherboard Review
    BIOSTAR is setting its sight on the gaming market and from what we’ve seen at COMPUTEX, the BIOSTAR isn’t going to stop any time soon with a whole new line of GAMING branded motherboards coming. Right now though, the first shot in this salvo is well-aimed with just the right amount of features to keep costs down but still make the board presentable and packed so as not to appear quite cutback. Let’s break down the score.
    Performance. Its tough to call with just one ATX board in our chart and only another board to compare to but base from our other reviews, the BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X isn’t holding back our system and is capable of handling an overclocked 4790K as well.
    Build Quality. While first impressions for us would easily lead us to conclude that this is a cheap attempt at giving the board a shroud, we have to keep in mind that most of the boards out right now with shrouds are way past the 300$ mark so people like me who’s used to seeing those kinds of products can easily dismiss this for a low-quality knockoff but keeping in mind the history of BIOSTAR, the company is really famous for being a budget alternative and its really surprising the company would attempt something like this and spend more on a shroud than other features. That said though, up close the shroud needs some work but overall the board is fine although the PCB feels lighter and a bit pliable than we’d like. Still, an overall ok effort from BIOSTAR and we hope they improve the design more in the future.
    Functionality. The BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X isn’t breaking world records in overclocking nor is it trying to be an all around gaming solution but as it is, it ticks all the right boxes for mainstream gamers like audio, networking and performance.
    Bundle. Gotta give extra props for the GAMING COMMANDER module and that USB driver card. Whoever thought of that deserves a medal.
    Value. And here is where it all boils down to: at $189 the BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X is easily one of BIOSTAR’s most expensive motherboards but is definitely still below what other brands charge for their mainstream and top-tier gaming motherboard. While the absence of SLI might be a dealbreaker for some, those looking for a single card setup for a simple build but want an affordable option that can grow with them, the BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X is an ok choice.
    Its easy to give BIOSTAR some credit for trying to play with the big boys in the gaming space and give the GAMING Z97X due respect but ultimately, it competes with many other boards in this price range some of which have a more refined feel to them. So ultimately the decision boils down to the looks, if this board really sets it off for you then by all means, get it. The BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X is a solid, well-rounded motherboard and despite BIOSTAR’s relationship with being a budget brand, its a really well-built board that can take a pounding. Check out my HWBOT

    The BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X is backed by a 3-year warranty. We give the BIOSTAR GAMING Z97X our B2G Silver Award. Albeit just a very good repeat performance.
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