The ECZ Z97I DRONE follows a Mini ITX form factor, that would be 170mm X 170mm). The motherboard is placed in the L33t Gaming series and is the premium product within this range.
Included with the motherboard are the regulars including; manuals, driver CDs, SATA cables and a rear IO plate. This motherboard lacks Bluetooth and WIFI though.
- CPU support: 4th Gen Intel Core / Pentium / Celeron processors
- Chipset: Intel Z97 Express Chipset
- Intel Gigabit Ethernet
- Storage: 5x SATA 6Gb/s, 1x M.2 for WIFI module (optional purchase)
- Connectivity: 1x PCI-E 3.0
- 4x USB 3.0 / 4x USB 2.0 supported through rear panel
- 8-channel Audio ALC1150 Realtek
Well look at that; simple, small and decent looking. And really, as powerful as any high-end Core i7 quad core setup. Included in the bundle is the motherboard and gear like sata cables etc.
The I/O back panel reveals four USB 2.0 ports (black) with another four USB 3.0 ports. A Realtek ALC1150 high definition audio codec is the source for audio and we spot one 10/100/1000 Ethernet jack (Intel). There is no PS/2 combo port that can be used for either a keyboard or a mouse, optical SPDIF in/out port and six audio jacks.
Then monitor connectors wise:
- 1 x DisplayPort with max. resolution up to 4096×2160@24Hz, 24bpp/ 3840×1600@60Hz, 24bpp
- 1 x HDMI port with max. resolution up to 4096×2160@24Hz, 24bpp/2560×1600@60Hz, 24bpp/ 1920×1080@60Hz, 36bps.
- 1 X DVI port
The integrated audio comes from Realtek ALC1150. And check that, one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot.
- 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, (supports x16)
Too bad the rear IO connectors aren’t colored black, that would have killed this motherboard with some moar awesomeness.
The Z97I DRONE actually comes with one 8 power connector, we spot five phases / CPU Digital Power Design. Allow me to copy and paste some marketing gobble:
1. HYBRID DIGITAL PWM
Hybrid Digital 5-Phase PWM Designed to manage microprocessor core and memory voltage regulator with auto phase shedding for easy setting, high system flexibility and overclocking applications.
2. ICY CHOKES
1.5X greater stability offering 50° wider temperature range and reducing heat by 13% more than standard ferrite chokes, even under full loading operations
3. Dual Advanced MOSFET
Exclusive Dual Advanced MOSFETs providing up to 90% power efficiency, which allows for extreme heat dissipation with the optimal combination of fast switching, high efficient power conversion and low on-resistance
4. EXCLUSIVE HEATSINK DESIGN
L337 heatsink offers extreme cooling and heat dissipation of up to 10% more, and the style design represents the architectural homage of L337 spirit
5. SUPERIOR JAPANESE CAPS
Ultra long lifespan Nichicon Japanese Caps delivering the highest standard of stability, reliability and longevity to fulfill hard-core gamers’ demand and over-clocking application
SATA ports — ECS equipped the board with a good five SATA3 ports and one mini M.2 PCI-E slot, but that is reserved for a WIFI module.
- 4x SATA 6Gb/s ports (SATA1~6)
- 1x M.2 port (for optional WIFI/Bluetooth)
The Z97I DRONE has a 5 Phase Digital Power Design. The board comes with two DIMM slots that offer support for dual-channel DDR3 memory up to even 3000 MHz (OC). You can install a maximum of 16 GB in total. XMP is supported.
If you chuck the motherboard full with A-grader components, it’ll be as fast as any high-end system. It has decent audio, you can install enthusiast memory up-to 16GB and heck, even use a Core i7 4770K/4790K and overclock a little as well. With the one Gen 3.0 PCI Express slot you can install an enthusiast class graphics card as well, we’ll use a GeForce GTX 780 Ti for example.
Here you can see the PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot. Just drop your preferred graphics cards in there and you will have it up and running at full-speed in no time.
This is a bit of a miss, this is a fully functional M.2. slot, just the mini-me version of it. It is too small to fit a regular M.2. SSD, yet functions as slot for an optional WIFI module that you will not be able to purchase anywhere. ECS should have fitted this slot with that module, period.
The backside here, 17x17cm folks. Good to see is that ECS now uses a dark black coating for its PCB. It looks so much better opposed to the almost beige color used in the past.
And yeah, we’ll equip this 125 USD Mini ITX motherboard with a Core i7 4770K, 2133 MHz Corsair Dominator memory (2x8GB), we’ll water-cool the processor and in a later stage mount a GeForce GTX 780 Ti on there. Everything of course loads from an SSD. This is a fully fetched and powerful PC my friend