ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

Feature-rich Mini-ITX board tends to be priced on the high side but this is not the case for ECS’s Mini-ITX offering.

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

Right from the packaging, the ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 looks stunning. Even from the back of the packaging, you pretty much know what you’re getting in this board ….. except the looks! 😀 The packaging is so small, there’s barely enough space to showcase the board itself. No worries, that’s why goldfries is here.

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

Out of the box, the board seems like nothing out of the ordinary. Upon closing scrutiny, the board is quite different from the may Mini-ITX boards I used through the years.

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

For a start, the SATA ports and the connector panels are placed close to the I/O panel, with a lone CPU12V socket placed quite nearby but not anywhere near the ATX connector.

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

On the other corner lies the ATX connector, which is quite unusual as most designs would have the CPU12V and ATX connectors placed nearby. Right below the ATX connector is the M.2 expansion slot.

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

With all SATA ports, front panel connectors and whatever else out of the way, the DIMM slots are placed right at the edge of the board.

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

As you can see, there’s no other connectors around the PCI-E and DIMM slots. It’s just clear all the way.

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

Right next to the PSU are the Hybrid 5-phase power delivery with high-quality VRMs.

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

Lastly, the I/O panels – nothing to complain about. It looks really good.

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

More details at the official product page.

User Experience

Now ECS hasn’t been the best when it comes to great looking UI. If you’ve used brands like ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI, you’ll probably feel that ECS has quite some work to do when it comes to a polished interface. Now that’s not to say it’s not good, it just lacks the beauty. 🙂

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

Being an overclocker, it’s natural for me to make a beeline to the overclocking section. It’s called M.I.B. X but it’s nothing releted to the Will Smith movie so you won’t lose your memory here.

Check out the interface of the UEFI.

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE Mini-ITX Z97 Motherboard Review

I’m not the most picky of overclockers but for what it’s worth, there’s more than enough options for me to tweak around with. It might not be as elaborate as the dedicated overclocking boards of other brands that costs a lot more but I think what you get here is pretty neat.

I only wish ECS would include a screen cap function on the UEFI.

With just a little tweaking, I managed to overclock my Core i5-4670K to the usual 4.3Ghz speed with ease.

The Verdict

Retailing at just around USD 100, the ECS L337 Gaming Z97I-DRONE is a board with good feature set and innovative component placement, a Mini-ITX board that’s certainly worth consideration.

goldfries recommended

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