The Z97-PK is a budget board, priced to match the Intel Pentium G3258 processor.
Just how good is this budget board?
For a start, the board is very simple as it is. Don’t be fooled by the box design though, you are NOT getting an Intel Pentium G3258 in the package. 🙂 What they’re trying to tell you is that this board was made with the Intel Pentium G3258 in mind.
I’ve reviewed many Intel boards and if you’re a regular here, you’ll notice that the ECS Z97-PK does look bare around the processor socket. Not a single heatsink in sight.
And if you look at the corner near the I/O ports, the CPU12V requires only 4-pin instead of the usual 8-pin. Looks like this is not the board for you to pump a lot of voltage to the processor.
The board comes with 4 DIMM slots, supporting up to 32GB of RAM.
Here’s the front corner. 2 forward facing SATA ports and 4 upward facing ones, along with a USB 3.0 front panel connector and of course if you’ll look further towards the top of the picture you’ll see a tiny heatsink. One thing good about it is that it maximizes the surface area by being in such form.
The board supports CFX / SLI (multi graphic card) configuration but the second PCI-E x16 lane runs at only x4 when in such mode, and that will result in non-optimal performance as the bandwidth is limited. Take note also that there’s a “missing” PCI-E slot.
As for the I/O panels – they’re sufficient for most users out there.
And here’s the package content.
Other notable features of this product
– 2-Way multi-graphics solution
– Supports 3 independent displays
– Supports IntelÂ® K Series unlock CPU
– Applied 100% Solid capacitor design to maximize component reliability
– ECS Durathon Technology ensure the stability, reliability and performance of system. (Triple Density PCB; Extreme Temp Resistance; 1.5K Marathon Test; Superior Solid CAPs)
– ESD Protection prevents computers from electrostatic discharge damage to enhance its durability and lifespan
– Supports ECS EZ BIOS for tweaking BIOS in graphical user interface within a multi language environment
– ECS MIB III – A friendly interface for overclocking
– Microsoft Windows 8 Certified
– IntelÂ® 22nm 4th generation Multi-Core CPU support
– Intel Â® VRD 12.5 Ready
– Supports DirectXÂ® 11.1 to enhance graphical performance
– Supports ATIÂ® CrossFireXâ„¢ to expand your systemâ€™s graphics capabilities.
– Supports IntelÂ® HD Graphics, InTruâ„¢ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insiderâ„¢
– Supports HDMI 1.4a Technology ( resolution up to 1920X1200 ) and HDCP function
– Supports IntelÂ® Smart Response, Smart Connect and Rapid Start Technology
– ECS Intelligent EZ Utility : eBLU, eDLU, eSF
– Free Bundle: Norton Internet Security ,CyberLink PowerDVD, CyberLink PowerDirector 9, Muzee with trial version
More details at the official product page.
With a board that comes with a Z97 chip and with the box cover shouting the Intel Pentium G3258 – it’s pretty obvious that this board was made to overclock. 🙂 The first thing that surprised me was what I saw on the BIOS screen – the processor was running at 1.728 vcore! And this was after I had cleared the CMOS.
For those unfamiliar with overclocking, the ECS Z97-PK comes with presets for you to try. The Max Performance setting set my processor go at 4700Mhz, of which is impossible for the G3258 here. 😛 So I went on with manual overclocking.
Despite the rather ugly introduction screen, the EZ BIOS interface is pretty good. The wealth of tweakable settings are amazing, considering this is a budget board.
I did manage to overclock but despite my best settings, I wasn’t able to get the processor to stay on the full speed even on idle. The processor remains at 3.2Ghz (stock clock) on idle and goes into the overclocked speed once load is detected. The behavior was the same even when presets were used.
ECS Z97-PK retails at only $79.99 USD which is a very good price for an MATX board that comes with overclocking features. It comes with ECS’ EZ Charger for fast USB charging of devices (like your phone).
If you’re on a budget then this board looks great, just don’t expect them to be performers like their L337 Gaming range.