Performance Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: If you perused all of the benchmark scores on the previous pages, you’ll know that the new Z97 chipset, and by extension, all of the motherboards we tested here, offered similar, though ever-so-slightly better performance than the older Z87 Express. There were only a few percentage points here and there that separated all of these boards in each test though; for all intents and purposes they offer similar performance. We should point out, however, that overall system performance will likely improve when using a higher-bandwidth M.2 SSD—unfortunately, we did not have one on hand for testing.
In terms of their feature-sets, however, there is plenty to differentiate these products, and that’s reflected in their pricing too. As of today, pricing for the five boards we tested here is as follows:
- Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK - $379
- Gigabyte GA-Z97X-SOC Force - $209
- Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H - $189
- EVGA Z97 Classified - $379
- MSI Z97 Gaming 7 - $189
The EVGA Classified and Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK are the highest-priced boards in the group by far. Both of these boards are loaded with features and place a heavy emphasis on quality and stability, which is part of the reason for their higher prices, though Gigabyte’s offering includes more features overall and is burned in for a week before hitting store shelves. EVGA’s board, however, is clearly targeted at extreme overclockers, as evidenced by its massive heatsinks, voltage checkpoints, 8-layer PCB, and beefed up power array.
Conversely, the MSI Z97 Gaming 7 and Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H are the least expensive of the boards we tested. The GA-Z97X-UD5H isn’t quite as over the top as its siblings, and its bundle is rather basic in light of the competition, but it is a solid board that should serve users well. In comparison, the Z97 Gaming 7 seems like a relative bargain. The MSI board is geared for gamers, offers more features, it has a far more generous bundle, and it looks pretty awesome too.
Right in the sweet spot of this group is the Gigabyte GA-Z97X-SOC Force. This board has an absolute ton of cool features for overclockers, it includes plenty of useful accessories (like the OC Brace), and it looks the part as well. If you’re looking for a step up from more mainstream Z97 based motherboards, but can’t justify the cost of the higher-priced flagship boards, the Gigabyte GA-Z97X-SOC Force is a solid option.
| Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H
EVGA Z97 Classified
GA-Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK
| MSI Z97 Gaming 7