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Gigabyte Z97N-WIFI Rev 1.0 mini-ITX Motherboard Review

  1. Introduction
  2. Packaging and Specification
  3. Motherboard Layout Overview
  4. Components Overview
  5. CPU Cooler and GPU clearance
  6. BIOS Layout
  7. Test Bench and Testing Methodology
  8. Futuremark Benchmarks
  9. Memory Benchmarks
  10. USB 3.0 Benchmark
  11. SATA III Performance Test
  12. LAN Performance Test
  13. Boot Load Test
  14. Conclusion
  15. Online Purchase Links
  16. View All


Managing to put a lot of features wouldn’t mean anything if CPU coolers and GPUs would block them from ever being used.

Even if you plan on using a tower CPU cooler like the NH-U12S, the clearance is impressive for a miniITX. But I used a Noctua NH-U14S to give a better idea of how much clearance the motherboard provides.

I wish they gave more thought when they designed Gigabyte Z97X SOC, an ATX motherboard which barely has any clearance between the air CPU cooler and the first PCIe x16 slot which had to be left vacant. Just make sure that you connect the SATA cables on the motherboard and then install the CPU tower, in case you need extra space for your hands. Install the motherboard on the case, then the front panel connectors, 24 pin ATX and 4 pin connectors, the USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 cables, front panel headers- and then the GPU.

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The problem is not the clearance that the motherboard provides, but rather the natural space restrictions you’ll have to deal with when installing the motherboard inside a mini-ITX case.  The thought behind this motherboard layout is brilliant! That’s how motherboard layout should be made, and not just to keep open test bench users happy. HTPC users, Gamers and hardware enthusiasts who need mini rigs- these are the majority of your buyers. The ones who put a motherboard inside a case.

Dual fan air cooler setup with NH-U14S will be an obstacle for the first DIMM slot, but that shouldn’t be an issue with NH-U14S and pull fan setup towards the rear I/O, or NH-U12S because of the slim profile it provides to ensure maximum compatibility with the DIMM slots. Noctua also provides a compatibility list with all motherboards, including the Z97N WiFi.

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