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EVGA Z87 Stinger ITX Motherboard Review


Well-known member
Oct 24, 2007


In a rapidly expanding mini-ITX market, gamers looking for a feature-packed motherboard have been historically left with very few capable options. In the last year or so, the likes of ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI have expanded their offerings with some legitimately equipped models that in some cases exceed many mATX and ATX boards’ capabilities. The Z87 Stinger has been catapulted into the fray with EVGA hoping it will steal some of their competitors’ thunder in what was once a dormant back-end segment. In many ways it met expectations and provided a few pleasant surprises along the way but within the current competitive landscape, a “par for the course” motherboard may not cut it anymore.

When all of its various elements are taken as a whole, EVGA’s Z87 Stinger is a well-rounded salvo fired across the bow of options like ASUS’ Maximus VI Impact, building upon many of the lessons learned with the Z77 Stinger. It offers a relatively good layout, a long list of features and irons out many of the stability foibles from the previous generation. The BIOS in particular has undergone a drastic shift from a confusing mess to very good UEFI interface that is quite user-friendly once you get past its eccentricities.

Unfortunately, in the $200 price point the Stinger plays in, it ultimately falls short. Only part of this is due to EVGA’s design decisions while most of the blame can be placed squarely on the competition’s shoulders, who have brought their mini-ITX motherboards to a whole new level. The best example of this trend is the Maximus VI Impact which offers more overclocking headroom (at least with our processors), a life-saving recovery mode, a massive software suite, better connectivity and an excellent audio solution in the form of ASUS’ SupremeFX Impact card. Meanwhile it retails for $220 or the exact same price as EVGA’s Stinger.

The Z87 Stinger’s shortcomings are more than skin deep though. While it may not have the wireless capabilities, useful software suite or audio fidelity of the Impact, dialing in an overclock certainly wasn’t easy. We’re relatively late in the Z87 product cycle, which makes this board’s struggles with stability and OS corruption when overclocking all that much more worrying.

Actually squeezing more performance out of the Stinger wasn’t easy but we can’t hold that against a motherboard. In many ways, today’s approach to overclocking via novice-friendly methods is…well, boring for many enthusiasts. While it may not be appealing for the set it and forget it crowd, there’s something to say about fine-tuning to get just the right clock speeds out of EVGA’s Stinger. Is that a good thing in this case? Yes and no. On one hand it brings us back to the DFI days, when picky motherboards and processors went hand in hand and achieving a high overclock was treated as a personal accomplishment. However, taking the frustration out of this process is also necessary and neither E-LEET nor the BIOS throw novices enough of a lifeline. As a matter of fact, E-LEET is simply under-equipped when compared against the powerful software overclocking solutions nearly every other manufacturer.

All in all the Z87 Stinger is a solid effort which offers a good balance of features and overclocking options but with the competition moving forward at light speed it simply feels half a generation behind the technological curve. There are many encouraging signs here but if EVGA has any hope of competing when Z97 is launched, they need to offer competitive solutions on every front; that goes for BIOS maturity, a robust software suite and pricing.
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