Overclocking and Conclusion
To give a feel for the overclocking performance potential of the Z97-PK board, we attempted to push it to known CPU-supported performance parameters with minimal tweaking. We were easily able to get the board running stable for over 4hrs at a 4.7GHz CPU speed, a 2400MHz memory speed, and a 4.0GHz ring bus speed with a 100MHz base clock. Like other ECS Intel Z97 boards we've tested though, the system would not stabilize with a base clock any higher than 100MHz. System stability was tested running the AIDA64 stability test in conjunction with EVGA's OC Scanner X graphical benchmark running at 1280×1024 resolution and 8x MSAA in stress test mode. Note that 16GB (2 x 8GB) of Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3-2400 memory modules were used for the overclocking tests.
Note that this is is meant only as a quick preview of the board's performance potential. With more time to tweak the settings to a greater extent, pushing to a higher base clock and ring bus speed may have been achievable, in addition to an overnight stability run without issue.
The Z97-PK may be housed in a compact form factor, but its performance does not show it. The board performs well against other full-sized Intel Z97 boards without the hefty price tag associated with some of them. Overclocking was an exercise in simplicity with this board as well with it hitting the expected speeds seamlessly.
With their Z97 product release, ECS seemed to have upped their game with a renewed focus on affordable high-performance motherboards. The Z97-PK motherboard is a shining example of this trend. While it doesn't include a lot of the bells and whistles that many of the more costly boards feature, the Z97-PK houses all the features you'd need in its micro-ATX form factor size. It may not look like much with its brown PCB, but its performance more than makes up for any aesthetic shortcomings. The board performed on par with other Z97-based boards without a hitch, proving that ECS' heat-sink-less four channel VRM design is more than enough to power an enthusiast board. Further proof of this comes with the overclocking results with the only challenge encountered when attempting to push the base clock. However, this issue was also encountered on the Z97-Machine board which does feature an elaborate VRM heat sink, further proving the design prowess exhibited in the Z97-PK.
- Stock performance
- Overclocking potential
- Board layout and design
- Motherboard manual details and quality
- UEFI BIOS design and usability
- Quality of included power circuitry
- CMOS battery placement
- Lack of integrated SATA-Express or M.2 ports
- Inability to push board to higher than 100MHz base clock