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EVGA Z77 Stinger review

A mini motherboard with a sting in the tail?

Our Verdict

For

  • Good overclocking performance
  • Digital display is useful
  • Well designed

Against

  • Bettered by cheaper competitors
  • Lack of performance at stock speeds

There is something we find eminently pleasing about unwrapping a new mini-ITX motherboard, especially one that comes as highly specced as EVGA's Z77 Stinger.

The board is a fine example of motherboard aesthetics, all black PCB and matte-finish component heatsinks. It's an impressive board for the enthusiast mini PC builder too, with on-board power and reset switches for easy testing.

The most effective feature, though, is the digital display. Ordinarily, this is used for displaying POST codes for easy debugging of a build, but once the OS is successfully loaded, it becomes irrelevant.

On the Stinger though, once it's run through the codes, the display switches over to showing you the real-time CPU temperature. When it's buried in among your PC's innards it's not that exciting, but during the building, testing and overclocking process it can be invaluable - and is definitely a welcome enthusiast touch.

Stock clock drops

The difficulty is that the Z77 Stinger is up against some rather serious competition in the form of the similarly well-specced Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe and the more budget-oriented ASRock Z77E-ITX.

The Asus board has been out for a good while now and, if we're honest, it's the best ITX mobo we've tested to date. The combination of stock-clocked gaming performance and overclocking potential makes it a perfect match for a wee gaming rig.

That's partly where the Stinger falls short: at stock CPU speeds it's well off the pace of the Asus board in terms of both gaming performance and standard CPU prowess. Where it does show some impressive chops is in the amount of extra pace you can squeeze out of the clocks on the CPU. We managed to get the Stinger running stably up to 4.7GHz, whereas the Asus board tapped out at 4.64GHz.

Technical analysis

General CPU and gaming performance is where the Z77 Stinger falls down against the competition, and even impressive overclocking can't push it ahead of the other mini-ITX boards we've tested. It could be a board worth revisiting though, if EVGA manages any improvements with future BIOS tweaking.

Benchmarks

CPU rendering performance
Cinebench R11.5: Index score: Higher is better

EVGA Z77 STINGER: 7.54
ASUS P8Z77-I DELUXE: 7.9
ASROCK Z77E-ITX: 7.49

CPU gaming performance
Batman: Arkham City@ FPS: Higher is better

EVGA Z77 STINGER: 149
ASUS P8Z77-L DELUXE: 184
ASROCK Z77E-ITX: 181

CPU overclocking performance
I7-3770K: GHZ: Higher is better

EVGA Z77 STINGER: 4.7
ASUS P8Z77-I DELUXE: 4.64
ASROCK Z77E-ITX: 4.5

Verdict

Sadly for EVGA though, even at that speed the Cinebench scores were slower than the P8Z77-I Deluxe at its lower top-end clock speed. That's rather disappointing considering the Asus mobo has been around for so long it's cheaper than this wee EVGA board.

Comparing the Stinger with the £117 (about AU$185, US$175) ASRock board makes even more depressing reading for EVGA. Its stock performance is on par with the Stinger, and it manages better gaming performance too.

However, thanks to the ASRock board's budget bent and the Stinger's more impressive componentry, the EVGA boasts a better standard of overclocking. That comparative lack of performance at stock speeds lets the Stinger down, however, especially given the relatively premium price point. It almost feels like it could've done with a bit longer on the EVGA test benches.

There's a great mini motherboard in there somewhere, and maybe a few BIOS tweaks down the line will unlock it. That said, considering it's a mini-ITX board, it's still an impressive offering. It's just that other companies have already done it better.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelZ77 Express
Onboard VideoCPU Dependent Video
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots1
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket H2 LGA-1155
Brand NameEVGA
Form FactorMini ITX
Processor SupportedCore i5, Core i7, Core i3
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory16 GB
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots2
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces4
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots2
eSATAYes
HDMIYes
Number of Network (RJ-45) Ports1
Network (RJ-45)Yes
DisplayPortYes
Total Number of USB Ports6
Number of USB 3.0 Ports4
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports6
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports4
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 3.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots2
Memory Form FactorDIMM
Number of eSATA Ports2
Width170.2 mm
Depth170.2 mm
ManufacturerEVGA Corporation
Product ModelZ77 Stinger
Product NameZ77 Stinger Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300, Serial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part Number111-IB-E692-KR
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.evga.com
Marketing Information

They say big things come in small packages. They are right. The EVGA Z77 Stinger has arrived and this board brings enthusiast features, overclocking and performance, to a mITX form factor. Features like native PCI-E 3.0, SATA 6G and USB 3.0 are included here, along with an Intel Gigabit Network controller, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI and more!

EVGA knows that power is critical for a performance board, no compromises were made because of the size. The EVGA Z77 mITX features 7+1 power phases, complete with POSCAP and Solid State capacitors delivering clean, stable power to your CPU for maximum over clocking support.

Don't let the small size fool you, the EVGA Z77 Stinger has plenty of storage options. Native USB 3.0 support delivers super speed performance for next generation storage devices, and native SATA 6G enables maximum performance on the latest solid-state and mechanical storage drives.

Package Contents
  • Z77 Stinger Desktop Motherboard
  • 1 x SATA 3G Data Cable
  • 1 x SATA 6G Data Cable
  • Visual Installation Guide
  • Manual
  • Rear Case I/O Panel
  • EVGA Driver Installation Disc with EVGA E-Left
Limited Warranty3 Year