For a board that overclocks, comes with WIFI/WIDI/Bluetooth, Killer LAN and SoundBlaster Audio it's hard to beat at $179. There are other enthusiast boards that are more expensive and you would need to look at the key features to see if there were any deal breakers but the vast majority of gamers should be well satisfied with the Z97N-Gaming 5 and the money saved could be the difference between a good graphics card an even better one. We've included a list of Z79 Mini ITX boards below for comparison - please note that these boards all use the Z79 overclocking capable chipset but have various differences in 'bells and whistles' so these are not all equal in features but it is a surprise to see the Gigabyte Gaming board as the least expensive Z97 option in the Mini ITX form factor.
- ASRock Z97M-ITX/ac $155
- Gigabyte Z97N Gaming 5 $179
- ASUS Z97I-PLUS $189
- MSI Z97I Gaming AC $249
- ASUS Maximus VII Impact $319
If you are building a 'cheap' mini ITX rig and not overclocking, the Z97N-Gaming 5 might be overkill. Intel 'H' and 'B'series mini-ITX boards that don't allow overclocking can be found between $75 and $139 but I haven't seen any of these boards in the lower chipset range that feature an improved audio or Killer LAN solution.
Working with the Gigabyte Z97N-Gaming 5 has been a lot of fun and it is great value. After 2 months, I haven't found myself wanting any feature that isn't included nor have I identified any shortcuts taken to keep the price down. This is a great LAN gaming board without any compromises.
If you are considering a mini-ITX gaming build with room to overclock then this should be on your short list - if you are on a budget then the Z97N-Gaming 5 should be at the top of that short list. The layout works well and the UEFI is intuitive so installation and setup are covered. We didn't have any issues or complaints with drivers or utilities and our gaming experience was great.
This is a board that I could afford to use in a second build for LANs and my lounge room or bite the bullet and downsize to it for my main rig.
|Gigabyte Z97N-Gaming 5|
Very competitive price