Today Taiwanese motherboard maker Biostar is introducing their Hi-Fi Z97WE a socket LGA1150 motherboard based on Intel’s Z97 chipset. The headlining feature of this high-end ATX form factor offering is its Hi-Fi audio technology. Since about the time of AMD’s FM2+ motherboard launch Hi-Fi audio has become an increasingly important feature that motherboard makers are using to differentiate their products from one another. Biostar’s Hi-Fi implementation isolates the audio circuitry from the rest of the motherboard to minimize the potential for interference. Biostar then doubles down on this commitment to quality by adding an on-board amplifier.
The other really neat feature on Biostar’s Hi-Fi Z97WE is the dual Gigabit LAN system. The Ethernet controller supports 10/100/1000/2000 Mb transfer modes thanks to the controller’s teaming mode. In teaming mode the two 1 Gb ports work together to emulate a single 2 Gb port. Additionally Biostar’s controller supports load balancing when the two Ethernet ports aren’t being chained together. There’s also failover support, so if one port was fried by a surge then the controller would automatically switch over to the second Ethernet port.
The Hi-Fi Z97WE supports up to 32 GB of DDR3 using four DIMMs at speeds of up to 2800Mhz through overclocking. There is also 2K and 4K video output over HDMI, USB 3.0, and the PCI-E-based M.2 interface. Of course all of Intel’s chipset based features like Smart Response technology, Rapid Storage technology, and Smart Connect technology are on this board.
Aesthetically the Hi-Fi Z97WE is a decent, if a bit 1970’s, looking motherboard. It has a black PCB with alternating yellow and black slots. The heatsinks are bronze color and a have a good physical design. A yellow line highlights the isolation of the audio circuits on the motherboard. There’s also an error code reader and power/reset buttons which are basically standard features on motherboards of this caliber. The back panel I/O select is surprisingly Spartan with only six USB ports, a PS/2 port, three video outs, and a block of audio ports. The slot layout is good, with the two PCI-E x16 slot placed three slots apart.
Overall Biostar’s Hi-Fi Z97WE looks like a solid motherboard with excellent audio and networking capabilities. While it wouldn’t make a bad motherboard for a gaming system, it’s clear that this motherboard is aimed more at the workstation market than anywhere else. Biostar has produced what looks to be an excellent offering to welcome the new chips coming in the Devil’s Canyon refresh of Intel’s Haswell line-up.S|A
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