Overall Score 4.2  

Introduction

Another Z97 Chipset motherboard is on the bench, and it’s another Gigabyte. The Z97 Chipset by Intel is probably the mainstay of most mainstream, desktop and gamers on a wide ranging budget. It was more a case of evolution than revolution over the Z87, refinement over sweeping changes.

We do like the Intel Z97 Chipset in the Hardwareslave offices, we have servers, desktops and gaming PC’s powering our IT and tech fixes every day. We are not going to be down on AMD, we love them too, but mainly for their graphics these days.

Anyway, on with today’s review, the Gigabyte Z97M-DS3H Motherboard, and a Micro-ATX version of the Z97 Chipset. Not aimed at the gaming market the Z97M-DS3H looks to be a nicely featured standard motherboard.

Gigabyte describe this motherboard as,

GIGABYTE 9 Series motherboards support the latest 4th & 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors, bringing together a unique blend of features and technologies that offer the absolute ultimate platform for your next PC build. GIGABYTE 9 Series motherboards come equipped with a gold plated CPU socket, which means that enthusiasts can enjoy absolute reliability and longevity for the CPU socket overtime, without having any concerns about corroded pins and bad contacts. GIGABYTE 9 Series motherboards raise the bar in terms of protecting your system, providing advanced electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection for both your Ethernet LAN and USB ports, both common sources of ESD-related failures. 

The Z97 is well known, with chipset diagrams all over the web, we’ll skip that part and cut to Gigabyte’s offering.

  • Supports 4th and 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • HD Audio support
  • Highly efficient MOSFET design
  • LAN with high ESD Protection
  • GIGABYTE LAN Optimizer
  • Long lifespan Durable Solid caps
  • APP Center including EasyTune™ and Cloud Station™ utilities
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™

It has all the standard features, though high end audio, gamer LAN or Wi-Fi and a fancy gamer’s heatsink and fan it doesn’t.

Specifications 
CPUIntel Core i7/i5/i3 Pentium / Celeron processors in the LGA1150 package
ChipsetIntel® Z97 Express Chipset
Memory2 x DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory (XMP)
Dual channel memory architecture
Support for DDR3 between 1333 and 3100 (O.C.) MHz memory modules
Support for non-ECC memory modules
On-board Graphics1 x D-Sub port, supporting a maximum resolution of [email protected]
1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of [email protected]
* The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter
1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of [email protected] or [email protected]
* Support for HDMI 1.4a version.
Support for up to three displays at the same time
Maximum shared memory of 512MB
AudioRealtek® ALC887 codec
High Definition Audio
2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
LANRealtek® GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCI Express 3.0 standard)
2 x PCI Express x1 slots (PCI Express 2.0 standard)
Storage Interface6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
USB6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)
Internal I/O Connectors1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU fan header
1 x system fan header
1 x front panel header
1 x front panel audio header
1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
1 x serial port header
1 x parallel port header
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
Back Panel Connectors1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
1 x D-Sub port
1 x DVI-D port
1 x HDMI port
4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x RJ-45 port
3 x audio jacks (Line In, Line Out, Mic In)
I/O ControlleriTE I/O Controller Chip

There are plenty of connectivity options with this mATX motherboard including on-board graphics, lots of USB and a decent amount of SATA connections.

Product Shots

There is not much in the box, and it’s a little unusually set out with the SATA cable presented on top. Instructions manual, CD, SATA cable and I/O Shield is all you get, other than the motherboard. We would normally expect to see a couple of back panel I/O brackets, maybe?

Next, more pictures.

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