The Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE motherboard retails for an MSRP of $125. We found it at Newegg for $125 while it was on Amazon for well above MSRP at $180. In the UK we were not able to find the motherboard at any retailers as of yet, because this motherboard is very new to the stock channel, however, it should retail for around £85-95 between retailers based on the $125 MSRP. The motherboard comes with a 3 year manufacturer warranty with Biostar.
The Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE has been put through its paces in our motherboard tests and I think it’s fair to say it performs just as good as any other Z97 motherboard in the vast majority of tests, in fact in a lot of them it beat out many other Z97 motherboards particularly on CPU, memory and power consumption related tests. The noticeable areas where it wasn’t as good as the competition was in the audio department where it was just a slither behind the motherboards using the better (and more expensive) Realtek ALC 1150 codec. Yet it nearly matched those in quality showing how well Biostar have done to enhance and make the most of the fairly old ALC892 codec. The networking was also not as good as Intel and Killer NIC based Z97 motherboards, but the Realtek Gigabit solution is still competent and the fact Biostar offer you two of them with teaming support goes a long way to make up for the fact the Realtek NIC is about 10% slower than the competition.
This motherboard certainly isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. It doesn’t really have much in the way of software features, despite Biostar’s best efforts their software feels incredibly dated, incredibly basic and just a bit poor. The hardware and the value for money is where this motherboard does well, that’s if you can overlook the garish mix of random colours that makes up this motherboard’s design. At $125 this motherboard offers reasonably good value for money, especially if you’re looking for a dual gigabit motherboard – you won’t find another Z97 based one for this price. On that point alone this motherboard is worth considering. However, if you aren’t into dual LAN then there are a lot of motherboards out there in the same $110-130 price bracket that are better, or offer the same broad feature set for less money – just without the second ethernet port. Rival products in this price range offer things like SATA Express, Realtek ALC 1150 audio, Intel GBe LAN, better software packages and better aesthetics. The Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE is by no means a bad motherboard, it’s fairly good, I just think Biostar lack some of the finesse and quality of execution that is necessary in such a fiercely competitive motherboard market.
- Good value for money
- Dual Gigabit ports with teaming
- Onboard buttons and debug LED
- 10 phase VRM
- 3 year warranty
- Realtek Gigabit LAN doesn’t perform the best
- ALC 892 audio codec cannot match rival products using ALC 1150 that are similarly priced
- Colour scheme and aesthetics are garish and not very tastefully executed
- Software package is dated, basic and uninspiring
“Biostar’s Hi-Fi Z97WE is a good motherboard for anyone interested in building a HTPC or media based system that can take advantage of dual Gigabit LAN. On the whole this motherboard has solid performance and offers good value for money. However, in an increasingly competitive motherboard market this motherboard feels like it could do with some more finesse and sophistication to compete better with rival products.”
Thank you to Biostar for providing this review sample.