EVGA Z87 Stinger ITX Motherboard Review

Author: AkG
Date: April 22, 2014
Product Name: Stinger Z
Part Number: 111-HW-E872-KR
Warranty: 3 Years
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Included Software

While we are hesitant to use words like “suite” in the same sentence as the EVGA Z87 Stinger, the included software suite consists of three main programs, of which two are the generic stock applications which accompany any motherboard equipped with Creative’s Core3D audio chipset. Those are slim pickings considering the epic list of add-ons ASUS has included with their boards.

Naturally, SoundBlaster Pro Studio application has been included. This app boasts features like a full-band equalizer, noise reduction capabilities, and allows for the tweaking of individual channel volume levels. It’s certainly not unique but still welcome.

Creative’s excellent Scout Mode has also been rolled into this Core3D iteration. This enhances the soundstage for improved positional auditory cues in games. While a poor substitute for a multi-speaker surround sound configuration, when used in conjunction with a pair of good headphones it has the capability to provide a noticeable advantage that you would not normally get from ‘onboard’ sound solutions.

As the blurb on the main screen of the Creative Alchemy application suggests, the it restores hardware accelerated audio so that you can enjoy EAX and 3D audio effects while playing DirectSound3D games. Unlike the SoundBlaster Pro Studio this application will not merit much attention as it can radically change the audio of certain games - sometimes for the worse. However if you wish to hear your games in a 'different' way you may want to explore this simple program in greater detail.

The last program, EVGA’s E-LEET Tuning Utility X is the centerpiece of the Stinger’s Windows-based overclocking capabilities and roughly mirrors ASUS’ TPU OC Genie. It is a rather simple program that contains some rather interesting features. Not only does it have a customized version of CPU-Z but also offers additional tabs related to software overclocking.

We will get into this program in greater detail in the feature testing section but when compared against the competitors, it comes up short. There are no included overclocking presets, zero fan control abilities, and the included options in the overclocking tabs are extremely limited.

Even with the latest revision, some of the information it listed lacked fine-grain detail. Take for example the Bus Speed and Multiplier section. While CPU-Z would state the processor’s correct Multiplier Range and Bus Speed, the latter of which would vary from 100.10 - 100.18Mhz, E-LEET would only list "8-80" for the multiplier and always list a flat "100.00Mhz" for the bus speed. We assume a listing of '80' for our 4770K is simply a bug in the program and that the Bus Speed section does not represent a true speed but rather simply lists what it is supposed to be.

Truth be told, the most obvious omission from E-LEET are the custom fan tuning profile abilities found on other comparatively price boards. This is something many enthusiasts will want to control. There isn’t even a 'Boot to BIOS' application, a staple addition to current-generation offerings which makes access to the BIOS so much more streamlined. The lack of such abilities also makes implementing Windows 8 and the Stinger's Fast Boot abilities contraindicated until you are 100% confident in an overclock. EVGA needs to spend more time and effort on their software suite if they expect consumers to pay their premium asking price.

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