As far as value-orientated motherboards go, the Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE is a likeable product that delivers above average audio performance. The board’s general layout is smart and its overclocking ability is deceivingly competitive with other parts.
While the board’s stock performance is limited due to the lack of an MCT profile, even when XMP is enabled, it doesn’t take much tweaking to close the gap between competing parts. And when overclocking is put on the table, Biostar’s current flagship has no problem trading blows with competing boards from the likes of MSI and ASRock.
There are some performance issues though. Biostar sets a default base clock of 100.50MHz which skews all of the link clock speeds for components such as the memory. And then there’s the anomalous dysfunctional behaviour when our 2400MHz Corsair memory kit was installed, despite the modules working perfectly on every other board we have tested.
Board layout is generally very good, especially for users with many fans or two graphics cards. Spacing between the CPU socket and DIMM slots is tight, so we would recommend caution when using a large CPU cooler and tall memory modules. Likeability of the board’s colour scheme is heavily tied to individual preference – it’s not as straightforward as saying ‘that board looks great‘ as we can do with many competing parts, especially those from MSI’s Gaming series.
While the lack of SLI compatibility is disappointing, Biostar is targeting budget-constricted users who are likely to opt for a single graphics card. With that said, it does limit upgrade potential for Nvidia users. I think SLI certification would have been more valuable than an additional LAN chipset.
The UEFI is perfectly functional but its overall breadth and design are mediocre at best. Appearance of the interface is dated, even if the layout is inherently simplistic. Bundled software is a positive, with Biostar including its own basic network and audio control apps.
Priced at £94.34 from Ebuyer, Biostar’s Hi-Fi Z97WE is a likeable option at less than a hundred pounds. But there’s plenty of competition at just below the century mark, especially from the likes of MSI’s Z97S SLI PLUS and Gigabyte’s Z97X-SLI. While Biostar’s motherboard does do a number of things correctly, it also has its fair share of shortfalls – a number of which seems to point to quality and design issues.
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- Strong overclocking performance.
- Good audio system.
- Wise layout.
- Decent software package.
- CrossFire support.
- Didn’t work with our Corsair 2400MHz memory.
- UEFI functionality is limited and appearance is dated.
- No SLI support.
- 0.5MHz overshoot on default base clock skews linked speeds.
KitGuru says: If you’re looking for a low-cost, overclocking-capable motherboard with a strong audio configuration, Biostar’s Hi-Fi Z97WE is worth putting on your list of considerations.