The Supermicro C7Z370-CG-IW Motherboard Review: SM’s First Mini-ITX Gaming Board

Today we get an opportunity to look at a board from Supermicro’s consumer segment, SuperO. We will look at a Mini-ITX board designed for gaming in the SuperO C7Z370-CW-IW. This diminutive board includes Wi-Fi capabilities, USB 3.1 ports, dual M.2 slots, as well as RGB LED features we are used to seeing in a board designed for gaming, all in a Mini-ITX sized package.

SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW Overview
The board we have today is pegged to be a gaming motherboard and is of Mini-ITX size. Though just because it is small, not much is missing – the C7Z370-CG-IW includes both wired and wireless LAN (Intel and Realtek driven respectively), dual M.2 slots, four SATA ports, and a VRM capable of handling the CPU both stock and overclocked. With a lack of real estate compared to MicroATX or ATX boards, about the only thing missing here is the ability to SLI or Crossfire (only one PCIe slot), as well as the maximum amount of DRAM is 32GB since there are only two slots. Outside of that, there isn’t much missing and the C7Z370-CG-IW comes across as a well-rounded board, especially for its size.

We don’t expect to hear the term gaming associated with SuperMicro much as they stick to server boards for the most part. SuperO on the other hand (think of it like AORUS is to GIGABYTE) brings to the table whole systems, chassis, and motherboards which they say has server DNA under the surface but gaming features on the outside. SuperO has been a presence in the market since the Z87 chipset hit the scene a few years back. Since that time, they have brought out more motherboards in three different classes – Core Business (designed for high uptime), Core Gaming (focuses on essentials for professionals, gamers seeking a well-round option), and Professional Gaming (flagships of the SuperO line, latest features and performance) and have a seemingly well balanced set of SKUs covering multiple use scenarios. SuperO is hoping the trust they built in the server space continues to translate over to the consumer side as their board certification process is similar to what is used on the server level boards.

For the Z370 chipset, SuperO currently has two motherboards available, a full sized (ATX) C7Z370-CG-L, and the C7Z370-CG-IW we have for review here. The 200-series platform has a total of eight boards varying from the B250 and H270, up to the Z270 chipsets. I would gather as time goes on we will see more offerings covering their Professional Gaming and Core Business segments. For this review, we will be working with the only Mini-ITX board they have released in the C7Z370-CG-IW.

In our performance numbers, it is worth noting that in our shipping BIOS came an odd set of default parameters. The motherboard TDP limit was defaulting to 65W, perhaps because this is what the system engineers think is the suitable limit for a board of this size. No other manufacturer does this – if they have a smaller system that has a peak TDP, then this is listed in CPU support, not forced through default BIOS options. As a result, should any user want a 65W+ CPU in this board, then BIOS adjustments will have to be made.

The benchmark numbers when the TDP limit was lifted were as expected. Power consumption at idle for a smaller sized motherbroard was lower than the larger systems, however second-tier motherboard manufacturers often fail at metrics like POST time, and the CG-IW here takes around 10 seconds longer to POST than other Z370 boards from top-tier vendors. For most of the rest of the throughput benchmarks, the system was in the often within a percentage point of the top performing system, albeit in the bottom half of the stack.

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