Supermicro at CES 2018: The First Supero Mini-ITX Motherboardby Ian Cutress on January 22, 2018 4:00 PM EST
A few elements to Supermicro’s suite at CES were intriguing, one of which was the company’s first foray into a consumer mini-ITX motherboard. The C7Z370-CG-IW, based on Z370 and Intel’s 8th Generation Coffee Lake processors, is going up against several motherboard vendors with immense experience in this area, but Supermicro believes that it can add something different to the market.
Supermicro’s consumer, gaming focused brand is called ‘Supero’/’SuperO’, and the idea is that they are using the expertise from designing so many custom server systems over the years that the experience can translate into the consumer market. Supermicro is a big company, and so the company has put forward a few products for each major chipset the last few years. It has a couple of Z370 products out in the market, and this C7Z370-CG-IW is its first proper attempt at mini-ITX. Of course, the name doesn’t win awards: ‘C7’ is what is put on all the consumer boards, ‘CG’ is for consumer gaming, and ‘IW’ isn’t specified, but likely to mean ‘ITX-something’.
Normally with motherboards from companies with a server focus, one of the overriding visual feelings is that the boards are sparse with features, given that server boards are often built for specific machines rather than a general PC that could have any number of components. On something as small as a mini-ITX board however, there is little room, and the visual look of this board means it doesn’t stand out of the crowd like some OEM motherboards do.
The product manager for this board stated that it is using server grade power delivery (with what looks like a 4+2 or 5+1 arrangement), and features like reinforced DRAM and PCIe slots were a must when the board was designed. One thing that struck me is that SM has not fallen into the trap where some of the major consumer motherboard manufacturers did in their early mITX offerings: the 8-pin power is on the edge of the board which is good, the SATA ports are also on the edge, and not tucked in behind the DRAM, and the Wi-Fi chipset does not have cables winding around the board to the rear panel. Overall, this is (on visual inspection), already an interesting offering. To add in the mix, SM also has two M.2 slots: one just above the PCIe that can take advantage of the chipset heatsink, and another slot on the rear of the board.
The C7Z370-IW-CG is rated to take CPUs up to 120W (which covers the i7-8700K at a high all-core turbo), memory up to DDR4-3733 (which is high for a mini-ITX), and bundles dual video outputs, USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) ports, and Intel Ethernet along with the 802.11ac Wi-Fi card. There’s also the Realtek ALC1220 audio codec, and customizable RGB LEDs on board with an RGB header.
If there is a criticism on a first look, it is that the front panel header is right by the PCIe latch, and large GPUs will not like the standard paired cables that go with front panel switches. The audio codec front panel header is also awkwardly positioned for any GPU that has a back-plate. Ultimately it looks like mini-ITX focused GPUs would fit in quite well here, though some of the bigger standard GPUs might make things difficult if SM hasn’t bundled in an easier way to connect these cables.
We were told to expect this motherboard to be on sale shortly.
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CharonPDX - Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - linkConcur - I used "SuperO" server and workstation boards from the late '90s through the early '10s. Doesn't have squat to do with consumer. If anything, it historically has meant NON-consumer.
Tams80 - Friday, January 26, 2018 - linkAccording to their website, Supero any of their products derived from their server products. So all their consumer products.
It may well have been used differently in the past, but not now. They even have a dedicated site.
BedfordTim - Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - linkThe press release says it is a gaming board.
"These motherboards are designed for mainstream gamers or anyone who seeks a solid well-rounded board that focuses purely on providing the essential features at an affordable price."
timecop1818 - Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - link> The press release says it is a gaming board.
I wasn't questioning that its a "gamer" board. My comment was about this bit in the article:
> Supermicro’s consumer, gaming focused brand is called ‘Supero’/’SuperO’, and the idea is that they are using the expertise from designing so many custom server systems over the years that the experience can translate into the consumer market.
Which is clearly false, as all their server offerings had the SuperO logo on it for decades.
Bobsy - Monday, January 22, 2018 - link"‘IW’ isn’t specified, but likely to mean ‘ITX-something’."
I say 'ITX-wifi'.
Samus - Monday, January 22, 2018 - linkPossible Intel Wifi or Integrated Wifi.
Which brings me to...what is the NIC and WIFI controller this board uses?
MrSpadge - Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - link"ITX-workstation"?
kmi187 - Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - linkMy money is on MrSPadge :-)
edzieba - Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - link"If there is a criticism on a first look, it is that the front panel header is right by the PCIe latch"
Front panel connector appears to be in the top-right, just above its pinout labels (nice to have on the board).
Not bad, but I'd like to know if it supports PCIe Bifurcation, as that is becoming more and more popular for ITX builds and is available on many of their server boards. The m.2 mount above the chipset is also unfortunate given m.2 heatsinks have the same efficacy as ramsinks (look fancy, do nothing), but could add additional heat to the m.2 drive from the PCH. Also missed a trick with the SATA sockets: when both are vertical and next to each other it is a good idea to 'flip' one row, so that latching SATA cables will have the latches on the outside rather than one row nestling the latch inaccessibly in the middle.
DVSi - Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - linkI hope they succeed. They have the best all around z370 for the money on the market and no one notices because it doesn't have fancy leds or gimmicky marketing. There needs to be a solid no bs option on the market in mobos again.