Biostar's Gaming Z97X mobo adopts USB 3.1, shuns Type-C port

— 10:09 AM on February 9, 2015

A few weeks after teasing it on Facebook, Biostar has formally revealed its first motherboard with USB 3.1. Here's the Gaming Z97X in all its glory:

Source: Biostar

USB 3.1 connectivity is provided by an ASMedia ASM1142 controller with dual ports. Those ports share 1GB/s of PCIe bandwidth from the host, likely via dual Gen2 lanes in the chipset. (The ASMedia chip can also be connected to a single Gen3 lane, a configuration that may be popular on next-gen Intel boards.)

The ASMedia controller fuels standard Type-A ports instead of reversible Type-C ones. Backward compatibility with existing hardware apparently took precedence over supporting the next-gen connector. Both USB 3.1 ports are located in the rear cluster, which is a little surprising given the board's front-panel sidekick.

The Gaming Commander unit pictured above slides into a standard 5.25" optical bay. Inside, a USB DAC provides an alternative to the motherboard's integrated audio. There are a few buttons associated with the DAC, plus multi-colored LEDs tied to CPU, memory, and graphics temperatures. This would have been a great spot to sneak in some Type-C USB 3.1 goodness.

The rest of the Gaming Z97X is pretty standard fare. Three PCIe x16 slots hang off the CPU, M.2 and SATA Express connectors branch off the chipset, and "gaming armor" accents cover large chunks of the board. The M.2 slot is hidden under the armor between the CPU socket and the closest PCIe x16 slot, which hardly seems ideal from a thermal perspective. Let's hope some of those extraneous pieces can be removed.

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