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Z97 vs H97 - What is the Difference?

Written on May 11, 2014 by Matt Bach
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Table of Contents:
  1. Introduction
  2. Specifications
  3. Conclusion

Introduction

Looking for information on newer chipsets? We have multiple articles you may be interested in:

The Z97 and H97 chipset have recently been added to Intel's line of chipsets, replacing the previous Z87 and H87 chipsets. These new chipsets don't add much in the way of additional features (as we covered in our What is new in Z97 and H97 article), but they still have a couple of key ways in which they are different from each other. In this article we will take a look at the specifications for the Z97 and H97 chipsets and compare them to each other.

Specifications

   Z97 H97
Processor Support Haswell LGA1150
Graphics Support 1x16 or 2x8 or 1x8+2x4 1x16
Mem/DIMMs Per Channel 2/2 2/2
Intel RST12 Yes Yes
Intel Smart Response Technology Yes Yes
Small Business Advantage No No
USB Total (USB 3.0) 14(6) 14(6)
Total SATA (SATA 6Gb/s) 6(6) 6(6)
PCI-E 2.0* 8 8
PCI-E M.2 Support 1x2 1x2
CPU Overclocking Yes No

*In addition to the 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes from the CPU

From an official chipset perspective, there are only two differences between Z97 and H97 chipsets. The first is the fact that the Z97 chipset supports CPU overclocking, while the H97 chipset does not. Secondly, the Z97 chipset has the ability to split up the 16 PCI-E lanes from the CPU which allows for SLI/Crossfire video card configurations.

Both chipsets include support for PCI-E M.2 which is a relatively recent improvement to mSATA. Just like mSATA, M.2 allows for the connection of storage devices (like SSDs), except mSATA which used an existing PCI-E Mini Card slot, M.2 uses an entirely new physical connection. This redesign will allow storage manufacturers to be more efficient with their designs and let them to cram more total storage capacity into a smaller footprint.

In addition, M.2 allows for devices to be connected through either a SATA III 6Gb/s port or directly through the PCI-E bus. While most M.2 SSDs currently on the market connect through the SATA controller, future devices should bypass the SATA controller entirely and use the PCI-E bus instead. Theoretically, this should allow for transfer speeds up to 2GB/s compared to the current SATA III 6Gb/s specification which only has a peak of about 600MB/s

As far as their additional feature sets, Both Z97 and H97 support Rapid Storage TechnologySmart Response Technology (otherwise known as SSD Caching), six SATA 6Gb/s ports and six USB 3.0 ports. Finally, both chipsets support two DIMMs per memory channel so they are able to utilize up to four sticks of RAM.

Conclusion

If you need CPU overclocking or SLI/Crossfire, then you are largely going to be limited to the Z97 chipset unless you do are willing to upgrade to a socket 2011 CPU. However, even if you don't need CPU overclocking or SLI/Crossfire, keep in mind that a motherboard with a Z97 chipset may still be the ideal choice for you.

While the H97 may sound like the ideal chipset for the majority of our customers, we have found that the Z97 motherboards are almost always a better fit. Since Z97 is the top chipset, manufacturers tend to include ports and headers on those motherboards that are not on their H97 equivalent. Often times just a couple of additional ports can make the difference between a motherboard working for a customer out of the box or needing to use add-on PCI-E cards to get the proper functionality. These cards can give a customer the functionality they want, but they usually don't perform as well as onboard ports and add more points of failure which may lead to system instability. For that reason, we always recommend to get as much functionality as you can from the motherboard itself and only use PCI-E cards when absolutely necessary.

Tags: Z97, H97, Chipset, Intel
neverfeedatroll

Thank you for the article. This is a helpful post in terms of sorting out the specific differences between H97 and Z97. Be careful when referring to SATA, as there is an 8-fold difference between 6Gb/s and 6GB/s. Sata III is rated at the smaller 6Gb/s (six gigabits per second) not 6GB/s (six gigabytes per second). I apologize for nitpicking, but the distinction is especially important when making comparisons.

Posted on 2014-07-15 17:10:59

Both are acceptable. Whether it's bits or bytes depends not mainly on capitalization but on the technology being rated. Things like network and port connections are usually rated in bits per seconds while storage is in bytes. So both a small b and capital B mean the same.

Posted on 2014-09-04 16:14:22
neverfeedatroll

Fair point Prom. It is true that what matters most is the technology being rated, but not true that B and b conventionally mean the same thing, though many people do use them erroneously interchangeably. It's like going to the shooting range and colloquially referring to a magazine as a clip; even though they are very different things, everyone will likely know what you're talking about based on the context, but the people who know the difference will still smirk at the misuse.

http://www.techsupportalert.co...

Posted on 2014-09-04 16:55:25
Myles

You are correct in what you say, prom is basically wrong.

Posted on 2014-11-10 14:26:04

Basically wrong? Something is either wrong or right and in this case I'm not being wrong. What Neverfeedatroll says is correct but it's not the whole issue. Conventionally B and b doesn't mean the same thing but in this case convention has never been followed. The only thing left are standards but here also a standard has never actually been defined. So we fall back on convention which is to use bits when referring to speeds and bytes when referring to capacities.

What matters most is not which one a person uses but more importantly to be consistent. There he does have a point. The article still reads clearly for me though.

Posted on 2014-11-18 20:51:24
DaveTheLiar

Or not. Pre SATA and SAS, speeds were quoted in Bytes. The transition from PATA 133Mbyte/s to SATA 1.5Gbit/s did confuse some. The rationale was that serial connections are 1 bit wide, and are conventionally quoted in bps, whereas parallel connections were typically 8 bit (1 byte) wide and it made sense to talk about bytes per second.
It's a mess. The only way for clarity is to spell it out, but that doesn't always work in a table.

Posted on 2014-12-17 03:42:04
Lama

Lol, small b always means bits, and bit B always means Bytes. THIS IS ALWAYS THE CASE. Not based on how someone feels.

Posted on 2015-03-15 17:38:40

Only the correct one is acceptable, the right one. There's a reason for standards and your take on this kind of inaccuracy is the worst kind of one. In fact I think the only reason you're posing such a view is to troll.

Posted on 2015-02-14 15:54:47

I don't care if you disagree. I do however take exception to you calling me a troll. If there is a standard then please quote the relevant standards organisation and the number. Because till date there is yet to be a standard and only conventions.

Posted on 2015-02-17 01:28:24

You're really being quite specific for someone defending being not so very specific. Just throw in the towel already, b vs B is very significant there's no argument.

Posted on 2015-02-17 18:36:18
Gary Calliham

Thank you for this write up It is very helpful even to an IT professional that has fallen a little behind on the latest tech. I do however agree with the below comments about B = Bytes and b=bits for an average reader they may not know the difference, but to the educated reader this has always caused confusion and frustrated me. It is always hard to tell if the author of articles like this does not know the difference and is just using them interchangeably, or if they do know the difference and i should take it literal. I wish everyone would stick with the standard B=Bytes and b=bits. It does not always cause a problem, but it would greatly help avoid the confusion and frustration when trying to research certain things in greater detail... Great article and again thank you for taking the time to post this information for us!! :-)

Posted on 2015-01-08 23:22:47