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Z97 Vs Z87 Comparison Essay

ANSI Z87.1 Defined

ANSI is an acronym for the American National Standards Institute, a nonprofit organization the the primary mission to…

Enhance both the global competitiveness of U.S. business and the U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems and safeguarding their integrity.

In other words, ANSI creates uniform testing standards and guidelines for a variety of products and equipment used by businesses in nearly every sector.

The Z87.1 portion references the standard for personal Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices. These standards help ensure personal eye and face protection devices provide the necessary protection from impact, non-ionizing radiation, and liquid splash exposures.

The ANSI Z87.1 standard has been updated twice since 2003, with revisions in 2010 and 2015. These updates focus on product performance and attempt to harmonize with international standards while keeping the needs of end users in mind with consideration to workplace hazards and regulatory obligations.

The current ANSI.1-2015 standard continues to differentiate protectors based on specific risks with additional emphasis placed on enabling users to select the appropriate protector based on their environment and the hazard.

The temple arm from an Oakley M-Frame 2.0 is marked with Z87 to indicate it’s ANSI Z87.1 certified.


Hazard exposure able to cause serious eye injury involves workers in almost every industry. When combined with 100% compliance to a mandatory eye protection program, the right safety eyewear based on the current ANSI Z87.1-2015 safety standards helps ensure that doesn’t happen.

Do you have questions or comments about ANSI Z87.1? Please leave a comment below.

Selecting the appropriate eye protection for your environment and it’s potential hazards is critical.

What Are The General Requirements For ANSI Z87.1

Since most people have never read the ANSI Z87.1 document, they may not fully understand what this certification covers. The ANSI Z87.1 certification helps in this effort by providing a certification system organized based on encountered hazards.

This standard means the choice of safety eyewear revolves around what best represents the protection needed for the specific hazards encountered in the workplace. The most common hazards include:

  • Blunt impact
  • Radiation
  • Splashes and droplets
  • Dust
  • Small dust particles

Most safety eyewear manufacturers now provide packaging and product information revolving around how products meet these standards. Note that prescription safety lenses are also allowed under this standard. Previously, they had to be a certain thickness, but thinner prescription lenses are now allowed if they meet high-impact testing requirements.

What Is The Testing Processes

ANSI Z87.1 certified safety glasses undergo intensive testing to ensure they’ll protect eyes as expected. Tests include…

  • Basic and high-impact for lenses and frames.
  • Exposure to non-ionizing radiation and chemicals.
  • Durability to flammables and corrosion.

The following video from Edge Eyewear does an excellent job demonstrating the different tests performed on safety eyewear. After seeing how badly non-safety-rated eyewear fails these basic tests, you’ll only want to purchase ANSI-Z87.1 rated eyewear.


What Are The Product Markings

Starting in 2010 with additional updates in 2015, the ANSI Z87.1 standard requires efficient and easy-to-understand lens & frame markings. These markings help make the selection process simpler and increases compliance. Those product markings indicate ratings in the following areas:

  • Impact: “Z87+” indicates high-velocity impact, and “Z87” alone means basic impact
  • Splash and droplet: D3 for splash and droplet and D4 for dust
  • Fine dust: D5
  • Welding: W plus the shade number
  • UV: U plus the scale number
  • Infrared light: R plus the scale number
  • Visible light filter: L plus the scale number
  • Prescription: Z87-2 on the front of the front of the frame and on both temples
  • Head size: H indicates products designed for smaller head sizes
  • Other: V for photochromic and S for special lens tint

All safety markings for ANSI Z87.1-2015 safety eyewear must be permanently and clearly marked on the frame or lens. This marking requirement includes goggles and face shields as well as safety glasses.

Product Marking Examples

ANSI Z87.1-2015 product markings on a pair of Bolle Safety Glasses.

The image above shows a pair of Bolle Safety Glasses with the new ANSI Z87.1-2015 product marking requirements. The marking is broken down as follows…

  • “Z87+” indicates eyewear meets the high-velocity impact requirement.
  • “U6” means the eyewear has a UV rating of 6, which is the highest rating.
  • “S” indicates a special lens tint because these glasses feature Bolle’s ESP lens.

You may encounter safety eyewear with only “Z87” or the manufacturer’s mark with a “+” stamped on the lens or frame. These products, produce before of just after the 2010 standard, are still safe to use. They still meet ANSI Z87.1 high-velocity impact safety standards, but they don’t have the new product marking requirements from the recent 2010 and 2015 standards.

Michael Eldridge is a US Marine Veteran and the founder of SafetyGlassesUSA.com. He's passionate about protective eyewear and promoting vision safety. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, fishing, CrossFit, mountain biking, camping with his family and watching Detroit Tigers baseball.

Where did Z97 come from?

Z97 was not the premiere platform that shipped with Haswell, which is the architecture found on Haswell, Haswell Refresh, and Devil's Canyon. The initial platform used Z87, but was refreshed for the shipment of Intel's faster-clocked Devil's Canyon processors.

Z97 vs. Z87 changed a few things, primarily in the realm of storage technology. Z97 introduced SATA Express and M.2 support to the platform, permitting on-chipset PCI-e Gen2 lanes to be allocated to SSDs that utilize the PCI-e interface. Z97 served as a means to ready the market for migration to Z170, adapting for modern storage technologies in the interim between CPU architectures.

That's the only reason Z97 came to exist.

Z170 Chipset Specs & Changes

Z170 introduces a number of changes to platform architecture. View the above diagram for an initial look.

The Desktop Management Interface (DMI) that bridges communications between the CPU and chipset has been updated to version 3.0, entering territory of PCI-e 3.x transfer rates. This shift has increased the data sample rate from 5GT/s (gigatransfers, of which 1GT = roughly one billion transfers per second) to 8GT/s. The increase results in nearly a 2x sample rate jaunt, the equivalent of moving from 2GB/s to 3.93GB/s.

This is the lowest-level we'll go for sake of GamersNexus and covers the critical CPU-to-chipset pipe.

Moving on to more familiar items, some of the easy changes include support for ten total USB3.x ports (from six), USB3.1 Gen2 support, and Intel “Smart Sound.” Smart Sound integrates support for voice commands (wake on voice) and audio FX (virtual surround, DTS) natively on the CPU.

Beyond these relatively minor details, the Z170 chipset has added to the PCI-e lane availability over Z97, but does so with a few caveats. On paper and in the above block diagram, Z170 boasts 20 PCI-e 3.0 lanes – a marked gain over Z97's 8 PCI-e 2.0 lanes – but the graphic doesn't specify restrictions. Keep in mind that PCI-e lanes can be allocated to much more than graphics, primarily SSDs that communicate using the PCI-e interface (M.2, for instance), and Intel accounts for this. The chipset divides its 20 PCI-e lanes into clusters of four, so that's five sets of four PCI-e lanes. Three of the PCI-e lanes are allocated to Intel's Rapid Storage Technology (RST), enabling RAID SATA-e configurations. Note well that because of the division of lanes, the maximum supported single-card from-chipset allocation is x4, meaning that tri-SLI will not be supported natively given nVidia's hard x8 minimum requirement. CrossFire will allow for x4 lane assignment. In order to assign more lanes to an expansion graphics card, motherboard manufacturers will have to resort to multiplexing chips (PLX/PEX chips) as they've done in the past.

The primary gain from the huge count of PCI-e lanes is going to be in storage applications. Intel's Z170 chipset has 26 total high-speed IO (HSIO) lanes available, and allows the board to divide them between controllers with relative freedom. That allows for greater customization on the side of motherboard manufacturers and, hopefully, some deviation from market norms.

Separately, Intel has made revisions to its accompanying Gigabit ethernet controller, hopefully readying-up for the incoming adoption of fiber across various municipalities. Most of these changes mitigate power consumption and improve power efficiency, advantages that will primarily be observed at the enterprise and biz-client levels.

Intel's other Skylake-class chipsets are not yet available, but will retain traditional branding. Thus far, we know that H170, H110, and B150 exist, alongside Q150. H170 will likely be a chipset with fewer overclocking and enthusiast provisions, making for cheaper motherboards in use cases where neither item is demanded.

More to come as we continue to learn about Skylake.

- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.

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