GIGABYTE AORUS GA-Z270X-Gaming 9 Motherboard Review. Today we examine what looks to be most insane and feature packed Intel Z270 motherboard, that is available on the market!
To name just a few features…DDR4 up to 4000mhz, Dual U.2, multi M.2 with Intel optane support, RGB, four way Sli/Xfire, extra PCI-E and DDR slot strength, USB DAC with voltage control, & so much more.
On the day of review, the GIGABYTE Z270X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard is retailing with a price tag, of about £499
[GIGABYTE AORUS GA-Z270X-Gaming 9 Motherboard Features]
- Supports 7th/ 6th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors
- Dual Channel Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4, 4 DIMMs, DDR4 4133+(OC)
- Intel® USB 3.1 Gen 2 with USB Type-C™ and Type-A
- 4-Way Graphics Support with Dual Armor and Ultra Durable™ Design
- EKWB G-Frost Hybrid Water Block
- Triple NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 Support
- Dual NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 U.2 Connectors
- Dual Ultra-Fast M.2 with PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA interface
- Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready
- Creative Sound Blaster certified ZxRi 120dB+ Audio
- Killer DoubleShot-X3™ Pro for the best networking experience possible
- USB DAC-UP 2 with Adjustable Voltage
- RGB FUSION with Multi-Zone LED Light Show design
- Swappable Overlay for Accent LED
- Smart Fan 5 features Multiple Temperature Sensors and Hybrid Fan Headers
- 2 External Thermistors Headers with 2 Included Thermistors
- Extreme 40 Gb/s Thunderbolt™ 3
- Integrated HDMI 2.0 Support
- GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™ with Q-Flash Plus USB Port
- APP Center Including EasyTune™ and Cloud Station™ Utilities
Courtesy of GIGABYTE[nextpage title=”Packaging & Accessories”]
Premium products deserve something extra, when it comes to the packaging, and GIGABYTE isn’t taking any chances letting you down. The Box is huge! from the front side, we have nothing more than an AUROS logo, and on the bottom right, they list the critical assets. The front is actually a flap, which can be opened to reveal the motherboard behind it.
Despite having a lot of features to list, they’ve done a decent job of keeping the info to a minimum, and easy to digest. The exterior box slides off to reveal an additional box, containing the board and the bundle.
At 499 GBP we expect more than the norm, and boy do we receive it!
- I/O Shield with Lighting
- SATA Cables
- User manuals/Quick start
- Many SLI / Crossfire bridges
- One GC-SLI23P SLI bridge connector
- One 3-Way SLI bridge connector
- One 4-Way SLI bridge connector
- One 2-Way CrossFire bridge connector
- Two RGB (RGBW) LED strip extension cables
- One Accent Lighting LED Strip
- Two thermistor cables
- G Connectors
- Wi-Fi antennas
- Door hanger
- Sticker Kits
- Cable Labeling Kit
- Cable tidy (velcro)
- I/O dust covers
Up next a closer look at the board.[nextpage title=”First Look”]
We start our tour with a complete top down view, to absorb what’s on offer. Initial impressions are difficult to describe, I’ve found myself using the expression Nerdgasm on other products, when reviewing their flagship board recently. This was a similar experience, but amplified by over 9000. Yes indeed… nothing short of amazing. The black and white combo, as on other GIGABYTE boards is the perfect canvas for RGB enabled products.
Your eyes are naturally drawn to the elongated I/O shroud, which runs down the entire left side of the PCB, and over the audio lane. Sitting underneath the largest section is the EKWB chipset block, and is yearning to be used in conjunction with your custom watercooling solutions.
From every angle you look at the board, your eyes are rewarded with stunning lines and angles.
Considering the price point of the board, the waterblock is responsible for a good chunk of the asking price, but having it pre-fitted is a welcome decision. Avoiding the need to order one separately, and fitting it manually. I do appreciate the decision to keep it all black, as it blends seamlessly into the motherboard.
The Z270 heatsink is much bigger than what we see on other boards, but with an E-ATX platform to play with, why not! Again we find lots of subtle but smart design elements, slanted lines, and a mix of finishes. It looks fantastic!
4X PCIe 3.0 slots, offer a no comprise solution for the most demanding multi-card setups. All of which feature GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ PCIe Armor, something not seen on most entry/mid-range products,
The PLX chip allows both Nvidia SLI and AMD Xfire, and is designed for some serious scores in benchmarks and FPS in games.
Regardless, The Ultra Durable™ PCIe Armor is a welcome addition. Cards have become larger, and heavier over the last few years, and having the additional strength is appreciated.
- 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1, PCIEX16_2)
- 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1, PCIEX8_2)
* The PCIEX8_1 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16_1 slot and the PCIEX8_2 slot with PCIEX16_2. The PCIEX16_1/PCIEX16_2 slot operates at up to x8 mode when the PCIEX8_1/PCIEX8_2 is populated.
(All of the PCI Express x16 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
- 2 x PCI Express x1 slots
- Support for NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ and 4-Way/3-Way/2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ technologies
- Support for AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ and 4-Way/3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFire™ technologies
- Onboard Discrete Card Level Audio Design
- Creative Sound Blaster Certified
- ZxRi 120dB+ Audio
The Z270X-Gaming 9 boasts a combination of Hi-Fi grade WIMA capacitors and Nichicon audio grade Fine Gold capacitors. While the Nichicon Fine Gold capacitors are suited for high-grade audio equipment, using state of the art technology to provide rich sound in the bass and clearer high frequencies, the WIMA FKP2 capacitors are being used widely in premium grade Hi-Fi systems. The addition of this to the exclusive AORUS AMP-UP Audio technology makes for the ideal onboard sound solution for the most demanding audiophiles.
AORUS offers true sound customization with its triple upgradable OP-AMP solution. To ensure users receive the best sound profile matching their needs and experience the most enjoyable audio, AORUS has included an OP-AMP for both left and right channels on the rear I/O as well as a dedicated OP-AMP for the front audio jack.
AORUS improves upon USB DAC-UP technologies with USB DAC-UP 2.
USB DAC-UP 2 continues to provide clean, isolated and low-noise power while adding the ability to compensate for voltage drop.
Virtual reality pioneers and gamers alike can rest assured that their expensive accessories and peripherals will not encounter connectivity or power deficiency issues with the AORUS USB DAC-UP 2. With Gaming Gear drawing large amounts of power and having firm specification requirements USB DAC-UP 2 is up for the challenge.
Despite SATA express being a dead in the water tech (maybe?), this product still offers it. A decision I don’t understand and support.
- 2 x SATA Express connectors
- 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
The additional SATA ports are driven via an ASMedia® ASM1061 chip
[M.2 / U.2]
M.2 is now the go-to choice for most, and Z270 allows for some interesting options. Namely, additional M.2 ports and the new Intel optane tech. (which requires a 7th gen CPU).
Some brands have added as many as three slots, and while that would be nice to see, the two here is ample and allowed GIGABYTE to offer dual U2 alongside it!
- 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2M_32G)
- 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support) (M2P_32G)
- 2 x U.2 connector
- Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology for Intel Core™ processors
The GIGABYTE Z270X-Ultra Gaming has a plethora of headers and options for both air and watercoolers.
We also find many additional headers too:
- 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 1 x CPU fan header
- 1 x water cooling CPU fan header
- 4 x system fan headers
- 2 x system fan/water cooling pump headers
- 1 x I/O Shield audio LED power connector
- 2 x RGB (RGBW) LED strip extension cable headers
- 3 x SATA Express connectors
- 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- 2 x M.2 Socket 3 connectors
- 2 x U.2 connectors
- 1 x front panel header
- 1 x front panel audio header
- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 headers
- 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
- 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
- 1 x Thunderbolt™ add-in card connector
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 2 x temperature sensor headers
- 1 x power button
- 1 x Reset button
- 1 x Clear CMOS button
- 1 x ECO button
- 1 x OC button
- 2 x audio gain control switches
- 2 x BIOS switches
- Voltage Measurement Points
Finishing up our tour of the board, looking at the I/O, which consists of:
- 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
- 2 x MMCX antenna connectors (2T2R)
- 1 x HDMI port
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x Thunderbolt™ 3 connector (USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A port (red)
- 5 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
- 2 x RJ-45 ports
- 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
- 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In/Mic In, Line Out, Headphone)
[GIGABYTE Z270X-Ultra Gaming RGB/LIGHTING]
Love it or hate it, RGB is here to stay. GIGABYTE has added its RGB FUSION system, which is more than most offer! We have multiple points of lighting, easy control, support for RGBW strips, calibration. Mobile App support and so much more
As I’ve said in the past, the first batch of RGB product did not appeal to me. In 2017, and on Z270 this has been tweaked and improved massively.
With new lighting spots, effects, support for external strips and better software. The end results are brilliant.
Proudly Powered by our Dimastech Mini V1.0 Test Bench
[TECHICIZE TEST SYSTEM]
|Intel® 7700K (Kabylake)|
|Memory:||16GB Kingston Kingston Predator 16GB DDR4 PC4-24000C15 3200MHz Quad Channel Kit|
|PSU:||Bitfenix Fury 750G|
|Hard Drives:||SSD – Kingston HyperX 3k240GB|
M.2 -Kingston M.2 HyperX 240GB
|OS:||Windows 10 X64|
We covered the i7 7770K and other Kabylake products in a much more detailed review; here we’ll be looking at more than the new CPUs from Intel.
- 4900/5000Mhz has been the average for almost all boards we’ve tested.
- The highest end boards have booted and benched at 5100Mhz
The Gigabyte Z270X-Ultra Gaming managed 5200Mhz, which is very respectable. Sadly we couldn’t stabilize the system for all the tests, so we mark 5100Mhz as the best!
Perhaps with the watercooling in use, things would have been different!
Our test method uses a large variety of software to determine the results and product award. For your viewing, these are broken down into the following categories
- General System
- CPU & Memory
- Storage & USB
- Audio &Networking
We start with a broader view of general system performance and then break it down, as we delve deeper with sub testing, where we can examine key areas.
-[PC Mark 8]
PCMark 8 from Futuremark. PCMark 8 is designed to test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. It’s the complete PC benchmark for home and business.
The first test we run is PCMark 8, as we’re also able to gauge an all-around score. This test is heavily affected by all internal components rather than focusing on just one.
Pitting the new Z270 again its predecessor, the gains are apparent, but I want to emphasize that the CPU has a higher clock speed than Skylake
While it seems the bulk of the improvement shown is directly linked to just that, RAM is performing better on Kaby too
The Z270X-Ultra Gaming places exactly where it should, considering the asking price.
-[Performance Test 8]
Passmark PerformanceTest is an award winning PC hardware benchmark utility that allows everybody to quickly assess the performance of their computer and compare it to a number of standard ‘baseline’ computer systems. Find out if your PC is performing at its best, compare the performance of your machine to similar machines and make objective independent measurements on which to base your purchasing decision.
A great set of numbers, barely anything between them all! but the AUROS sneaks ahead
Cinebench is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.
The Kabylake architecture brings better performance from the exact same kit of ram, we used on Skylake. The best scores we’ve seen in Aida64
This is echoed again in Performance Test 8
Armed with a Nvidia GTX 1080, how do the Z270/kaby processors affect FPS? Does the entry/mid/High-end board really deliver more?
In not going to sugar coat the truth, the difference between them all is small. But it’s another win![nextpage title=”Storage & USB Results”]
Another win for the board, ranking 1st In SATA Xfer speeds
Stellar performance with an M.2 drive. In particular the read test, topping our charts. While the write decent seem that great, do pat attention o the 512K and 4kQ32, in fact, these are the best to date!
While the write doesnt seem that great, do pay attention o the 512K and 4kQ32, in fact, these are the best to date!
We don’t have any USB 3.1 (Gen2 ) devices at the time of testing, so will be focusing on 3.0/3.1 only. Be sure to understand the actual difference between USB 3.0/3.1 Gen 1 & Gen 2. As it’s something that not all brands have explained clearly.To measure speeds we use AS-SSD, with an SSD inside a USB 3.0 Caddy from Startech
The Kingston SSD has a theoretical limit of 499MB/s Write, when hooked up internally to an SATA 6GB/s port. Overheads and such we accept that some degradation occurs when used over USB 3.0/3.1
As expected the controllers have matured over time but differences in terms of speed between models, are minimal generally.[nextpage title=”Network & Audio Results”]
Using the in built network test for Performance test 8. The method is to install the software on two machines, which are on the same network. One acts as a client and the other as a server, a designated amount of data is sent across, and then the Min, Avg, and Max transfer speeds are outputted.
We’ve seen this in the past, and its now the Intel LAN controllers that offer the best all around experience. Killer LAN isn’t the best choice for overall speed…that said theirs two here, so you have options, and the numbers are still decent!
Do pay attention to mins and Avg’s, With Intel LAN, they are so much more consistent.
We use RightMark Audio Analyzer, connecting “Line out” to “Line in” with a 3.5mm cable.
|Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB|
|Noise level, dB (A)|
|Dynamic range, dB (A)|
|THD + Noise, dB (A)|
|IMD + Noise, %|
|Stereo crosstalk, dB|
|IMD at 10 kHz, %|
The sound quality from the improved codec is fantastic, ranking as “Very Good”
So then conclusion time, and now that we’ve had a play around a few Z270 products, we feel we can deliver a fair and broader conclusion. All of the boards so far, have me impressed, but this is in a league of its own. The product is above and beyond your average motherboard
Regarding issues, complaints or areas of concerns I have none, there’s nothing I’d like to have seen different. Visually it’s the best board I’ve seen to date. Gigabyte has the upper hand with extra space here, when directly compared to the flagships from other brands. Using E-ATX grants them more real estate for features and in turn produces a cleaner product. The decision to offer four-way SLI/Xfire will divide the crowd as some users now shy away from it. That said, if want an extreme setup based on Z270, this is is the number one choice, no questions asked.
The RGB implementation, as on other AUROS products is a cut above the rest; this isn’t a generic RGB product. The placement, effects, and software are exceptional. Allowing customization, you won’t see elsewhere
Performance it a tough one to grade…despite winning in almost every benchmark we’ve shown… because in reality, we’ve barely scratched the surface, of what the board is actually capable of. You’ll need to utilize the watercooling, add in a bunch of the graphics card, 4000mhz DDR4 and run M.2 drives in the raid to unleash this beast, and remove the limits of more generic components we are limited to test with. What we found, was a solid and consistent performance in every test we put in front of the AORUS GA-Z270X-Gaming 9.
Thanks to GIGABYTE, for sending out the sample for this review.