GIGABYTE Z270X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard Review. Today we explore a motherboard with a stunning visual layout and original RGB implementation. The Z270X-Ultra Gaming is a feature rich product, considering the price tag.
On the day of review, the GIGABYTE Z270X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard is retailing with a price tag in the UK of about £150
GIGABYTE Z270X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard Features
- Supports 7th/ 6th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors
- Dual Channel Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4, 4 DIMMs
- Fast USB 3.1 Gen 2 with USB Type-C™ and Type-A
- 3-Way Graphics Support with Dual Armor and Ultra Durable™ Design
- Dual NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 Support
- NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 U.2 Connector
- Ultra-Fast M.2 with PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA interface
- Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready
- ALC1220 120dB SNR HD Audio with Smart Headphone Amp
- Intel® GbE LAN with cFosSpeed Internet Accelerator Software
- USB DAC-UP 2 with Adjustable Voltage
- RGB FUSION LED Light Show design
- Swappable Overlay for Accent LED
- Smart Fan 5 features Multiple Temperature Sensors and Hybrid Fan Headers
- Lightning-Fast Intel® Thunderbolt™ 3 AIC Support
- GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™
- APP Center Including EasyTune™ and Cloud Station™ Utilities
|CPU (Max Support)||i7|
|Chipset||Intel® Z270 Chipset|
|DDR4 Memory||3866(OC)- 2133 MHz|
|Max Memory (GB)||64|
|USB 3.1 ports (Front)||4(Gen1, Type A)|
|USB 3.1 ports (Rear)||1x(Gen2, Type A),|
1 (Gen2, Type C),
4(Gen1, Type A)
|USB 2.0 ports (Front)||4|
|USB 2.0 ports (Rear)||2|
|Audio ports (Rear)||Realtek® ALC1220 Codec|
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
[nextpage title=”Packaging & Accessories”]
Right off the bat. Your eyes will be drawn to the colored text in the center, which is expected, given what the product is capable of, with its lighting but more on that soon. The box front and back are clear and concise. The backside is dedicated to a brief outline of specs and unique feature set.
At 150GBP we ought not to expect much when it comes to extras, and we don’t see anything unusual here.
- I/O Shield
- SATA Cables
- User manuals/Quick start
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 good
The all-black PCB with matching heatsinks is the smart decision for any RGB product. The subtle tones of gray and the silver on the PCI-E and DDR banks looks great. It is not the cleanest PCB we’ve seen but It still very appealing
The large I/O shroud with the wording “GIGABYTE” has an unusual finish. You really need to get up and close to appreciate. It’s made up with lots of small, and slightly angled edges, this echoed on the neighboring MOSFETs heatsink.
The last heatsink over the Intel Z270 chipset, is really unique, sharing similar designs elements, but with a cut away section in the center.
3X PCIe 3.0 slots, offer you the option to run the most demanding multi-card setups. The first two slots feature GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ PCIe Armor; this is a common trait we’ve seen on most entry/mid-range products,
Sadly brands tend to only cover 1 or 2 of the slots. While I understand this saves on costing, and most consumers won’t use all three slots anyway, it spoils the symmetry I feel.
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.
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
* The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot operates at up to x8 mode.
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
* The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX1_2 and PCIEX1_3 slots. When the PCIEX1_2 or PCIEX1_3 slot is populated, the PCIEX4 slot operates at up to x1 mode.
- 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
The ALC1220 is a high-performance multi-channel High Definition Audio Codec with up to 120dB SNR for crystal clear audio and features such as Smart Headphone Amp, 108dB SNR recording for precise voice chats and hardware decoding of DSD128, ensuring users get the best possible audio quality from their PC.
Despite SATA Express being now dead in the water, this product still offers it. A decision I don’t support.
To the right we SATA, and to the left U.2
Rather than limit the amount of SATA ports, GIGABYTE has implemented a further two ports at the base of the board, in a vertical manner
- 2 x SATA Express connectors
- 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
While I’m not normally a fan of vertical SATA ports, the location does render them useful. Being able to add or disconnect a drive for example, without worry about the GPU obstructing you.
[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).
However, with both SATA Express and U.2 present, an extra M.2 socket wasn’t’ viable.
- 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support)
- 1 x U.2 connector
- – Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready for all M.2 slots
- 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
- – 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- – 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- – 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
- – 1 x 6-pin ATX 12V power connector
- – 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- – 2 x USB 2.0 connectors (support additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
- – 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 connectors (support additional 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports)
- – 1 x 4-pin CPU fan connector
- – 1 x 4-pin water-pump-fan connector
- – 4 x 4-pin system fan connectors
- – 1 x 4-pin RGB LED connector
- – 1 x 2-pin Slow mode connector
- – 1 x 2-pin OC retry connector
- – 1 x TPM module connector
- – 1 x Front panel audio connector
- – 2 x System panel connectors
- – 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
Finishing up our tour of the board, looking at the I/O, which consists of:
- 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
- 1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A port (red)
- 1 x DVI-D port
- 1 x HDMI port
- 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
- 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
- 1 x RJ-45 port
- 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
- 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)
[GIGABYTE Z270X-Ultra Gaming RGB/LIGHTING]
Love it or hate it, RGB is here to stay.
While I wasn’t a fan of the first wave, this new lineup is rather impressive. 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 4900Mhz, which is very respectable!
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 profoundly 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 some 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.
An excellent set of numbers, barely anything between them all!
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.
We ought to expect this trend going forward, another solid result for the Z270X-Ultra Gaming!
The Kabylake architecture brings better performance from the same kit of ram; we used on Skylake.
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 actually deliver more?
It does matter, and we find middle tiered performance in gaming,
in reality, its only a few FPS between this and the most expensive boards![nextpage title=”Storage & USB Results”]
While ranking last, the numbers are still fair
Stellar performance with an M.2 drive. In particular, the read test, topping our charts
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 concerning 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.
While KillerLAN and brand shave intertwined for a good while now, I’m pleased to see the transition back to an Intel solution. The numbers speak for themselves in our database, while peaks of MAX are similar from all controllers.
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 new codec is fantastic, ranking as “Very Good.”[nextpage title=”Conclusion – TL:DR”]
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, and the GIGABYTE Z270X-Ultra Gaming is a strong contender when it comes to recommendations.
Concerning issues, complaints or areas of concerns, I have only one. The UEFI as I’ve pointed out in other GIGABYTE reviews, just isn’t to my liking. You could argue this is trivial, and I guess it is. How often does the user interact after the first-time setup anyway?
The settings you need and want are all present, many additional tweaks and config options for overclocking and such. It’s the actual design and layout. It just isn’t that pleasant to work with, it feels cluttered and by contrast, looking at the other brands UEFI’s, this one just seems a little old fashioned. My only other niggle is the decision to favor and add a U.2 port rather than a second M.2 port.
Going forward I’ve nothing but praise for the product. The design is a winning one, the silver/grays and black PCB is something I, and many others have been yearning for. I’m pleased to see GIGABYTE is taking onboard the consumers desires and wishes. The RGB is amazing, both visually and the software driving it, so Credit to the team. It stands as its one of the best I’ve seen to date. Unlike other brands, they’ve not just slapped in some LEDs in random locations and hoped it would do. Placement of the lighting is logical and, control is stellar.
Performance was superb for a board that’s retailing for under 150 GBP. Keeping up with the premium products on occasion, and trading blows with the competition. Overclocking was solid, but please as always consider researching and performing a manual overclock. As in the past, the auto settings are far too aggressive (voltage). This ticks many boxes and could be the perfect board for your next RGB enabled gaming rig!
Thanks to GIGABYTE for sending out the sample for this review.