• Socket: LGA 1151
  • Chipset: Intel Z270
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Memory: 2133/2400 MHz DDR4
  • Ports: 1x PS/2 keyboard/mouse, 2x Gigabit LAN, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C (Thunderbolt 3), 1x USB 3.1 Type-A, 5x USB 3.0, 5x Audio ports, 1x Optical (SPDIF), 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x PCIe x16, 1x PCIe 3.0 x8, 1x PCIe 3.0 x4, 3x PCIe 3.0 x1, 6x SATA 6Gb/s, 3x SATA Express, 2x M.2 socket 3, 1x U.2 connector
  • Pros:
  • Multiple RGB lighting zones
  • Great onboard audio
  • Cons:
  • Some clearance issues

A Fresh Start

Kaby Lake and the Z270 chipset have made landfall in Malaysia, so it’s great that we got to review three Z270 motherboards this month. Here, we’ll be looking at one of GIGABYTE’s gaming motherboard, which will get a new breath of life with the Aorus name going forward. First up, the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7.

Although Aorus could have started things with a bang, it looks like the approach this time is a more modest one. The Aorus Z270-Gaming 7 comes in a box that certainly isn’t big enough to contain extra goodies. Key items inside include the ATX motherboard itself, driver CD and user’s manual. Besides the standard accessories, there is also a SLI bridge, two Velcro straps, and some cable ties.

The new motherboard retains its usual white plastic shroud, which has another layer of insulation underneath, over the back I/O ports and the audio chipset for EMI shielding. Aorus was also liberal with the use of metal here, with metal-reinforced slots for the three PCI Express and four DIMM slots. In addition, there are two M.2 slots, one U.2 slot and plenty of SATA ports, so you could go crazy on the storage side if you want to.

Other noteworthy mentions are the generous number of fan headers, so it can easily handle a 360mm liquid cooling solution and extra fans if you so desire; the audio OP-AMP near the audio chipset that should allow for use of higher impedance headphones; and four extra USB headers (two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0/1.1) in case the six at the back I/O aren’t enough.

Installation for this motherboard is quite straightforward, but do take note of the M.2 slot below the CPU slot; make sure to install the M.2 component first, especially if your intended CPU fan is a large one. Same goes for the second M.2 slot if you’re planning to use a multi-GPU setup. Other than that, we didn’t encounter any clearance issues.

A cool feature of this motherboard is its RGB lighting. There are four separate lighting ‘zones’, each able to light up independently of one another. With the inclusion of a header for an optional RGB LED strip, you can programme the five different zones to light up differently.

As for the performance, there was noticeable improvements when compared to a Z170 motherboard paired with a Skylake processor. Nothing too mind-blowing, however. The onboard audio is also one of the best we’ve experience, with minimal hiss and the ability to support even audiophile headphones.

CHIP CONCLUDE: It may lack goodies in the box, but it delivered features and performance where it mattered. If you haven’t upgraded your PC in ages and are finally looking to pull the trigger, this is a strong option to consider.

(previously published in issue January 2016)

AORUS Z270X Gaming 9