The ASUS ROG Strix Z270I Gaming Gets Tested
When it comes to the ITX form factors, ASUS has never been late to the party. Every time a new chipset comes up, they’ll most likely have an ITX model ready or one in the works. The Z270 chipset is no exception, with the release of the ASUS ROG Strix Z270I Gaming. An ITX motherboard full with promises.
The ROG Strix Z270I Gaming is the top of the line Intel 200 series ITX offering from ASUS. We never had a Maximus Impact for the Z270 and suffice to say, we might not get another one anytime soon.
Bearing both the ROG and Strix, the Z270I Gaming has a lot of ground to cover as far as feature set goes. Audio for an instance has been overhauled compared to the previous Strix boards with the SupremeFX S1220A codec. It also comes with dual M.2 slots, capable of RAID support. Backpanel conenctivity has been upgraded too with extra USB ports compared to the last generation’s Maximus Impact motherboard. Learn more from the official product page and get it at Amazon.
ASUS ROG Strix Z270I Gaming
|CPU Support||Intel Socket 1151 for 7th/6th Generation Core i7/Core i5/Core i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors|
|Chipset||Intel Z270 Chipset|
|Slots||2x DIMM (Non-ECC)|
|Slots||1 x PCIe 3.0 x16|
|Onboard Graphics||Intel HD Graphics support|
|Storage||4x SATAIII ports
2x M.2 slots (Key M)
|USB||Intel Z270 Chipset
Intel Z270 Chipset
ASMedia USB 3.1 controller
|Audio||ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
|Fan Connectors||1x CPU Fan connector
1x Chassis Fan connector
1x AIO_PUMP connector
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:
If you’re familiar with ASUS’ other SFF offerings, the ROG Strix Z270I Gaming’s packaging is exactly the same – with a new coating. It’s a dinky box with a lot of stuffs inside.
You’d get your usual paper works here, together with a saucer, a set of ROG stickers and cable labels. Funny enough, we’re missing an ROG badge.
As for the accessories, you’d get a front panel cable, the external magnetic antenna for the AC Wi-Fi, 4x SATAIII cables, a LED cable extension and a padded backplate.
DESIGN, LAYOUT AND CONNECTIVITY:
The ASUS ROG Strix Z270I Gaming resembles the design elements of its larger siblings, with a black PCB and gun metal heatsinks. It is not over the top nor bland so this fusion of ROG and Strix principles are well appreciated.
Layout wise, we are looking at a motherboard with a safe, or rather stealthy placements for the 3 fan headers. The majority of main headers and power connectors are also located on safe areas. One particular design I like about this board is the Double Decker heatsink. It’s basically a PCH cooler + an M.2 cooler.
The back of the board is rather busy looking, mainly due to the form factor’s limitations. One of the RAID capable M.2 slots is located in this area along with the AURA compatible SMD LED modules.
Board power is courtesy of a 6+2 digital VRM design. They are cooled by two separate heatsinks with one towering the other. While this board is compatible with majority of low profile CPU coolers, the tall VRM heatsink could pose clearance issues with larger top flow styled coolers.
Storage options this side of the board are provided by 4 native SATAIII ports and a USB 3.0 header. The ASUS AURA capable LED header is also located on this area.
Finally, we get to see the backpanel IO. Plenty of storage options here comprising of 4x USB 2.0 ports and 4x USB 3.0 ports (1x Type-C). The only USB 3.1 port here is the internal header situated next to the 4+4-pin CPU power. There’s no other way to use it unless you’ve got an ITX case with a USB 3.1 front panel. ASUS could really use an adapter here for the backpanel but what’s done is done.
The ASUS ROG Strix Z270I Gaming features an almost identical UEFI experience with their Intel 100 series boards. It feature smoother mouse movements on top of the same fluid design.
There are 2 main menus. The EZ Mode and Advanced Mode. EZ Mode has the EZ System Tuning for an automated performance boost, while seasoned veterans will appreciate the wide variety of options found at the Advance Mode.
ASUS had the board bundled with tons of applications that should help you maximize your system’s potential. That includes the following softwares:
- Sonic Suite
- Sonic Radar III
- Sonic Studio III
- ROG RAMCache II
- ROG CloneDrive
- GameFirst IV
- AI Suite 3
- AI Charger
- Deamon Tools Lite
- ASUS AURA
- ASUS Intel Extreme Tuning Utility
- ASUS WebStorage
The AI Suite 3 is a keeper here along with the drivers from ASUS’ official download site. Other applications included in the list are situational.
TEST SETUP AND METHODOLOGY:
The performance of the system shall be evaluated by various benchmarking tools and applications. We are testing this system with the high-performance settings enabled at the OS, with the default UEFI configuration. Background processes such as anti-viruses and third-party applications are disabled as well. Outlined below are the applications and benchmark tools for reference:
|TEST SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS|
|PROCESSOR||Intel Core i5-7600K|
|MOTHERBOARD||ASUS ROG Strix Z2270I Gaming|
|CPU COOLER||Cryorig C1 Top Flow|
|MEMORY KIT||Crucial Ballistix Tactical DDR4 @ 2666MHz 2x4GB|
|GRAPHICS CARD||ASUS GTX 1060 STRIX OC 6GB|
|INTERNAL STORAGE||Crucial BX200 480GB|
|POWER SUPPLY||CORSAIR RM850X 850W|
|DISPLAY||27″ DELL U2715H + LG 43UF680T 4K UHD TV|
|OPERATING SYSTEM||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro|
CPU AND MEMORY PERFORMANCE:
- Super PI – 32M Calculations
- wPrime – 32M and 1024M Calculations
- AIDA64 Extreme Edition – Memory Benchmark
- GIMP – 7 MB worth of image processing
- HandBrake – 150 MB MP4 to H.264 video encoding
- WinRAR – Internal benchmark tool
- AS SSD – Storage performance
- RightMark Audio Analyzer – Audio performance
- AIDA64 Extreme Edition – Power consumption
- NetIO-GUI – Network Performance
The AIDA64 System Stability Test uses a 64-bit multi-threaded stress testing module to drive the system to its limits. Power readings are recorded with a watt-meter.
The Z270I Gaming features a decent power requirements. It’s not the most efficient despite the size, but the results here are not alarming in any way.
CPU AND MEMORY PERFORMANCE:
Super PI is a single-threaded program that calculates pi to a specified number of digits after the decimal point. It is a widely used benchmark within the industry.
WPrime is a multi-threaded program that calculates a set number of square roots. It verifies the results by squaring them, then compares it with the original numbers.
The AIDA64 Memory Benchmark measure the data transfer bandwidth and latency of the system memory. We are measuring the latency on this benchmark.
Excellent performance results here from the Z270I Gaming. It’s right next to the top end Z270 motherboard we’ve tested especially with that record high latency result.
GIMP or GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a free and open-source image editing tool. A 7 MB worth of images is be processed and converted to gauge the system performance.
HandBrake is a free video encoding tool that supports a wide variety of media codecs. A 150MB worth MP4 video is converted using the H.264 codec to gauge the system performance.
WinRAR is a file archive utility that can create, view and unpack numerous archive file formats. The software’s built in benchmark tool is utilized to gauge the system performance.
On our real world applications, there isn’t much difference compared to the competition but it right next to the best performing motherboards of the same chipset.
AS SSD is a storage benchmarking software widely used throughout the industry. On this test, we are using its scoring system to evaluate our Crucial BX200 SSD’s performance using the system’s native SATA controller.
Nothing is out of place in our SATA storage test.
The RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) is a tool designed to test the quality of audio devices. We used a sampling rate of 24-bit at 48000Hz for the loopback test. We are essentially testing the quality of the line-in and line-out of the audio solution.
The noise level performance is generally very good at -95.5dBA. Sure it’s far from ASUS’ claims but this one is a good indication of a well isolated audio solution. Frequency response is also flat out, which is excellent for my needs.
The NetIO-GUI is a good application to test any network’s performance. The LAN round trip time is our concern here, checking out latency anomalies if there are any. The client and server are connected on the network via Cat5 cables using a 100Mbps router.
RTT performance seems just right, with an actual <1ms of latency on any packet sizes tested. Wireless however had 4ms of latency (5GHz to 5GHz) on average which is still good.
WRAPPING IT UP:
ASUS, likes to step up their game every now and then and boy they did it again with the ROG Strix Z270I Gaming motherboard. It offers excellent set of features with a dinky form factor to boot. Performance wise, this motherboard is in-line with the higher priced models. That’s especially true with the memory latency performance.
Build quality and layout wise, the ASUS board is excellent. The Double Decker feature is just smart, allowing ASUS to utilize the extra space for the components. Had ASUS never implemented this, it’s impossible to add an M.2 slot at the front. Still, there are minor issues. Nothing’s perfect, boys and girls.
The motherboard’s features are built around gamers and power users which is just expected from a component that carries the ROG bloodline. You’d get SMD LED modules for the onboard RGB, souped up audio solution, AC Wi-Fi and an excellent amount of connectivity options.
At 11290 Pesos ($179 at Amazon), the ASUS ROG Strix Z270I Gaming is far from a budget oriented motherboard but don’t mistake value by pricing alone. It’s a proper motherboard with full size performance at a fraction of the size.