An Excellent Z270 Motherboard With A Price To Match
AORUS is GIGABYTE’s premium series with an initial debut featuring their gaming notebooks. Aorus became huge since then, symbolizing the company’s finest products. Fast forward today, AORUS now offers products ranging from notebooks, graphics, gears and motherboards. The GIGABYTE AORUS Z270X Gaming 9 is a fine example.
The AORUS GA-Z270X-Gaming 9 is the apex of the GIGABYTE Z270 motherboards. It is an E-ATX motherboard to start with and the company did their best to cram it with features for both gaming and productivity.
|GIGABYTE AORUS GA-Z270X-Gaming 9|
|CPU SUPPORT||6th/7th Generation Intel Core i7 / i5 / i3 / Pentium / Celeron Processors|
|CHIPSET||Intel Z270 Chipset|
|POWER PHASE||22 Power Phase Design|
|MEMORY SUPPORT||4x DDR4 @ 2133 MHz non-ECC, un-buffered, Intel XMP 2.0, up to4133+(OC), 64GB Max|
|EXPANSION SLOTS||2x PCI Express 3.0 x16, 2x PCI Express 3.0 x8, 2x PCI Express 3.0 x1|
|MULTI-GPU SUPPORT||Nvidia SLI, AMD CrossFireX|
|DISPLAY OUTPUT||HDMI, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt|
|AUDIO SOLUTION||Creative Sound Core 3D + 2 x JRC NJM2114 + 1 x TI Burr Brown OPA2134|
|LAN||2 x Killer E2500 LAN|
|WLAN||Killer Wireless-AC 1535 + BT|
|M.2 SLOTS||2x M.2 Socket (Key M, Supports PCI-E)|
|SATA PORTS||6x SATAIII, 3x SATA Express, 2x U.2 Port (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)|
|USB PORTS||4x USB 2.0, 10x USB 3.1, 2x USB 3.1 (Type A + C)|
|COOLING||Passive/Active VRM and Passive PCH Cooling, 6x 4-Pin Fan Headers|
The GIGABYTE AORUS GA-Z270X-Gaming 9 has support for memory kits with up to 4133 MHz of frequency, dual PCI-E 3.0 slots at full speed and comes equipped with USB 3.1 ports both internally and externally (Gen1 + Gen2). Networking is a courtesy of dual Killer LAN and a Killer WiFi + BT.
Audio on the other hand is a courtesy of Creative Sound Core 3D, with dedicated AMP for the left and right channels plus another one for the front headers. Storage options are also great, both in number and interface. Learn more here.
THE INTEL 200 SERIES PLATFORM:
The Intel 200 Series Platform, specifically both the Intel Z270 and H270 chipsets are all about connectivity. The platform features an upgraded Intel Rapid Storage Technology (IRST), native support for the Intel Optane Technology, and additional downstream HSIO lanes compared to the last generation. Those down stream lanes could be configured by the board partner to either support additional storage, audio, or even networking options.
The platform is the official chipset for the Kaby Lake CPUs, but it will still support the Sky Lake CPUs. That said, system builders who are still utilizing Windows 7 and the 6th Generation Intel CPUs wanting to go with the latest platform are not required to upgrade to the latest OS Microsoft has to offer.
THE INTEL KABY LAKE PROCESSORS:
The Intel Kaby Lake Family of processors is the 9th generation of Intel’s Core Series CPUs. The Kaby Lake Family is practically identical to the Sky Lake architecture wise with small underlying differences. It is still based on the 14nm node, has the same Instructions Per Clock, and is just basically a repacked Sky Lake to support the Intel Optane technology.
Now the differences, while not astounding are just proper for Intel to refresh their annual product line-up. Intel is able to put a 12% maximum performance gain via an improved design process, which basically means that they are able to push higher frequency envelope without amping up the TDP. The Intel Core i5 7600K for example, features a 91W TDP with a 3.8GHz Base Clock and a 4.2GHz Turbo Clock. That is 300 MHz higher over the 95W TDP Core i5 6600K for both the base and turbo.
Another thing worth noting is the updated Intel Speed Shift technology. It allows the Kaby lake CPUs to jump at Turbo Clocks faster than older generations. That, together with a new video decode unit, the Intel HD 630 IGP, is why Intel is marketing the Kaby Lake as a 14nm+ micro-architecture. The “+” is just too important for them to state that this is indeed a flushed 14nm package.
DESIGN, LAYOUT AND CONNECTIVITY:
The Z270X Gaming 9 is an E-ATX alright. This allowed GIGABYTE to extend the foot print for the I/O devices and other features.
RGB lighting options are all over the place. You’d get a light bar at the right, a set of light bar at the memory slots and even diodes near the socket area. Onboard buttons and diagnostic LEDs for overclocking and system tuning are also present.
The common headers are located beneath the board with the AMP switch and BIOS switches lined up as well. The CMOS battery’s location on the other hand is a welcome sight.
There are 8 SATA ports (3 SATA Express) together with the dual U.2 storage interfaces at the edge. These are more than enough for any power user’s requirements. Nothing to dislike here.
Back panel IO is lavish, yet I think it could be better if they included another pair of USB ports for good measure.
If you’re into liquid cooling, then you’d be happy with the GIGABYTE Z270X Gaming 9’s G1/4″ threaded VRM water block. Using it passively though is adequate enough to cool the 22 phase VRM under normal conditions.
There are tons of stuffs to talk about the Gaming 9 so head over at the GIGABYTE link for more information.
GIGABYTE revamped the UEFI of their latest motherboards and the Z270X Gaming 9 is no exception. I’d be honest that I prefer the older ones, but this is not bad either.
Everything you require is within reach under the 7 main menus with the M.I.T still serving as the center of overclocking.
TEST SETUP AND METHODOLOGY:
The performance of the system shall be evaluated by various benchmarking tools and applications. With the CPU, memory, storage, gaming, power and audio performance being the focus of the tests. We are testing this system with the high-performance settings enabled at the OS, with the default UEFI configuration. Background processes such as anti-virus 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||GIGABYTE AOURUS Z270X Gaming 9|
|CPU COOLER||Cryorig C1 Top Flow|
|MEMORY KIT||Crucial Ballistix Tactical @ 2666MHz 4x4GB Kit|
|GRAPHICS CARD||ASUS GTX 1060 STRIX OC 6GB|
|INTERNAL STORAGE||Crucial MX200 250GB|
|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
- Crystal Disk Mark – Storage performance
- RightMark Audio Analyzer – Audio performance
- AIDA64 Extreme Edition – Temperature, Power and Noise
The AIDA64 System Stability Test uses a 64-bit multi-threaded stress testing module to drive the system to its absolute limits. Power readings are recorded with a watt-meter.
Power readings from the Gaming 9 are the highest we’ve seen so far compared to other motherboards but this has to be expected with all the extra IO controller, lighting options and other features on board.
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 and stress test within the industry.
WPrime is a multi-threaded program that calculates a set number of square roots for estimating functions. It verifies the results by squaring them, then compares it with the original numbers.
The AIDA64 Memory Benchmark measure the maximum achievable data transfer bandwidth of the memory. That includes the Read, Write, Copy and Latency performance.
CPU performance is ideal for a Z270 motherboard, with an overclocked performance gaining as much as 9%. Not bad, I must say.
3DMark 2013 is a suite of benchmarks catered for a wide range of systems. We utilized the total system score from the FireStrike preset for the comparison.
Graphics performance isn’t the best but the Z270X Gaming 9’s results are not bad either. Again, expect a minor performance hit for high-end motherboards with lotsa stuffs on the PCB.
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.
The GIGABYTE AOURUS Z270X Gaming 9 featured solid numbers when it comes to our productivity benchmarks, especially with the Core i5-7600K at 4.6 GHz.
Crystal Disk Mark is a storage benchmarking software widely used throughout the industry. It feature synthetic benchmarks to test both the read and write performances of a storage medium. The Transcend TS-CM80S enclosure with a Plextor M7V M.2 SSD is used for the benchmarks.
Storage performance is on point with this board. Nothing to worry about.
RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) is a tool designed to test the quality of audio devices. The results are obtained using test signals passing through the audio paths via frequency analysis algorithms. We utilized a high quality 3.5mm stereo audio cable to loop the line-in and line-out of the system with a sample rate of 24-bit at 48 kHz.
|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, %|
Audio performance is generally very good which is expected from both GIGABYTE and Creative. The addition of dedicated OP-AMP chips ensures that you’ll get the best sound profile for both the left and right channels which is reported clearly by RMAA on the crosstalk results. Factory default frequency range could be better though – but that can be adjusted.
WRAPPING IT UP:
The GIGABYTE AOURUS Z270X Gaming 9 is an excellent motherboard with features and performance matching its price point of 27, 500 Pesos. This has to be one of the finest Z270 motherboards I’ve tested to date.
Build quality wise, we could say that rock solid is an understatement. Every major slots are reinforced to the point where you’ll start wondering why GIGABYTE did it in the first place. PCB traces and soldering are top notch too – which is a typical feature of GIGABYTE products. Top notch.
Overclocking options are great – rather extended. It’s been 3 generations since I tested a GIGABYTE board so I’m overwhelmed with the changes, I must say. One thing’s for sure though that GIGABYTE had implemented overclocking profiles for the compatible CPUs with ease. Back in the days, it’s a hit or miss.
Features on the other hand are lavish – and you’d feel sorry if you’ll never get the chance to use most of them. These features – including the extra controllers, puts pressure to the whole system by a bit, so the performance hit are negligible for their worth. Absolutely get this board if you require most of the features onboard.
Excellent set of features defined the GIGABYTE AOURUS Z270X Gaming 9 motherboard. It is a well thought-out product that brought lavish options for the gamers and the power users alike.