The degree of development of the semiconductor industry has already revealed to users full-fledged systems-on-a-chip (SOC), having prepared for ordinary motherboards the role of a carrier of sockets and expansion slots. However, motherboard manufacturers do not sit idly by and grope for ways to make money, thereby offering the buyer new opportunities that no one even seriously thought of five or ten years ago.
Today we will consider the «seventh» model, that is, not the highest, but not just an average level from the line of «gaming» motherboards from a popular manufacturer. The equipment of junior models most often means the presence of bonus software for the network and sound subsystem, that is, interesting hardware ideas do not always find implementation in that segment. The GA-Z270X-Gaming 7 in question is part of a special line of Aorus products. Without creating intrigue, I will immediately outline the key feature of the solution — the sound system here is not the traditional Realtek ALC1220 for today, but a hardware and software system from Creative. The power system also looks powerful, and there is also a massive heatsink that gives hope for successful overclocking.
There are no pleiades of additional controllers, you need to look for them on top-end motherboards. But still, some part is available, for example, thanks to the Thunderbolt support chip — Intel JHL6540, the product is equipped with a pair of the most modern USB sockets on the rear panel. The following table will tell you about the rest of the possibilities:
|Model||Gigabyte Aorus GA-Z270X-Gaming 7 (rev. 1.0)|
|Official product page on the Web||gigabyte.ua|
|Processor socket||Socket 1151|
|Processors||Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium, Celeron (Skylake-S, Kaby Lake-S)|
|Memory||4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400/2666*/2800*/3000*/3200*/3300*/3333*/3400*/3466*/3600*/3666*/3733*/3800*/3866*/4000*/ 4133*(OC), maximum 64 GB|
|PCI slots||2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16+x0, x8+x8)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4)
3 x PCI Express 3.0 x1
|M.2||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280)
|Integrated video core (in the processor)||Intel HD 510/530/610/630|
|Video connectors||DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4|
|Number of connected fans||8x 4pin|
|PS/2 ports||1 (keyboard/mouse)|
|The port is USB||2 x 3.1 Gen2 (2 connectors on the rear panel (A and C), Intel JHL6540)
5 x 3.1 Gen1 (5 connectors on the rear panel, Z270)
4 x 3.1 Gen1 (no connectors on the rear panel, Realtek RTS5411)
4 x 2.0 (no connectors on the rear panel, Z270)
|Serial ATA||6 x SATA 6Gb/s (Z270)|
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, Z270)|
|Built-in sound||Codec — Creative Sound Blaster Recon3Di (2/5.1, HDA)
Op Amp — Texas Instruments OPA2134
|Networking||Intel I219V (Gigabit Ethernet)
Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2500 (Gigabit Ethernet)
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 244|
|Additional features||Three SATA-E sockets, U.2 port, Thunderbolt header, eight pairs of system voltage measurement points, buttons: power on, OC, ECO and others; POST indicator, hardware switches: audio amplifier operation mode for headphone output (2.5x/6x) and UEFI DualBIOS operation mode, DIP cradle with pre-installed OPA2134 op amp, dedicated USB (DAC-UP 2) for connecting an external DAC, support AMD 3-Way CrossFireX and NVIDIA 2-Way SLI|
|Retail price, $||292|
Packaging and equipment
The box does not have a carrying handle, although it is slightly larger than usual. Almost the entire area is occupied by the logo of the Aorus series, the details of the product are placed on the back side.
So, in addition to a special sound system, there are a couple of different network adapters, support for various types of interfaces for high-speed drives, multi-zone lighting, eight universal blocks for system coolers and nine temperature values fixed by the board. There was almost no space left for a photo of the device and a plate with characteristics.
The kit includes:
- user manual, which illustrates and describes in detail the sub-items of UEFI (in English), provides a brief overview of the capabilities of proprietary software;
- multilingual quick installation guide;
- disk with drivers and proprietary software;
- «holster» for convenient connection of body connectors G Connector;
- Aorus logo sticker;
- a set of fourteen labels for labeling SATA cables;
- two plastic plugs for video outputs on the rear panel;
- a pair of branded Velcro ties that can be used for cable management in the case;
- double hard bridge for organizing SLI;
- five-wire extension cable for connecting LED strip;
- four SATA 6Gb / s cables, two of which have an L-shaped connector on one of the ends;
- anodized plug for the housing with a one-color symbolic designation of all sockets. The reverse part is pasted over with noise-absorbing material;
- two external thermocouples (with a drop-shaped compound at the end).
All elements were placed on a board of the standard ATX format. There are nine attachment points in the case. Buttons, switches and indicators are in abundance, located in a variety of places.
The visor above the rear panel can be dismantled, it is fixed with screws, like other attachments — heatsinks for power circuits and the Intel Z270 hub. There are almost no electronic components on the back.
The heatsink installed on the chipset is huge. The logo of the series is metallized. Perhaps this node is the only one on the board, devoid of backlighting.
Wired drives will have three SATA-E outputs or six conventional ones, all of them longitudinal type. There is a high-speed U.2.
Under the socket there is an M.2 with an extended seat, and at the bottom edge of the board there is a regular one where you can install products up to 2280. In the photo you can see the LEDs soldered immediately under the PCI-E x16 sockets.
Classic USB sockets of the second generation are implemented only with a pair of blocks for case cables. Another, more modern, pair relies on the capabilities of the Realtek RTS5411 hub. There are two microcircuits with firmware, they are soldered in the middle of the board. Each of them has an orange LED, and you can easily understand which of them is working at the current time.
The two upper reinforced PCI-E x16 can share sixteen processor lines, the lower slot works with PCH (in the maximum available x4 mode), as well as three regular PCI-E x1.
For the sound subsystem, an RGB-type backlight was placed on the front so that it could intricately illuminate the visor. Under it, you can see an implementation that is noticeably different from conventional boards, there is, as stated, a quad-core sound processor from Creative, a collet bed with a pre-installed op-amp, and there is a gain switch at the very edge of the board. Previously, a similar scheme has already been used by the company as part of the flagship solution — Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5.
Continuing the theme of backlighting and reinforcement, we should look at the DRAM slots, they are framed by a screen, and between them there are plastic light guides, along the edges of which LEDs work.
Along the right edge, a place was taken for a separate, largest light guide, all indicators are of the “RGB” type.
The node for working with the board is located in its upper right corner. There are five buttons here: power on, reset (white), a pair with ready-made work profiles (activated on the fly) and switching firmware. It complements the mechanism, which must be activated manually. There are also eight pairs of system voltages that can be measured using probes and a multimeter.
A pair of on-off switches will help you change the mode of operation of microcircuits with firmware. The first will allow you to refuse the work of DualBIOS, and the second will directly point to the number of the «flash drive». As far as I understand, when working in this mode, if the settings fail, the board can go into a cyclic restart (as if trying to switch to a backup chip), just at this moment, using the button located at the upper right corner helps.
Indicators representing the passage of equipment initialization are soldered at the bottom. There is a traditional two-segment LED POST indicator and a simplified four-unit complex. They are all red.
Above the sixth block for the system cooler there is a pair of contacts where one of the branded thermocouples can be connected, the second one is connected near the ATX power socket. Resetting the settings, if necessary, will have to be done by closing the group of contacts, it is located to the left of THB_C.
In addition to power elements, a few more LEDs were soldered near the socket. There is plenty of space for painless installation of cooling structures.
If you do not take into account the LEDs, the scheme for building a power stabilizer is identical to the Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 5 model. There is an updated seven-channel PWM controller Intersil Corporation ISL95866 with integrated three drivers. The four missing ones are implemented by discrete models. To stabilize the Votlage CPU, four channels with a doubled number of SiRA12DP and SiRA18DP from Vishay Intertechnology are used (two pairs for each «phase»). For the needs of the graphics subsystem, three channels are provided, they use a pair of the same elements as part of each.
The heatpipe that connects the pair of radiators is far from the base, but, as will be seen later, such a cooling solution turned out to be quite enough for full-fledged work. There are no traces of savings on the thermal pad, a reliable clamp provides screw fastening.
The rear panel looks quite modest for a product with a high positioning. There are two video outputs, they are gold-plated, as well as five audio jacks. All seven USB ports are third generation. Red and symmetrical — the latest version (3.1 Gen2).