GIGABYTE Z270X Gaming 7 LGA 1151 Motherboard Review @ [H]

FrgMstr

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GIGABYTE Z270X Gaming 7 LGA 1151 Motherboard Review - GIGABYTE’s Z270X based offerings feel like slightly modified clones of the Z170X line. But hey there are tons of pretty lights on these! In all seriousness, the Z270 chipset based offerings are far more of an evolution than a revolution. That said, GIGABYTE has made improvements that are certainly worth checking out.

UPDATED Overclocking and Award Results have been added to the final page of the review.
 
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chx

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I am sorry but naming the ports is very sloppy: " 1x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI port, 3x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C port".

  1. DisplayPort what? 1.2? 1.3? 1.4?
  2. HDMI what? 1.4? 2.0? I believe the very point of Kaby Lake + Union Point is HDMI 2.0 but I might be mistaken. This is very important.
  3. USB 3.1 Gen what? Gen 1? Gen 2? What about Thunderbolt? Even if there's no Thunderbolt support, for a premium board even the negative needs to be mentioned IMO.
 

Rhialto

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The Bottom Line
Maybe you 2600K / Sandy Bridge guys are finally ready to let go?
That must be the question for many! I'm still running a 2500K and that's what I'm trying to find out but no hurry, next months will tell me, lots of reading incoming.
 

Dan_D

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The USB ports are all 3.1 Gen 1 save for the 2x Gen 3 ports. Nothing has changed on the chipset front outside of Optane support and 4 extra PCIe lanes. HDMI is version 1.4 and the DisplayPort version is 1.2.
 

sboucher

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That must be the question for many! I'm still running a 2500K and that's what I'm trying to find out but no hurry, next months will tell me, lots of reading incoming.
Same boat I'm in (2600K). Given how long this proc has lasted me, I'd really like to hold out for PCI-Ex 4.0 though. Really curious to know when those will start landing. But at the very least, I am waiting for AMD to see where the dust settles with all of this.

Personally, I like that the performance improvements year after year have slowed down. Eases up on my wallet a little bit. Especially now that I have kids with higher financial "priorities"..
 

ddarko

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"The only exiting aspect of its design is that 4x PCIe lanes have been added to the chipset bringing the total PCIe lane count of the platform to 30 from 24 on the outgoing Z170 chipset."

4 + 24 = 30?

I've read three sites discuss the Z270 chipset today - HardOCP, Arstechnica and Tech Report - and each one gave a different number as to the total numbers of PCIe lanes. The only number that everyone agrees upon is the Z270 adds four PCIe lanes but after that, all bets are off. Ars says it has a total of 40 (16 direct to CPU + 24 feeding off the DMI), Tech Report is even more confused because it says the additional lanes allows "the chipset to support up to 14 general purpose PCIe lanes, compared to 10 in the Z170" but then goes on to talk about how the chipset has "30 flexible I/O lanes."
 

Dan_D

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I'll see if I can clear this up. The number 30 is a typo on my part so I can understand the confusion. I likely hadn't reconciled all references to match in the article as I was still gathering data fairly late in the process. The total number of lanes offered by the CPU is 16. The total number of lanes offered by the chipset is 24. (Up from 20 on Z170.) Thus, the total number is actually 40. The statement about general purpose lanes comes from a very early report concerning the chipsets features. It isn't wrong as the number accounts for what typically gets removed for features. NICs, audio etc. Often times we are briefed by manufactures and given slide decks with information on them prior to a product launch. This is the sloppiest launch I've seen so far with very little being communicated to reviewers compared to the amount of information we normally receive.
 

FrgMstr

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"The only exiting aspect of its design is that 4x PCIe lanes have been added to the chipset bringing the total PCIe lane count of the platform to 30 from 24 on the outgoing Z170 chipset."

4 + 24 = 30?

I've read three sites discuss the Z270 chipset today - HardOCP, Arstechnica and Tech Report - and each one gave a different number as to the total numbers of PCIe lanes. The only number that everyone agrees upon is the Z270 adds four PCIe lanes but after that, all bets are off. Ars says it has a total of 40 (16 direct to CPU + 24 feeding off the DMI), Tech Report is even more confused because it says the additional lanes allows "the chipset to support up to 14 general purpose PCIe lanes, compared to 10 in the Z170" but then goes on to talk about how the chipset has "30 flexible I/O lanes."
Yeah, it is confusing as Dan has pointed out below. But the bottom line is that it is likely not going to be mean shit for most of us. :p
 

Nebulous

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Same boat I'm in (2600K). Given how long this proc has lasted me, I'd really like to hold out for PCI-Ex 4.0 though. Really curious to know when those will start landing. But at the very least, I am waiting for AMD to see where the dust settles with all of this.

Personally, I like that the performance improvements year after year have slowed down. Eases up on my wallet a little bit. Especially now that I have kids with higher financial "priorities"..

I'm rocking the 4790K which has handled evrything I've thrown at it. Upgraded my 480 to a 1070. Saw the only performance increase between this and the 6700K was disappointing. The 7700K is not blowing air up my skirt either. My 10 year old's priorities are putting a hurting to my wallet as well, lol.
 

chx

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The USB ports are all 3.1 Gen 1 save for the 2x Gen 3 ports. Nothing has changed on the chipset front outside of Optane support and 4 extra PCIe lanes. HDMI is version 1.4 and the DisplayPort version is 1.2.
There's no Gen 3. Did you mean Gen 2? There are proper Gen 2 ports? That's something, I guess. Seriously, no HDMI 2.0??
 

Cobalt35

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I'm running a 6700K on an ASUS Maximus Hero VIII. I really appreciate the reviews but I don't see a compelling reason to upgrade the CPU or motherboard this time around.
 

FrgMstr

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I'm running a 6700K on an ASUS Maximus Hero VIII. I really appreciate the reviews but I don't see a compelling reason to upgrade the CPU or motherboard this time around.
Well, we only do reviews so you have the information to make a buying decision, or to make a decision not to buy. :)
 

THUMPer

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MSI got rid of the e-SATA ports. This was a welcome surprise to me. I see Gigabyte still has them on this board. I wonder if anyone else will remove them.
 

chx

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D'oh Gen 3 is the PCI Express. USB 3.0 is now called USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Speed up to 5Gbps), Gen 2 (10Gbps) is apparently what we have but it's not clear whether it's native or still needs a controller.
 

sboucher

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I'm running a 6700K on an ASUS Maximus Hero VIII. I really appreciate the reviews but I don't see a compelling reason to upgrade the CPU or motherboard this time around.
I'd hope not, cuz that would be a bloody waste..
 

shspvr

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One thing you don't want this board for Linux as onboard Creative Lab Sound Core3D audio is useless under that OS.
 

revenant

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It's nice to see the m.2 slot placements in decent areas. The old habit of putting one right under pci-e slot 0 (covered by a video card) seemed far from ideal to me - especially for nvme ssds. Sorta wishing I held out for z270 now but oh well.
 

whateverer

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The USB ports are all 3.1 Gen 1 save for the 2x Gen 3 ports. Nothing has changed on the chipset front outside of Optane support and 4 extra PCIe lanes. HDMI is version 1.4 and the DisplayPort version is 1.2.
Wait, so how does Intel support Netflix 4k over an "old and busted" HDMI 1.4 link? I can't see HDMI 1.4 supporting EITHER 10-bit 4k OR PlayReady 3.0 DRM.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016...ing-pc-kaby-lake-cpu-windows-10-edge-browser/

Is there actually no support for HDMI 2.0 on these desktop Kaby processors? Or is HDMI 2.0 support going to depend on the motherboard/OEM system builder? Cause man, that's the last thing Intel needs for an already pointless product release - more unpredictable feature fragmentation.
 
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Dan_D

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Wait, so how does Intel support Netflix 4k over an "old and busted" HDMI 1.4 link? I can't see HDMI 1.4 supporting EITHER 10-bit 4k OR PlayReady 3.0 DRM.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016...ing-pc-kaby-lake-cpu-windows-10-edge-browser/

Is there actually no support for HDMI 2.0 on these desktop Kaby processors? Or is HDMI 2.0 support going to depend on the motherboard/OEM system builder? Cause man, that's the last thing Intel needs for an already pointless product release - more unpredictable feature fragmentation.
I'm fairly certain that support for HDMI 2.0 is at a chipset / motherboard level. However, I haven't confirmed this. I'll reach out to some of the manufacturers and see if I can get a solid answer on that question. So far none of the Z270 motherboards I've seen support anything more than DisplayPort 1.2. The official specs rarely give the HDMI version but any I've seen so far are all HDMI 1.4.

It's nice to see the m.2 slot placements in decent areas. The old habit of putting one right under pci-e slot 0 (covered by a video card) seemed far from ideal to me - especially for nvme ssds. Sorta wishing I held out for z270 now but oh well.
In talking with them over the last couple of years I got the impression that the motherboard makers were waiting for the heat issues to somehow get addressed by the SSD manufacturers. I think the motherboard makers now realize that this isn't going to happen and are now trying to do something about potential heat issues. Keep in mind that when M.2 came out the SSD's didn't get that hot. As they got more powerful and ran hotter, enthusiasts assumed it would eventually become an issue. Its not until articles came out proving that thermal throttling can and does occur that anything was actually done about it.
 
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[H] motherboard reviews are consistently the best written, most technical, and the most informative of all other reviews they do.......hands down.

Keep up the great work, Dan.
 

revenant

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[snip]
In talking with them over the last couple of years I got the impression that the motherboard makers were waiting for the heat issues to somehow get addressed by the SSD manufacturers. I think the motherboard makers now realize that this isn't going to happen and are now trying to do something about potential heat issues. Keep in mind that when M.2 came out the SSD's didn't get that hot. As they got more powerful and ran hotter, enthusiasts assumed it would eventually become an issue. Its not until articles came out proving that thermal throttling can and does occur that anything was actually done about it.
Very good point.
 

toddw

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Thanks for the review!

What are your thoughts on the B-clock generator? Is this a gigabyte thing, a z270 thing, or another animal altogether? Do we get 150 MHz bus again?
 

FrgMstr

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Thanks for the review!

What are your thoughts on the B-clock generator? Is this a gigabyte thing, a z270 thing, or another animal altogether? Do we get 150 MHz bus again?
I have not done any bus scaling yet, not sure we will. The benefits are not there like it used to be.
 

Dan_D

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Thanks for the review!

What are your thoughts on the B-clock generator? Is this a gigabyte thing, a z270 thing, or another animal altogether? Do we get 150 MHz bus again?
Since the Z170 Express chipsets introduction, external clock generators could be used if a motherboard manufacturer wanted to. ASUS and GIGABYTE specifically use external clock generators with a range of 82MHz to 550MHz give or take. The stock Intel clock generator only has a range of something like 90MHz to 150MHz or 175MHz if memory serves. This is possible because Z170 decouples PCIe clocks from the standard base clock. Many more memory dividers are available now and that too can be set so that it isn't necessarily linked to the base clock. Its one of the improvements over the Z97 Express chipset and earlier designs.
 

TheHobbyist

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I would also like to know about the kaby lake hdmi 2.0 / Netflix 4k support situation.
 

Dan_D

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I would also like to know about the kaby lake hdmi 2.0 / Netflix 4k support situation.
So far, none of the motherboards I've seen support HDMI 2.0 or they simply give no version specification for HDMI at all.
 

pendragon1

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So far, none of the motherboards I've seen support HDMI 2.0 or they simply give no version specification for HDMI at all.
the boards with pci on them are hdmi 1.4. saw it in one of the vids when they were explaining the "emerging markets" thing. all the proper "first world" boards should be 2.0...

nm.. confused myself with the z270 vs x370 boards. so much going on my brain hurts!
 
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Dan_D

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the boards with pci on them are hdmi 1.4. saw it in one of the vids when they were explaining the "emerging markets" thing. all the proper "first world" boards should be 2.0...

nm.. confused myself with the z270 vs x370 boards. so much going on my brain hurts!
It appears that the CPU's iGPU supports HDMI 2.0. However the chipset may not. Here is what the GIGABYTE website says:

"Integrated Graphics Processor+MegaChips MCDP2800 chip:

1 x HDMI 2.0 port
Requires the latest Intel® Graphic Driver from GIGABYTE website."


Keep in mind that when we review a motherboard prior to launch, we don't always have that much information from the manufacturer. The product page for this wasn't up when we did this and the slide deck we got initially made no mention of HDMI specs. It's interesting to note that the MegaChips MCDP2800 is used to give it HDMI 2.0 compatibility based on the information above.
 
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DejaWiz

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Nice, thanks for the review, [H]

I've been eyeballing the Gigabyte MoBo's equipped with the SoundCore 3D for quite some time...seems to be a far superior onboard solution to every other one on the market. I'll probably be getting one for my next major system upgrade, whatever that will be and whenever it happens.
 

opfreak

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any issues with stability? or problems related to PC going to sleep? This might be my next board.
 

JoseJones

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I am curious to find out which motherboard system has better performance and less heat issues with NVMe M.2's between AM4 370, 350 vs z270? Will AM4 have the same number of lanes for M.2 as a z270?
 

Dan_D

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I am curious to find out which motherboard system has better performance and less heat issues with NVMe M.2's between AM4 370, 350 vs z270? Will AM4 have the same number of lanes for M.2 as a z270?
We don't know yet.
 

Nevalite

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It appears that the CPU's iGPU supports HDMI 2.0. However the chipset may not. Here is what the GIGABYTE website says:

"Integrated Graphics Processor+MegaChips MCDP2800 chip:

1 x HDMI 2.0 port
Requires the latest Intel® Graphic Driver from GIGABYTE website."


Keep in mind that when we review a motherboard prior to launch, we don't always have that much information from the manufacturer. The product page for this wasn't up when we did this and the slide deck we got initially made no mention of HDMI specs. It's interesting to note that the MegaChips MCDP2800 is used to give it HDMI 2.0 compatibility based on the information above.
Do we know if the converted HDMI ports that use the MegaChips MCDP2800 chip support Playready 3.0? I know ASrock did that on the Z170 gaming ITX board last generation. If it does not support Playready 3.0 I don't see how we will get Netflix 4k @ 60hz out of Kaby Lake...
 

Dan_D

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Do we know if the converted HDMI ports that use the MegaChips MCDP2800 chip support Playready 3.0? I know ASrock did that on the Z170 gaming ITX board last generation. If it does not support Playready 3.0 I don't see how we will get Netflix 4k @ 60hz out of Kaby Lake...
I do not know if Playready 3.0 is supported or not by Kaby Lake of if this is something that has to be done on the motherboard side. I'll see if I can find out.
 

smaudioz

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Looks like this is the board for me since there is no Z270 Designare, I don't like the look of it though. The Gigabyte Z270 K5 looks so much nicer with its black heatsinks but I don't want a a board with only Killer LAN on it, as it seems to be not thought too fondly of by many people.
 

Dan_D

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Looks like this is the board for me since there is no Z270 Designare, I don't like the look of it though. The Gigabyte Z270 K5 looks so much nicer with its black heatsinks but I don't want a a board with only Killer LAN on it, as it seems to be not thought too fondly of by many people.
The Killer NIC is decent hardware. The drivers are pretty solid in Windows 10. Back when we were still testing with Windows 7 the drivers were horrendous. I still don't like the Killer Network manager but you can do a driver only installation for them. I'd still prefer an Intel NIC or at least two NICs of identical models / brands in case I wish to do teaming. I'd also prefer an Intel NIC if I'm doing to do anything with server OSes and virtualization. I don't know if there are drivers for Windows 2012 R2 for the Killer NIC. In the past those adapters were not supported all that well outside of whatever the current version of Windows used by the mainstream public at the time.
 
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