Intel’s latest enthusiast class Z270 chipset made its debut at CES 2017, and Asus didn’t waste time refreshing its motherboard lineup. The hardware designer announced 10 new Z270-based boards from four distinct model lines.
Asus maintains a variety of product lines that cater to different needs. The ROG Strix series caters to gamers; the TUF series features military grade components for longevity and resistance to the elements; and the ROG Maximus is suited for enthusiasts who dip their toes into extreme overclocking, exotic water cooling installations, and custom PC modding. New for 2017, Asus introduced a line called Prime, which offers a more conservative configuration.
The Prime lineup inherited Asus’ popular -A motherboard variant. The Prime Z270-A offers Asus’ 5-Way Optimization technology, which can automatically overclock your CPU and tweak fan and power profiles. The Z270-A also includes an audio solution that can power high-end headphones without an additional amplifier.
RGB All The Things
Asus’ entire Z270 motherboard lineup includes Aura Sync RGB lighting, which can be controlled with Asus Aura Sync software. Asus also includes headers on each board to extend the Aura lighting to a LED strip. Asus Z270 ATX motherboards include two headers, except for the Z270-A, which has only one.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Prime Z270-A||TUF Z270 Mark 1||Strix Z270I Gaming||Strix Z270G Gaming||Strix Z270E Gaming|
|CPU support||Intel® Socket 1151 for 7th/6th Generation Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors||Intel® Socket 1151 for 7th/6th Generation Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors||Intel® Socket 1151 for 7th/6th Generation Core||Intel® Socket 1151 for 7th/6th Generation Core||Intel® Socket 1151 for 7th/6th Generation Core|
|Chipset||Intel Z270||Intel Z270||Intel Z270|
|Memory||4 x DDR4 up to 3866||4 x DDR4 up to 3866MHz||2 x DDR4 up to 4266MHz||4 x DDR4 up to 4000MHz||4 x DDR4 up to 3866MHz|
|Onboard VGA outputs||1 x DVI-D||1 x HDMI (1.4b)||1 x HDMI (1.4b)||1 x HDMI (1.4b)||1 x DVI-D|
|1 x HDMI (1.4b)||1 x DP (1.2)||1 x DP (1.2)||1 x DP (1.2)||1 x HDMI (1.4b)|
|1 x DP (1.2)||Row 5 - Cell 1||Row 5 - Cell 2||Row 5 - Cell 3||1 x DP (1.2)|
|PCIe 3.0 x16 slots||2 (supporting x16, x8/x8)||2 (supporting x16, x8/x8)||1||2 (supporting x16, x8/x8)||2 (supporting x16, x8/x8)|
|PCIe 3.0 X 16 (x4) slots||1||1||-||-||1|
|PCIe 3.0 X 1 slots||4||3||-||2||4|
|Multi-GPU||2-way SLI/CrossFireX||2-way SLI/CrossFireX||-||2-way SLI/CrossFireX||2-way SLI/CrossFireX|
|Row 10 - Cell 0||Row 10 - Cell 1||Row 10 - Cell 2||Row 10 - Cell 3||Row 10 - Cell 4||Row 10 - Cell 5|
|Gigabit Ethernet||1 x Intel||1 x Intel||1 x Intel||1 x Intel||1 x Intel|
|Wireless||-||-||2 x 2 802.11ac||2 x 2 802.11ac||2 x 2 802.11ac|
|Row 13 - Cell 0||Row 13 - Cell 1||Row 13 - Cell 2||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi|
|Row 14 - Cell 0||Row 14 - Cell 1||Row 14 - Cell 2||Bluetooth v4.1||Bluetooth v4.1||Bluetooth v4.1|
|Storage||2 x M.2||2 x M.2||2 x M.2||2 x M.2||2 x M.2|
|6 x SATA||6 x SATA||4 x SATA||6 x SATA||6 x SATA|
|USB 3.1||1 x Type-C||1 x Type-C||1 x Front panel connector||1 x Type-C||1 x Type-C|
|Row 18 - Cell 0||1 x Type-A||1 x Type-A||1 x Type-A||1 x Type-A|
|Row 19 - Cell 0||Row 19 - Cell 1||Row 19 - Cell 2||1 x Front panel||1 x Front panel connector|
|Audio||Crystal Sound 3||Realtek S1220A||SupremeFX S1220A||SupremeFX S1220A||SupremeFX S1220A|
|Aura lighting||Onboard + 1 x strip header||Onboard||Onboard + 1 x strip headers||Onboard + 2 x strip header||Onboard + 2 x strip headers|
The Asus Aura Sync software lets you configure how the lighting behaves. It can be set to react to music or play a preconfigured animation, for example, and the tool has been updated to link a CPU's load to specific color profiles.
Asus took Aura Sync to the next level with the Z270 lineup. Aura Sync currently lets you configure independent colors for the motherboard lighting and the RGB strips. ROG Maximus motherboards also let you configure both 5050 headers with different colors. The new version of Aura Sync can also control the RGB systems on other devices, such as graphics cards, peripherals, and Aura Sync-ready cases from the likes of DeepCool, NZXT, and InWin. Asus even worked with G.Skill to include support for Trident Z RGB memory, and it's working with Avexir, Corsair, and Kingston to support future RAM kits from these companies.
GPU Temps Effect Fan Profile
In a similar vein to supporting the lighting of other devices, Asus’s 200-series motherboards can interface with other components, namely Asus graphics cards, to manage the system’s fan profile more efficiently. Asus Z270 motherboards can read the temperature sensors from select Asus graphics cards and use that data to more effectively manage fan rotation speeds. Asus’ fan control software can assign up to three thermal sources to each fan header, and the software will determine which source is the hottest and react accordingly.
Intel’s Z270 chipset offers more PCI-E lanes, which allowed Asus to include two M.2 slots on each Z270 motherboard in its lineup. Asus said it took more care in the placement of the M.2 slots for the latest generation motherboards: On the Z170 motherboards, the M.2 slot was often located directly below the primary PCI-E slot; Asus made sure not to place the M.2 slot of Z270 boards so close to heat generating components. To get around that problem with the mini-ITX motherboards, Asus created a heatsink system for M.2 drives to keep them cool.
Asus’ entire Z270 lineup include SafeSlot PCI-Express slots, which feature steel plates that reinforce the outer walls of the slot. SafeSlot slots are also fastened to the motherboard with additional solder points to ensure a strong connection. The extra reinforcement is meant to protect the motherboard from damage when you transport your PC.
Make It Yours
Asus is embracing customization to a new degree with the Z270 lineup. The company previously experimented with neutral colored motherboards that include RGB lighting and it found that its customers appreciate the ability to tweak their build’s appearance to suit their desires. Select motherboards in the new lineup include mounting points for 3D printed parts.
Asus collaborated with Shapeways to provide 3D printing services for Asus customers. Shapeways is opening a “dedicated Asus shop” where you can “purchase, download, and customize” components, such as IO shrouds, nameplates, cable combs, SLI bridge covers, and M.2 fan mounts.
"Our previous generations have been validated, praised and awarded by the media and our customers, confirming ASUS is the number-one motherboard brand for all your needs, said Joe Hsieh, ASUS Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Motherboard Business Unit & New Product Planning Division. “For our Z270 generation, we’ve taken innovation and customization to the next level, with personalization features such as Aura Sync RGB lighting, exclusive EFI controls and support for 3D-printed components. We’ve also co-operated with Shapeways to launch a dedicated ASUS shop where users can purchase, download and customize and 3D-printable accessories worldwide — so they’ll have options to customize their systems in ways not previously available. It’s time to unlock the power of 7th Generation Intel Core processors — and an ASUS Z270-series motherboard is the perfect way to do just that!"
The Z270 series of Asus motherboards hits worldwide store shelves on January 5. Prices range from $169 for the Prime Z270-A to $389 for the Maximus IX Formula. The company hasn’t released the price for the Maximus IX Extreme, but expect it to command a significant premium over the Formula model.
|CPU support||Intel Z270||Intel Z270||Intel Z270||Intel Z270||Intel Z270|
|Chipset||4 x DDR4 up to 4133+||2 x DDR4 up to 4266+||4 x DDR4 up to 4133+||4 x DDR4 up to 4133+||4 x DDR4 up to 4133+|
|Memory||1 x HDMI (1.4b)||1 x HDMI (1.4b)||1 x HDMI (1.4b)||1 x HDMI (1.4b)||1 x HDMI (1.4b)|
|Onboard VGA outputs||1 x DP (1.2)||1 x DP (1.2)||1 x DP (1.2)||1 x DP (1.2)||1 x DP (1.2)|
|2 (supporting x16, x8/x8)||2 (supporting x16, x8/x8)||2 (supporting x16, x8/x8)||2 (supporting x16, x8/x8)||2 (supporting x16, x8/x8)|
|PCIe 3.0 x16 slots||Row 5 - Cell 1||Row 5 - Cell 2||Row 5 - Cell 3||Row 5 - Cell 4||1|
|PCIe 3.0 X 16 (x4) slots||3||2||3||3||-|
|PCIe 3.0 X 1 slots||2-way SLI/CrossFireX||2-way SLI/CrossFireX||2-way SLI/CrossFireX||2-way SLI/CrossFireX||2-way SLI/CrossFireX|
|Multi-GPU||Row 8 - Cell 1||Row 8 - Cell 2||Row 8 - Cell 3||Row 8 - Cell 4||3-Way AMD CrossFireX|
|Row 9 - Cell 0||1 x Intel||1 x Intel||1 x Intel||1 x Intel||1 x Intel|
|Gigabit Ethernet||-||-||2x2 802.11ac||2x2 802.11ac||2x2 802.11ac|
|Wireless||Row 11 - Cell 1||Row 11 - Cell 2||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi|
|Row 12 - Cell 0||Row 12 - Cell 1||Row 12 - Cell 2||Bluetooth v4.1||Bluetooth v4.1||Bluetooth v4.1|
|Row 13 - Cell 0||2 x M.2||2 x M.2 on DIMM.2 Ext. Card||2 x M.2||2 x M.2||2 x M.2|
|Storage||6 x SATA||4 x SATA||6 x SATA||6 x SATA||8 x SATA|
|2 x Type-C||1 x Type C||2 x Type-C||2 x Type-C||1 x Type C|
|USB 3.1||1 x Type-A||1 x Type A||1 x Type-A||1 x Type-A||1 x Type A|
|Row 17 - Cell 0||SupremeFX S1220||SupremeFX S1220||SupremeFX S1220||SupremeFX S1220||SupremeFX S1220|
|Audio||Onboard + 2 x strip headers||Onboard + 2 x strip headers||Onboard + 2 x strip headers||Onboard + 2 x strip headers||Onboard + 2 x strip headers|
|Aura lighting||SupremeFX S1220||SupremeFX S1220A||SupremeFX S1220||SupremeFX S1220||SupremeFX S1220|
|Row 22 - Cell 0||Row 22 - Cell 1||Row 22 - Cell 2|