ASRock Z270 Extreme4 Kaby Lake ATX Motherboard Review

A reduced price variation of its Z270 Gaming K6, ASRock’s Z270 Extreme4 also comes with fewer feature enhancements. Does this create a value triumph over a previously-tested $150 competitor?

Sometimes, the easiest way to create a motherboard at reduced cost is to leave a few features off one that already exists. A look back at the Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming K6 review shows that it had all the hardware, right down to a value price for its extra features. The only problem was that it throttled the CPU frequency down under extreme workloads, and that’s probably something that could be addressed in firmware. We don’t have time to give most manufacturers a second chance when new firmware comes out, but that’s effectively what ASRock gets in this review of its nearly identical Z270 Extreme4.

Gone are the second network controller, numeric POST code display, XMP switch, onboard power and reset buttons, stainless steel trim on the lowest PCIe slot, and SoundBlaster Cinema3 software. In place of these are a bunch of empty solder points and DTS Connect for the identical ALC1220 audio codec. Buyers still get the Intel i219V gigabit Ethernet PHY, the two-lane ASM2142 USB 3.1 controller linked to both Type-C and Type-A ports, the extra single-lane SATA two-port controller, and the empty antenna jacks mounted behind a concealed M.2 Key E Wi-Fi adapter slot. The rear shroud and PCH heat sink lighting are still controlled independently by the same Aura RGB controls that feed the RGB case light cable.

These changes correspond to a $20 price reduction.

The two PCIe x16 slots that share lanes are still trimmed in stainless steel, and still convert from x16/x0 to x8/x8 connections when a card is detected in the second of these two slots. Cards with up to triple-slot coolers are supported.

All three of the PCIe x1 slots are open-ended to support cards that are longer than x1, and the bottom x16-length slot has four unshared PCIe 3.0 lanes with NVMe SSD support. Including the two PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, users can install up to three NVMe drives.

While none of the remaining PCIe slots are shared, the two NVMe-capable M.2 slots each share two HSIO resources with SATA 6Gb/s ports. That means installing two M.2 drives eliminates four SATA ports. Though an additional SATA controller adds two ports, it only operates from a single lane in PCIe 2.0 mode. So you can have three ultra-fast NVMe drives and four SATA drives installed, but two of those SATA drives will be sharing bandwidth over a single 5Gb/s pathway.

Two of the five PWM-style fan headers can be switched to voltage regulation mode, and both of those are rated for 1.5A to support pumps. If you only need one for your pump, the other might be useful for adding thermally-active fan speed control to a three-pin-powered case fan hub, such as the one found in SilverStone’s recently-reviewed Primera PM01. Employing that option requires a builder to track down a three conductor cable with two properly sized female ends.

Because it uses the same PCB as the Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming K6, the Z270 Extreme4 has the same layout benefits and drawbacks. Two different styles of header are available for two generations of Thunderbolt add-in-cards, the two USB 3.0 front-panel headers are both found just beneath the 24-pin power header and are fed by the chipset and a hub, and the most difficult drawback—a front-panel audio jack placed extremely far back on the bottom edge—is only a problem for those few builders whose cables came up half-an-inch short.

The biggest difference in the Z270 Extreme4’s packaging is that the box is turned sideways, compared to the Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming K6. Builders still get four SATA cables and an HB-style SLI bridge.

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  • SR-71 Blackbird
    Nice review , thanks Crash!
  • Anonymous
    Why not use Windows 7 for a test as all benchmarks show better performance than on Windows 10 especially in synthetic gaming benches?
  • shrapnel_indie
    2164959 said:
    Why not use Windows 7 for a test as all benchmarks show better performance than on Windows 10 especially in synthetic gaming benches?



    You mean an OS, along with Win 8.x, that Microsoft wishes to be gone already despite still in the support cycle, and has less developer data-mining added-features than previous versions? To adopt Win 7 (or 8.x for that matter) would kill any DX12 testing that is important enough to some people, as well since "we know what you want better than you do" Microsoft decided DX12 for anything less than their newest OS would never happen.


    Besides, IF all tests are still on Win 10 instead, everything ran on Win 10 will have the same handicap and suffer the same way... keeping the results even, despite the lower numbers.
  • Anonymous
    No DPC latency bench?
  • Onus
    For a mild overclocker (like myself), who may just want other "Z" features, this board may deserve a spot on the short list, although MSI's Z270 SLI Plus has much better efficiency, which will likely put it ahead.
  • Silent_Scone
    Thomas, your paragraph on this alleged DIMM offset voltage. What makes you think this is what is happening?
  • Anonymous
    AsRock Extreme 4 series whether is x99, z97 or z270 is really awesome product.
  • Anonymous
    330834 said:
    2164959 said:
    Why not use Windows 7 for a test as all benchmarks show better performance than on Windows 10 especially in synthetic gaming benches?
    You mean an OS, along with Win 8.x, that Microsoft wishes to be gone already despite still in the support cycle, and has less developer data-mining added-features than previous versions? To adopt Win 7 (or 8.x for that matter) would kill any DX12 testing that is important enough to some people, as well since "we know what you want better than you do" Microsoft decided DX12 for anything less than their newest OS would never happen. Besides, IF all tests are still on Win 10 instead, everything ran on Win 10 will have the same handicap and suffer the same way... keeping the results even, despite the lower numbers.


    DX12 testing is not important at all since brings 0 performance improvements. It is another DX10 fiasco. Microsoft will have to do some serious rework with DX12 especially with MGPU support.
  • Pixdawg
    @Silent Scone--Did it occur to you that Thomas has voltage measuring tools ready to hand?
  • Crashman
    1688159 said:
    Thomas, your paragraph on this alleged DIMM offset voltage. What makes you think this is what is happening?
    My voltmeter. It shows all voltage settings consistent for most motherboards, except for DIMM voltage, which is only "as set" on boards that are NOT designed for overclocking. Very few motherboards actually DO show the offset reported within the "System Status" reading of firmware and/or monitoring software: Most companies choose to conceal it.
  • thebritscott
    "Gone are the second network controller"
    PROS
    Dual Gigabit Ethernet with teaming

    Is it me, or am I missing something?
    I didn't see a second Network Connector on the photo
  • Crashman
    125456 said:
    "Gone are the second network controller" PROS Dual Gigabit Ethernet with teaming Is it me, or am I missing something? I didn't see a second Network Connector on the photo
    You're right, I'll try to get that fixed.
  • thebritscott
    Nice to see the writer answering.
    Not sure how I get a negative vote for showing a mistake though... what kind of person would vote that down... :)

    Anyway, I enjoyed the article.

    8708 said:
    125456 said:
    "Gone are the second network controller" PROS Dual Gigabit Ethernet with teaming Is it me, or am I missing something? I didn't see a second Network Connector on the photo
    You're right, I'll try to get that fixed.
  • Karadjgne
    Extreme4 sounds a little misleading according to this article, not sure its gonna be high on my recommend list, not when put up against the similar priced offering from MSI
  • Silent_Scone
    8708 said:
    1688159 said:
    Thomas, your paragraph on this alleged DIMM offset voltage. What makes you think this is what is happening?
    My voltmeter. It shows all voltage settings consistent for most motherboards, except for DIMM voltage, which is only "as set" on boards that are NOT designed for overclocking. Very few motherboards actually DO show the offset reported within the "System Status" reading of firmware and/or monitoring software: Most companies choose to conceal it.


    Hi Thomas,
    You would need to measure the VDIMM at the socket with an oscilloscope, in order to check what the peak sag is under load (the voltage you see in monitoring depends on where the power line is tapped). A volt meter won't be able to show fast load transient changes. Thought that to be pertinent to mention as you are insinuating someone is to blame here, best to get all your facts straight first.
  • Crashman
    1688159 said:
    8708 said:
    1688159 said:
    Thomas, your paragraph on this alleged DIMM offset voltage. What makes you think this is what is happening?
    My voltmeter. It shows all voltage settings consistent for most motherboards, except for DIMM voltage, which is only "as set" on boards that are NOT designed for overclocking. Very few motherboards actually DO show the offset reported within the "System Status" reading of firmware and/or monitoring software: Most companies choose to conceal it.
    Hi Thomas, You would need to measure the VDIMM at the socket with an oscilloscope, in order to check what the peak sag is under load (the voltage you see in monitoring depends on where the power line is tapped). A volt meter won't be able to show fast load transient changes. Thought that to be pertinent to mention as you are insinuating someone is to blame here, best to get all your facts straight first.


    I'm measuring DIMM voltage, not return voltage from the DIMM. And I have evidence aplenty beginning with non-overclocking boards reading 1.20 to 1.22V default, a minority of motherboards reporting the same voltage as I'm reading, software reporting different voltage than hardware on some boards with one or the other being what's on my meter, voltage detection points on some boards reporting the same thing that I'm reading from the DIMM, and a CPU (my former Core i7-6600K) that doesn't work as well past ~1.365V DIMM...not working as well when the voltmeter says 1.37V or more. If I were just jumping into this now you might have had me second-guessing myself, but since this has been an on-again-off-again issue since the days of DDR2 I'm actually seeing things following historic trends. BTW, back in the DDR2 days, you'd find hundreds of bad Newegg reviews about various motherboards "not even working with my OCZ Gold DDR2-800". The consistent thing between all those complaints WAS the DRAM, and motherboard manufacturers responded by...bumping up the baseline DRAM voltage in the next firmware update.

    Oh, and here's the kicker: Back then MSI was the one who told me what they did (more voltage, 5mV at the time) and why (OCZ Gold not booting). Maybe boards are reporting return voltage? Maybe times have changed? My voltmeter hasn't, it's still reporting expected values on nearly everything but DRAM.
  • Silent_Scone
    8708 said:
    1688159 said:
    8708 said:
    1688159 said:
    Thomas, your paragraph on this alleged DIMM offset voltage. What makes you think this is what is happening?
    My voltmeter. It shows all voltage settings consistent for most motherboards, except for DIMM voltage, which is only "as set" on boards that are NOT designed for overclocking. Very few motherboards actually DO show the offset reported within the "System Status" reading of firmware and/or monitoring software: Most companies choose to conceal it.
    Hi Thomas, You would need to measure the VDIMM at the socket with an oscilloscope, in order to check what the peak sag is under load (the voltage you see in monitoring depends on where the power line is tapped). A volt meter won't be able to show fast load transient changes. Thought that to be pertinent to mention as you are insinuating someone is to blame here, best to get all your facts straight first.
    I'm measuring DIMM voltage, not return voltage from the DIMM. And I have evidence aplenty beginning with non-overclocking boards reading 1.20 to 1.22V default, a minority of motherboards reporting the same voltage as I'm reading, software reporting different voltage than hardware on some boards with one or the other being what's on my meter, voltage detection points on some boards reporting the same thing that I'm reading from the DIMM, and a CPU (my former Core i7-6600K) that doesn't work as well past ~1.365V DIMM...not working as well when the voltmeter says 1.37V or more. If I were just jumping into this now you might have had me second-guessing myself, but since this has been an on-again-off-again issue since the days of DDR2 I'm actually seeing things following historic trends. BTW, back in the DDR2 days, you'd find hundreds of bad Newegg reviews about various motherboards "not even working with my OCZ Gold DDR2-800". The consistent thing between all those complaints WAS the DRAM, and motherboard manufacturers responded by...bumping up the baseline DRAM voltage in the next firmware update. Oh, and here's the kicker: Back then MSI was the one who told me what they did (more voltage, 5mV at the time) and why (OCZ Gold not booting). Maybe boards are reporting return voltage? Maybe times have changed? My voltmeter hasn't, it's still reporting expected values on nearly everything but DRAM.


    What is the return voltage from the DIMM? It's not a power supply lol.

    You would need to measure at the socket (if you take into account losses along the power plane). This is about as accurate as you can get to showing how much voltage the memory is receiving. Like I've mentioned, you'd need a scope to measure this properly.

    The applied voltage needs to be adequate enough that it makes allowances for the peak negative undershoot. On top of this, the measurement points are tapped at different points of the power plane depending on which model you are using, so the comparison is not valid.

    I'm a little disappointed that you'd add a comment on blame basis for something like this at the end of a paragraph. Without the proper testing methodology, knowledge and data to show it.

    It seems rather petty for a long standing site. Perhaps we'll see some results in future.
  • Crashman
    1688159 said:
    8708 said:
    1688159 said:
    Hi Thomas, You would need to measure the VDIMM at the socket with an oscilloscope, in order to check what the peak sag is under load (the voltage you see in monitoring depends on where the power line is tapped). A volt meter won't be able to show fast load transient changes. Thought that to be pertinent to mention as you are insinuating someone is to blame here, best to get all your facts straight first.
    I'm measuring DIMM voltage, not return voltage from the DIMM. And I have evidence aplenty beginning with non-overclocking boards reading 1.20 to 1.22V default, a minority of motherboards reporting the same voltage as I'm reading, software reporting different voltage than hardware on some boards with one or the other being what's on my meter, voltage detection points on some boards reporting the same thing that I'm reading from the DIMM, and a CPU (my former Core i7-6600K) that doesn't work as well past ~1.365V DIMM...not working as well when the voltmeter says 1.37V or more. If I were just jumping into this now you might have had me second-guessing myself, but since this has been an on-again-off-again issue since the days of DDR2 I'm actually seeing things following historic trends. BTW, back in the DDR2 days, you'd find hundreds of bad Newegg reviews about various motherboards "not even working with my OCZ Gold DDR2-800". The consistent thing between all those complaints WAS the DRAM, and motherboard manufacturers responded by...bumping up the baseline DRAM voltage in the next firmware update. Oh, and here's the kicker: Back then MSI was the one who told me what they did (more voltage, 5mV at the time) and why (OCZ Gold not booting). Maybe boards are reporting return voltage? Maybe times have changed? My voltmeter hasn't, it's still reporting expected values on nearly everything but DRAM.
    What is the return voltage from the DIMM? It's not a power supply lol. You would need to measure at the socket (if you take into account losses along the power plane). This is about as accurate as you can get to showing how much voltage the memory is receiving. Like I've mentioned, you'd need a scope to measure this properly. The applied voltage needs to be adequate enough that it makes allowances for the peak negative undershoot. On top of this, the measurement points are tapped at different points of the power plane depending on which model you are using, so the comparison is not valid. I'm a little disappointed that you'd add a comment on blame basis for something like this at the end of a paragraph. Without the proper testing methodology, knowledge and data to show it. It seems rather petty for a long standing site. Perhaps we'll see some results in future.
    Er, blame basis? Historical context. The time when one could simply list the problem and everyone knew the name of the product has long since passed, the product is no longer produced, and that company is no longer in the memory business.

    As long as I'm getting the same reading from the slot as I'm getting from manufacturer-specified hard-wired voltage check points of high-end boards, either I'm doing it (slot measurement) well enough or the manufacturers themselves are doing it (voltage check point wiring) wrong.
  • Silent_Scone
    8708 said:
    1688159 said:
    8708 said:
    1688159 said:
    Hi Thomas, You would need to measure the VDIMM at the socket with an oscilloscope, in order to check what the peak sag is under load (the voltage you see in monitoring depends on where the power line is tapped). A volt meter won't be able to show fast load transient changes. Thought that to be pertinent to mention as you are insinuating someone is to blame here, best to get all your facts straight first.
    I'm measuring DIMM voltage, not return voltage from the DIMM. And I have evidence aplenty beginning with non-overclocking boards reading 1.20 to 1.22V default, a minority of motherboards reporting the same voltage as I'm reading, software reporting different voltage than hardware on some boards with one or the other being what's on my meter, voltage detection points on some boards reporting the same thing that I'm reading from the DIMM, and a CPU (my former Core i7-6600K) that doesn't work as well past ~1.365V DIMM...not working as well when the voltmeter says 1.37V or more. If I were just jumping into this now you might have had me second-guessing myself, but since this has been an on-again-off-again issue since the days of DDR2 I'm actually seeing things following historic trends. BTW, back in the DDR2 days, you'd find hundreds of bad Newegg reviews about various motherboards "not even working with my OCZ Gold DDR2-800". The consistent thing between all those complaints WAS the DRAM, and motherboard manufacturers responded by...bumping up the baseline DRAM voltage in the next firmware update. Oh, and here's the kicker: Back then MSI was the one who told me what they did (more voltage, 5mV at the time) and why (OCZ Gold not booting). Maybe boards are reporting return voltage? Maybe times have changed? My voltmeter hasn't, it's still reporting expected values on nearly everything but DRAM.
    What is the return voltage from the DIMM? It's not a power supply lol. You would need to measure at the socket (if you take into account losses along the power plane). This is about as accurate as you can get to showing how much voltage the memory is receiving. Like I've mentioned, you'd need a scope to measure this properly. The applied voltage needs to be adequate enough that it makes allowances for the peak negative undershoot. On top of this, the measurement points are tapped at different points of the power plane depending on which model you are using, so the comparison is not valid. I'm a little disappointed that you'd add a comment on blame basis for something like this at the end of a paragraph. Without the proper testing methodology, knowledge and data to show it. It seems rather petty for a long standing site. Perhaps we'll see some results in future.
    Er, blame basis? Historical context. The time when one could simply list the problem and everyone knew the name of the product has long since passed, the product is no longer produced, and that company is no longer in the memory business. As long as I'm getting the same reading from the slot as I'm getting from manufacturer-specified hard-wired voltage check points of high-end boards, either I'm doing it well enough or the manufacturers themselves are doing it (voltage check points) wrong.


    Well, it was yourself who posted regarding attempting to blame a single manufacturer.

    So now you are measuring from the socket? Sorry, did you measure from the socket or not? As a moment ago you claimed you didn't measure from the socket because you thought you'd be "measuring the return power from the DIMM". Which in itself shows a serious lack of knowledge (and at this point tact also).

    Only trying to offer you some advice here, you still need an oscilloscope to measure this correctly.
  • Crashman
    1688159 said:
    8708 said:
    1688159 said:
    8708 said:
    I'm measuring DIMM voltage, not return voltage from the DIMM. And I have evidence aplenty beginning with non-overclocking boards reading 1.20 to 1.22V default, a minority of motherboards reporting the same voltage as I'm reading, software reporting different voltage than hardware on some boards with one or the other being what's on my meter, voltage detection points on some boards reporting the same thing that I'm reading from the DIMM, and a CPU (my former Core i7-6600K) that doesn't work as well past ~1.365V DIMM...not working as well when the voltmeter says 1.37V or more. If I were just jumping into this now you might have had me second-guessing myself, but since this has been an on-again-off-again issue since the days of DDR2 I'm actually seeing things following historic trends. BTW, back in the DDR2 days, you'd find hundreds of bad Newegg reviews about various motherboards "not even working with my OCZ Gold DDR2-800". The consistent thing between all those complaints WAS the DRAM, and motherboard manufacturers responded by...bumping up the baseline DRAM voltage in the next firmware update. Oh, and here's the kicker: Back then MSI was the one who told me what they did (more voltage, 5mV at the time) and why (OCZ Gold not booting). Maybe boards are reporting return voltage? Maybe times have changed? My voltmeter hasn't, it's still reporting expected values on nearly everything but DRAM.
    What is the return voltage from the DIMM? It's not a power supply lol. You would need to measure at the socket (if you take into account losses along the power plane). This is about as accurate as you can get to showing how much voltage the memory is receiving. Like I've mentioned, you'd need a scope to measure this properly. The applied voltage needs to be adequate enough that it makes allowances for the peak negative undershoot. On top of this, the measurement points are tapped at different points of the power plane depending on which model you are using, so the comparison is not valid. I'm a little disappointed that you'd add a comment on blame basis for something like this at the end of a paragraph. Without the proper testing methodology, knowledge and data to show it. It seems rather petty for a long standing site. Perhaps we'll see some results in future.
    Er, blame basis? Historical context. The time when one could simply list the problem and everyone knew the name of the product has long since passed, the product is no longer produced, and that company is no longer in the memory business. As long as I'm getting the same reading from the slot as I'm getting from manufacturer-specified hard-wired voltage check points of high-end boards, either I'm doing it well enough or the manufacturers themselves are doing it (voltage check points) wrong.
    Well, it was yourself who posted regarding attempting to blame a single manufacturer. So now you are measuring from the socket? Sorry, did you measure from the socket or not? As a moment ago you claimed you didn't measure from the socket because you thought you'd be "measuring the return power from the DIMM". Which in itself shows a serious lack of knowledge (and at this point tact also). Only trying to offer you some advice here, you still need an oscilloscope to measure this correctly.
    Oh boy, just read what I stated OK? I'm getting the same reading from the DIMM slot as I'm getting from the voltage check points provided on high-end boards by the manufacturer, so if I'm taking the reading from an invalid point so are the board manufacturers. And the history of why companies have added voltage goes back to instability most notorious to a single product that is no longer worthy of discussion in anything more than a historical perspective. To imply that this would be an attempt to defame a brand is to miss the point.

    I don't know how you can justify labeling as DIMM voltage anything that's not reaching the DIMM slot, but I'm sure you'll find supporters.