Test Configuration, Results, And Final Analysis
With few competitors to compare at similar prices, ASRock’s Z270 Killer SLI/ac takes on ASRock’s own Z270 Extreme4 in addition to MSI’s Z270 SLI Plus. All three boards have a similar range of available overclock settings:
ASRock Z270 Killer SLI/ac
ASRock Z270 Extreme4
Test System Configuration
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio|
|Network||Integrated Gigabit Networking|
|Graphics Driver||GeForce 372.90|
Testing all Z270 motherboards at Intel’s stock Turbo Boost ratios and with all power savings technologies enabled doesn’t leave much room for variation in CPU performance. And because the graphics card is fed by the CPU’s PCIe controller, hardly anyone should be surprised by consistent results in 3DMark, PCMark, and Sandra’s Arithmetic and Multimedia tests.
Sandra Cryptography is impacted by memory bandwidth, where ASRock comes up just a little short. This is usually due to the use of conservative tertiary timings, which often add stability, may broaden compatibility, and can even help with overclocking.
Tiny differences in gaming benchmarks hand a marginal lead to MSI’s Z270 SLI Plus.
Both ASRock motherboards pull slightly ahead in our mixed encoding and compression benchmarks, while the MSI Z270 SLI Plus takes a similarly small lead in MS Office. We haven’t found a reason for the larger difference in Adobe After Effects, though a retest proved those numbers consistent.
Power, Heat, And Efficiency
The Z270 Killer SLI/ac’s power measurements most likely benefit from newer firmware compared to the Z270 Extreme4. The Z270 SLI Plus is even more miserly, and that lower energy use translates nicely into slightly cooler temperatures.
We compared today’s three boards to the entire Z270 review series in the Overall Performance and Energy Efficiency charts, where we find that all three mid-priced boards have slightly above-average performance, and that the Z270 SLI Plus is slightly more efficient than the Z270 Killer SLI/ac
The Z270 Killer SLI/ac leads noticeably in memory overclocking, while the Z270 SLI Plus reaches a higher stable CPU frequency. In this case, the Z270 Extreme4’s older firmware is likely holding it back.
Regardless of the Z270 Killer SLI/ac’s higher memory overclock, the Z270 SLI Plus’s better baseline bandwidth is carried to greater heights in the overclocked memory test.
Matching prices and matching performance provides matching price-to-performance ratios, so that a true value examination must instead rely on a features and overclocking comparison. And this is where I’m a little befuddled. Both competing boards have a USB 3.1 controller and high-end audio codec, both support a third NVMe drive in a four-lane PCIe slot at the bottom of the board, and the Z270 Extreme4 has dual on-board RGB zones. Meanwhile, the Z270 Killer SLI/ac has a Wi-Fi controller.
As ridiculous as this will sound to some of our more extreme enthusiasts, I’d personally be more likely to use the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth controller. This is mostly because I don’t have or plan to buy a third NVMe drive, don’t use RGB lighting, and don’t care much for the resource sharing issues that often arise from adding a four-lane slot. Heresy! The storage geeks may cry. For shame! The case modders may proclaim. And I understand, which is why I won’t be giving the Z270 Killer SLI/ac a higher award than the Z270 Extreme4. I’ll instead give it the same award: Editor Approved. As in, it’s approved for people who share these connectivity priorities.
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