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ASRock Z270 Killer SLI/ac ATX Motherboard Review

Does adding 802.11ac Wi-Fi endow a mainstream gaming motherboard with better value?

Our Verdict

Approved at its regular $150 price, the Z270 Killer SLI/ac could have achieved an even greater value award were its recurring $20 discount made permanent.

For

  • Onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Great memory overclocking
  • Good efficiency
  • Frequent discounts provide purchase incentive

Against

  • Temporary discounts don’t apply to value charts
  • No “extra” slot for a third PCIe x4 NVMe drive
  • No Gen 2 USB 3.1 controller
  • Single-zone lighting outclassed by a different ASRock product

Introducing The Z270 Killer SLI/ac

Is ASRock’s Z270 Killer SLI/ac a one-trick pony, as its name implies? A quick look shows it has only two PCIe x16 slots, although the third slot of competing boards is typically limited to four lanes. The board otherwise appears mostly normal, apart from a gaping blank section on its I/O panel. The board isn’t lacking any primary features, with the expected pair of M.2 connectors, but outside of its Wi-Fi controller this motherboard looks a little basic.

The Z270 Killer SLI's pedestrian design is obvious just by looking at its specs. For example, we don’t even find a Gen2 USB 3.1 controller, and the Type-C connector is simply fed one of the chipset’s 5Gb/s ports. And while we occasionally see readers complain that competing boards have too many ports, it wouldn’t have cost much more for ASRock to provide the rest of us with a pair of USB 2.0 ports on the I/O panel, just to fill it out. Keyboards and mice still use these technologies, despite the protests of the minority.

Yet the only real downgrade we see compared to other $150 motherboards is the older Realtek ALC892 codec, where others typically have the newer ALC1220 codec. Formerly a high-end codec, the money-saving ALC892 is still widely considered good enough for the vast majority of users. If you need an onboard Wi-Fi/Bluetooth controller, or even if it’s just convenient, that’s not much of a tradeoff.

Of course the Z270 Killer SLI/ac isn’t just a $150 Z270 board with Wi-Fi. It’s on a near-continuous discount cycle that can get the board into the hands of many buyers for only $130. And we’ve even seen mail-in rebates on top of that cyclic discount. It’s too bad for ASRock that we don’t use temporary discounts and rebates in our value calculations.

The two long PCIe x16 slots operate in the expected modes: x16/x0 when only the upper slot is filled and x8/x8 when a card is detected in the lower slot. The PCIe x1 slots are open-ended to support longer cards, so a three-card CrossfireX configuration might work, but we can’t think of anyone who would want to CrossFire cards in x8/x8/x1 mode. It’s not even recommended by the manufacturer.

The lack of any four-lane bottom slot and the paucity of third-party controllers means there aren’t many configuration limits resulting from resource sharing. Both M.2 slots share SATA resources with a SATA port, but installing a PCIe-based M.2 card eliminates that issue.

ASRock reduces the number of fan headers to four, and only one of these can be switched between PWM and voltage-based speed control. That one header is upgraded to 1.5A capacity, compared to the 1.0A max output of other three. Other reductions include LED lighting only for the PCH sink, only a single RGB header for case fans, and the board is even cut 8.8” (224mm) deep, down from the ATX standard of 9.6”. That means it won’t reach the third column of standoffs in your ATX case.

Simplicity has eliminated most other potential fitment concerns, though the front-panel audio connector is pushed all the way back into the corner, where the cables of certain poorly configured cases won’t reach. At least the USB 3.0 connector is above the top slot, so that it won’t block any cards.

After carefully considering the plethora of ways ASRock economized the Z270 Killer SLI/ac, we’re pleased to see that it at least includes an SLI bridge; specifically, the HB-style SLI bridge required for GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 graphics cards. Money saved on the board could be put towards graphics, should this model live up to our enthusiast-centered expectations.

Z270 Killer SLI/ac buyers also get a pair of SATA cables, a pair of Wi-Fi antennas, an I/O shield, a driver disc, and full printed documentation.


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  • logainofhades
    For those that want built in Wifi, in the ATX form factor, this is the cheapest option, if you are overclocking. If I were building for someone, that needed such a setup, this would definitely be the board I would choose. For most people, I think this board is plenty.
    Reply
  • kwc813
    I wouldn't use it for myself, but as "...HADES" alluded, it definitely has a place. But...why AsRock needs 3 such similar boards at the same price point is beyond me. I do like the WiFi in the ATX form factor, but why run with an outdated chipset?

    Yes, Wifi controller...I wasn't clear. "I understand less than I know sometimes" is something I hear enough of anymore to start saying it more and more often myself. If it's really unclear to a client or a newbie, reason should dictate simplification. If we weren't smart, we wouldn't be here wondering what we missed...downside, I'm probably only as smart as 10% of the 2% that are interested. I can split hairs but will that affect the quality of the build in a client's eyes...Heh...probably not. Face it, it's a labor of love not driven by necessity.
    Reply
  • Onus
    So many tests, yet as usual it boiled down to features. I too am more likely to find value in onboard wifi and bluetooth; I've never run more than a single graphics card, and wouldn't use more than one M.2 drive.
    This board would make my short list, and with the discount, likely come out on top.
    Reply
  • logainofhades
    19491117 said:
    I wouldn't use it for myself, but as "...HADES" alluded, it definitely has a place. But...why AsRock needs 3 such similar boards at the same price point is beyond me. I do like the WiFi in the ATX form factor, but why run with an outdated chipset?

    Not sure what you mean by outdated chipset. Z270 is Intel's current chipset.
    Reply
  • damric
    Speaking of Killer. Someone should test the Killer LAN software in depth and see if anyone can actually get it to work correctly.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    19491117 said:
    I wouldn't use it for myself, but as "...HADES" alluded, it definitely has a place. But...why AsRock needs 3 such similar boards at the same price point is beyond me. I do like the WiFi in the ATX form factor, but why run with an outdated chipset?
    To save $6-$8

    19491768 said:
    Not sure what you mean by outdated chipset. Z270 is Intel's current chipset.
    I think he meant the 802.11ac controller.
    Reply
  • CaptCalamity
    I picked one of these up at PAX East, paired with a i5-7600k I am able to run at 5.1Ghz, for daily use though I run it at 4.8Ghz at 1.28v. Sure it lacks a few features I would like (USB 3.1, but I don't actually have any 3.1 devices so it's not really a loss) but it's a solid performer.
    Reply
  • JackNaylorPE
    Wouldn't put any board with ALC 892 in a any gaming build, Don't see a reason for WiFi in a full size ATX build either
    Reply
  • Gunkk0
    Bought this board and an i7-7700K a week ago at the $139 newegg discount. Works great!
    Reply
  • Zulziect
    Can this take 6 graphics cards?
    Reply