Test Settings, Results, And Final Analysis
ASRock’s Z270 SuperCarrier takes on the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 9 for four-way SLI support, though other features are unique to each product. Asus’ ROG Strix Z270E and MSI’s Z270 Gaming M5 set the pace for lower-priced high-end products. All four boards have a similar range of available overclock settings:
Test System Configuration
Integrated HD Audio
Integrated Gigabit Networking
Synthetic Benchmark Results
Both the Z270 SuperCarrier and Z270X-Gaming 9 fall slightly behind in 3DMark’s graphics score, likely as a result of feeding the CPU’s lanes through an extra component in the PEX8747 multicasting switch. This is the price you’ll pay to get three-way and four-way SLI capability from the Z270 chipset, and it appears to be a rather small price.
The Z270 SuperCarrier lags slightly behind in Sandra Memory Bandwidth, which in turn causes its slightly lower score in Sandra Cryptography. We’ve seen this in other ASRock boards, and it’s usually caused by conservative secondary or tertiary memory timings. DDR4-2133 SPD defaults are used for these tests.
The ASRock Z270 SuperCarrier performs very close to the top two boards in all four games, but the top two boards change depending on the game. MSI’s Z270 Gaming M5 for example takes a hit in Talos when its Nahimic audio software is enabled, while the Z270X-Gaming 9 falls behind in Metro LL Redux when its SB Studio software is enabled. Both of those audio software suites have enhancements to help the local player locate opposing players.
The Z270 SuperCarrier is also a close match to competing motherboards in timed applications, falling only slightly behind the average in Handbrake and After Effects.
Power, Heat, And Efficiency
The extra components of ASRock’s Z270 SuperCarrier will cost you around 20W at idle, and unlike the Z270X-Gaming 9, the SuperCarrier doesn’t make any gains to offset that difference at full load.
We enable all the CPU-based power savings features of every board before initiating our performance tests, and likewise disable any Turbo Boost enhancements that would force the CPU to a fixed 45x multiplier rather than the stock 45-44-44-44 setting for the four loaded cores. Still, the Z270 SuperCarrier creates more CPU heat than its competitors, which usually indicates greater CPU voltage at full load. Combining the power draw of extra components with the additional CPU energy that’s converted to heat, the Z270 SuperCarrier falls 11.8% behind the average in energy efficiency.
After reviewing a flurry of Z270 motherboards, it appears that all of the top-tier overclockers will reach 4.80 GHz without requiring more than 1.30V or overheating the processor. MSI’s slight BCLK cheat gives it 4814 MHz at the same 48 x 100 MHz setting, which is meaningless in an evaluation that uses 1 MHz BCLK bumps. The Z270 SuperCarrier doesn’t hold up to that stability challenge, instead overclocking like a mid-tier board.
Adding a DRAM Bandwidth test to the overclocking evaluation assures readers that manufacturers aren’t getting sky-high DRAM data rates by crippling advanced timings. The Z270 SuperCarrier started out with slightly lower baseline bandwidth, and all results therefore appear appropriate in this overclocked performance chart.
There’s no fair way to compare performance-per-dollar when different boards have vastly different feature sets. The Z270 SuperCarrier, for example, has three Ethernet controllers in addition to Wi-Fi, and one of those controllers is 5 Gb/s rather than 1 Gb/s. Both it and the Z270X-Gaming 9 have the somewhat expensive PLX8747 multicasting PCIe switch that enables 3-way and 4-way SLI, which is lacking from the other two comparison boards.
Similarly, only the two top boards have Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 controller onboard. The Z270X-Gaming 9 thoroughly outclasses the Z270 SuperCarrier in audio component specs, but it also costs more. Much more. Enough to add more expensive Gigabit and Wi-Fi network controllers to the mix, along with an EK chipset water block.
The $120 price difference between the Z270 SuperCarrier and Z270X-Gaming 9 is enough to put the value ball in ASRock’s court, but only marginally, and only if Tier 2 overclocking capability is acceptable in your build. Yet any board that’s good enough to initiate a value quandary is certainly good enough to get our stamp of approval.
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