Biostar Racing Z270GT9 Motherboard Review

Test Results & Final Analysis

Biostar’s Z270GT9 includes a $110 SSD that other boards do not, and benchmark consistency requires every motherboard use the complete set of hardware. Thus, we removed the factory M.2 SSD and replaced it with the Toshiba/OCZ unit from our complete Kaby Lake Test configuration. The SSD-free $240 version of the Z270GT9 never made it to the market, but builders who were planning to buy the Intel 600p SSD for $110 are left paying $220 more to get this motherboard. Competitors within the $220 to $240 range include the ASRock Z270 Taichi, ROG Maximus IX Hero, and Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7. The Strix Z270E Gaming is a lower-cost alternative to the Maximus IX Hero.

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Overclocking plays a role in our value analysis, and the above table shows that all competitors offer a similar range of adjustments.

Synthetic Benchmarks

I’d normally recommend that the easily-bored jump straight to the overclocking section, since the best motherboard benchmark sets show identical performance. Anything less than a tight race would indicate firmware problems or cheating. Today we finally need to discuss one of those firmware problems. It seems the Z270GT9 is not fully compatible with our Toshiba/OCZ SSD. And your next question will likely be: If it includes an Intel 256GB SSD, why would I care about the Toshiba/OCZ being compatible?

The problem doesn’t show up in the performance numbers. It instead caused all of Sandra’s memory tests to crash. We spent around a week analyzing the board, various RAM, software configurations, drivers, and even the replaced the first Toshiba/OCZ SSD with a similar model before finally getting a replacement board. The second board was a bit faster than the first, but Sandra memory benchmarks (both bandwidth and latency) still wouldn’t complete.

Eventually we simply imaged the software from our Toshiba/OCZ SSD to the Biostar-supplied Intel SSD, and the benchmark completed with very good results. We then re-imaged the Intel SSD to our second Toshiba/OCZ and the benchmark crashed again. So, all benchmarks except Sandra Memory Bandwidth show results using the Toshiba/OCZ SSD. And since Sandra Memory Bandwidth isn’t used in our overall performance evaluation, it almost becomes a non-issue.

The Z270GT9 looks like a top performer when we set aside the compatibility issue with our chosen SSD.

3D Games

Great memory performance leads the Z270GT9’s charge in F1 2015, but average gaming performance appears similar to the Z270X-Gaming 7.

Timed Applications

The Z270GT9 chisels a few seconds off a few benchmarks while adding a few to others, and comes out around 1% ahead of the pack overall.

Power, Heat & Efficiency

The Z270GT9 is the second hungriest board in our loaded CPU test, behind the Z270X-Gaming 7 which had a problem (or, a solution) of its voltage being stuck at 1.30V whenever it encountered a load. The “solution” idea goes with the board being designed to run only “Enhanced” (locked) Turbo Boost ratios, rather than clocking to the lower ratio Intel specifies for multicore loads. Our manual configuration of the Aorus board to enable flexible ratios didn’t enable the Intel-specified flexibility in core voltage.

The -1.4% relative efficiency rating for the Z270GT9 would have been far lower had the Aorus spoiler not dragged the average even farther into negative territory.

Overclocking

Biostar’s Z270GT9 had the lowest CPU overclock, but only by around 48MHz. Its DRAM O/C is a far greater problem for users who want the fastest RAM.

While the Z270GT9’s stock DRAM performance was exceptionally good, overclocked memory bandwidth is exceptionally bad, and most of that can be linked to its relatively low DRAM overclock ceiling. We have a feeling that the firmware was probably optimized for some other specific set/sets of memory.

Value Analysis

Since we used our own SSD for the overall performance evaluation of all boards, the Z270GT9’s included SSD is excluded from that same metric. Excluding the price of that SSD gives us a comparison price of $220.

Given that most network cards containing the Z270GT9’s 10GbE adapter cost more than $220, further analysis of its competitors features to price is almost pointless. The ROG Strix Z270E does have a nice mid-priced Wi-Fi controller though.

When we use the full $330 price of the Z270GT9 with its included Intel 600P 256GB SSD, we’re forced to compare it to premium-market boards. Those include the $500 Gigabyte Z270X-Gaming 9 with its combination of 48-Lane PLX controller for four-way SLI and Thunderbolt 3 controller for added external connectivity, and the $380 ASRock Z270 SuperCarrier with those same pieces plus a 5GbE network interface. One could easily argue that the combination of features on the Z270 SuperCarrier are worth more than the difference between its 5GbE controller and the Z270GT9’s 10GbE controller. Such arguments ignore that the Z270GT9 also includes a $110 SSD. If you’re interested in the SSD and the 10GbE controller, there’s simply no way any other solution can compete for value with the Z270GT9.

But what if you don’t want the SSD? You could sell it. You probably wouldn’t get the full $110 value, given that you aren’t an authorized distributor and that the SSD has been mounted. Plus, you’d have the concern we had when we found that our Toshiba/OCZ wasn’t fully compatible.

That makes the Z270GT9 a killer value for buyers seeking a specific feature set: That is, an entry-level Intel 600P 256GB SSD and a high-end Intel 10GbE network adapter. We don't believe that most builders who need a 256GB SSD would abandon the included Intel part, and thus we must give the Z270GT9 our recommended value award.

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21 comments
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  • jaber2
    Not for me, I wouldn't use those combination of board and drive
  • Crashman
    663674 said:
    Not for me, I wouldn't use those combination of board and drive

    Our drive reviewer has a low opinion of the 600p's performance and still wants the board because, with this particular 10GbE solution, it's an unbeatable deal.
  • AgentLozen
    They put the word "Racing" in the name. What about this motherboard "races" besides the networking controller? Certainly not the overclocking potential. How about:

    Biostar Casual Stroll Z270GT9
    Biostar I'll Do It Tomorrow Z270GT9
    Biostar Windows Vista Z270GT9
  • Crashman
    496490 said:
    They put the word "Racing" in the name. What about this motherboard "races" besides the networking controller? Certainly not the overclocking potential. How about: Biostar Casual Stroll Z270GT9 Biostar I'll Do It Tomorrow Z270GT9 Biostar Windows Vista Z270GT9

    You didn't see the checkered flag motif? The stripes make it go faster! Buy it for your clear PC case and put this chair in front of it!
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/corsair-t1-race-gaming-chair,34466.html
  • shrapnel_indie
    I think the only racing this board does is to race back to what most of us expect of a BioStar motherboard: a disappointing board that can't function very well at what higher performance it is supposed to be capable of, and mediocrity at best for normal operation.

    This board doesn't change my opinion of BioStar motherboards one bit.
  • AgentLozen
    Quote:
    I think the only racing this board does is to race back to what most of us expect of a BioStar motherboard: a disappointing board that can't function very well at what higher performance it is supposed to be capable of, and mediocrity at best for normal operation. This board doesn't change my opinion of BioStar motherboards one bit.


    Nah brah. It's value lies in it's networking controller and it's sweet solid state drive. If you took those away, the price of this thing would drop significantly.
  • SuperFist
    496490 said:
    They put the word "Racing" in the name. What about this motherboard "races" besides the networking controller? Certainly not the overclocking potential. How about: Biostar Casual Stroll Z270GT9 Biostar I'll Do It Tomorrow Z270GT9 Biostar Windows Vista Z270GT9


    LMAO!!! :D
  • the nerd 389
    I've had some very poor experiences with Biostar boards. Specifically, the capacitors that they use have been bargain-basement options in the past, and I've had them die on me on a few occasions. Does this board have decent quality caps? What about the other components?
  • dstarr3
    Holy cow, I am NOT going to spend $300 on anything with the Biostar name on it. Unless it's a factory.
  • the nerd 389
    1612573 said:
    Holy cow, I am NOT going to spend $300 on anything with the Biostar name on it. Unless it's a factory.


    I would consider it. I would then either (half joking):
    A) Replace all the caps on the board with decent models (and add the caps that they left out),
    B) Pull the X550AT off this board, and pray that it's pin-compatible with one of the other Intel ethernet controllers, or
    C) Pull the X550AT off this board, and print a custom PCIe card for it.

    In all seriousness, I honestly can't picture a build that would both need a 10 Gbe controller, but could make do with Biostar quality as it has been in the past. The closest I can think of is as a tinkering build for an IT company, or possibly as a benchmarking build for a review site.

    This board could be better quality than Biostar has had with previous products, though.
  • dstarr3
    983009 said:
    1612573 said:
    Holy cow, I am NOT going to spend $300 on anything with the Biostar name on it. Unless it's a factory.
    I would consider it. I would then either (half joking): A) Replace all the caps on the board with decent models (and add the caps that they left out), B) Pull the X550AT off this board, and pray that it's pin-compatible with one of the other Intel ethernet controllers, or C) Pull the X550AT off this board, and print a custom PCIe card for it. In all seriousness, I honestly can't picture a build that would both need a 10 Gbe controller, but could make do with Biostar quality as it has been in the past. The closest I can think of is as a tinkering build for an IT company, or possibly as a benchmarking build for a review site. This board could be better quality than Biostar has had with previous products, though.


    Yeah, they've been coming up with some... uh, attention-grabbing products lately. They're clearly trying to make a statement. Hopefully that statement is "We're good now, please give us a second chance" and not "Build quality is just as bad as ever, we just invested more into marketing."
  • Onus
    Your SSD problem and RAM issues look like the kind of anomalies I also found last time I looked at a[n otherwise nice] Biostar board. The boards look a lot better than Biostar's reputation would imply, but these glitches raise justifiable doubts. It looks like they're really trying, but they're up against some established competitors, and need to iron those glitches out. This one does look like a "Recommended" award winner, but only with a caveat over some oddities that some will find unacceptable.
  • Crashman
    47340 said:
    Your SSD problem and RAM issues look like the kind of anomalies I also found last time I looked at a[n otherwise nice] Biostar board. The boards look a lot better than Biostar's reputation would imply, but these glitches raise justifiable doubts. It looks like they're really trying, but they're up against some established competitors, and need to iron those glitches out. This one does look like a "Recommended" award winner, but only with a caveat over some oddities that some will find unacceptable.
    It became readily apparent why they dropped the $240 version without SSD. What isn't readily apparent is why they put it on the development slow track to fix that small glitch, or couldn't even come up with a proper description of the board's features on the web site. It's like the HQ just cut off the funding a 99.7% complete.
  • lucas_7_94
    300 USD for poor overclocking, no sli and no CF?
  • Crashman
    2143361 said:
    300 USD for poor overclocking, no sli and no CF?

    $300 for the high-priced 10GbE controller and SSD. Not bad for a free board right? And they didn't validate CrossFire, but I don't believe AMD has any restrictions so it's like they ran a full marathon, got within eyesight of the finish line, and sat down.
  • weberdarren97
    Typo in Specs.



    Quote:
    (6) v3.0 (x16/x4/x0/x4/x4/x4, x8/x4/x8//x4x4/x4)* *4-lane slots share (2) U.2 and (4) SATA Ports
    Please ignore the space after x4x4. I didn't edit the message, the bold tag does that when quoting.
  • weberdarren97
    I was helping a user develop a parts list earlier... For some reason, when I had the 6700K as the CPU (because budget), a bunch of Biostar motherboards were hogging the top positions of the list. I didn't have any sort options selected, they were just there at the top. It's like they wanted me to recommend them.

    I just checked back to the same page, those positions are now being held by Asus, MSI, Gigabyte and ASRock (basically the brands I respect).

    The amount of users I see that select components because they think there's a good reason why they're at the top of the list is simply amazing. Being at the top means people are buying them, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're any good.
  • weberdarren97
    496490 said:
    Quote:
    I think the only racing this board does is to race back to what most of us expect of a BioStar motherboard: a disappointing board that can't function very well at what higher performance it is supposed to be capable of, and mediocrity at best for normal operation. This board doesn't change my opinion of BioStar motherboards one bit.
    Nah brah. It's value lies in it's networking controller and it's sweet solid state drive. If you took those away, the price of this thing would drop significantly.


    So like even though you just told him that you disagree, I think I agree with both of you. lol I hate this company.
  • bloodroses
    This could be a high quality board. I know Biostar is known for making cheap boards, but so was MSI (Micro Star International) at one point. Maybe the company wants to change its image.
  • shrapnel_indie
    1069610 said:
    This could be a high quality board. I know Biostar is known for making cheap boards, but so was MSI (Micro Star International) at one point. Maybe the company wants to change its image.


    I'm all for Biostar to change their image for the better. Unfortunately, the performance of this board doesn't do much to do that. It's great to have choices, but this is a non-choice as-is.
  • JonDol
    This is the right step towards the ideal MB. For those whom do not care about CF/SLI, it maybe lacks a 2nd M.2 slot for a Samsung 960 Pro. That DP port and the 10 Gbe instead of the pathetic 5 or 2.5 Gbe attempts of other manufacturers are a HUGE improvement.
    Hopefully there won't be any sacrifices with the upcoming Skylake-X MBs even if that means EATX size... Hat up for this one.