Biostar Racing Z270GT9 Motherboard Review

With a specifications sheet that reads like a geek’s wish list, Biostar’s Z270GT9 should be selling like hotcakes by now. Perhaps the reason we’re not hearing more from readers about this board is that many haven’t realized yet that the $330 version has a factory-installed 256GB Intel 600p M.2 SSD? Perhaps it’s because the $240 version (without SSD) never came to market? And if we simply subtract the price of the SSD from the price of the board, we’re left with a motherboard that costs less than its onboard 10Gb/s Ethernet solution. What a deal, right?

Specifications

Nearly any other manufacturer could easily ask $500 for the same hardware, yet Biostar has priced this flagship model to bring the brand some much-deserved attention. We see for example its two network ports, supported by Intel’s high-flying X550AT 10Gb/s controller in addition to its basic i219V Gigabit PHY. We also see two HDMI outputs, one beefed up to 2.0 specs to support 4k resolution at 60Hz and the other stuck with the more familiar 1.4b that does 4k at only 30Hz. Of course, the DisplayPort output is also capable of 4k at 60Hz.

Biostar addressed a common complaint about USB 2.0 being a dead standard by leaving gaping spaces in the I/O panel, even though we always need at least two of these for a keyboard and mouse (or printer). We do find a couple USB 3.1 (Gen 2) ports on the back, one of which has a Type-C connector to interface your new generation thumb drive. The included SSD is hidden under a solid aluminum heat sink, and the big network chip is found next to it, beneath a cover labeled 10GbE.

This is a dual-BIOS board with two replaceable ICs and a switch to select the one being used, and the Z270GT9 also has dual U.2 ports framing a group of SATA ports labeled 3U/3L, 2U/2L, and 1U/1L. The extra U.2 ports are likely a concession to users who would have preferred more M.2 on a board that simply doesn’t have enough room for more slots.

Knowing the overlap between overclocking and high-end gaming markets, Biostar equips this Gaming-series board with a set of V-Check voltage detection points above the DIMMs, a system status (Port 80 code) display in front of the DIMMs, Power and Reset buttons, Sport and Eco mode buttons, and a LN2-mode selector that slows the system down at boot to overcome “cold bug” boot issues. And knowing that overclocking and show build markets often overlap, the firm also includes a pair of RGB outputs for case light strips.

You’d be right to think: That sounds like a bunch of PCIe for a chipset that has but 30 HSIO connections. The upper U.2 port shares all four lanes with the second PCIe slot, but you’re probably not putting a card there if you’re using a graphics card since its cooler will most likely overlap that slot. And the lower U.2 connector is likewise disabled when a card is used in the bottom slot, but this makes less sense because it wouldn’t be covered by a second graphics card. In fact, the slot arrangement has the oddity of its two primary slots, the ones fed by CPU lanes, being only double-spaced at positions 1 and 3 in a market full of graphics card with triple-slot coolers. Additionally, the fourth slot steals all four chipset-supplied SATA ports. This makes some sense, since it’s the slot that would be covered by the cooler of a second graphics card.

Biostar didn’t pay Nvidia for an SLI certification, so scratch that idea. On the other hand, AMD doesn’t require such licensing for CrossFire. We can imagine the Z270GT9 with two Radeon graphics cards in slots 1 and 3, and it’s not too much of a stretch to think of placing a third card in Slot 5, even though the fifth slot is locked into four lanes using the chipset’s bandwidth-bound controller. Biostar simply hasn’t validated any Crossfire configurations yet.

There are a few minor cost-cutting measures on the Z270GT9, such as the absence of any voltage controllers for the fan headers. Those are PWM-only, and located only at the top and bottom edges of the board. Constrained to the ATX standard of 9.6” deep, we’d find it believable if Biostar told us it simply ran out of space. Competitors would have likely spilled out a few connections onto an extra inch of PCB at the front and called their boards the E-word (EATX), but Biostar saved this flagship model from that fate.

The lack of any SLI license means the Z270GT9 doesn’t need any of those fancy new-fangled HB-style SLI bridges. We are a little concerned that the company couldn’t take the time to validate any CrossFire configurations though. At least it included four SATA cables in the Z270GT9 installation kit.

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