Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 Motherboard Review

Test Settings, Results, And Final Analysis

We’re using our latest benchmark hardware and software suite to compare Gigabyte’s Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 to ASRock’s Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming K6 and MSI’s Z270 Gaming M5, in addition to the recently-reviewed Z170 Gaming Pro Carbon. The Z170 sample was updated to Kaby Lake firmware.

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Test System Configuration

CPU

Intel Core i7-7700K (Kaby Lake): 4.2-4.5 GHz, 8 MB L3 Cache, LGA 1151

Sound

Integrated HD Audio

NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking

Graphics Driver

GeForce 372.90

For the three competing motherboards, we disabled so-called Enhanced modes (fixed frequency) for Intel Turbo Boost. The Aorus Z270-Gaming 7 firmware we used didn’t even offer Intel-standard Turbo Boost, so I manually configured the board to the correct 45x-44x-44x-44x ratios from within its Advanced CPU Core Settings firmware submenu prior to running traditional benchmarks.

Synthetic Benchmarks

With all three motherboards set to Intel’s Core i7-7700K specifications, the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 performs identically to the MSI Z270 Gaming M5 and Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon. We’ve previously seen a trend showing that features and overclocking are the best reasons to buy a Z270 over its Z170 counterpart, but what will other benchmarks show?

3D Games

I really don’t know why the Z170 motherboard performed so well in Ashes, but soon I won’t need to know as it will be pushed off the chart in the next review. I do know why both MSI boards fell behind in Talos though: The game lags when the Nahimic and Nahimic 2 software included with MSI’s samples is running, and you can see a chart to show how these perform with Nahimic disabled here.

The Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 is fairly well matched in most timed applications, except that Adobe After Effects keeps getting longer. With no clear pattern to indicate that this is anything more than a minor application glitch, I’m ready to move on to the bigger picture.

Power, Heat, And Efficiency

The strange power and heat numbers initially revealed in a different Gigabyte motherboard have now been exposed as a fixed-voltage, fixed-frequency setting that only occurred on the older motherboard after updating its firmware to support this processor.

Further testing revealed that while setting the CPU vCore to “Normal” rather than “Auto” mode still left the 1.30V core setting locked, setting the “Dynamic vCore” level to anything other than default re-enabled the CPU’s normal voltage behavior. Anyone who knows firmware well enough to do this will be rewarded with an energy and heat drop commensurate to the stock core voltage, plus or minus their custom setting. Oddly, pressing the ECO button then returned the oddball fixed-voltage behavior, along with the above power and thermal penalties.

Overclocking

The Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 easily reached the same 48x 100MHz CPU x BCLK setting of the other boards, and the Z270 Gaming M5’s apparent lead is misleadingly caused by an inaccurate BCLK. Moreover, the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 is the best DRAM overclocking motherboard we’ve yet seen, and it may still become the reference standard for DRAM overclocking comparisons. We’ll need to test a few more boards before making a final decision regarding our selection of reference hardware, so stay tuned!

DRAM overclocking wouldn’t even matter if not for the bandwidth advantage, and we’ve seen motherboards with greater overclocks produce lower bandwidth primarily due to conservative secondary and tertiary timings that companies have used to achieve their higher stable overclocks. Such was the case with the Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming K6, which clocked higher but at lower bandwidth than the Z270 Gaming M5. The Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 performs flawlessly while also having the best overclock.

Notice once again that four DIMMs have more bandwidth than two, even though two DIMMs can be overclocked to a higher data rate. This indicates the Kaby Lake memory controller’s preference for four banks of memory in a test of single-sided modules. Four banks is also a possible configuration for two double-sided DIMMs.

With an MSRP of $260, Aorus parent Gigabyte tells us to expect the Z270X-Gaming 7 to sell for $240 at your favorite online discount retailer. Or maybe that’s my favorite retailer. The question is whether it’s worth $50 more than the already-awarded Z270 Gaming M5 from competitor MSI.

Including the cost of implementation, the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7’s onboard Thunderbolt 3 controller is worth around $25. Creative's sound controller is only slightly costlier than the high-end Realtek solution chosen by MSI, and Gigabyte added the expense of making all six of its PWM fan headers voltage-regulation capable. Most of its other features have similar value, right down to comparing the worth of its dual network controllers to MSI's onboard firmware-flashing ASIC. Extra control buttons and voltage detection points are nice but inexpensive additions, leaving the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 around $5 to $10 behind in value. Superior overclocking is its saving grace, and the best overclocker in our test series certainly deserves some kind of award.

Unfortunately, we can't give a wide-ranging recommendation for a board that still doesn’t give non-overclockers all of the CPU's integrated energy-saving features. While you can certainly enable most of those, getting around the stuck voltage issue requires fiddling around with the Dynamic vCore setting in firmware.

What this really means is that, until we see firmware fixes beyond the F4k revision of this review, the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 should only appeal to overclockers, underclockers, and other people experienced in firmware tweaks. That shouldn’t be a problem with most readers, but it will be a problem for some. But since we gave the Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming K6 a “for non-overclockers” stamp of approval, we can certainly flip the switch and give the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 a “for overclockers only” approval.

We look forward to Gigabyte’s additional firmware optimization in our next round of Z270 testing.

MORE: Best Motherboards

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16 comments
    Your comment
  • Jeff Fx
    I have so many motherboards to evaluate before building my next gaming PC. Too many options is a good problem to have.
  • Crashman
    Every time I read the name I hear this freaking jingle, thanks Gigabyte.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n12lyKTAa50
    And for those who haven't heard or didn't remember it, you're welcome. The last word chopped from the video is "lately".
  • ah
    I don't know how the people at MSI, back when I was with Asus, I didn't even register my motherboard, the Realtek Audio App just downloaded itself. Now, even after I registered the motherboard with MSI, the referred app that came in the CD just didn't work, It's in the start up section, but just did not open and nowhere to be seen on my computer....no icon, no location to be found.
  • TheWiseWon
    I've seen reviews of it with major CPU voltage bugs, 1.4v default. BEWARE
  • Crashman
    2385588 said:
    I've seen reviews of it with major CPU voltage bugs, 1.4v default. BEWARE
    Until they get the automatic voltage levels sorted out, the only people who should be buying this thing are people who know how to configure it manually. It only got "approved", on a limited basis, for tuners, because of its overclocking leadership.
  • Nintendork
    Or just get Ryzen and forget about those bugs.
  • Crashman
    Would that happen to be, MISTER Mojo Ryzen?
  • somebodyspecial
    So just get Ryzen or Z170 as it won most of the games and scores 104% perf just like the rest...

    I really hope when tom's reviews Ryzen, they will have a lengthy discussion of what is MISSING if you choose to install an OS other than WinBLOWS 10. I'm thinking many users will want to know this info before buying. You like telemetry tracking the crap out of you? How about your desktop always trying to be like a mobile device? Etc etc...I hope AMD changes and makes their drivers fully compatible with win7 and forces Intel to drop the same drivers on us.
  • Crashman
    925801 said:
    So just get Ryzen or Z170 as it won most of the games and scores 104% perf just like the rest...
    and here I thought you were somebodyspecial. Ordinary people can see that games are limited by the GPU first :D We mostly include them because you expect us to.

    So I just did a test on a $150 Z270 board. It's almost identical to a $145 Z170 board, except that it can host one more NVMe SSD. It's probably worth $5 to have those four lanes wired into something, so why would anyone bother buying a Z170 board?
  • hixbot
    Anyone know what version is the HDMI output?
  • zthomas
    WOW all those sound features.. and those last two pages.. for fine tuning your board.. I have a sound blaster card.. I got all that stuff already.. but all in one.. on a single board.. now they are thinking above the box..
  • Vincent White
    I have the Z170 Gaming 7. The creative Software would make my Audio Randomly become Robotic sounding Loud and Distorted until you would restart the PC.
    Just last week they fixed this it took them over a year.
    I don't think I will be buying Gigabyte again.
  • somebodyspecial
    8708 said:
    925801 said:
    So just get Ryzen or Z170 as it won most of the games and scores 104% perf just like the rest...
    and here I thought you were somebodyspecial. Ordinary people can see that games are limited by the GPU first :D We mostly include them because you expect us to. So I just did a test on a $150 Z270 board. It's almost identical to a $145 Z170 board, except that it can host one more NVMe SSD. It's probably worth $5 to have those four lanes wired into something, so why would anyone bother buying a Z170 board?


    Nope, only took the nick because nobodyspecial was already gone (which is my nick on many places)...LOL. Besides, you're missing the point. Z170 means you can run kaby on win7 and it beat 2 out of 3 Z270 boards in your review here running the same cpu/gpu. The point isn't which is the limiter cpu or gpu, it's that the motherboard is NOT the limiter. 50% of desktops are running win7 and would like to avoid another $90-135 right (I'm not counting enterprise here, they're near zero win10)? My comment was mostly regarding the fact that you don't have to PAY or DEAL with windows 10 as the next few sentences you ignored were meant show. The whole paragraph was about win10. IF you're not trying to avoid win10 my guess was ryzen then since it is likely AM4+Ryzen will be cheaper than Z270+Kaby right? You might even get that extra port for the same price ;)

    Raise your hand if you care (or even have enough drives to care) about missing an NVMe port. I don't see many people with hands up. ;) I have an SSD as a boot drive, but I still have 3 other drives in my PC and 19 externals that are NOT SSD. I simply can't afford to buy 5TB external SSD's right and left like I do mechanical drives for $110-120. I bought 3 for xmas alone, which would have cost me a mint on SSD, screw speeds I need TB's! 5TB HGST Nas drives were selling for $99 at Fry's over xmas here (bought 2 to upgrade externals). As long as I can hook up one for a boot drive (on whatever board I buy), I'm not sure I'll care for the foreseeable future about more NVMe ports. I'm far more concerned with being forced onto win10 just to get that port.


    http://www.pcgamer.com/best-nvme-ssds/
    Pretty much sums up all you need to know about NVMe (a dozen drives, higher prices, AM4 likely having it anyway and likely cheaper if you're chasing that, etc). This is about like needing another gpu slot for most of us. Most of us are NOT running 2 or more gpus. As he says in the article, you're not going to notice if you're not hitting the disk with heavy workloads (how many times do you install the an app? I install it ONCE :)). To even see much of that speed you'll likely need to be coming from yet another NVMe drive right (and it's really not that much better anyway even when it is faster in Intel's case here)? I'm not going to likely be downloading 50GB games to that drive and then installing to it also. Not at the price of these things, or heck any SSD really, as they're all just too expensive for massive games these days and I rarely install anything other than apps to my SSD. Are we running a server here that hammers our drive or a home PC? Are you imaging 100pc's from it over 10gbit ethernet (or dual's) or something? Lowest 512GB on newegg is $170 for the Intel 600p ($240 for a step up to the real deal). An Evo 850 runs the same and actually wins quite a few tests at anandtech if I actually required that extra port:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/10850/the-intel-ssd-600p-512gb-review/6
    Random read/writes kind of suck (20-30% slower than evo) and for that matter so does sequential writes in iometer anyway (avg qd1/2/4). Evo blowing it away in these (500MB/s to 145? WOW). Better or not depends on what you're doing IMHO. Toms saw some of this too, but unfortunately it's easier to compare when you include Sata drives like anandtech did in all of the tests.

    That said, your gpu comment might be correct today, but for how long (game design never changes?)? Most of the time these days I upgrade my gpu in the course of my cpu's life (at least once), but usually I'm tapping out the board for the most part from day one on cpu side. I usually am replacing the cpu/board together now. Will a 10nm LARGE die gpu (2nd gen 10nm probably) put the load back onto cpu soon for many users? Will I finally want dual gpus at 10nm if heat and watts are ok on some cards? Will more devs start using more cores with dx12/vulkan games at some point soon with AMD/Intel making 6-8 cores possibly normal (amd could price aggressively and cause Intel to dump too)? If devs see the future is more cores and start coding for them anyone not having them might end up punished on the cpu side for a while right (heck phones have 8 cores now)? Any combo of these could put the pressure back on many user's cpu at the right resolution probably depending on the game (no most of us aren't running 4k or even 1440p). We may be usually gpu limited today, but acting as though this will never change is like saying 640kb will be all we ever need...LOL. Look how that turned out. IF devs see gpus are not improving much but they have all these cpus to work with, some may decide to actually DO something with MORE CORES correct? You might be able to turn off some game features to get back to playable, but we're not actually looking or playing that same game at this point (at least not how the devs imagined it). Personally I skip a game until I can turn on EVERY feature the dev intended at the res I play at whether that takes a new cpu or gpu. PERIOD. Bulldozer bet big time on far more slower cores, but got screwed by devs not using them (opting for fewer very fast cores instead). That could change. Never say never right?

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2015-why-directx-12-is-a-gamechanger
    "A Core i3 and i7 run the game in a very similar manner if you have an Nvidia card, but if you're using an AMD GPU, performance collapses whenever the system is drawing a more complex scene. Advanced Warfare isn't a one-off scenario either. Tune your system to favour frame-rate over visual effects and you'll run into a CPU bottleneck on AMD hardware much faster than you will with the Nvidia equivalent."

    Sometimes it just depends on how you play too ;) DX12 definitely changes things correct? We are now going to see some pretty different games with it no doubt (vulkan too). Bottlenecks and devs do change over time. Full utilization of the cpu can be pretty important.
    "the PC experience is built around scalability, but as we've noted recently, particularly in the underperformance of the top-tier Titan X, GTX 980 Ti and R9 Fury X in certain scenarios, something is holding back PC gaming from making the most of its hardware advantage. We're fascinated to see if DX12 can make the difference."

    "The figures on this page strongly suggest that AMD's many-core CPU strategy could finally start to pay off."

    Can't wait to see how this all plays out. BTW eurogamer isn't the only site recognizing "scenarios" where cpu seems to matter. Surely you'd agree dual cores have issues today right? There are games I certainly wouldn't want to play without a quad today.

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/3039552/hardware/tested-how-many-cpu-cores-you-really-need-for-directx-12-gaming.html
    How many cores do you need soon? Signs that times may be changing soon? Pcworld's been around for 3+ decades (crap I'm getting old). I'm not a huge fan these days, but they're not total idiots here and Gordon has been around for much of my mag reading years (does anyone still do that? appeared somewhere around tom pabst's time). We'll know more in time as we get a bunch of games BUILT for dx12 rather than patched in crap.

    https://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/DX12-GPU-and-CPU-Performance-Tested-Ashes-Singularity-Benchmark
    We could get "WARS" in RTS games instead of "battles". :)

    Hopefully you get the point now. Still somebodyspecial despite not wanting to be?...ROFL. That was a complete waste of my time. You attacked a point I wasn't even making...LOL. I guess I could have just said "Strawman" and quit early. But why not drive the point (points?) home for anyone who didn't get it when the website attacks eh? ;)

    Z170 is basically the same as Z270 perf wise. Yeah, that's what I said pretty much & don't need win10 either. Bonus. You completely avoided that whole bonus issue, while picking a one liner and tweaking it for your argument. Much like many sites acting like we're all on win10 (and 4k...LOL). Gee, just for kicks try to test things we're actually using (cuda vs. AMD cough, cough, maybe win7...) and quit acting like elitists :) I'm starting to wonder if MSFT writes checks to sites these days to try to convince us win10 is good. Most all of them talk like you. Pretty much like the media/dems/hollywood acting like trump doesn't exist and missing the whole point of his election...ROFL. Umm, he's the president now no? Nah, Win10 is the bees knees we all use, and HRC can still win...LMAO.

    Prediction: Dems lose 5-10 more seats in 2018 (more if DNC elects muslim leader who hates Americans as chair in this environment) giving republicans a trifecta. I can hear some stupid racist comment already. Nope, just watch that guy's vids (he's said a lot of anti-american stuff) and tell me dems won't drive their party off a cliff if they make him the head of the DNC with 10 states where dem seats are up for grabs (of 25) being won by trump.

    Prediction: Z270, Wintel (AMD too?), won't change many Win7 users minds about win10. You've given it away for 18 months (still through accessibility loophole), review sites act like win7 doesn't exist, you've foisted it on users through sneaky updates, etc and you STILL can't get traction. Neither of my predictions seem that bold given the data we have.

    Note to tom's since you CLAIM you listen to users and include stuff because we expect it: start benchmarking and testing win7 configs in your reviews at least occasionally because 50% of us still use it (2x Win10!). Start testing Cuda vs AMD in your gpu/app testing because that is a big reason NV people buy their cards.
  • Crashman
    925801 said:
    8708 said:
    925801 said:
    So just get Ryzen or Z170 as it won most of the games and scores 104% perf just like the rest...
    and here I thought you were somebodyspecial. Ordinary people can see that games are limited by the GPU first :D We mostly include them because you expect us to. So I just did a test on a $150 Z270 board. It's almost identical to a $145 Z170 board, except that it can host one more NVMe SSD. It's probably worth $5 to have those four lanes wired into something, so why would anyone bother buying a Z170 board?
    Nope, only took the nick because nobodyspecial was already gone (which is my nick on many places)...LOL. Besides, you're missing the point. Z170 means you can run kaby on win7 and it beat 2 out of 3 Z270 boards in your review here running the same cpu/gpu. The point isn't which is the limiter cpu or gpu, it's that the motherboard is NOT the limiter. 50% of desktops are running win7 and would like to avoid another $90-135 right (I'm not counting enterprise here, they're near zero win10)? My comment was mostly regarding the fact that you don't have to PAY or DEAL with windows 10 as the next few sentences you ignored were meant show. The whole paragraph was about win10. IF you're not trying to avoid win10 my guess was ryzen then since it is likely AM4+Ryzen will be cheaper than Z270+Kaby right? You might even get that extra port for the same price ;)
    What, you can't run Z270 with Win7? I had it running with Win8. The integrated Kaby Lake GPU wasn't recognized though. Where are you seeing that Z270 won't run with Win7?
  • somebodyspecial
    8708 said:
    925801 said:
    8708 said:
    925801 said:
    So just get Ryzen or Z170 as it won most of the games and scores 104% perf just like the rest...
    and here I thought you were somebodyspecial. Ordinary people can see that games are limited by the GPU first :D We mostly include them because you expect us to. So I just did a test on a $150 Z270 board. It's almost identical to a $145 Z170 board, except that it can host one more NVMe SSD. It's probably worth $5 to have those four lanes wired into something, so why would anyone bother buying a Z170 board?
    Nope, only took the nick because nobodyspecial was already gone (which is my nick on many places)...LOL. Besides, you're missing the point. Z170 means you can run kaby on win7 and it beat 2 out of 3 Z270 boards in your review here running the same cpu/gpu. The point isn't which is the limiter cpu or gpu, it's that the motherboard is NOT the limiter. 50% of desktops are running win7 and would like to avoid another $90-135 right (I'm not counting enterprise here, they're near zero win10)? My comment was mostly regarding the fact that you don't have to PAY or DEAL with windows 10 as the next few sentences you ignored were meant show. The whole paragraph was about win10. IF you're not trying to avoid win10 my guess was ryzen then since it is likely AM4+Ryzen will be cheaper than Z270+Kaby right? You might even get that extra port for the same price ;)
    What, you can't run Z270 with Win7? I had it running with Win8. The integrated Kaby Lake GPU wasn't recognized though. Where are you seeing that Z270 won't run with Win7?


    Didn't say it wouldn't work at all, but that it's not FULLY supported (as you just noted for example your gpu doesn't work). What other features are NOT fully supported (unfortunately nobody is really covering this)? You're argument for it not running win7 fully is it runs in win8? I made ZERO arguments about win8. Is there even a Win8 official chipset driver for Z270? That isn't saying you can't run without crashing, just that Intel isn't supporting it officially and who knows what is missing until it's thoroughly investigated on win7. Why haven't you guys asked intel what is missing and why wouldn't you test Win7 instead of 8 which an even smaller group uses?? A simple email from you guys should get something from Intel correct? AMD+Wintel have all said win7 would not be fully supported with Kaby/Ryzen (chipsets? Either way same story & MSFT said the same, no chipset support) and I don't see an Intel Z270 driver for Win7 yet, and as you noted the gpu isn't supported even in win8 which again, I NEVER mentioned. I'll just end here with "strawman" rather than wasting time destroying another pointless post from you. :)

    So regarding my real points, I covered all the reasons the 2nd NVMe port means nothing, gpu/cpu perf means nothing in regards to what I said, and you avoid that (much like my first response) and choose a different attack angle? ROFL. Thanks for telling everyone I was spot on.

    From my first post since you didn't seem to ACTUALLY read it (or the last post for that matter...LOL).
    "I really hope when tom's reviews Ryzen, they will have a lengthy discussion of what is MISSING if you choose to install an OS other than WinBLOWS 10. I'm thinking many users will want to know this info before buying. You like telemetry tracking the crap out of you? How about your desktop always trying to be like a mobile device? Etc etc...I hope AMD changes and makes their drivers fully compatible with win7 and forces Intel to drop the same drivers on us."

    You might actually try responding to something I SAID, instead of twisting it into what you wish I'd said, or just sit quietly instead of trolling me. :) Then again you did read it, you just didn't like someone pointing out how misguided your response was. Key words above are "FULLY COMPATIBLE" and "WHAT IS MISSING" if you go win7 either way someone goes (Intel or AMD).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Graham's_Hierarchy_of_Disagreement.svg
    Study that chart, then come back after you get exactly what I did to your post. ;) Too harsh? Remember how you started with me:
    "and here I thought you were somebodyspecial" ;) Hello CRASHman. Hope you have insurance :) You've been around since what 2000 here? What's up with this crap?

    <font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
    Maybe put the sig back? I'll refrain from putting yet another emoticon here
  • Crashman
    925801 said:
    8708 said:
    What, you can't run Z270 with Win7? I had it running with Win8. The integrated Kaby Lake GPU wasn't recognized though. Where are you seeing that Z270 won't run with Win7?
    Didn't say it wouldn't work at all, but that it's not FULLY supported (as you just noted for example your gpu doesn't work). What other features are NOT fully supported (unfortunately nobody is really covering this)? You're argument for it not running win7 fully is it runs in win8? I made ZERO arguments about win8. Is there even a Win8 official chipset driver for Z270? That isn't saying you can't run without crashing, just that Intel isn't supporting it officially and who knows what is missing until it's thoroughly investigated on win7. Why haven't you guys asked intel what is missing and why wouldn't you test Win7 instead of 8 which an even smaller group uses?? A simple email from you guys should get something from Intel correct? AMD+Wintel have all said win7 would not be fully supported with Kaby/Ryzen (chipsets? Either way same story & MSFT said the same, no chipset support) and I don't see an Intel Z270 driver for Win7 yet, and as you noted the gpu isn't supported even in win8 which again, I NEVER mentioned. I'll just end here with "strawman" rather than wasting time destroying another pointless post from you. :) So regarding my real points, I covered all the reasons the 2nd NVMe port means nothing, gpu/cpu perf means nothing in regards to what I said, and you avoid that (much like my first response) and choose a different attack angle? ROFL. Thanks for telling everyone I was spot on.
    Actually you're completely wrong as far as I know. The GPU is on the CPU. You can run Skylake on Z270. So I asked what's wrong with the Z270 that isn't wrong with the Z170, and I'm still not seeing any answer.

    Of course I don't have Windows 7. I have Windows 8, so that's what I used. If you have any evidence that Z270 isn't supported by Win7, you could show me something I didn't know. And then I'd thank you for the additional information, which I could assimilate in my move towards world domination :D

    BTW, I'm sure Windows XP is unsupported. Just FYI. I know, I know, for want of a nail...