Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 Motherboard Review

Gigabyte puts the Aorus brand on its stylish Kaby Lake enthusiast motherboard. Will it combine the performance, features, and overclocking to win buyer loyalty?

Motherboard manufacturer Gigabyte has also been making notebook PCs for as long as most of us can remember, not just under the Gigabyte banner, but also eventually through an ultra-deluxe gaming notebook brand, Aorus. Aorus went on to market and sell everything from keyboards to mice, and now that the newer premium brand is flourishing, Gigabyte decided to bring it back to the manufacturer's motherboard roots.

The Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 I/O panel doesn’t have any of those old-fashioned resource-preserving USB 2.0 ports, but it does have a distinct set of USB 3.0 ports marked in yellow to indicate special noise prevention circuitry for use with USB headsets. It also has three other USB 3.0 ports, a true USB 3.1 Type A port marked in red, and a Type-C port. Both the Type A and Type-C ports are fed by Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 controller, assuring that the Type-C connection can also be used as a Thunderbolt 3 data and/or DisplayPort interface. Not that the board is lacking for DisplayPort, as a full-sized connector resides above its HDMI output. We also see two Gigabit Ethernet ports, five audio jacks, and a digital optical audio output.

Those USB 3.0 ports are labeled USB 3.1 Gen 1, just so you’ll know they support your modern devices, if only at half speed.

A description of the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 with a count of PCIe and HSIO resources is complicated, to the point that it makes sense to put each of them in further perspective. The board, for example, has two M.2 interfaces and six SATA, yet the manual explicitly states that adding a PCIe SSD to the upper M.2 slot will disable two SATA ports, and that only makes sense if those ports are switched from SATA to PCIe in the chipset’s HSIO resource table. The second M.2 slot shares two lanes with the bottom PCIe slot: While either of these can support x4 transfers, using them simultaneously forces both interfaces into x2 mode.

All six SATA ports are bundled as SATA-Express interfaces, allowing two PCIe lanes and two SATA ports to transfer over a single interface cable. Gigabyte doesn’t say what happens to the PCIe lanes of SATA ports 4 and 5 when the resources of those ports are donated to the M.2 interface, but given the 30 HSIO limit and the relative unpopularity of SATA-Express, this might have been a good place to spare some HSIO resources.

Unlike competing boards, the PCIe x4 U.2 connection is listed as having dedicated lanes. Unlike SATA-Express, we expect U.2 to stick around a while.

Like most of its competitors, the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 connects the CPU’s 16 PCIe lanes to two x16-length slots, automatically switches those slots from x16/x0 to x8/x8 mode when a card is detected in the second slot, and places those slots in positions 2 and 5 on the case’s slot panel. Since a graphics cooler usually covers the slot beneath the top x16 slot, Gigabyte left that position empty and instead put an x1 slot above it. While there’s plenty of space in front of that upper x1 slot, the lack of an open end means it can’t be used with a longer (such as x4) card.

The front-panel audio connector is pushed a little farther back into the bottom rear corner than we’d prefer, giving worry to users of poorly planned cases. Next to it, a switch lets you adjust gain for 600 Ohm headphones. Next to that, two BIOS switches let you select between the two firmware ROMs, and to disable the oft-annoying auto-reflash feature. And, next to that, a five-pin RGB LED header lets the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 control case lighting via additional light strips.

The Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 includes two USB 3.0 headers, an impressive number of PWM fan headers (6), an OC button that pushes our Core i7-7700K to 4.7 GHz at 1.32V, an Eco button that’s supposed to lower CPU power consumption via intelligent voltage reduction, a power button, a CLR_CMOS button, and a reset button, all surrounding its primary power connection. A row of voltage detection points behind the power button allows overclockers to verify CPU, chipset, and DRAM voltages, and the six fan headers are all configurable between pulsating (PWM) and voltage based (DC) speed control.

The Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 includes two thermistors for use with onboard sensor headers, an RGB LED extension cable, a G-Connector bundling clip for front-panel leads, a dual SLI bridge to meet GTX 1070 and 1080 graphics card requirements, a case badge, two hook-and-loop cable ties, and a sheet of cable labels in addition to the regular pack of four SATA cables, user manual, driver DVD, and I/O panel shield.

MORE: Best Motherboards

MORE: How To Choose A Motherboard

MORE: All Motherboard Content

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
16 comments
Comment from the forums
    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
    Anonymous 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
    Anonymous 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
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous 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
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous 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
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous 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
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous 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...