Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 ‘Coffee Lake’ Motherboard Review

We're always evaluating a new product from two primary angles: whether it offers more features than its competitors for a similar price; or whether it offers similar features to its competitors at a lower price. Those familiar with Gigabyte’s Aorus Gaming motherboard series will instantly recognize the number "7" as representing a higher-end model, and it’s currently the highest model number in Gigabyte’s Z370 portfolio.

Gigabyte uses only odd numbers in its Aorus Gaming motherboard model names, and doing so leaves only the number "9" to fill the insanely-expensive premium class. For now, then, the question is whether the Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 is a near-premium part with a more reasonable price tag.

Specifications

The Z370 Aorus Gaming 7’s specification list looks more mainstream than its model number suggests, lacking many of the near-premium features found on previous-generation motherboards (in the $220-$280 price class). The voltage regulator has 10 phases, there are no auxiliary power inputs or LN2-mode switches for insane overclocking, hardware overclocking buttons are limited to a single O/C function, and there are no Wi-Fi or U.2 connectors. Also, did you notice that there are very few PCIe pathway conflicts? The Z370 Aorus Gaming 7’s best feature could just be that it’s designed to support most of its included features simultaneously.

A few Easter eggs fall outside the scope of our table, however, such as the ESS SABRE 9018 DAC with WIMA audio capacitors driving those five analog audio jacks, the Sound BlasterX 720° software designed to add features to the improved quality audio, and the Killer software suite that optimizes the E2500 Gigabit Ethernet controller that feeds its second Gigabit Ethernet connection, with each of these features worth at least a couple dollars. And then there are the not-so-obvious features that are in the specs list, such as the second ASM3142 PCIe 3.0 x2 controller that feeds a Gen2 USB 3.1 port designed for front-panel Type-C headers. Most previous-generation boards only had 10 Gb/s ports on the I/O panel. And the Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 still has two of those (a Type-C and a Type A).

Color me mildly disappointed that the I/O panel USB ports don’t follow industry standard color codes, but at least it’s easy to remember that the red port and the Type-C ports have 10 Gb/s interfaces, with remaining ports supporting 5 Gb/s maximum transfer rates. Gigabyte also includes a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 outputs for the CPU’s integrated graphics engine, and a digital optical audio output. The lack of any I/O panel CLR_CMOS buttons can be a blessing to anyone who’s afraid a passerby might deploy it, but reaching the internal button could be difficult once the build has been completed.

There are also voltage jumpers for the D-LED lighting connectors to address the availability of both 5V and 12V varieties. And there are two RBGW LED headers in addition to the duo of D-LEDs. These features, along with the two thermistor headers, are found on the board’s upper-front and bottom-rear corners.

The upper-front corner also has four handy buttons appropriately named power, reset, CRL_CMOS, and OC. The OC button, which lights when deployed, picked a 4.90 GHz overclock for our Core i7-8700K at 1.30V CPU core and appears to be OS-agnostic (even functioning in UEFI mode).

LED strips between the DIMM slots and surrounding the x16-length PCIe slots can be programmed nearly any way you prefer, complementing the lighted windows of the I/O panel, voltage regulator, and Z370 PCH covers.

An extra space between the two main x16-length slots allows extra cooling for the top graphics card, as well as allowing the use of cards with extra thick coolers. Those two slots switch from x16/x0 to x8/x8 mode automatically when the second slot is filled. The third x16 slot features four pathways from the PCH, and is thus forced to share bandwidth with all three M.2 slots as well as any other chipset-connected device. It also drops to x2 mode whenever a drive is placed in the third M.2 slot. For most of the enthusiast market, that third slot is likely to be the only truly annoying example of resource sharing.

Less obtrusive shares include the top M.2 slot stealing HSIO resources from two SATA ports. Gigabyte understands that most enthusiasts won’t use more than four SATA ports, and while a SATA-interfaced card in the second M.2 slot steals another SATA port, most enthusiasts have long abandoned SATA for M.2.

The Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 has but one USB 3.0 front-panel port, and it’s located well above the top PCIe slot to avoid any connector conflicts. Users who want more high-speed front-panel ports will likely want a case with a Type-C interface and appropriate cable to match the Z370 Aorus Gaming 7’s 10 Gb/s front-panel header. Anyone who wants more than three front-panel ports is welcome to use one of the board’s three USB 2.0 front-panel headers.

Eight 4-pin fan headers that are individually configurable between PWM and voltage regulation modes are strategically placed behind the audio ports (1), next to the EPS12V connector (1), forward of the CPU voltage regulator (2), next to the main power connector (1), and toward the front of the bottom edge (3). Combining the placement of the two-digit status code display at the bottom edge with the likelihood that enthusiasts won’t use that slot for a graphics card, the only remaining layout concern is that the front-panel audio header is a little too far back into the bottom-rear corner for the cables of certain poorly configured cases to reach. That concern is nearly trivial, since we’re constantly patrolling for poorly-configured cases.

The Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 includes documentation, a driver and application disc, a sheet of stickers, two Velcro cable ties, four SATA cables (two straight, two with a right-angled end), an HB style SLI bridge, an RGBW extension cable, two thermistor leads, an I/O shield, a G-Connector cable bundler for front-panel LED and switch connectors, and a case badge. An included M.2 heat spreader comes installed over an empty M.2 slot, as shown in motherboard images.

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  • karma77police
    The best Z370 motherboard out there is ASRock Extreme 4 for $159.
  • AgentLozen
    But does it have LED lighting?
  • KittenKisses
    Where are the asrock Z370 reviews?
  • AcesB
    >But does it have LED lighting?
    LOL!
    I'm still wondering why there so many people obsessed with LED decoration. Some PC is fancier than a Christmas tree! It's a good time to be an LED manufacturer or just sell it.
  • Lucky_SLS
    Looking at the specs, I feel that the best bang for buck z370 is the Asus tuf plus gaming for 150 bucks.
  • mixacias63
    I need a motherboard that has Thunderbolt 3 within the motherboard. They removed that feature with upgrade. I don’t need the lights. I need Thunderbolt 3
  • hixbot
    I'm waiting Z370 mobo with 10GBE.
  • Mr5oh
    Not to mention the built in LEDs in everything never match each other which is very aggravating... Another thing I find aggravating is when they starting cutting out rear USB ports. My latest motherboard is a high end motherboard and it has multiple spots to hook up front USB ports, but how many cases really have more than 2 front USB ports. Not to mention who wants things plugged into the front of their case? Am I the only want who runs out of rear ports and find's USB hubs unreliable or slow, no matter what brand? D-link, Anker, (all powered hubs) doesn't seem to matter, either they put my devices to sleep and don't wake them when needed, or they don't successfully transfer files during large transfers.

    I haven't had enough USB ports since my Haswell build... (Currently using a GA-270X Gaming 7 Board and 7700K)
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    I need a motherboard that has Thunderbolt 3 within the motherboard. They removed that feature with upgrade. I don’t need the lights. I need Thunderbolt 3
    Best comment yet! I don't need Thunderbolt 3 but I can at least understand that as a legitimate need.
    Anonymous said:
    Not to mention the built in LEDs in everything never match each other which is very aggravating... Another thing I find aggravating is when they starting cutting out rear USB ports. My latest motherboard is a high end motherboard and it has multiple spots to hook up front USB ports, but how many cases really have more than 2 front USB ports. Not to mention who wants things plugged into the front of their case? Am I the only want who runs out of rear ports and find's USB hubs unreliable or slow, no matter what brand? D-link, Anker, (all powered hubs) doesn't seem to matter, either they put my devices to sleep and don't wake them when needed, or they don't successfully transfer files during large transfers.

    I haven't had enough USB ports since my Haswell build... (Currently using a GA-270X Gaming 7 Board and 7700K)

    We really need to ditch the notion that USB 2.0 should be removed from the I/O panel, since most people are using at least two such devices. Anyone who says "but USB 3.0 supports those devices too" is probably missing the point on resource allocation: USB 2.0 doesn't even require HSIO.
  • James Mason
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I need a motherboard that has Thunderbolt 3 within the motherboard. They removed that feature with upgrade. I don’t need the lights. I need Thunderbolt 3
    Best comment yet! I don't need Thunderbolt 3 but I can at least understand that as a legitimate need.
    Anonymous said:
    Not to mention the built in LEDs in everything never match each other which is very aggravating... Another thing I find aggravating is when they starting cutting out rear USB ports. My latest motherboard is a high end motherboard and it has multiple spots to hook up front USB ports, but how many cases really have more than 2 front USB ports. Not to mention who wants things plugged into the front of their case? Am I the only want who runs out of rear ports and find's USB hubs unreliable or slow, no matter what brand? D-link, Anker, (all powered hubs) doesn't seem to matter, either they put my devices to sleep and don't wake them when needed, or they don't successfully transfer files during large transfers.

    I haven't had enough USB ports since my Haswell build... (Currently using a GA-270X Gaming 7 Board and 7700K)

    We really need to ditch the notion that USB 2.0 should be removed from the I/O panel, since most people are using at least two such devices. Anyone who says "but USB 3.0 supports those devices too" is probably missing the point on resource allocation: USB 2.0 doesn't even require HSIO.



    No way anyone needs thunderbolt-3 on a desktop PC.
    Thunderbolt 3 is two things, USB-C and Displayport 1.2 combined, with a 40GBps transfer speed.
    So unless you're plugging your Macbook pro into a dock connected to a 4k monitor or 2, you don't need Thunderbolt 3.
    The motherboard has a DP 1.2 port on it, and a USB C port.
    You DO NOT need both of those combined on a DESKTOP motherboard.
    AND no CPU/APU could provide that amount of graphical power anyways, so there's no reason for anything better to be on the mobo.
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I need a motherboard that has Thunderbolt 3 within the motherboard. They removed that feature with upgrade. I don’t need the lights. I need Thunderbolt 3
    Best comment yet! I don't need Thunderbolt 3 but I can at least understand that as a legitimate need.
    Anonymous said:
    Not to mention the built in LEDs in everything never match each other which is very aggravating... Another thing I find aggravating is when they starting cutting out rear USB ports. My latest motherboard is a high end motherboard and it has multiple spots to hook up front USB ports, but how many cases really have more than 2 front USB ports. Not to mention who wants things plugged into the front of their case? Am I the only want who runs out of rear ports and find's USB hubs unreliable or slow, no matter what brand? D-link, Anker, (all powered hubs) doesn't seem to matter, either they put my devices to sleep and don't wake them when needed, or they don't successfully transfer files during large transfers.

    I haven't had enough USB ports since my Haswell build... (Currently using a GA-270X Gaming 7 Board and 7700K)

    We really need to ditch the notion that USB 2.0 should be removed from the I/O panel, since most people are using at least two such devices. Anyone who says "but USB 3.0 supports those devices too" is probably missing the point on resource allocation: USB 2.0 doesn't even require HSIO.



    No way anyone needs thunderbolt-3 on a desktop PC.
    Thunderbolt 3 is two things, USB-C and Displayport 1.2 combined, with a 40GBps transfer speed.
    So unless you're plugging your Macbook pro into a dock connected to a 4k monitor or 2, you don't need Thunderbolt 3.
    The motherboard has a DP 1.2 port on it, and a USB C port.
    You DO NOT need both of those combined on a DESKTOP motherboard.
    AND no CPU/APU could provide that amount of graphical power anyways, so there's no reason for anything better to be on the mobo.
    Or maybe you found a Thunderbolt 3 external drive enclosure? Or maybe you want to daisy-chain your monitor and other external devices together. I'm not here to judge, if the man says he needs it his point will be considered valid until he says something that negates it.
  • jn77
    Yep, its 2017, not 1999. there should be 2 10GBE network ports on all motherboards and there should be at least 4 USB Type C connectors also.
  • gasaraki
    Pretty weak review. The Tech Report review was way more detailed on everything, like the VRMs etc. This review just has general info I can look up myself.
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Pretty weak review. The Tech Report review was way more detailed on everything, like the VRMs etc. This review just has general info I can look up myself.
    That's because I'd rather not say anything than write stuff that's being fed to me. We all know that different voltage regulator components for example have different capacities, and that having a 60A part and a 45A part in series limits the total ampacity to 45A. The kicker is, I'm the one who's not afraid to say that I can't always find the weakest link in a circuit: Many other "experts" will try to improve their credibility by speaking only about the parts they can see.

    What you'd really like to have is failure mode testing. You might not have thought of that yet, or maybe you have.
  • darkbreeze
    Thomas, now that enough time has passed for some thorough testing on a variety of Z370 boards, can you comment as to whether you've noticed a trend on Z370 VRM temperatures as evidenced by this recent disclosure on the Aorus Ultra gaming? To your knowledge is this an issue across the entire Gigabyte Z370 family or only on this one board? Have you tested this board yourself yet and can you verify this IS in fact a problem?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjbzTHcaHO0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Thomas, now that enough time has passed for some thorough testing on a variety of Z370 boards, can you comment as to whether you've noticed a trend on Z370 VRM temperatures as evidenced by this recent disclosure on the Aorus Ultra gaming? To your knowledge is this an issue across the entire Gigabyte Z370 family or only on this one board? Have you tested this board yourself yet and can you verify this IS in fact a problem?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjbzTHcaHO0



    The next Gigabyte review to be published is Mini ITX so its results might not be as useful.
  • darkbreeze
    So, it seems there IS a marked increase on VRM thermals with the Gigabyte boards than on competing Z370 motherboard brands. And looking at that it sure looks like there is a serious issue with the average temps on Z270 as well, for all brands. I was away for about a year, up in the mountains on a secluded jobsite doing reforestation so I may have missed that entire scenario.

    Was this true? Was there a serious problem with VRM overheating on the entire Z270 lineup? Can you comment (allowed) on your opinion as to whether this is still only an issue on Gigabyte boards, select Gigabyte boards or where does the truth lie on this? Please feel free to PM me if you are limited in what you can say here. Thanks.
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    So, it seems there IS a marked increase on VRM thermals with the Gigabyte boards than on competing Z370 motherboard brands. And looking at that it sure looks like there is a serious issue with the average temps on Z270 as well, for all brands. I was away for about a year, up in the mountains on a secluded jobsite doing reforestation so I may have missed that entire scenario.

    Was this true? Was there a serious problem with VRM overheating on the entire Z270 lineup? Can you comment (allowed) on your opinion as to whether this is still only an issue on Gigabyte boards, select Gigabyte boards or where does the truth lie on this? Please feel free to PM me if you are limited in what you can say here. Thanks.

    Z270 was a different game because we only had four-core CPUs. We're testing Z370 with 6-core. And you know how when you cross over a certain point things just seam to climb endlessly until they don't, like if you added an slice of pie every day to your lunch...

    Thus far it appears they're all running hot. We tested an MSI board that was far cooler, but its power consumption was also down by 40W, so we suspect it was being throttled when running Prime95 small-FFTs.
  • darkbreeze
    That makes sense, but what doesn't is the fact that on that chart I'm seeing higher average VRM temperatures than even the Gigabyte Z370 board you looked at, despite the fact that it only had four cores instead of six. What's that saying? Was the problem that bad on Z270 and if so how come I'm not seeing that translated into the articles on Z270 I've been reading trying to play catch up on the platform changes I missed out on while I was out of touch so to speak.

    And does this ACTUALLY mean that in reality, even on the Z370 boards that are running 6 core chips, we're actually seeing LOWER overall average VRM temperatures than what was averaged on Z270 with four cores?
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    That makes sense, but what doesn't is the fact that on that chart I'm seeing higher average VRM temperatures than even the Gigabyte Z370 board you looked at, despite the fact that it only had four cores instead of six. What's that saying? Was the problem that bad on Z270 and if so how come I'm not seeing that translated into the articles on Z270 I've been reading trying to play catch up on the platform changes I missed out on while I was out of touch so to speak.

    And does this ACTUALLY mean that in reality, even on the Z370 boards that are running 6 core chips, we're actually seeing LOWER overall average VRM temperatures than what was averaged on Z270 with four cores?


    Voltages regulator temperatures can be impacted by undersized components (including the heatsink). Some boards did better than others. I'm seeing higher temperatures on average with the Z370 because I'm testing similar regulators (not much changed) with a six-core processor.