After the Intel 200 Series launch, I took a look at a range of boards on the Z270 chipset all in the mid range as far as pricing and features. The Asus Strix Z270E board ended up being great and I have been using it with all of the Ryzen testing as well for comparison testing. Well, a shipping mix-up when waiting for a Z270 ITX board for an upcoming project build meant I ended up with an Asus Strix H270F Gaming in its place. It might have been an accident, but it is a good chance to check out a similar board but from the H270 line. H270 drops overclocking and gives a lower number of PCI lanes from the CPU which means less for PCIe options, fewer M.2 storage options, and less for USB. But it still gives a lot of features at a lower price point, so today I'm going to check out the Strix H270F and see if it’s a good option for someone who might not be planning on overclocking their new build at all.

Product Name: Asus Strix H270F Gaming

Review Sample Provided by: Asus

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

Amazon Link: HERE

 

Specifications

CPU

Intel® Socket 1151 for 7th/6th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors

Supports Intel® 14 nm CPU

Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0

Chipset

Intel® H270

Memory

4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 3300(O.C.)/3000(O.C.)/2400/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory

Dual Channel Memory Architecture

Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)

* Due to Intel® chipset limitation, DDR4 2400MHz memory frequency is only supported by 7th Generation Intel® processors. Higher memory modules will run at the maximum transfer rate of DDR4 2400MHz.

** Due to Intel® chipset limitation, DDR4 2133MHz and higher memory modules on 6th Generation Intel® processors will run at the maximum transfer rate of DDR4 2133MHz.

Graphic

Integrated Graphics Processor- Intel® HD Graphics support

Multi-VGA output support: HDMI/DVI-D/DisplayPort 1.2 ports

- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz

- Supports DVI-D with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz

- Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2304 @ 60 Hz

Maximum shared memory of 1024 MB

Supports Intel® InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™

Supports up to 3 displays simultaneously

DP 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport compliant, supports DP 1.2 monitor daisy chain up to 3 displays

Multi-GPU Support

Supports AMD 2-Way CrossFireX Technology

Expansion Slots

1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 mode)

1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode)

4 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x1

Storage

Intel® H270 Chipset: 
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M Key, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (both SATA & x2 PCIE mode)*1
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)*2
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s)
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Intel® Rapid Storage Technology 15 support
Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready *3

LAN

Intel® I219V

Anti-surge LANGuard

ROG GameFirst Technology

Audio

ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A
- Dual Headphone Amplifiers
- Impedance sense for front and rear headphone outputs
- Supports: Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
- High quality 120 dB SNR stereo playback output and 113 dB SNR recording input
- SupremeFX Shielding Technology
- Supports up to 32-Bit/192kHz playback *4
Audio Feature:
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
- Sonic Radar III
- Sonic Studio III

USB Ports

Intel® H270 Chipset : 
6 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 4 at mid-board)
Intel® H270 Chipset: *5
8 x USB 2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, , 4 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller : 
2 x USB 3.1 port(s) (Type-A + Type-C, Support 3A power output)

ROG Exclusive Features

ROG RAMCache II
ROG CPU-Z
ROG CloneDrive
Overwolf
GameFirst IV
ROG Aura
- Aura Lighting Control
- Aura RGB Strip Headers

Special Features

Gamer's Guardian:
- ESD Guards on LAN, Audio, KBMS and USB3.1/3.0/2.0 ports 
- DRAM Overcurrent Protection
- Stainless Steel Back I/O
- Highly Durable Components
- DIGI+ VRM
- SafeSlot
ASUS Exclusive Features:
- AI Suite 3
- Ai Charger 
- ESD Guards
ASUS EZ DIY:
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 
- ASUS EZ Flash 3 
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode
ASUS Q-Design:
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM 
Gaming Aesthetics:
- 3D printing friendly
- AURA-RGB Lighting
Performance Optimization:
- DIGI + VRM
- GPU Boost
- Fan Xpert 4 featuring Fan Auto Tuning function and multiple thermistors selection for optimized system cooling control
- AI Suite 3
M.2 Onboard(The latest transfer technologies with up to 32Gb/s data transfer speeds)

Back I/O Ports

1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)

1 x DVI-D

1 x DisplayPort

1 x HDMI

1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)

2 x USB 3.1 Type-A + Type-C

2 x USB 3.0 (blue)

4 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

5 x Audio jack(s)

Internal I/O Ports

1 x AAFP connector

1 x RGB Header(s)

2 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 3.0 port(s)

2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)

1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (both SATA & x2 PCIE mode)

1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)

6 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)

1 x CPU Fan connector(s)

1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s)

2 x Chassis Fan connector(s)

1 x AIO_PUMP connector

1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)

1 x System panel(s) (Chassis intrusion header is inbuilt)

1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)

1 x 5-pin EXT_FAN(Extension Fan) connector

1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s)

1 x 14-1 pin TPM connector

1 x COM port header

1 x T_Sensor Connector

3 x 3D Mount screw port(s)

Accessories

User's manual

ASUS Q-Shield

4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)

1 x M.2 Screw Package

1 x Supporting DVD

1 x ROG Strix stickers

1 x 10 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s)

1 x Extension Cable for RGB strips (80 cm)

1 x 3D printing mount package

BIOS

128 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 3.0, ACPI 6.0, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 3, CrashFree BIOS 3, F11 EZ Tuning Wizard, F6 Qfan Control, F3 My Favorites, Last Modified log, F12 PrintScreen, and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information.

Manageability

WfM2.0, DMI3.0, WOL by PME, PXE

Operating System

Windows® 10 64-bit

Windows® 8.1 64-bit

Windows® 7 32-bit

Windows® 7 64-bit

Form Factor

ATX Form Factor

12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

 


Packaging and Accessories

The H270F Gaming has almost the exact same look as the Strix Z270E, the front has the Strix theming with the colorful Strix logo and a photo of the board all across the front. Then on the back, there is an overall photo of the board with other close-up photos to show off specific details. The back also has a nice specification listing and a photo and list of everything on the back panel to cover everything you need to know before picking a board up.

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Inside up under the board itself, you do get a few accessories. You get a full printed user guide along with a driver and software disc. They include a Strix stick sheet as well and a smaller sticker sheet with ROG cable labels should you need to label your SATA cables. The board, of course, comes with a rear I/O shield and I love that they used a blacked out panel with just basic labels. It also uses the foam back to keep things tight but they also included a few clips as well, so be careful not to get those in your ports. Then it comes with four all black SATA cables with two of the four having a right angled end. You get an Aura RGB lighting extension cable as well to help hook up more than one RGB lighting strip to the board. Then there is a small bag with M.2 screws and a bag with screws and mounts for use with Asus’s 3d printable designs. All in all, they didn’t really skimp at all on the accessories for the lower price.

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Board Layout and Pictures

At first glance, the H270F really doesn’t look much different from the Z270E that I took a look at a while back. Sure the chipset is different, but they are very similar with the Strix aesthetics. Even side by side I had to look close with the exception of there not being any I/O cover on this board. That’s a good thing though, the Strix look is one of my favorites right now. I love the color neutral scheme that fits in any build. You can use the built in Aura lighting and RGB case lighting to control your look.

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The angular Strix styling is especially apparent on the heatsinks. Up around the CPU socket, there are two heatsinks, one on the left and one just above the CPU. They both keep the power circuitry cool with a lot of surface area when viewed from a side profile but they don’t have heatpipes connecting the two at all. They have a mid to light gray anodized finish and they are both aluminum. There is only the tiny Strix logo on them as well. The chipset heatsink is low profile to fit under any long PCIe cards and the base part has that same mid to light gray aluminum finish. On top of that they cut out a black panel and it had the ROG logo on it. The heatsink doesn’t have any 90-degree corners on it, sticking with that angular Strix design.

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Starting up in the top left corner of the board you have the rear I/O panel without any cover. Then they have tucked the 8-pin CPU power up in between the two heatsinks. Below the left heatsink they have tucked away two 4-pin PWM fan headers for case fans and to the right of the top heatsink, there are two more. Those are for the CPU fan and a CPU optional. The CPU socket area has a weird striped design printed on it rather than just showing the nice black PCB for some reason.

image 12

Moving over to the top right corner the biggest thing in this area are the four all black DDR4 DIMMS. They have clips on the top but no clip on the bottom to make ram installation easier. Next to the RM is the 24-pin CPU power. Then there is a USB 3.0 header just below it.

image 13

In the bottom right there is a long line of SATA ports but oddly enough they are only one port high so it looks like there are more than there actually are. You end up with six though, that should be enough. There is then a full-length M.2 slot below the chipset heatsink. From there, along the bottom edge east of the headers are packed in tightly next to each other starting with the front panel connection in the corner. There is a USB 2.0 header and a  second USB 3.0 header but there isn’t one of the new USB 3.1 headers that cases should be moving to soon. Then there is a fifth 4-pin fan header.

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Continuing to move across the headers on the bottom there is an ROG extension header and a TPM. Then the bright white plug is the boards one Aura RGB lighting header where you can hook your case lighting into the board and sync it all together. Then over on the left is the front panel audio. The audio chipset for the H270F is surprisingly good for a more budget focused board. They included an 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A along with dual headphone amps. Then up in the PCIe slots, there are four PCIe x1 slots and two PCIe x3 length slots. The top slot has a metal shield on it and runs in PCIe 3.0 at x16 speed and the second x16 slot is just an x4 speed slot. The H270 chipset drops some PCI lanes to the CPU and isn’t designed for any multi-card configurations. They also slipped in a second M.2 slot up at the top as well.  The bottom M.2 slot supports x4 PCIe only and the top one runs in x2 PCIe but does support SATA drives as well.

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The rear I/O panel is packed full of features. Over on the right is the standard 5+ optical audio layout. Then you have three onboard display options with the DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort connections covering just about anything you might need. There are then four USB 2.0 ports and a legacy PS2 port for people wanting to run their order keyboards. Over on the left, the red USB port is a USB 3.1 as is the Type-C port below it, then the two blue ports are USB 3.0. Last but not least is the Gig Ethernet port running on the Intel I219V NIC. Asus also slipped in their LAN guard protection behind the I/O for the network port just in case you get a power surge through it.

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Last but not least, the back of the H270F gives a better look at the flat black PCB color. We can also better see the break in the PCB around the audio circuitry down in the corner.

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Software

As always, looking beyond hardware the software on motherboards also played a big role in overall user experience so I took a look at the UEFI of the H270F Gaming to see what it had going on. I was especially curious because the H270 chipset doesn’t include overclocking support. When I first booted into the UEFI I was in the EZ Mode. This is a page Asus put together with all of the main features most people will be looking to do. You can swap the boot priority, turn on XMP, and see your basic hardware. There is also information on your CPU temps and fan speeds.

bios 1

The advanced BIOS has the same ROG red and black theme and on every page, you have the basic hardware monitoring over on the right with CPU, Memory, and Voltage information. The first page is the main page with just basic information on your BIOS revision, CPU, and memory capacity.

bios 2

The next page is the AI Tweaker page, this is normally where you would find most of your overclocking tools. The page is a little more limited but there are still settings for ram clock speeds and timings.

bios 3

The advanced page has a whole list of options that open up additional pages. These are basically all of your platform and CPU options.

bios 4

The monitoring page breaks down every sensor reading on the board to show you fan speeds, temperatures, and voltages from all over the board.

bios 5

The boot page is exactly that. You can change a few booting options and get into boot order and hard drive boot order.

bios 6

Then the tool page gives you access to a few important tools. The two main ones being the EZ Flash tool that you can use to reflash your BIOS. I really like that you can just put your BIOS file right on your hard drive and access it in the BIOS rather than having to use a flash drive or disc. Then there is the Secure erase tool to clear your drives without any additional software.

bios 7

Up on the top of every page, there is a link to the Q-Fan control page, here you can set fan profiles for each of your fans to help tune your cooling and noise performance to fit your setup.

bios 8

 


Test Rig and Procedures

Intel Z270 Test System

CPU

Intel i7-7700K

Live Pricing

Cooling

Noctua NH-U12S for cooling

Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Paste

Live Pricing

Live Pricing

Memory

Kingston HyperX FURY DDR4 16GB kit 2666MHz

Live Pricing

Storage

Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD

Live Pricing

Video Card

AMD RX480

Live Pricing

Power Supply

Thermaltake 850w

Live Pricing

Case

Microcool Banchetto 101 Test bench

Live Pricing

OS

Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Live Pricing

Motherboard Testing

Passmark Performance Test 9.0

Overall PCMark score

PCMark 8

We use the Home Accelerated benchmark and track the overall score

3DMark

We run the 2013 Fire Strike test on the performance setting

In Game Tests

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

In game benchmark, ultra setting, 1080p

Hitman 2016

Fullscreen with V-Sync turned off - Detail, Texture Quality, Shadow Maps, and Shadow Resolution all set to their highest settings. Tested at 1080p in DX12

Subsystem Testing

Passmark

Passmark Advanced network test

 


Performance

So for performance testing, I ran through our test suite just to make sure there weren’t any big variances or issues with the H270F. I was also really curious if it would hang with the Z270 boards. What I found was interesting though. You see when I first setup our testbench I turn on XMP well when going through everything for our testing I found out that the H270F bumps your memory back down to 2400MHz even with XMP. This isn’t an overclocking board but the specifications were confusing on this one. They list up to 3000MHz but then right below that they also mention that the chipset is limited to 2400MHz with Kaby Lake and 2100MHz with Skylake CPUs. That’s not a big deal, but it is confusing. Anyhow the end result was all of my testing was run at 2400MHz where our Z270 boards were all at 2666MHz. This actually didn’t translate into too much of a gap on most tests except PCMark where the score dropped down 500 points. I took a closer look at the PCMark results and it was actually only one of the individual benchmarks that were different with the Writing benchmark having an average of 5.34 seconds where it was 3.26 seconds on the Z270 boards. In the gaming benchmarks and just about everything else the memory difference was minimal. For network testing, the Intel I219V showed no issues as well.

3DMark

Motherboard

Overall Score

Graphics Score

Physics Score

up MSI Z270 SLI PLUS

11087

12951

14627

Gigabyte Z270X Gaming K7

11151

13073

14604

Asus Strix Z270E Gaming

11124

13105

14023

Asus Strix H270F Gaming

11104

13064

14198

PCMark 8 Home Accelerated Score

MSI Z270 SLI PLUS

5063

Gigabyte Z270X Gaming K7

5191

Asus Strix Z270E Gaming

5213

Asus Strix H270F Gaming

4598

Passmark PerformanceTest 9.0 Overall Score

MSI Z270 SLI PLUS

6228.7

Gigabyte Z270X Gaming K7

6415.7

Asus Strix Z270E Gaming

6169.8

Asus Strix H270F Gaming

5935.0

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Average FPS

MSI Z270 SLI PLUS

45.3 FPS

Gigabyte Z270X Gaming K7

45.2 FPS

Asus Strix Z270E Gaming

45.4 FPS

Asus Strix H270F Gaming

43.7 FPS

Hitman 2016 Average FPS

MSI Z270 SLI PLUS

84.69 FPS

Gigabyte Z270X Gaming K7

81.74 FPS

Asus Strix Z270E Gaming

83.92 FPS

Asus Strix H270F Gaming

82.64 FPS

Average Network Speed

MSI Z270 SLI PLUS

928.0 Mbits/Sec

Gigabyte Z270X Gaming K7 - Killer E2500

884.5 Mbits/Sec

Gigabyte Z270X Gaming K7 - Intel NIC

895.4 Mbits/Sec

Asus Strix Z270E Gaming – Intel NIC

936.9 Mbits/Sec

Asus Strix Z270E Gaming – Qualcomm Wireless AC

232.7 Mbits/Sec

Asus Strix H270F Gaming

924.1 Mbits/Sec

 


Overall and Final Verdict

So this ended up being an unexpected review and with that, the H270 chipset isn’t something we would normally be taking a look at. That said, I was really curious to see if this might be the low key option for those who have no interest in overclocking to save some money while still getting most of the same features you would expect on an Asus board and that ended up being right. The Strix H270F Gaming when sitting next to the Strix Z270E Gaming looks very similar. Right away you will notice that there isn’t an I/O cover but what about the rest of the features. Well, you lose most of the forward looking features like the new USB 3.1 internal header but you still end up with two USB 3.0 headers. There are more than enough SATA ports, you get a decent mix of USB ports on the rear I/O including USB 3.1 and a USB 3.1 Type C. You just get less of the rest. You only get one RGB header for your case lighting and there is only a small strip of lights on the board. You don’t have multi-card support any more or even the PCIe slots to run two x16 cards and you have no overclocking support at all. On the overclocking, with a lot of people buying non-K CPUs at lower price points it's not a big deal but I was bummed that you also can’t run overclocked memory.

The performance was still good though with the exception of the one PCMark 8 result where the slower memory really hurt things. Game performance was still good and even though this is a cheaper board you still get a quality Intel NIC. The Strix theme looks good still and you still have at least some RGB lighting support for those who want to have better control of the lighting in their case.

At $139, the H270F Gaming does end up being on the high side of H70 boards. Where I see it fitting in though are all of those people who spend extra money on a Z270 board and a K series CPU but never overclock. This board ends up being $50 less than the lowest priced Asus Z270 Strix board, combine that with the $35 you can save today by going with an i7-7700 over an i7-7700K and you have saved a good chunk of money if you want the Asus Strix look but have no intention on overclocking. I would call that a win, especially when every dollar adds up when putting together a build. Of course, you are leaving a lot of performance on the table, but not everyone wants to worry about overclocking.

fv5value

Live Pricing: HERE

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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