Surprisingly, even though we covered a whole list of Z270 motherboards after Intel’s launch, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that we ended up with any ITX boards. The first ITX Z270 board to come into the office is the Z270N Gaming 5 from Gigabyte. This is their higher end ITX offering. It has a touch of orange in its styling and I’m excited to see what Gigabyte has to offer the LAN rig and higher end SFF build market so today I’m going to check out its features then take a quick look at the performance.

Product Name: Gigabyte Z270N Gaming 5

Review Sample Provided by: Gigabyte

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE

 

Specifications

CPU

Support for 7th and 6th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors/ Intel® Core™ i5 processors/Intel® Core™ i3 processors/ Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1151 package

L3 cache varies with CPU

Chipset

Intel® Z270 Express Chipset

Memory

2 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory

* Due to a Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than the size of the physical memory installed.

Dual channel memory architecture

Support for DDR4 4266(O.C.) / 4000(O.C.) / 3866(O.C.) / 3800(O.C.) / 3733(O.C.) / 3666(O.C.) / 3600(O.C.) / 3466(O.C.) / 3400(O.C.) / 3333(O.C.) / 3300(O.C.) / 3200(O.C.) / 3000(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666(O.C.) / 2400 / 2133 MHz memory modules

Support for ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8 memory modules (operate in non-ECC mode)

Support for non-ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16 memory modules

Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

Onboard Graphics

Integrated Graphics Processor-Intel® HD Graphics support:

1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2304@60 Hz

* Support for DisplayPort 1.2 version.

1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2160@24 Hz

* Support for HDMI 1.4 version.

Maximum shared memory of 1 GB

Audio

Realtek® ALC1220 codec

High Definition Audio

2/4/5.1/7.1-channel

* To configure 7.1-channel audio, you have to use an HD front panel audio module and enable the multi-channel audio feature through the audio driver.

Support for S/PDIF Out

LAN

Intel® GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)

Wireless Communication module

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, supporting 2.4/5 GHz Dual-Band

BLUETOOTH 4.2, 4.1, BLE, 4.0, 3.0, 2.1+EDR

Support for 11ac wireless standard and up to 867 Mbps data rate

Expansion Slots

1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16

(The PCIEX16 slot conforms to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)

1 x M.2 Socket 1 connector for the wireless communication module (M2_WIFI)

Storage Interface

Chipset:

1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector on the back of the motherboard (Socket 3, M key, type 2260/2280 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support)

4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10

* Refer to "1-7 Internal Connectors," for the installation notices for the M.2 and SATA connectors.

USB

Chipset+ASMedia® ASM2142 USB 3.1 Gen 2 Controller:

1 x USB Type-C™ port on the back panel, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support

1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A port (red) on the back panel

Chipset:

6 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)

2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports available through the internal USB header

Internal I/O Connectors

1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector

4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector on the back of the motherboard

1 x CPU fan header

2 x system fan headers

1 x front panel header

1 x front panel audio header

1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 header

1 x USB 2.0/1.1 header

1 x S/PDIF Out header

1 x speaker header

1 x Clear CMOS jumper

1 x chassis intrusion header

1 x OC Touch header

1 x RGB (RGBW) LED strip extension cable header

Back Panel Connectors

1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port

2 x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R)

1 x DisplayPort

1 x HDMI port

1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A port (red)

1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support

4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports

1 x RJ-45 port

3 x audio jacks (Line In, Line Out, Mic In)

I/O Controller

iTE® I/O Controller Chip

H/W Monitoring

Voltage detection

Temperature detection

Fan speed detection

Overheating warning

Fan fail warning

Fan speed control

BIOS

1 x 64 Mbit flash

Use of licensed AMI UEFI BIOS

PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0

Unique Features

Support for APP Center

* Available applications in APP Center may vary by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also vary depending on motherboard specifications.

3D OSD

@BIOS

AutoGreen

BIOS Setup

Color Temperature

Cloud Station

EasyTune

Easy RAID

Fast Boot

Game Boost

ON/OFF Charge

Platform Power Management

RGB Fusion

Smart Backup

Smart Keyboard

Smart TimeLock

System Information Viewer

USB Blocker

V-Tuner

Support for 3TB+ Unlock

Support for Q-Flash

Support for Xpress Install

Bundle Software

Norton® Internet Security (OEM version)

Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready

cFosSpeed

Operating System

Windows® 10 64-bit (for 7th Generation Intel® Processors)

Windows® 10 64-bit / Windows® 8.1 64-bit / Windows® 7 32-bit / 64-bits (for 6th Generation Intel® Processors)

Form Factor

Mini-ITX Form Factor; 17.0cm x 17.0cm

Box Contents

GA-Z270N-Gaming 5 motherboard

Motherboard driver disk

Wireless module driver disk

User's Manual

Two SATA cables

Quick Installation Guide

I/O Shield

One antenna

 


Packaging and Accessories

Being an ITX board, the box for the Z270N Gaming 5 isn’t all that big so on the front they had to pack everything in. There is a black background with Gigabyte Gaming floating in the back in a full rainbow of colors. The Gigabyte logo is up in the top left corner then along the bottom is the product name. There are a few badges that highlight key features as well as things like official Intel badges for the CPUs supported. With the small space, they had to pack things in in the back as well. So you get a short specifications listing and a line drawing of the I/O panel, two things that are really helpful when shopping in person. Beyond that five of the features are photographed with very short explanations on a few of them and up in the top right corner, there is also a photo of the board. I would have loved to see the board photo on the front of the box but beyond that Gigabyte did a great job packing everything you might need on to the box.

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Inside the box, the board itself comes surrounded in a foam tray that holds it up over top of all of the documentation and accessories. For documentation, you get a full user’s manual and an installation guide. Then there are two discs, one with the drivers and software for the board and the other just has the wireless drivers on it. Personally, I would download the most recent drivers but it is nice to have them available. For accessories, you have a rear I/O panel that is all black with orange labels and on the back, it uses foam over the metal springs that will sometimes cut you up or get caught inside of your I/O plugs. There was also a small Gigabyte Gaming case badge and two SATA cables with one being a right angled cable. Then for the built in wireless, you have a magnetic wireless antenna.

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Board Layout and Pictures

So the Z270N Gaming 5 looks a little different than most of the other Z270 boards from Gigabyte this generation. Some of their boards have the white and black theme or the black and red theme but there aren’t too many with their orange theme. Normally this is exclusive to their overclocking focused boards like the SOC boards. As a big fan of orange, I was excited to finally see an orange ITX option but I was surprised they didn’t go with a monochrome look and just use RGB lighting to let people pick their color theme like a lot of the boards are doing now. The orange is mostly limited to the two DDR4 DIMMS and what is visible of the PCI slot but there is a touch on the cooler as well. What stood out to me about this board though was the all metal shroud over the rear I/O. A lot of the premium boards are getting these but you don’t normally see them on an ITX board. They are normally plastic as well, so the all metal design really gives the quality a bump for the Gaming 5. Beyond that, it has a flat black PCB finish but you can barely see that from the top.

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So for cooling, there is a tiny chipset cooler below the CPU socket. It has a touch of orange and white in the stripe and then it has the Gigabyte Gaming branding on it. The used a heatpipe between this one to the power circuitry cooler next to the CPU to spread out the heat and get the best possible cooling. The pictures below also give a better look at that all metal I/O shroud as well, it is all black with the Gigabyte Gaming branding on top. There are cutouts in the back out help with airflow as well.

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This top-down view gives us a look at the overall layout. The CPU is in the center with the two DDR4 DIMMS just a little bit away from the right edge. The PCI slot takes up the entire bottom and the I/O the left so all of the connections are packed in the top and right sides. The main two, the 24 pin motherboard power and the 8 pin CPU power are split up with the CPU power in the traditional spot up top and the motherboard power is in the middle on the right.

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Up top next to the CPU power are three 4-pin PWM fan headers for the CPU and case fans. The header next to them is a debug header.

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Down in the bottom right corner, there is a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 connection. Just above them and below the 24 pin power are the front panel connections. There aren’t labels on the PCB for them because of the space but each is color coded. Next to that is an RGB lighting connection where you can hook up RGB lights right on to the board and avoid having to use a separate lighting controller. Given the low number of USB connections with this being an ITX board, that is especially helpful.

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The main thing on the bottom edge is, of course, the PCIe x16 slot. It has a metal shield around it to help with interference and it also adds more durability to the slot, something that is important for a LAN rig that will get banged around. Just above the PCIe, there are four SATA connections. There is an M.2 slot that comes with the wireless adapter in it. For wireless, it covers all the way up to Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.2 as well. The onboard audio is also tucked over in the left where you can see the front panel audio header and just a single cap. It is running the ALC1220 codec and supports 7.1 audio.

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For the rear I/O connections the Z270N Gaming 5 isn’t exactly stacked. There are four USB 3.1 connections in blue and then the red Type a port is USB 3.1 Gen 2 (aka the faster connection) and the Type-C is also Gen 2. I would have really liked to see the big gap to the right have a stack of 4 USB 2.0 ports to help fill out the connection options. Once you hook up a mouse and keyboard there aren’t exactly a lot of ports left for anything else. There is a legacy PS2 port and then, of course, there are the two wireless headers to hook up the included antenna. For display options, you get a DisplayPort and an HDMI and the audio ports are cut down to just a basic three port header. In order to get the 7.1 support that the chipset supports you actually have to also use the front panel connections.

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The back of the PCB has a few things going on. The back of the CPU socket has a thick metal backplate. Here we can actually see that sexy flat black PCB where up top there is just too much going on to really see it. Then there is also a single M.2 slot on the back. This allows 2260/2280 lengths and supports both SATA and PCIe based drives.

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Software

First off, I want to apologize for the poor quality pictures, I didn’t see they were this bad until just now. That said we can still (mostly) see what is going on with Gigabytes BIOS. Really the Z270N Gaming 5 doesn’t have anything different than any of the other Gigabyte boards we have taken a look at. The BIOS itself has a black and red theme that doesn’t really go with the board at all and I do wish it matched like the used to do in the past. The first page that came up, in my opinion, should be the simple mode to hopefully keep people who don’t know what they are doing from getting into advanced settings, but what actually happened was I ended up on the advance mode MIT page. This is basically the overclocking page. Now, this is most likely where you would want to be if you were rebooting over and over again when overclocking, so it really depends on the user. You can get to pages to adjust voltages, memory clocks, and CPU clocks along with access to a heath status page and fan settings as well.

software 1

The second tab is the System tab and this is what you traditionally see as a home page where you can basically change the language and see things like the BIOS revision and the time.

software 2

The BIOS tab is really a boot tab, you can setup your boot options for things like boot order and if you have the logo showing when booting. There are also options like the Windows8/10 boot features and the ability to turn a BIOS password on.

software 3

The Peripherals tab starts to dive into the non-overclocking options. Here we can set things like RAID options as well as picking your display output. You can also get into the network, USB, and storage configuration pages.

software 4

The Chipset tab is similar to the Peripherals tab really. Things like the display output options could really be on this page where we can also turn off the onboard graphics altogether. There are also audio and network options here as well.

software 5

Then you have the Power tab this is basically just setting up how your PC will handle power outages, various power on options, and even resume by alarm settings.

software 6

All of the Advanced tabs have the option to check out the current CPU and memory clocks as well as overall voltage numbers just by mousing over the right edge of the screen. This pop out display will open up until you are done.

software 7

Last but not least is the Easy Mode page that should really be what the PC boots into. This combines a few of the information pages from the Advanced pages into an easier to read format. You can also get into basic functions like a simple click and slide to arrange the boot order, XMP settings can be turned on, fan settings, and also a quick EZ OC to do a basic overclock.

software 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

Performance testing of motherboards, for the most part, doesn’t really show much, it is really just a goo way to make sure there aren’t any glaring issues with the exception of checking on things like network card performance. This is because both AMD and Intel have integrated just about everything into the chipset itself. So for testing of the Z270N Gaming 5 I kept things simple and ran through a few different tests using overall benchmarks like PCMark and Passmark, a gaming focused one in 3DMark, actual in game performance in Deus Ex and Hitman, and then I check out the network cards performance as well. For the testing, I have an RX 480 for the GPU, a 7700K for the CPU, and a pair of Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 with the XMP turned on to their 2666 MHz clock speeds to keep things consistent. I’ve done this test on a few boards now with all but one being a Z270 chipset and that single board was the H270 that I recently took a look at.

So how did the Z270N Gaming 5 perform? Not surprisingly in all of the standard tests that rely on the GPU, CPU, and memory speeds the results were right in the middle of the average across all of the 270 boards. My main focus was really on the network average speed tests as that one does sometimes vary. I tested using the built-in wired network card and the wireless. The wired is an Intel NIC but the specifications don’t actually list a model name. It performed right up with the other Z270 boards that I have tested in the past with a 928.2 Mbits/Sec average speed. The wireless was tested in Wireless AC mode with our office Ubiquiti UniFi setup for the fastest possible speeds. The end result was 231.0 Mbits/Sec and this was similar to the last wireless board tested but I should mention that the wireless connection wasn’t as solid for me than I have seen on other boards. I tested another Z270 ITX board that I will be writing about soon and didn’t have the same problems, I think if you plan on using the wireless all of the time you might want to consider picking up a better antenna to hook up to the Intel NIC.

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

Gigabyte Z270N Gaming 5

11175

13128

14621

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

Gigabyte Z270N Gaming 5

5064

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

Gigabyte Z270N Gaming 5

6240.4

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

Gigabyte Z270N Gaming 5

43.8 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

Gigabyte Z270N Gaming 5

82.79 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

Gigabyte Z270N Gaming 5 - Intel NIC

928.2 Mbits/Sec

Gigabyte Z270N Gaming 5 – Intel Wireless AC

231.0 Mbits/Sec

 


Overall and Final Verdict

With Intel already announcing X299 and all of AMDs launches the 7700K launch along with the Z270 launch seems like it was forever ago but with this being the first ITX 200 series board to come in I was really excited to see what Gigabyte was going to offer. Right out of the hole I was a big fan of the overall look of the board. Obviously, the orange on black makes me a little bias, but it wasn’t just that I really liked. The metal cover over the rear I/O panel played a big role in giving the Z270N Gaming 5 a really clean look. Not only is the metal design nice, but with it being black it helps hide the I/O components what wouldn’t be blacked out. In fact with the cover, the only thing that ended up not being blacked out was the wireless card and I really think it could have been hidden up under the cover as well.

As for features the Z270N Gaming 5 has an x4 speed M.2 that is hidden away on the back of the board and you get new fast USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports on the rear I/O. Including wireless AC is also really nice to have. You get more fan headers than you find on a lot of ITX boards and enough SATA ports as well should you need them.

Where I found the Z270N Gaming 5 to be lacking though was the number of connections on the rear I/O. You have USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 headers on the board but the rear of the board could really use a stack of 4 more USB 2.0’s, it would fill in the big gap in connections and give more options for someone like me who has multiple devices to hook up. The wireless included with the board was good but I think the antenna was lacking a little and my performance testing showed huge variations in my tests. I also don’t know that I like the cut down audio connections as well.

With the pros and cons considered though I do think this is one of the best options for a Z270 chipset ITX board, assuming the orange accents don’t go against your build theme. You are paying a premium for all of the features though, putting the Gaming 5 up near the top Mini-ITX offerings from Asus, MSI, and EVGA. This is the only one with a cover over the rear I/O panel though giving it the cleanest look in my opinion. I will be checking out the Strix Z270I soon as well to see how it compares but the Gigabyte Z270N Gaming 5 should at least be on your list to check out if going ITX on Z270.

fv5tophonors

Live Pricing: HERE

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://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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