So I had the chance to check out our first ITX Z270 board with the Gigabyte Z270N Gaming 5 just last week. As soon as I was done testing, I swapped it out and jumped right into the second board that came in, the Asus Strix Z270I Gaming. This board was sent specifically for an upcoming project build, just like the Asus Strix GTX 1080 11Gbps that I also took a look at last week. While I wait for a few of the last components for the build I wanted to take a closer look at the board and make sure it was going to be what we are looking for.

Product Name: Asus Strix Z270I Gaming

Review Sample Provided by: Asus

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

Amazon Affiliate 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® Z270

Memory

2 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR4 4266(O.C.) to 2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory

Dual Channel Memory Architecture

Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)

Graphic

Integrated Graphics Processor- Intel® HD Graphics support

Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DisplayPort ports

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

Expansion Slots

1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16

Storage

Intel® Z270 Chipset : 
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (SATA & PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)*1
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)*1
4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s)
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology
Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready

LAN

Intel® I219V

Anti-surge LANGuard

ROG GameFirst Technology

Dual interconnect between the integrated Media Access Controller (MAC) and physical layer (PHY)

Wireless Data Network

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz

Supports MU-MIMO

Bluetooth

Bluetooth V4.1

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 *5
Audio Feature :
- SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
- Dedicated audio PCB layers: Separate layers for left and right channels to guard the quality of the sensitive audio signals
- Premium Japanese-made audio capacitors: Provide warm, natural and immersive sound with exceptional clarity and fidelity
- Sonic Radar III
- Sonic Studio III

USB Ports

Intel® Z270 Chipset : 
6 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z270 Chipset : 
4 x USB 2.0 port(s) 
ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller : 
1 x USB 3.1 front panel connector port(s)

ROG Exclusive Features

ROG RAMCache II

ROG CloneDrive

Overwolf

GameFirst IV

Special Features

OC Design - ASUS PRO Clock Technology

- Full BCLK range for extreme overclocking performance

5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5

- Whole system optimization with a single click! 5-Way Optimization tuning key perfectly consolidates TPU, EPU, DIGI+ Power Control, Fan Xpert 4, and Turbo App together, providing better CPU performance, efficient power saving, precise digital power control, whole system cooling and even tailor your own app usages.

TPU

- Auto Tuning, TurboV, GPU Boost

- Fan Xpert 4 featuring Fan Auto Tuning function and multiple thermistors

Gamer's Guardian:

- DRAM Overcurrent Protection

- Stainless Steel Back I/O

- Highly Durable Components

- DIGI+ VRM

- SafeSlot

ASUS EPU :

- EPU

ASUS Exclusive Features :

- AI Suite 3

- Ai Charger

- ESD Guards

ASUS EZ DIY :

- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3

- ASUS EZ Flash 3

ASUS Q-Design :

- ASUS Q-Shield

- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)

- ASUS Q-Slot

- ASUS Q-DIMM

Gaming Aesthetics :

- AURA-RGB Lighting

Digi+VRM

Back I/O Ports

1 x DisplayPort

1 x HDMI

1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)

4 x USB 3.0 Type-A + Type-CTM *8

4 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

5 x Audio jack(s)

1 x ASUS Wi-Fi GO! module (Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth v4.1)

Internal I/O Ports

1 x RGB Header(s)

1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 port(s)

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

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

4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)

1 x CPU Fan connector(s)

1 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 Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)

1 x System panel(s)

1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)

1 x 14-1 pin TPM connector

1 x Thermal sensor connector

1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 front panel connector

Accessories

User's manual

M.2 2242 mounting kit

I/O Shield

4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)

2 x M.2 Screw Package

1 x CPU installation tool

1 x Supporting DVD

1 x ASUS 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compliant)

1 x ROG Strix stickers

1 x 10-in-1 ROG cable label

1 x Extension Cable for RGB strips (80 cm)

1 x Panel cable

1 x ROG coaster(s)

BIOS

128 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, 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

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

Mini ITX Form Factor

6.7 inch x 6.7 inch ( 17 cm x 17 cm )

 

 


Packaging and Accessories

The packaging for the Strix Z270I might be ITX sized, but Asus did still get all of the normal Strix branding on the outside, just like with the larger boards. You have the ROG logo up in the top right, the Asus logo in the bottom left, and a large Strix logo in multiple colors across the front. Also on the front is a photo of the board, something I always love to see so that people in retail stores actually know what they are buying. The back of the box has a short specification listing with a photo of the board from the top down. There is a second photo that is at an angle to show the rear I/O connections as well. Then down below are four other photos that highlight key features.

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There is something about when you buy a product and you get more than just the basic things. Getting a lot of accessories isn’t seen as often but it really makes you feel like the company didn’t hold back. For the Strix Z270I Asus went crazy with accessories. For documentation, you get a large manual, a CableMod coupon, and a driver/software disc. Beyond that, you get a large sticker sheet and cable labels with the ROG logo on them in different colors.

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For physical accessories, there is a whole pile. The rear I/O panel is standard but the blacked out look and the padded back over the metal springs is a nice touch. You get four SATA cables with two out of the four with a right angled connection on one end. There are two M.2 mounting kits and they also include a CPU installation kit and a ROG coaster as well. Because this board has Wireless you also get an antenna with a magnet inside to mount on your case. Being an ITX board Asus includes a short lead for your front panel connections to let you plug them away from the board then plug it all in at once. Then last but not least is an RGB extension cable.

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Board Layout and Pictures

So when it comes to ITX boards, a lot of the designs end up looking a little plain when compared to all of the crazy full ATX options. The reason is with ITX they actually have to work to pack in features, so a lot of the flashy stuff has to go to make that work. With the Strix Z270I, you can see where things aren’t as flashy but they did manage to slip in a few aspects of the Strix styling. The board itself has a flat black finish in the areas that you can see it and they have that medium gray finish on the two main heatsinks as well as the cooler over top of heatsink over the M.2 slot. The overall layout is like most high-end ITX boards, you get one PCI slot, two ram DIMMS, and a CPU socket in the middle with anything else packed in any other gap. After checking out the Gigabyte ITX offering I do with Asus would have gone with a cover for their rear I/O as that makes a big difference when you don’t have the metal I/O against the black PCB.

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The cooling isn’t as crazy as on an ATX board but the Z270I does have the two small heatsinks around the CPU socket to handle the power circuitry. They have that angular Strix styling, the same finish as normal, and they even put a small Strix logo on one. The M.2 cover was unexpected and it ends up adding a lot more to the look of the board. I’m still a little skeptical of M.2 coolers as a whole, but this one does have full contact with the entire M.2 drive. The ROG logo and the touch of black looks good on it also.

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Being an ITX board we don’t really have to break it down in to many sections and really most of the connection options are all along the right edge anyhow. You have the two DDR4 DIMMS with the 24 pin motherboard power right next to it up near the top of the board. The four SATA ports are split up but all still mostly in one area and they are next to the USB 3.0 header. The front panel connection almost looks like a USB 2.0 header and is above the SATA ports along with the white RGB header for Aura Sync. There isn’t a USB 2.0 header at all though.

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Up on the top left near the rear I/O panel they slipped in a 4-pin fan header and the 8-pin CPU power. They did also slip the new style USB 3.1 header right up next to the I/O, it is easy to miss.

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The onboard audio has almost no room but you can find it in the bottom left corner of the board just next to the PCIe slot. There is just the one cap visible and then you have a metal cover with the SupremeFX logo on it covering the S1220A Codec based chipset. There are two headphone amplifiers tucked in just above. Then the front panel connection is right above them.

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Then the PCIe slot down on the bottom edge is what brings it all together. Without it, you can't run dedicated graphics and have badass gaming rigs in the small form factor. This is a full x16 slot because what else would it need to share the bandwidth with right?

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The rear I/O has a lot going on. From here we can see a few more of the audio caps next to the standard 5 plus an optical layout. Next to that is the Wireless AC and Bluetooth antenna connections. The wireless card is actually built right into the I/O panel and not visible on the board like Gigabyte’s ITX board had. It not only looks better but saves space as well. Being Z270 we still need display connections, so you get a DisplayPort and HDMI for the onboard video. The red network port means it has Asus’s built in surge protection on the Intel I219V based NIC. Then for USB, you get one new Type-C port and three Type-A ports all running USB 3.0, not 3.1. Then the four USB 2.0 jacks. I love that there are more USB connection options than a lot of boards as that is really important to me. Overall it looks like Asus did a good job filling in the entire Rear I/O.

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The back of the board gives us a better look at that flat black PCB. Beyond that, the second M.2 slot on the back is the only other thing going on. This and the front M.2 both support x4 bandwidth and one of the two is also listed to support SATA M.2 drives as well but the specifications aren’t clear which does.

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BIOS

For the BIOS I finally get to show off our new capture card rather than the terrible BIOS photos I have been using over the years that in addition to being bad, I also have to spend way to much time editing to even get to the level they were. So to celebrate that here is a shot of the boot screen on the Z270I.

software 9

Moving into the actual BIOS I was happy to find that Asus takes up into their EZ Mode BIOS first. For some reason, a lot of boards have this feature but then don’t even take you to it out of the box, how is anyone who doesn’t know there way around going to find the mode made for them. Anyhow You have the red and black ROG theme going on. You get a quick way to drag and drop boot drives over on the right (even though I didn’t have a book drive installed when redoing our photos). You can turn on XMP Rapid Storage, and get into your fan profiles. Beyond that everything else just tells you about your setup like the information on your BIOS revision, CPU and memory information, and temperatures and fan speeds.

software 1

Getting into the advanced BIOS basically gets you CPU, Memory, and Voltage information over on the right on every page. The main page has more CPU, Memory, and BIOS information as well as the ability to change your language.

software 2

The Ai Tweaker page is basically where you will find any and all overclocking options from voltage settings farther down the page, clockspeed settings, multipliers, and memory overclocking settings as well. Basically one stop shopping for all overclocking.

software 3

The Advanced tab has a whole list of additional pages you can get into. They basically cover USB settings, onboard device configurations, and other platform specific pages. In other words, every option that isn’t related to overclocking, especially anything run by the chipset.

software 4

The Monitor tab basically lists off every reading your board is picking up. You can flip through and see all of your temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds here.

software 5

The Boot tab is where you need to get at any booting specific settings, especially boot priorities and you can also just go here to one time override and boot from any other drive.

software 6

The last tab basically has all of Asus’s other tools. You have BIOS updating with EZ Flash 3. Secure Erase securely erases hard drives and SSDs. You can save multiple overclocking profiles here, this is nice for having a stable version and something you are testing or just having profiles depending on winter and summer if your PC gets warmer in the summer. Then up on the top edge of any page, you can also get into the EZ Tuning Wizard where it will do a mild overclock for you. Or you can also open up Qfan Control. AI included a photo below, basically, you can change and tune fan profiles for any fans connected to your PC. You can do the same thing with the windows based software, but this way you don’t have to even have the software installed if you want.

software 7

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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

I always like to point out that basic benchmarks typically don’t show much of a difference between motherboards with the same chipset. Frankly, a lot of the testing you see in reviews anymore mostly just shows that you ran the board at all. I personally run a few tests to make sure nothing is out of line, but I don’t stress the differences when they are close. All of the boards have been tested with the exact same GPU, CPU, and Memory and unless you are overclocking those are the parts that set our stock performance. That said the Z270I, even though it is a much smaller board than most of the boards tested, performed on par with the others and seems to be in line with the competition.

I did test out the Network performance, both on the wired Intel NIC and the Wireless AC. This is one of the few areas that you see some variation due to different network cards being used and with wireless, even the antennas make a difference. Wired the Z270I was basically right in line with the other fastest board that was also an Asus board using an Intel NIC. On wireless, I saw a bit more performance compared to the other boards tested with wireless AC. More importantly, unlike the Gigabyte board, the Z270I didn’t have weird fluctuations in the wireless signal and performed extremely well in the exact same testing situation.

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

Asus Strix Z270I Gaming

11211

13171

14594

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

Asus Strix Z270I Gaming

4829

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

Asus Strix Z270I Gaming

6161.8

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

Asus Strix Z270I Gaming

43.9 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

Asus Strix Z270I Gaming

82.98 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

Asus Strix Z270I Gaming – Intel NIC

936.5 Mbits/Sec

Asus Strix Z270I Gaming – Wireless AC

240.8 Mbits/Sec

 


Overall and Final Verdict

So with Z270, I have been impressed with Asus’s offerings basically across the board. The current Strix styling really fits what I like to see in a board with the color neutral styling, angular but not overly aggressive touches in the heatsinks, and RGB that isn’t too overboard or in your face. Asus managed to keep all of that while shrinking everything down. I didn’t touch on it too much in my testing but the right edge of the Z270 I has Asus’s Aura lighting that has individual LEDs that have a nice effect even set in the basic mode. The performance was as expected and in the case of the wireless it was noticeably better than the Gigabyte Z270 board that I just recently reviewed.

That does bring me to an area that I would love to see Asus work on next generation. The Gigabyte board had a rear I/O cover and it made a huge difference in hiding the metal I/O panels. I didn’t realize it but with ITX boards the I/O stands out even more. Beyond that though, I like that nearly all of the connections were along the right side, that should help keep installation simple in those SFF builds. They also included a crazy amount of accessories with this board. It really makes you feel like you are getting something special.

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All and all, the Strix Z270I performed well. Because I was already planning on using it in a future build I also went ahead and installed it there. This is where I really ran into the issue of not having an internal USB 2.0 header on the board. While the water cooling for the build will be changing in the near future, I wanted to keep the fans. The problem I ran into though was Thermaltakes fans have to be connected to USB to be configured so I will have to work that issue out in the future.

That said I do think my decision to go with this board for the build is still a good one. It best fits the look I’m going for and beyond the USB 2.0 header issue, it also has all of the features I need. It should also age well. It has the new upcoming USB 3.1 internal header and two full speed x4 M.2 slots for those ultra fast NVME SSDs and to get fast connections up on the front panel of your case in the near future. Really the only other downside is the price. With all of the accessories and features you get, Asus has priced the board to match at $179.99. There are still lots of ATX boards that are more expensive, but when I last looked this is the most expensive ITX offering. I was hoping to see an Impact board on the Z270 chipset but as of yet I haven’t seen anything on one so the Strix Z270 I could very well stay at the top for ITX offerings all year.

fv5editorschoice

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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