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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.