Board Layout and Pictures
So much like the change from Z270 to Z370 from Intel, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of big overall changes for the Strix Z370 coming from the last generation boards. The same angular styling is there as is the black and gray color scheme. The Z370-F is a full ATX board and with that, you get a full four DDR4 DIMMs, and a full PCIe stack though I will get to how those break down later. The only big visible change was in the chipset heatsink, mainly it now including an M.2 cover in that.
So for cooling the Z370-F has two main heatsinks around the CPU socket that handle the power circuitry. Speaking of that, everything is all tucked up into the top left corner of the CPU socket area. The heatsinks do now have a little accent cut into them and when you look from the top side of the board down you can see that they are hiding a lot of extra surface area as well. They aren’t connected together with a heatpipe though. Then the chipset is cooled by the low profile cooler. There is a main black heatsink with grooves cut into it then the gray aluminum panel up on top that adds style including the ROG logo that is machined into it.
Pulling the screws out of the aluminum cover down over the chipset allows you to get at the M.2 slot. The cover has a thermal pad on it to help heat transfer and the cover has enough meat on it to do some cooling. What surprised me though was that the main chipset heatsink actually has the ROG logo printed on it still up under this cover. So if you want a new look you could pull the cover off and go with a more blacked out look and it still has the branding.
At this point, I don’t think I would want to go with a board that doesn’t have an I/O cover. While simple they really add to the clean look, covering up the silver I/O. For the Z370-F the I/O cover wraps over the I/O and then integrates right in with the heatsink next to the CPU socket. It is a dark gray and it has a check mark looking white strip in it that has Aura RGB lighting behind it for that Strix look.
Okay, let's dive in and see what other details the Z370-F has, starting up in the top left corner of the board. This section is taken up mostly by the rear I/O, the CPU socket, and the power circuity cooling. But if you look close you can see that Asus slipped in two PWM fan headers down below the left heatsink. Up above the left heatsink, they have an 8-pin CPU power tucked in and next to it is a CPU overvoltage header that when flipped allows for a little higher voltage limits when overclocking.
In the top right area, there are two more PWN fan headers to the left of the four DDR4 ram DIMMs and then a this over on the right edge. Up top, the bright white header is to hook up Aura lighting. The board is surprisingly bare over in this area but they did slip in four surface mounted LEDs up under the fan header on the right edge. Each has a small label to help show what the board is stuck on if it doesn’t boot. Below that is a 3D print mount and then the 24-pin motherboard power.
The bottom right corner has a lot more going on, even with the chipset and M.2 cooler taking up most of this space. On the right edge, there are right angle mounted USB 3.0 and SATA ports (six in total). In the bottom corner, you have the front panel connections, each is labeled but hard to see with the gray on black screen printing. Above that, I love that the CMOS header is easy to get to and not near anything else. The bottom row has two USB 2.0 headers and a second USB 3.0 that is this time facing up. There is another PWM fan header that is this time facing up and then on the far left is a header to hook up a fan header PCB if you need even more.
The bottom left section has a lot going on as well. This is where all of the PCIe slots are located for one. The Z370-F has a total of four PCIe x1 slots and three x16 length slots. Of those only two of the x16 slots have the metal shielding. The bottom non-shielded x16 length slot runs at x4 speeds in PCI 3.0 or 2.0. The top two x16 slots run at x8 speeds if you use them both or the top slot gets the full x16 speed when running one card. Also in this area, we have two M.2 mounts, one up under the cover and another up top next to the x1 slot. Both support PCIe x4 but only the one under the cover also supports SATA should you end up using a SATA based M.2 drive.
Down along the bottom edge in the bottom left corner you have the SupremeFX onboard audio. They are running good Japanese caps with the controller under a shield along with the split PCB around the audio circuity to try to keep things clean. They also have dual headphone amplifiers and impedance sensing ports on the front a rear to help support high-end headphones. It is all running on the S1220A CODEC. Beyond that, there is a COM and a TPM header but most people won’t need those. Then there are two bright white RGB headers. The one on the left is for standard RGB lighting and the one on the right is for individually addressable lighting. It's nice to have both as a lot of cases have normal RGB support now and individual addressable LEDs are going to add control for more effects in the near future.
So at first glance, the I/O on the Z370-F is a little lacking. This is mostly because left of the display connections only has two USB ports and a big open area where a wireless card or ClearCMOS button could go. That said you do get a few things. Over on the right, you get the standard 5+optical audio connections. There is one ethernet port, running on Intel’s I219V controller. There are two USB 3.0 ports up under it then two more USB 2.0 ports next to it. For display connection options on the onboard video, you have everything you might need though with DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort. Then last but not least you get a Type C Gen 2 port with another Gen 2 port above it in red. I know personally, the big thing I would want here is more USB ports. Even if it was just going with a stack of four USB 2.0 ports over the stack of two. I think a lot of users are going to be relying on the front panel connections get all of their devices hooked up.
I’m surprised Asus went through the trouble of screen printing a design on the entire back of the PCB like the did the top. I doubt many people will ever see this side, but if you look it is there. From this side, you can see that the only bracket on the back is for the CPU socket. There are screws back here holding all of the heatsinks in place though for each TIM replacement.