Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 9 Motherboard Review

As many companies are doing, Gigabyte is diversifying their product lines; separating their mainstream product lines and their premium gaming lines.  Aorus might not be a name many are familiar with, this is where Gigabyte will focus on their premium gaming products that includes GeForce GTX gaming laptops with VR capabilities, gaming oriented motherboards, graphics cards, mechanical keyboards, and mice.  These products  provide ultimate performance and focus's on what PC gamer wants in their hardware. [caption id="attachment_188811" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Gigabyte Aorus Introduction[/caption] [caption id="attachment_189223" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Gigabyte Aorus Z270 Models[/caption] We have been hearing about Intel's Kaby Lake processor for a while now, it includes advancements for 4K UHD content, improved IGP, higher clock speeds, faster boost speed, and more.  Along with the improvements in the processor, comes their new motherboard chipset, the Intel Z270.  Gigabyte Aorus has sent us one of the latest motherboards that is designed for the extreme enthusiast, the Z270X-Gaming 9.  This is Aorus's top of the line motherboard for their initial release of the Intel Z270 series motherboards. [caption id="attachment_188835" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9[/caption] The Aorus Z270X-Gaming 9 motherboard, is an E-ATX motherboard, and has many features; some of which we have seen before on previous motherboards.  For example, we have seen integrated RGB LED's on the motherboard, on the Z270X-Gaming 9, Aorus has taken that a step further and enabled multi-zone RGB lighting which is capable of 16.8 million RGB colors, and 8 different lighting effects!  That's not all for the lighting options, we'll look at the others later. Lighting enhancements aside, the Gaming 9 is extremely capable when it comes to storage.  It has options for SATA, SATA Express, M.2 and U.2 drives!  USB connections include USB 3.1 Gen 1, and Gen 2 (both Type-A and Type-C).  LAN options include Killer DoubleShot-X3 Pro, supported by dual gigabit Killer E2500 ethernet ports, and a Killer 1535 Wireless AC option. [caption id="attachment_188838" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 EK Waterblock[/caption] As the Gaming-9 is their current flagship motherboard, so it is designed for overclocking and to be pushed to the limit.  To help keep vital components cool, there is an EK designed G-Frost Hybrid Water Block installed around the CPU.  The EK G-Frost Hybrid Water Block directly cools the VRM and MOSFETs.   On the two ends are two G1/4" threaded fittings, which will make adding this to your custom liquid cooling solution easy.   The top and bottom portions of the waterblock are made of aluminum, and has a copper insert to transfer the heat, while a custom O-Ring keeps the liquid contained within the unit.  In addition to the custom water block, there are also dedicated headers for liquid cooling pumps.  Being a flagship motherboard, you can expect to pay a premium for it, the Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 has a MSRP of $499.99 which includes a 3 year warranty. If you find the Gaming-9 isn't exactly for you, Gigabyte Aorus will have a range of motherboards available at launch starting at $179.90 with the Z270X Gaming K5, going up to the flagship Z270X Gaming-9.  With this range of motherboards you should be able to find the perfect Gigabyte Aorus Z270X motherboard for you when they go on sale starting January 5th, 2017.
Gigabyte Aorus Z270 Motherboard Line-up
Model MSRP
Z270-X Gaming-9 $499.90
Z270X Gaming-8 $389.90
Z270X Gaming-7 $239.90
Z270X Gaming K7 $199.90
Z270X Gaming-5 $194.90
Z270X Gaming K5 $179.90
Features and Specifications
Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Specifications
CPU Support Intel 7th / 6th Gen Core Processors
CPU Socket 1151
Chipset Intel Z270 Chipset
Graphics Interface 2x PCIe 3.0 x16 2x PCIe 3.0 x8
Memory Type 2 Channel DDR4
Memory DIMMs 4x DDR4
Expansion Slots 2x PCIe 3.0 x1
SATA Connectors 3x SATA Express 8x SATA 3 2x M.2
SATA RAID RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
U.2 2x U.2
USB 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 with USB Type-C 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A 9x USB 3.1 Gen 1 4x USB 2.0
Audio Creative Sound Core 3D Sound Blaster 120dB+ SNR Certified
LAN Killer DoubleShot X3 Pro 2x Killer E2500 Gigabit 1x Killer 1535 Wireless AC
Video Output HDMI 2.0 / DisplayPort
Form Factor E-ATX
Warranty 3 Years
[gallery ids="188821,188820,188819,188822,188823"] For a premium motherboard, Gigabyte Aorus has done a great job at making sure the packaging and accessory pack meets expectations.  The outside of the box, presents the usual information; the front has their branding, model and several key features listed, while the back delves into specific features.  All of which allow the user to know what they can expect from the Z270X Gaming-9.  Opening the box, the motherboard has been placed in a form fitting foam block, with a plastic cover.  Below the motherboard, we find a large number of accessories, and a secondary box that contains even more accessories. [caption id="attachment_189185" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Loose Accessories[/caption] Gigabyte Aorus has included a rather extensive accessory pack with the Gaming-9.  They separated the accessory pack into two groups.  The first was loose in the box, like we typically see.  This portion of the pack included two RGB LED strip header leads, six premium cloth wrapped SATA cables, the rear I/O plate with LEDs built in, a 3-way and 4-way SLI bracket, plus a CrossFire flexible connector.  So far, I'm impressed with the accessory pack.  On to the box with the second set of accessories. [caption id="attachment_189186" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Additional Accessories in Box[/caption] Inside the box, is the typical User's manual, quick installation guide, and driver DVD.  Additionally, there is a Gigabyte Aorus door knocker, an alternate acryllic accent LED strip, two large velcro Aorus branded straps, two thermal leads, DisplayPort/HDMI port covers, quick attach front panel connector, a 2-way SLI connector, and a sheet of cable tags.  Gigabyte Aorus provides an impressive accessory pack, including everything required to get the system up and running, plus many extras. Let's unpack the motherboard and take a closer look at it.

Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Overview

[caption id="attachment_188833" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9[/caption] As this motherboard is designed for the enthusiast there are many enthusiast grade features.  For example, cooling options is provided by 8 different fan headers, 2 of which are marked for the CPU.  In addition, there are two water cooling pump headers, located at opposite ends of the motherboard.  Both the DDR4 slots, and the PCIe slots are protected by their Dual Armor system, consisting of an additional retention pin and a single piece of stainless steel to give the PCIe and DDR4 extra stength.  Plus for those that want to really monitor the temperatures, there are seven integrated thermal sensors, plus two external thermal sensors, which are provided.   [caption id="attachment_188832" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Rear I/O[/caption] The rear I/O cluster should be pretty familiar to you; there isn't much here that is surprising anymore. On the left, we start with a combo PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse port, and two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (which are also the USB DAC ports).  Next is the MMCX Antenna connectors (2T2R), which is controlled by the Killer Wireless-AC 1535.  The video output connections are next, consisting of DisplayPort and HDMI 2.0.  Two more USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports are the next set of ports.  Followed by the first Killer E2500 Gigabit ethernet port, and a USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3) port.  The second Killer E2500 Gigabit ethernet port, USB 3.1 Gen 1 (white USB port), and a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A (red port) is next.  The final cluster is the typical audio cluster that includes one optical S/PDIF connector. [caption id="attachment_188836" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 EK Waterblock[/caption] Wrapping around three sides of the CPU is the custom built EK designed G-Frost Hybrid Waterblock.  On the two ends are standard G1/4" threaded fittings so you can add t his to your custom liquid cooling solution.  The top of the waterblock is translucent, allowing us to see through it to the copper plate.  The main portion of the waterblock covers the 22 phase digital VRM, but also reaches out through finger like add-ons to the Mosfets.  Even if you do not utilize the liquid cooling capabilities, the design of the waterblock will still cool the components just as good, if not slightly better than previous passive heatsinks.  Over by the 8-pin AUX power connector is a LED header for the rear I/O RGB LED plate. [caption id="attachment_188837" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 DDR4 Area[/caption] In the lower right section of the motherboard, we have many of the usual items, and several changes.  Along the bottom edge is a accent LED light strip, which has a removable acryllic cover, it uses simple push pins to secure it to the motherboard, one alternate strip is included, hopefully there will be after-market custom strips.  There are five buttons in the lower right corner which many enthusiasts find helpful when tinkering with settings.  An on-board power button, ECO mode, and OverClock mode buttons are large and easy to access.  The two smaller buttons are a Reset and Clear CMOS buttons.  Above the buttons are two debug LED readouts, and an additional four LED's to the right that will point to an issue with the CPU, memory, GPU or BIOS.  Above those is the DDR4 slots with Steel Armor plating, these are capable of using memory up to 4000+MHz with XMP settings; between the DDR4 slots are LED light strips.  Finally, to the right of the DDR4 slots are some important voltage measurement points for those doing extreme overclocking. [caption id="attachment_188841" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9[/caption] Moving to the bottom left portion of the motherboard, we find a large passive heatsink on the Z270 "Southbridge" chip.  I found the design of the heatsink and cover to provide a nice contast to the black PCB on the motherboard.  Along the bottom (in this picture anyways) edge are some LED's that will light up with the motheboard; of course these are fully controllable with the other LEDs.  Along the "bottom" edge, we have the normal data connections, while the side has a wide range of headers.  Starting at the bottom, we have two fan headers, front panel header, BIOS switches, another fan header, and finally two USB 2.0 connectors. [caption id="attachment_188834" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Front Data Connections and LED Bar[/caption] Looking at the data connections coming off the front edge of the motherboard, we can see the two U.2 connections, which are capable of up to 4Gb/s (theoretical limit).  Next is a cluster of two SATA Express, or four SATA 3 ports.  The last set of data ports contains one SATA Express and two SATA 3 ports; or ignoring the SATA Express, a total of four SATA 3 ports. [caption id="attachment_188840" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 PCIe Steel Armor[/caption] Turning our attention to the last section, which contain the PCIe expansion slots, we find there is a lot going on here.  There are four PCIe x16 slots, the first two run at x16, while the other two run at x8; all of the PCIe x16 slots conform to PCIe 3.0.  Tucked between the PCIe x16 slots are two PCIe x1 slots, these conform to PCIe 2.0.  Then we have two M.2 slots, both of them are Key-M, supporting both SATA and PCIe SSDs.  The first M.2 supports up to type 22110, while the second supports up to 2280.  Along the edge, we find several different headers.  At the corner, we start off with the front panel audio connector, then the audio gain control switches, the LED 5050 SMD RGBW strip headers, TPM and then the dual USB 2.0 connections.    

Intel Z270X Test Platform

[caption id="attachment_188859" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Test Bench[/caption] [caption id="attachment_189427" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 CPU-Z BIOS F3k[/caption]
Intel LGA 1151 Z270 Test Platform
Component Brand / Model Live Pricing
Processor Intel i7-7700K Unavailable
Memory Kingston 32GB DDR4 2666MHz Click Here
CPU Cooler Corsair H105 Click Here
Video Card eVGA GTX 970SC Click Here
Hard Drive Intel Pro 2500 180GB SSD Click Here
Hard Drive 2 Sandisk Ultra II 480GB SSD Click Here
M.2 Drive Kingston HyperX Predator 240GB Click Here
Power Supply Corsair CX750M Click Here
Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit Click Here
The Legit Reviews Z270 test platform will be installed on an open air test bed and will be running a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit Anniversary edition.  All patches, drivers and firmware will be updated prior to beginning performance testing; in addition a 24-hour burn-in test will be conducted. All testing is conducted in a temperature controlled room, which maintains a 70F (21.1C) temperature.  Whenever possible, we will use integrated benchmarks, running them multiple times and averaging the results.  If an integrated benchmark is not available, FRAPS will be used to analyze the performance while performing the same tasks before averaging the results.    

Gigabyte Value Added Software

[caption id="attachment_188881" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Software Install - Drivers[/caption] Included with the user manual, and install guide is a DVD that includes a wide range of software and drivers.  To facilitate the install, the Gigabyte Xpress Install application makes it easy to select exactly what you want to install.  Along with the drivers, Google Drive, Google Chrome, Google Toolbar and Norton Internet Security is included on the DVD.  Below the software are all the necessary drivers to do a successful setup.  As this is an early release, drivers are not available on the website at this time, they will be soon and is usually the best option to get the latest drivers.  You can either install everything one at a time, or allow the Xpress Install application to do the install for you by clicking the Xpress Install button; everything that has been selected will get installed. [caption id="attachment_188882" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Software Install - Applications[/caption] In addition to the other software, Gigabyte also has their custom applications to install.  Many of these might not be used by many users, so select the ones you want and then allow them to be installed.  If you are familiar with the Intel Extreme Tuning tool, Gigabyte has also included that. [caption id="attachment_188886" align="aligncenter" width="625"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Application Center[/caption] All of Gigabyte's custom applications get installed into their App Center, which is a nicely laid out hub for applications.  In addition, it provides an interface similar to the control panel for Windows, and easy access to other Third-party software.  We won't take a look at most of the Gigabyte applications, we will take a look at just a few of them. [caption id="attachment_188885" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 RGB Fusion[/caption] As the Gaming 9 has a lot of RGB LEDs built on it, Gigabyte has provided two ways to control them, either through software or within the BIOS.  RGB Fusion is what they call their application to control the RGB LEDs.  Within the application, you can choose from any of the eight pre-programmed light shows.  Some of these, will provide additional options for color scheme, brightness, and speed.  In the Advanced mode, you can customize the various LED zones.  Here you can see the ten LED zones, plus the two LED light strip headers.  Each zone can be configured for either of three modes, or a custom solution.  Within the Advanced section, if your LED light strip does not synch up, you can try calibrating the LED strip with RGB Fusion.  In addition, you can program in three different profiles so suit your individual situation. [gallery ids="188887,188888,188890,188891,188889"] Included in the software pack is Easy Tune, a way to overclock your system within Windows.  Within the application, there are several preset modes you can select, along with an "Auto Tune".  The Auto Tune feature will overclock your system for you, performing a stress test to check for stability.  If you want to get into the specifics there are a wide range of options to adjust to fine tune the system.  For example, overclocking the CPU you can adjust the host clock, along with adjusting the multiplier for each core.  To do fine tuning, you can also get down to adjust the voltages.  For overclocking memory, you get similar features, however you can also adjust the timings.  You can set up two different profiles for your specific overclocking needs, and quickly recall either of them.  

UEFI BIOS

The Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 BIOS is presented in a fairly common layout.  Each of the major menu's break down into other components allowing you to easily adjust the necessary settings.  For most people, a few menus will be used more than others. [gallery ids="188864,188861,188862,188865,188863,188866"] The M.I.T. menu provides the options to adjust CPU, memory and voltage settings; in addition to the BIOS version of Smart Fan 5.    The System menu, doesn't provide a wide range of settings to adjust, it is mostly informational, however date/time can be adjusted here.  The BIOS menu, sets some BIOS menu options; if you are in the BIOS regularly one setting that I found useful was adjusting the mouse speed.  Peripherals, is where you can start adjusting the various on-board controller options for SATA, NVMe, TPM, Thunderbolt, USB and other options.  Here you will find the BIOS version of the RGB Fusion tool.  The last two screens are the Chipset and Power screens, where you can adjust a few settings such as power on after failure, wake on lan/keyboard/mouse/alarm, onboard graphics, and VT-d [gallery ids="188877,188878"] Most people taking a look at the Gamin-9 will be interested in the overclocking capabilities.  These are presented on the initial menu option, M.I.T.  With the Advanced Frequency sub-menu, you can start your overclocking tweaking.  For those that want to do a quick overclock, you can easily adjust the CPU Clock Ratio one point at a time.  While the memory speed can also be adjusted through various speeds with one menu option; System Memory Multipler.  This screen makes it very easy to do some quick overclocking.  For those that want to get into more detailed overclocking options, you can adjust many more features within the Advanced CPU Core menu; such as individual core clocks, and CPU power settings. For our overclocking, we will keep it easy and adjust the CPU Clock Ratio for the most part. [caption id="attachment_188876" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 BIOS - MIT Advanced Memory[/caption] While you can adjust the overall memory clock speed within the Advanced Frequency, within the M.I.T. Advanced Memory Settings menu, you can fine tune the settings down to the individual timings. [caption id="attachment_188860" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 BIOS - RGB Fusion[/caption] Within the BIOS, you can adjust the LED's on the motherboard with RGB Fusion.  You can pick from using the color wheel from the pallet of 16.8 million colors, and assign them to the specific mode.  Within Windows, the software version of RGB Fusion is more powerful, allowing you to adjust the LED lighting to each individual zone. [caption id="attachment_188879" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 BIOS - MIT Smart Fan 5[/caption] Within the BIOS, you can adjust more than just the CPU, Memory and LED lighting.  Smart Fan 5 is the latest version of their tool that allows you to control the various fan headers on the motherboard.  It includes built-in profiles for Silent, Normal and Full speed, or you can adjust the speed of the fans manually, determined by the temperature.

Overclocking

The Intel Core i7-7700K processor has a base of 4.2GHz and boost of 4.5GHz, let's first begin by using Easy Tune to see what it thinks the best overclock is for the hardware.  With a simple click of a few buttons, it reboots the system and begins the testing.  After a few minutes, it settles on 4.8GHz and runs through a quick stress test.  After the stress test, it determines that 4.8GHz is the best overclock for the system, providing approximately 7% boost in clock speed. Let's enter the BIOS, and begin adjusting the ratio, to see if manual tuning can get it any better.  The Gaming 9 offers a wide range of fine tuning options that the experts will find useful.  For our manual overclocking, we will adjust the CPU Clock Ratio from it's default 42, by 1.  If we successfully boot into windows, we run a quick stress test and then reboot to increase the CPU Clock Ratio again.  Once we get a failure on the stress test, we back the CPU Clock Ratio down 1, and begin the testing phase.  This is just a quick and easy way to get an overclock, you can spend many hours tweaking the voltages, and individual settings to get better overclock. With a CPU Clock Ratio of 52 (5.2GHz), we were unable to boot into Windows.  We took it back down to 51 (5.1GHz) and began testing.  At this point, all of the benchmarks ran successfully, however they did not perform as expected.  I checked the voltage, and the motherboard automatically increased the voltage to the processor as needed, CPUz was reporting the core voltage being 1.36V.  At 5.0GHz, the benchmarks were successful, and showed an expected performance improvement. [caption id="attachment_189428" align="aligncenter" width="407"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 CPU-Z 5.0GHz BIOS F3k[/caption] Overclocking the memory, we took a similar stance; increasing the System Memory Multiplier until we had issues, and then dropping it down a step.  Previously we have seen the Kingston HyperX Fury kit reach up to 3200MHz on one Z170 motherboard, however the average for this memory kit across the Z170 chipset was 2966MHz.  On the Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9, we were able to get the memory up to 3100MHz without any issues.  Going above that, we would fail to load windows or get random lock-ups within Windows; we feel that this is a limitation on the Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 memory kit, and not the motherboard.  The Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 motherboard is capable of handling the fastest DDR4 memory available as its specifications show 4000+ MHz with the proper memory kit. [caption id="attachment_189152" align="aligncenter" width="408"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 Overclocked[/caption] When peforming benchmarks in the overclock state, we will use 5.0GHz for the CPU and 3100MHz for the memory. Editor Note:  I have the Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 9 board as well and was able to get up to 5.1GHz stable on the CPU and the DDR4 memory running at 4000 MHz with a 32GB kit from Corsair, so just keep in mind that overclocking performance varies and that your memory kit and processor will likely be the limiting factor and every one is slightly different.  gaming9 cpuz  

General Performance Testing

SiSoftware Sandra CPU Arithmetic [caption id="attachment_189415" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Sisoftware Sandra CPU Arithmetic[/caption] SiSoftware Sandra Memory Bandwidth [caption id="attachment_189416" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Sisoftware Sandra Memory Bandwidth[/caption] Cinebench R15 [caption id="attachment_189417" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Cinebench R15[/caption] PCMark 8 Advanced Home Overall Score [caption id="attachment_189418" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 PCMark 8 Advanced Home[/caption] CPUz Bench [caption id="attachment_189419" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 CPU-Z Bench[/caption] Totusoft LAN Speed Test [caption id="attachment_189420" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Totusoft LAN Speed[/caption] Legit Reviews Benchmark Results:  Across the board, we saw improvements in performance on the Intel i7-7700K with the Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 motherboard when compared to the previous generation.  In this round of testing, we saw an average performance increase of 7% (performance increase ranged between 2% and 12%).   Once overclocked, going from the base clock to overclocked, we saw an additional performance increase of 6.5%.

Gaming Performance Testing

Now that we have seen how the Intel i7-7700K and Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 work together for general performance, let's take a closer look at several types of games. 3DMark TimeSpy [caption id="attachment_189429" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 3DMark TimeSpy[/caption] Rockstar Games: Grand Theft Auto V [caption id="attachment_189430" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 GTA V[/caption] Codemasters: Dirt Rally [caption id="attachment_189431" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Dirt Rally[/caption] Eidos: Thief [caption id="attachment_189432" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Thief[/caption] CD Projekt: Witcher 3 [caption id="attachment_189433" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Witcher 3[/caption] Legit Reviews Gaming Performance Results:  The gaming benchmarks follows the trend we saw in the General Performance testing.  The Intel Kaby Lake i7-7700K outperforms the SkyLake i7-6700K by a slim margin. Even so, with the simple press of a button we were able to push the performance a little higher by overclocking the CPU.

Storage Performance

All storage performance will be done using the latest version of CrystalDiskMark.  We will format the specific device prior to testing, and will reboot the system between each test.  Testing the SATA connection, we used the SanDisk Ultra II 480GB SSD, which has a rated speed of up to 550MB/s Sequential Read, and up to 500MB/s Sequential Write.  For the M.2 interface, a HyperX Predator 240GB drive will be used, and has a rated speed of up to 1400MB/s Sequential Read, and 600MB/s Sequential Write.  The final test is the USB 3.1 interface, using an external USB 3.0 hard drive dock, and the SanDisk Ultra II SSD. SATA 6Gb/s [caption id="attachment_189423" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 CrystalDiskMark SATA[/caption] M.2 [caption id="attachment_189424" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 CrystalDiskMark M.2[/caption] SuperSpeed USB 3.1 [caption id="attachment_189425" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 CrystalDiskMark USB 3.1 Gen 1[/caption] Storage Performance Results: Taking a look at the benchmarks, we can see that CrystalDiskMark shows both test systems run nearly identically for SATA and USB 3.1 Gen 1 storage devices.  This leads me to believe we have reached the specific drives limitations for speeds.  The little difference in scores for each of these, it is highly unlikely any user will notice the small difference.  Only the Kingston HyperX Predator M.2 drive showed any performance increase over the previous generation motherboards.  

Power Consumption and Temperature

Using a P3 Kill-A-Watt meter, we will monitor the power consumption of the test system throughout all phases of testing.  We will track the highest and lowest readings for each test. [caption id="attachment_189421" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Power Consumption[/caption] While testing the base clock speed of the Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 system, we found it was pulling around 20W more power at idle, than the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S test system with the same hardware.  Under a load, it went up to 295W of power, which is a bit higher than we expected.  Once overclocked, we saw the Z270X Gaming 9 go from 73W at idle to 273W under a full load; which is only 8W more than the base clock speed testing. [caption id="attachment_189422" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Temperatures[/caption] At idle, the Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 and Intel i7-7700K was right around 26.5C, once we put the system under a heavy load and the system heated up, it was reaching temperatures right around 51C.  As you would expect, when overclocked, the idle temperatures went up, reaching 30C while idle.  However, once we loaded it up, that jumped 88C.  Even at 88, while it is a fairly high temperature reading, it is within thermal limitations, and shouldn't pose any issues.  

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

[caption id="attachment_188833" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9[/caption] Gigabyte is one of a handful of manufacturers that knows how to make quality products, and are able to quickly respond to issues.  They are constantly watching what the enthusiast market is doing and respond with motherboards to match.  The Aorus is where Gigabyte will be focusing their premium gaming product lines that includes a wide range of products.  The Z270X Gaming-9 is their flagship motherboard designed for the extreme gamer and overclocker.  It includes nearly every feature that the Z270 chipset offers, and extends those features with new advancements.  For a motherboard with nearly every feature of the Z270 chipset, it comes with a high pricetag of $499.99.  This motherboard won't be for everybody, but it does a great job at showing what is possible. [caption id="attachment_189232" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9[/caption] Either through the BIOS or EasyTune software, Overclocking is easy for the novice with a wide range of options for the expert.  The Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 was able to be easily overclocked to 5.1GHz, but we encountered issues.  We were able to achieve a stable 5.0GHz, and saw the appropriate performance increase.  Our overclocking did not include doing any fine tuning to the various speeds, or power usage.  The more time you spend on overclocking, the better your results will be.  The custom EK Waterblock on the VRM and Mosfets will help with cooling those vital components getting a higher overclock if you use a custom liquid cooling loop. If we take a look at the performance of the Z270 and Intel i7-7700K combination, we saw a little performance increase across the various benchmark.  Those that were specifically designed to test the processor we saw a larger increase when compared to the various games we tested.  The Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet port provided a small surprise of an increase in read speeds.  The same goes for the M.2 speed, we have averaged around 1300MB/s read speed for the entire Z170 motherboard line.  The Aorus Z170X Gaming 9, allowed the Kingston HyperX Predator M.2 drive to go faster at 1440MB/s.  All of the performance increases are nice for the new chipset.  However, it comes at a cost, which is in thermals and power usage.  Pulling around 20W more than a similar Z170 test sytems, and a surprising increase in temperatures could increase overall costs. [caption id="attachment_189195" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 LED Zones[/caption] One of the shining features of the Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 is the ability to control the LEDs by zones.  There are a total of ten LED zones on the motherboard, plus the ability to connect two 5050 LED strips (which of course can be daisy chained).  Starting in the lower right corner, we have the LED accent bar (Red), DDR4 memory (Green), VRM/Mosfets (Yellow), rear I/O cover shield (Teal and Blue), AMP-UP Audio cover (Red and Blue), PCIe Slots (Blue) and Z270 Southbridge (Red).  The one that is not included in this picture is the rear I/O LEDs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu16M8p-qaU&feature=youtu.be For the two LED strip headers, I connected two different LED strips, BitFenix Alchemy 2.0 and a cheap TOPLED strip that I have behind my monitor for ambient lighting.  Both strips were 5050 compatible, and worked right away.  The BitFenix Alchemy 2.0 strip is 5050 SMD, which is what the Gaming-9 specifically calls for synched to the motherboard and matched the colors exactly.  The TOPLED strip is cheaper and is 5050 compatible, but did not synch to the motherboard (that's not a fault of Aorus though). The Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 one of the most feature packed motherboard you will fine for the Z270 line.  It includes support for nearly every modern storage device, NVIDIA 4-Way SLI, and CrossFireX.  The Killer Gigabit Ethernet and Wireless options provide capabilities for every situation.    While they are designed to last for years, if you happen to have an issue they are backed by a 3 year warranty. Legit Bottom Line:  If you are looking for the best Z270 motherboard, the Aorus Z270X Gaming-9 motherboard is definitely worth a close look.  Overclocking options range from easy beginners to extreme users.  The RGB ten zone LED lighting and multiple lighting options are a welcome update allowing you to make the motherboard uniquely yours.