ASUS ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming mATX Motherboard Review

Most enthusiast look at the standard ATX motherboard because it usually includes more features than their little brothers mATX or mITX.  Over the past several generations of motherboards, that has been changing to where a new mATX motherboard can include nearly every feature that a standard ATX motherboard can.  However, due to the size difference there are a few things that are cut out, mainly extra SATA/SATA-Express ports and support for Three-way SLI or CrossFireX.  Out of ASUS's nine different Intel Z270 motherboards, there is only one that is a mATX board, the ASUS ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming. [caption id="attachment_190927" align="aligncenter" width="562"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming[/caption] The ASUS ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming for example, supports the latest Intel Socket 1151 Kaby Lake (or Sky Lake) processors, and features four DDR4 slots, USB 3.1 Gen 1 header, dual M.2 slots and support for Two-way SLI or CrossFireX.  Those are typically some of the most important feature that enthusiasts look for, ASUS doesn't stop there though, they pack on more technology such as Wireless AC, a new USB 3.1 Gen 2 front header, and an ASUS Aura LED header.  Being a feature packed motherboard it does have a slightly higher than normal price tag, of $199.00 with free shipping.  That does of course include a 3 year warranty, and other ASUS features. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=4q3lWUY9Kh8 Features and Specifications:
 ASUS ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming 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 4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 2400-4000(O.C.)/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered, Register Memory
Graphic Integrated Graphics Processor- Intel HD Graphics support Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DisplayPort 1.2 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 Supports up to 3 displays simultaneously DP 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport compliant, supports DP 1.2 monitor daisy chain up to 3 displays
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA 2-Way SLI Technology Supports AMD 2-Way CrossFireX Technology
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8) 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x1
Storage 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 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode) 6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s) Intel Optane Memory Ready
LAN Intel I219V, Dual interconnect between the Integrated Media Access Controller (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Anti-surge LANGuard ROG GameFirst Technology
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
USB Ports Intel Z270 Chipset : 6 x USB 3.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board) Intel Z270 Chipset : 6 x USB 2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, black, 4 at mid-board) ASMedia USB 3.1 controller : 1 x USB 3.1 front panel connector port(s) ASMedia USB 3.1 controller : 2 x USB 3.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, black+red, Type-A + Type-C)
Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s) 1 x DisplayPort 1 x HDMI 1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s) 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A + Type-C 2 x USB 2.0 4 x USB 3.0 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 AAFP connector 2 x Aura RGB Strip Headers 1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) 2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 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 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode) 1 x TPM connector(s) 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s) 1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin) 1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin) 2 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (2 x 4 -pin) 1 x W_PUMP+ connector (1 x 4 -pin) 1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s) 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s) 1 x Thermal sensor connector(s) 1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s) 1 x System panel connector 1 x USB 3.1 front panel connector 1 x CPU_OV jumper
Form Factor mATX Form Factor 9.6 inch x 9.6 inch ( 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm )
Warranty 3 Years
  [gallery ids="191007,191005,191006"] If you have seen the retail packaging of any motherboard by a major manufacturer, you should already know what to expect on the retail packaging.  The front of the box provides very little information, but does provide the make/model and a few little feature icons.  Turning the box over, is where you'll find the information you need to know about the STRIX Z270G Gaming motherboard.  Here ASUS provides an overview of the motherboard and rear I/O panel while calling out the individual specifications.  In addition, they provide a glimpse of some of the special features such as AURA, SupremeFX Codec, 3D Printing Friendly and on-board USB 3.1 Front Panel connector.  Opening the box, you find the motherboard tightly packed in an anti-static bag.  Beneath the motherboard are the accessories. [caption id="attachment_191008" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - Accessories[/caption] The accessory pack for the STRIX Z270G Gaming is a pretty standard accessory pack.  Included is the standard rear I/O port cover, Wireless 2T2R external antenna, four SATA cables, a rigid SLI bracket, and the ASUS CPU installation tool.  One fairly new accessory is the LED strip header extension cable.  Documentation includes cable identification tags, standard user guide, a software/driver disc, and a sheet of ASUS STRIX stickers. Let's move on to taking a closer look at the ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming mATX motherboard.

ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming Overview

[caption id="attachment_191011" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming[/caption] Like most of ASUS's motherboards, the ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming has an overall black color scheme, with silver/grey highlights on several different components.  Being a mATX motherboard 9.6 x 9.6 inches, compared to a standard ATX motherboard which is 12 x 9.6 inches.  Typically, the main feature it lacks are additional SATA connections, M.2 slots and PCIe slots.  The Z270G Gaming isn't missing much as it is still capable of running dual GPU in CrossFireX or SLI in 8x / 8x mode, it'll support up to six SATA 6Gb/s drives, and two M.2 drives.  For the CPU, it supports both Skylake and Kaby Lake socket 1151 processors. [caption id="attachment_191012" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - Front SATA[/caption] Any more it is very common for the SATA ports to be placed horizontally to the motherboard facing off the edge.  This makes it easy to connect the cables and keep them clean without causing any interference with long GPU's. [caption id="attachment_191013" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - Rear I/O Cluster[/caption] The rear I/O cluster has the standard connections, however many of them are in different locations.  The first connection is the wireless 802.11 AC 2T2R connection.  Next comes the USB 3.1 Gen 2 cluster featuring a Type-A and Type-C.  Video connections are next with a DisplayPort 1.2 and a HDMI 1.4 output.  Dual USB 2.0 ports follows the video ports.  Then we find an old school PS/2 mouse/keyboard port with two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports.  The Intel I219V Ethernet port sits above two more USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports.  Finally, we have the standard Audio Jack cluster with a single S/PDIF optical out. [caption id="attachment_191015" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - Bottom Half of Motherboard[/caption] Along the bottom half of the motherboard we find the usual items.  The majority of this area is taken up by the four standard DDR4 slots, which supports up to 64GB of memory at 4266MHz.  To the top right of the DDR4 slots are two fan headers, while a third is found under the DDR4 slots.  To the left of the 24-pin ATX power connection is a front panel USB 3.1 Gen 2 header; this is the first time I have personally seen this connector, and unfortunately have nothing that connects to it.  The Intel Z270 PCH takes up the majority of the rest of the space, and has a brushed metallic finish, with a RGB LED behind the cover.  Along the left edge of the motherboard are the usual headers, front panel (no ASUS Q-Connector is included though), another fan header, thermal sensor header, a clear RTC RAM jumper, and finally a USB 3.1 Gen 1 internal connector.  That's pretty much all to see on the bottom half. [caption id="attachment_191016" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - Top Half of Motherboard[/caption] The top half there is even less going on.  On the right half is the CPU socket, surrounded by the standard MOSFET's, chokes and capacitors.  The MOSFET's have two large passive heatsinks to help keep them cool.  To the top right of the heatsinks is the standard 8-pin AUX motherboard power connector along with the CPU Overvoltage jumper, should you want to get really crazy voltages to the CPU.  On the left section are the standard PCIe slots, with two x16 and two x1 slots.  The first x16 PCIe slot will run your GPU in x16 speed, but drops down to 8x mode if you are running dual GPU's.  To the right of the first PCIe slots is a water pump header if you are running a liquid cooling solution; otherwise you have an additional fan header.  To the left of the 2nd PCIe x16 slot is the first M.2 slot, which supports up to 2280 M.2 drives.  Along the edge we find a range of headers, starting with the USB 3.1 Gen 1 header next to the M.2 slot.  Next are two USB 2.0 headers, followed by a RGB LED header, a TPM and front panel audio connections. [caption id="attachment_191014" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - Back of Motherboard[/caption] Usually the back of the motherboard is pretty boring, just a bunch of solder ports and the CPU support backplate.    ASUS has installed a second M.2 slot on the back side, and is compatible with 22110 M.2 drives. Now that we are done with the grand tour around the ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming motherboard, let's get it installed onto the test bench and get to looking at the UEFI and included software before doing some benchmarks.

Intel Z270 Test Platform

[caption id="attachment_191204" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming Test Bench[/caption] The ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming mATX motherboard will be installed on our standard Lian Li open air test bed, running a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit.  All patches, drivers and firmware will be updated to the latest versions before doing any testing.
Intel LGA 1151 Z270 Test Platform
Component Brand / Model Live Pricing
Processor Intel i7-7700K Click Here
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
M.2 Drive Kingston HyperX Predator 240GB Click Here
Power Supply Corsair CX750M Click Here
Operating System Windows 10-Pro 64-Bit Click Here
  [caption id="attachment_191456" align="aligncenter" width="538"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - AIDA64 CPUID @ Stock[/caption] All testing is done in a temperature controlled environment, maintained at 70F (21.1C).  Whenever possible, we will use integrated benchmarks to ensure consistency, however if an integrated benchmark is not available, FRAPS or OCAT will be used to analyze the FPS.  Each benchmark will be done multiple times, with the results averaged.

Value Added Software

[caption id="attachment_191457" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - Included Drivers[/caption] It's not unusual for a motherboard to include the necessary drivers to get the system up and running.  Most modern installations include a list of the drivers that are available to be installed, as well as which versions might already be installed on the system.  The included driver media is a good way to get your new system up and running as quickly as possible, however keep in mind that for the initial release, these become outdated rather quickly, and is always best to get the latest drivers and software from ASUS's support website. [caption id="attachment_191458" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - Included Utilities[/caption] In addition to the drivers, ASUS includes a wide range of additional software to enhance the user experience with the new motherboard.  For example, they include a copy of their AI Suite 3, DAEMON Tools Pro, WinZip, CPU-Z, GameFirst IV (network priority control), Clone Drive, OverWolf, and more.  Also included on the disc are the user manual, Google Chrome and a limited use copy of Norton Security. [gallery ids="191459,191460,191462,191461"] The ASUS Aura will default to whichever mode you are currently using, initially, it will be using the Color Cycle effect.  There are a total of six different color modes you can select from, Static (single color), Breathing (single color fade in/out), Color Cycle, Strobing (sing color flashing on/off), Temperature and Music.  These are pretty easy to configure for your specific needs, however there are some limitations which were obvious omissions and could be fixed with software updates.  These omissions include speed and multiple color effects for the Breathing, Color Cycle and Strobing modes.  When we originally installed the version that comes on the included CD, it showed these options but it wasn't functional.  The updated version totally removes any reference to these options.  If you have an LED strip installed, you can have different colors for the onboard Motherboard PCH LED and the LED strip; however you can not select different modes (ie PCH set to Temperature, while LED strip is set to Color Cycle). [gallery ids="191534,191535,191536"] One of the main tools included with the STRIX Z270G Gaming motherboard is the ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 5 (aka DIP 5).  This is one of their main tools that includes options to control nearly every aspect of the motherboard from adjusting fan speeds, power voltages, overclocking, and more.  The main screen presents you with some single click options such as ASUS's 5-Way Optimization, which customizes your system settings for the specific mode you want.  Below the 5-Way Optimization section, you get into a few sub tools to make sure your system is running as smoothly as possible, such as Fan Xpert 4, allows you to control the various fan headers, DIGI+ VRM allows digital control over the VRM.  In addition to these features, there are many additional built-in apps within the DIP 5; PC Cleaner, EZ Update; USB BIOS Flashback and File Transfer utility.  However, probably the biggest feature of the DIP 5 is it's overclocking feature within Windows.  Here you can adjust the BCLK Frequency, Core Ratio and CPU Cache Ratio, either by each core individually, or all at once.  Voltage regulation is an important part of overclocking, so ASUS has also built that into the DIP 5 Overclocking section. All together ASUS has put together a great software pack that many users should find useful.  The EZ Update feature will help keep your system drivers and ASUS software up to date.

UEFI Overview

[caption id="attachment_191205" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - UEFI: EZ Mode[/caption] The ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming UEFI is designed to provide all levels of users easy access to the most common settings and information on the EZ Mode screen.  Here you can adjust boot priority, basic system performance tuning, XMP setting and easy access to the QFan Control tool.  If you want to get into finer detail settings of the system, the Advanced Mode (F7) provides you all the configuration options possible within this UEFI. [gallery ids="191209,191207,191206,191210,191208,191211"] The Advanced Mode (F7) takes you to a more classis BIOS menu layout, with the modern UEFI enhancements.  Each of the menu options is presented to allow the user to find the settings they need pretty quickly.  Most of the menu's provide multiple sub-menu's so the options are broken out into subgroups making them easier to navigate.  For the most part, the MAIN menu is mostly for informational purposes, with just a few options to change such as the date/time and language.  The AI Tweaker menu is where the majority of the overclocking options are found, sub-menu's include options to make fine tuning adjustments to speeds, options, and power.  The Advanced menu, breaks down the individual components and features on the motherboard to be adjusted.  Monitor allows you to monitor the onboard sensors such as temperature.  The Boot menu is pretty self explanatory, making changes to the boot sequence and options.  The Tool menu has multiple tools built into the UEFI such as EZ Flash 3, Secure Erase, and Overclocking Profiles, along with several additional information tools. [caption id="attachment_191212" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - UEFI: CPU Overclocking[/caption] While the ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming will auto select to run your processor at it's default settings, should you want to overclock it to squeeze out a little extra performance, ASUS has done a good job at making it easy.  First, they have a pre-configured 5GHz one-touch tool within the UEFI.  However, should you want to make the adjustments yourself, you can set the CPU Core Ratio to set the clock speed automatically, per core or synch all cores.  Beyond that, you manually enter the ratio you want to use, and once you select it, it adjusts the speed automatically at the top of the screen, and sets it once you exit the UEFI.  If you know some of your applications are compatible with AVX, you can set the offset to lower the CPU speed individually from the maximum speed.  By setting it at 2, for AVX applications, the CPU Core Ratio goes from 50 to 48 in this example. [caption id="attachment_191213" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - UEFI: DDR4 Speeds[/caption] Like most of the options withing the ASUS UEFI, they have made basic overclocking extremely easy.  The ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming has preconfigured DDR4 memory support up to 4266MHz.  While you can get running fast by selecting the XMP settings, you also use the drop down menu to select any memory speed you want to try.  Of course, overclocking memory isn't all about adjusting the DRAM Frequency, ASUS has multiple sub-menus available to adjust the individual timings and power settings for the DDR4 memory. While we haven't even begun to touch on the wide range of settings available within the ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming UEFI, it is very easy to find whatever option you want to modify.  When you go to exit the UEFI, ASUS will present you with a listing of all the modifications you have made within the UEFI.  If you want to keep track, you can always take a screenshot with the flash drive, or save the settings as a built-in profile. Let's move on to doing some quick overclocking of the ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming mATX motherboard before taking a look at the benchmark results.  

Overclocking

We will follow our standard process to overclock the CPU by adjusting the CPU Core Ratio by 1, leaving the CPU voltage set to automatic to do some extremely easy overclocking.  After adjusting the CPU Core Ratio from it's default of 45 (4.5GHz), we will boot into Windows and run several CPU intensive benchmarks to verify stability.  We will then repeat the process to increase the CPU Core Ratio until we begin to have issues.  Once we begin to have issues the CPU voltage will then be increased to a maximum of 1.45V. For a little bit of reference, we have used the same test hardware throughout our Z270 overclocking and performance analysis.  We have been able to reach a maximum stable overclock of 5.1GHz on one motherboard, while the average has been 5.0GHz. [caption id="attachment_191580" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - CPU Overclocked to 4.9GHz[/caption] Starting with the default boost ratio of 45, we were able to successfully boot into Windows until 5.1GHz.  This was not unexpected.  After backing the CPU Core Ratio down to 50, we were able to boot into Windows and began running several benchmarks.  Several ran successfully, however Cinebench and 3DMark Time Spy would cause the system to crash.  We increased the CPU Voltage to the maximum 1.45V (which is still pretty high), but was unable to get it to be stable.  We lowered the CPU Core Ratio to 49 (4.9GHz) and CPU Voltage back to Auto.  However, issues still happened and we had to increase the CPU Core Voltage a little, at 1.42V we were able to successfully complete all the benchmarks. [caption id="attachment_191581" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - CPU Overclocked Voltage Increase[/caption] After a quick reset, we tried the ASUS 5GHz built-in profile, and experienced the same issues with the profile as we did manually setting the 5GHz. [caption id="attachment_191463" align="aligncenter" width="538"] ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - AIDA64 CPUID - Overclocked[/caption] Next we moved on to overclocking the Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 memory kit.  Using all four memory modules, we were able to run all the benchmarks without any issues using the XMP profile of 2666MHz.  Our past overclocking experience with this specific kit we have been able to get a maximum stable overclock of 3100MHz, while the average across the Z170 and Z270 motherboards has been between 2933MHz and 3000MHz. [caption id="attachment_191582" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming - Kingston DDR4 Overclocked[/caption] The ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming we were able to boot into Windows with the memory set at 3000MHz, however we found that to be unstable pretty quickly.  So we backed the speed down to 2933MHz and everything was once again stable.  With different memory kits, you can expect to run them up to 4266MHz, however the Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 kit has pretty limiting overclocking potential.

General Performance Testing

SiSoftware Sandra CPU Arithmetic ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming SiSoftware Sandra Memory Bandwidth ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming Maxon Cinebench R15 ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming PCMark 8 Advanced Home ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming CPUz Bench ASUS STRIX Z270G GamingTotuSoft LAN Speed Test ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming  

Gaming Performance Testing

3DMark Time Spy ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming Rockstar Games: Grand Theft Auto V ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming Codemasters: Dirt Rally ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming Eidos: Thief ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming CD Projekt: Witcher 3 ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming  

Storage Performance

Testing the storage options will be done using CrystalDiskMark 5.2.1.  Prior to testing, each drive will be securely erased using the onboard Secure Erase tool provided by ASUS.  Between each test run, we will reboot the test system.  Testing the SATA connection will be done using a SanDisk Ultra II 480GB SSD, which has a rated speed of up to 550MB/s for Sequential Read and up to 500MB/s for Sequential Write.  The M.2 interface will be tested with a Kingston HyperX Predator 240GB drive, with a rated Sequential Read speed of up to 1400MB/s and a Sequential Write speed of 600MB/s.  USB 3.1 Gen 1 will be tested with an external USB 3.1 hard drive dock along with the SanDisk Ultra II SSD. SATA 6Gb/s ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming M.2 ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming USB 3.1 Gen 1 ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming Storage Performance Results:  Let's be honest, we don't really expect there to be a huge performance difference among the Z270 motherboards, unless there is an issue.  The ASUS ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming runs well within any acceptable tolerance range, sometimes it's the fastest, other time it's a few MB/s slower.  When you begin looking at these types of speeds, a few MB/s won't make a huge difference.  

Power Consumption and Temperature

Using a P3 Kill-A-Watt meter, we monitored the power consumption throughout all phases of testing, making note of the highest reading for each test.  For the lowest reading, we allowed the test system to sit at the desktop with no applications running for 30 minutes.ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming Of the Z270 motherboards we have taken a look at, the ASUS ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming used the least amount of power when running at stock speeds; with a huge different of between 7W and 10W between each of the Z270 motherboards.  Overclocking does increase the power draw, which went up from 51W to 67W at idle, and from 249W to 265W. To monitor the temperature of the CPU, we used AIDA64 and HWMonitor to track the temperature while running multiple rounds of benchmarks simultaneously. ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming For temperatures, we were a little surprised at the readings, the ASUS Z270G Gaming is one of the warmest of the Z270 motherboards, only surpassed by the ASUS Prime Z270-A.  Under a load, the ASUS Z270G Gaming really began to heat up, getting around 7C hotter than the next motherboard.  Overclocking the processor caused a huge jump in temperatures, which is probably the reason that 5GHz was stable, until we put the processor under a heavy load.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

ASUS STRIX Z270G GamingFor a mATX motherboard, the ASUS ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming has a lot going for it.  With very few exceptions, it includes all the features commonly found on standard ATX motherboards.  For the CPU, it supports the latest Intel socket 1151 Kaby Lake processors, with support for the previous generation Sky Lake processor.  Networking is supplied by the Intel i219V Gigabit Ethernet, and includes Wireless 802.11AC with Bluetooth.  For those that want a lot of storage, this motherboard has six SATA 6GB/s ports, and two M.2 slots that supports both PCIe drives; while one of the M.2 slots supports SATA drives.  The two M-key slots support up to 2280 M.2 drives, however the one on the back of the motherboard supports the 22110 length M.2 drives.  If you are looking forward to Intel Optane, the motherboard has you covered as well.  One of the places that the motherboard is limited is the use of SLI or CrossFireX.  With only two PCIe x16 slots, you are limited to 2-Way SLI or CrossFireX.  This is of course one of the tradeoffs to getting a 9.6x9.6in motherboard. [caption id="attachment_191011" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming[/caption] The ASUS UEFI is easy to navigate to make any necessary changes, or to overclock the system.  Overclocking is extremely easy, and ASUS has built in a 5GHz profile which is where most Intel Kaby Lake K-series processors should be able to overclock.  Unfortunately, our system wasn't entirely stable at 5.0GHz, even at 1.45V.  Backing it down to 4.9GHz and 1.42V it was perfectly stable.  We have been able to overclock this processor to a maximum of 5.1GHz once, while all the other times it was limited to 5.0GHz.  Maybe our processor is degrading already, but you have to keep in mind that just roughly 60% of Intel Core i7-7700K processors can reach 5.0GHz and less than 30% can hit 5.1GHz with full stability. Not being able to reach those speeds might on this board is a non-issue for nearly half the processors out there. Taking a look at the temperatures, when it was overclocked, they were rather high at 90C, so it is possible the crashes we experienced were due to high temperatures. We were using the Corsair Hydro H105 water cooler, so it just goes to show that you'll need to invest in a good water cooler to overclock to 5GHz and beyond as well. If you take a look at the performance of the ASUS ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming, it performed as we expected.  Out of the four Z270 motherboards we have tested, it received scores that placed it at the bottom of the pack, and sometimes it was at the top of the pack; this is really to be expected.  Plus, if you look at the other Z270 motherboards we have tested, there are two enthusiast grade flagship motherboards included in the line-up, which are pretty close to double the price of the ASUS ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming motherboard, which can be found for $199.00 with free shipping and a three year warranty from ASUS. It's a solid little microATX board as long as you aren't looking to push the processor to the extreme. LR Recommended Award Legit Bottom Line:  While we weren't able to break any records with the ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming, it performed exactly as you would expect any Z270 motherboard would.  Going from an ATX to a mATX motherboard sometimes there are features that are left out, the ASUS STRIX Z270G Gaming has all the features needed to build a top of the line gaming system with 2-Way SLI or CrossFireX.  If you are looking to save a little space on your next system, the ASUS ROG STRIX Z270G Gaming mATX motherboard is worth taking a look at.