GIGABYTE AORUS Z270X-Gaming 5 Motherboard Review
Now I know what many of you are thinking: "Who or what is AORUS?". Well my curious friends, AORUS is the gaming-oriented brand that GIGABYTE launched exactly three years ago. Thus far, the AORUS name has been used on a number of premium gaming products, such as laptops, mice, keyboards, and even a few gamer-friendly backpacks. Always looking for new opportunities, it was recently decided that the brand should be branched out into motherboard market, and what better time to launch a new motherboard product line than with the release of the new Kaby Lake processors and Z270 chipset.
If you will once again permit the use of my psychic powers, some of you are thinking: "Will these new AORUS motherboards exist alongside GIGABYTE models?" Yes, that is correct. AORUS models will be slightly more upscale than the average GIGABYTE motherboard, with more premium features, a different design, and a slightly higher price tag as well. Kind of like the position ROG models occupy in the ASUS product line. Some of what you can look forward to in the higher-end models are integrated water blocks, Creative Sound Core 3D audio chips, Killer LAN controllers, HDMI 2.0 video outputs, exclusive gamecasting/streaming software, and more.
While we look forward to reviewing those fully decked out motherboards, today we are going to take a look at a model that is at the more budget-friendly end of the spectrum. The AORUS Z270X-Gaming 5 will retail for about $200 USD, so it won't break the bank, but it still comes packed with a ton of features and a healthy specs list in order to woo new customers to the brand. For starters, this model features a 11-phase CPU power design, three steel-reinforced PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots with support for 2-way SLI or 3-way CrossFireX, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, six SATA 6Gb/s ports or three SATA Express ports, one U.2 port, and a pair of full-speed PCI-E 3.0 x4 M.2 slots - at least one of which will support Intelís upcoming Optane SSD product line. There are also two high-speed USB 3.1 ports, one Type-A and one Type-C, four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, as well as two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 headers.
On the networking front, this model has two gigabit LAN ports, one is Intel-powered and the other runs off the newest Killer E2500 LAN controller, and thus supports the powerful Killer Network Manager utility. Needless to say, the aforementioned utility is the tip of iceberg in GIGABYTE's large software suite that is comprised of a few truly useful applications. They have also added the little elements that we often take for granted like two physical BIOS chips, a debug LED display, six onboard temperature sensors, two temperature sensor headers, two high current fan headers that support water pumps, and more.
Those who plan on making use of Kaby Lake's integrated graphics will have to make due with either a DisplayPort and an HDMI 1.4 port, both of which are gold plated just like the five analog audio jacks. Speaking of audio, the onboard AMP-UP audio solution is based on the brand new Realtek ALC1220 ten-channel HD audio codec, and features both a headphone amplifier and gain switch, as well as audio-grade Nichicon capacitor. As we have come to expect, there is also a PCB isolation line that helps protect the audio components from electromagnetic interference. Those that desire even better audio quality will also be glad to know that there is a USB DAC-UP 2 port, which is a special port that have been isolated from the rest of the motherboard in order to minimize the signal noise that gets transferred to your external USB DAC.
While GIGABYTE have dabbled with LED lighting on previous models, with this new generation they are now fully committed to this 'must-have' feature. Dubbed RGB Fusion, this new RGB LGB lighting implementation has what it takes to turn the inside of your case into a full fledged disco ball light show. These RGB LEDs are placed not only under the little plastic strip that covers the audio section, but under the chipset cooler, under the PCI-E x16 slots, and even near the CPU socket. There is also a cool lighting strip on the top-right edge of the motherboard near the memory slots, and even a bunch of LEDs directly in between each memory slot. Itís an approach weíve never seen on any other motherboard.
There is also an RGBW LED light strip header on which you can plug an aftermarket LED light strip. All of these LEDs as well as the header are controlled using the new RGB Fusion application. These lights can be adjusted to any number of different colours and customized to create cool lighting effects, like fading in and out, syncing with your music, cycling through all of the colours, flashing on and off, flashing sections randomly, or even just displaying one static colour.
So overall there is a lot here that we are anxious to check out. However, given the fact that AORUS is a new brand in the motherboard market, we are definitely going to be putting the Z270X-Gaming 5 under the microscope today. Hopefully, everything has been well implemented, since brands only have one chance to make a favourable first impression on consumers.
By the way, since we're publishing multiple articles this week, keep an eye out our reviews of the ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming K6 and the ASUS Maximus IX Hero.
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