Asus ROG Strix Z270F Gaming motherboard review
Who should buy this ROG Intel motherboard?
The ROG Strix Z270F Gaming motherboard is a full $100 more than other Z270 chipset motherboards. Being part of Asus’ ROG brand, it’s focused at high-end users who like to overclock: overclocking is what gamers do according to most motherboard manufacturers’ marketing departments. Our experience is somewhat different in that most gamers want to get on and game with the minimum of fuss while competitive overclockers overclock more than they game. Either way, we just want to inform casual buyers about what they’re in for if they just want to buy a decent motherboard.
As we’ve said before, our motherboard reviews are for the general populace who understand a bit about motherboards but who aren’t fussed about intricate levels of advanced overclocking. There are other titles (and plenty of forums) dedicated to that. We’ll stick with what’s important in terms of features, value, and performance (which will include the onboard, automatic, performance-boosting, overclocking features that most people won't go beyond).
Test rig: Asus ROG Strix Z270F Gaming motherboard Socket 1151 motherboard, 4GHz Intel Skylake i7-6700K CPU, 2 x 8GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 2400MHz C16 DDR4 RAM, Samsung 960 Pro M.2 hard drive, Corsair H80i v2 Hydro Series CPU cooler, Corsair Platinum Series AX1200i 1200W Digital ATX Power Supply, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, Windows 10, Dell 2715PQ monitor.
Key hardware features
USB 3.1 compatible
3 x PCIe X16 slots running at x16, x8 and x4; 4 x PCIe x1 slots
Dual M.2 slots
2 x Reinforced PCI slots plus I/O ports
Colour LED status indicators 3D Printing mounts LED lighting
Onboard DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI graphics connectors
(Full feature List here | Full connector list here)
Automatic overclocking features
Hardened overclockers will love the ability to tweak everything on this motherboard, but for those who just want to up the performance a bit, there’s the EZ Tuning Wizard. We had problems with this as it’s too simplistic and we actually went backwards in performance when using it.
Rather than telling you it will make the processor run faster – like Gigabyte does – it asks what type of computer setup you’re running: Daily Computing or Gaming/Media Editing. If you’re the former, you shouldn’t bother buying this motherboard.
You then need to describe what level of cooling you have. We picked the top Gaming and Water Cooler options because that’s what we had. Subsequently, we were told that we could expect a 17% increase in performance. However, the PC was completely unstable. Indeed, in the end we had to say we were using an air-cooled computer for Daily Computing to get any tweaked effect that ran stably at all. However, engaging this meant the computer ran slower!
Our only way round this was to switch to our hardcore Corsair Dominator RAM kit. This allowed us to hit the 17% automatic overclock speed increase.
While this might sound like a happy ending, it means that you’ll need to spend a LOT more money on RAM if you want to push the overclocking at all… that our decent Corsair Vengeance kit couldn’t handle the automatic tweaking was a bit eye opening.
There’s a whole bunch of metal blocks on the Strix and when you turn it on, they light up. You can sync colours with other Asus Aura-compatible peripherals too. The blocks are well dispersed and don’t get in the way of any slots. We liked that there were two M.2 drive ports and that they weren’t situated beneath any important card slots.
Asus makes a big point about its SupremeFX audio features with Sonic Studio III program. It’s been optimised for streaming and allows “intelligent routing” to different audio ports, which may be important for some.
Asus also makes a point of providing 3D printable mounts for hardcore modders to customise the board’s appearance more easily.
Having a full complement of video connectors to use with the onboard Intel HD graphics seems like an unnecessary expense.
There aren’t any onboard buttons for powering on or off, however, which some tweakers may miss.
Next: Performance and Conclusion
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