ASRock Z270 Extreme4 Motherboard Review: Page 3 of 8
Posted by Damon Bailey on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 - 12:30pm
A Closer Look
As an update over the previous generation Z170 Extreme4, the ASRock Z270 Extreme4 features 3 M.2 Slots. 2 for storage and one for WiFi. The first Storage oriented Ultra M.2 slot can be seen here between the CPU Socket and the first PCIe X16 slot that is armored and supports drives up to 80mm in length. The PCIe armor, besides providing shielding for superior signal quality, also makes the PCIe slot nearly indestructible which should keep even the heaviest GPUs from doing any damage.
Also note here the ‘Flexible’ PCIe X1 slots on the board make return here from the previous Z170 Extreme4. They are notched to allow any card to be installed, although obviously they will only operate at PCIe 3.0 X1 speed.
The second Ultra M.2 Slot for storage is located on the bottom right corner of the board and extends between the 2nd and 3rd PCIe X16 slots. Unlike its shorter counterpart, this one supports up to 120mm long drives. Also in this corner is the dual BIOS chips and select jumper. Each BIOS has a corresponding LED to indicate which is in use. Front panel connections, a 4-pin fan header, TPM module connection and a Serial UART header. Extending off to the left are three headers for six USB 2.0 ports.
Moving up the right side we come to 8 SATA-III 6Gbps ports. The right most 6 ports can be used in RAID via Intel RST. Just above these are 2 front panel USB 3.0 headers for a total of 4 ports. Another 4-pin fan header hides near the ram slots as well.
It might support new CPU’s and have a new Chipset attached to it, but Intel’s LGA-1151 Socket hasn’t changed a bit. Same retention mechanism as before, and same cooling configuration. This board supports all current Intel Core series 6th Generation ‘Skylake’ CPU’s as well as upcoming 7th generation ‘Kaby Lake’ CPU’s.
The rear I/O panel has quite the array of connectivity. Under the white shroud covering most of the rear of the motherboard, two spots for WiFi Antennas are provided if you choose to install your own WiFi card. A Combination PS/2 port and Intel Gigabit Ethernet ports sit over a pair of USB 3.0 ports each. The usual 5 audio jacks and S/PDIF optical audio ports are present, connected to the Purity Sound 4 system provide most of your audio connections.
Two ASMedia provided USB 3.1 (gen 2) 10Gbps ports, one Type-A and one Type-C round out the rear USB ports. A DVI-D, HDMI 1.4b and oddly enough a D-Sub VGA port provide video connectivity. It’s a bit strange these days to see a VGA port instead of a much more common Display Port connection, but there are still plenty of analog monitors floating around out there and this is a mainstream targeted board.
After removing a few screws and removing the white shielding over the rear of the motherboard, we get a better look at a few things. On the very right here is the M.2 E-key slot for a PCIe Wifi module. Next to it is the ASMedia ASM1442K Chip that drives the HDMI 1.4b port on the rear I/O panel from the integrated graphics in the CPU (when applicable). The real star here is the ASMedia ASM2142 USB3.1 Controller on the left.
A recent upgrade from the popular ASM1142 controller, the new ASM2142 connects to the system at PCIe 3.0 x2 speeds as opposed to the typical x1 speed for the best USB3.1 bandwidth on the market. Capable of 16Gb/s peak bandwidth, there is enough to run one port at a full 10gbps with plenty left over, or both ports at 8Gbps simultaneously.
Nestled out of the way under the M.2 E-key port behind the rear I/O Panel, the Realtek RTD2168 is providing the D-SUB (VGA) connector on the rear I/O panel since Intel no longer supports this legacy display output. If you choose to install a Wifi card, ASRock has provided space on the rear I/O panel for two antennas. If you have a higher end card with triple antennas, you might have to get a bit creative.
Once you have the system up and running, you have 3 independent RGB LED zones on the ASRock Z270 Extreme4. The first is the rear I/O Shield accent and the Purity Sound 4 Logo towards the bottom, however that one is likely to be covered up by your GPU(s) and not very visible.
The 2nd zone is an indirect glow out from under the Chipset heatsink on the bottom right corner of the board you can see here just peeking out from under the GPU in the top right of the this picture. The last zone is the 5050 compatible RGB header located along the bottom of the board next to the Thunderbolt headers. We have the short 3” Y-cables that come with the ram stretched here to the max to reach the Geil EvoX RGB modules, but you should be able to connect to most RGB devices on the market that support (+12V/G/R/B) 4 pin connections.