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Carbon fiber instantly sends visions of speed, performance, and exotic technology to many. Wrapped in carbon fiber look trim, Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon aims to instaill many of those same visions. Built on MSI’s Military Class 5 foundation, the Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon supports 6th Generation Intel Core processors and DDR4 memory up to 3800Mhz via four memory slots. There’s dual Turbo M.2 connectivity with transfer speeds up to 32 Gb/s with support for Intel Optane technology. Six SATA ports offer even more storage options. There dual USB 3.1 front panel connectors along with six USB 3.1 rear ports. The Intel i219V chip provides high quality network connectivity combined with 15KV anti-surge protection.
It’s no secret that technology advances very fast these days. There are few areas in which this is more apparent than computer hardware. It was in late 2008 that Intel brought us the first generation of the Core series of CPUs on their LGA 1366 socket and x58 chipset. Now, with the launch of the 7th generation of Core series chips rumored to be around the corner, Intel introduces their latest chipset, Z270, on the LGA 1151 socket. However, the socket is about all the Z170 and Z270 Gaming 5 motherboards share. Gigabyte has completely changed the design of their Gaming 5 motherboard. Was this just an aesthetic over haul, or is it worth an upgrade from the Z170X Gaming 5 board? We’re going to take an in-depth look at GIGABYTE's new AORUS Z270X Gaming 5 motherboard and see what the differences and similarities in looks and performance when side by side with their previous generation Z170X Gaming 5. Now let’s see if what improvements Gigabyte has brought to the table.
The Asus TUF series of motherboards has been with us for some time now. The first in the series was the Sabertooth X58 that arrived in 2010. Its military look and tough image quickly caught the imagination of many system builders and enthusiast alike. The series really took off when Asus released the Sabertooth P67, which features their Thermal Armor. Modders jumped on this new motherboard, often modifying and/or painting the Thermal Armor to match their builds. Fast forward to 2017 and we have the latest iteration of TUF design, the TUF Z270.
Prime is the new name for Asus’ mainstream motherboards. Previously their mainstream motherboards didn’t have a conventional name, but with the release of Z270, that has changed. Prime motherboards have a much more conventional look compared to their ROG – Republic of Gamers, Tuf, and Pro Gamer lines. That’s not to say they don’t back a punch though.
With transistors getting smaller and smaller and more and more difficult to produce in sufficient yields, Intel’s long running two step “Tick Tock” cadence is now being replaced with a 3 phase model of Process, Architecture, and Optimization. Intel’s Broadwell, while never fully released as a complete line of Desktop CPU’s, saw the Process shrink from 22nM to 14Nm with the Intel Core 5000 series CPU’s. The Architecture upgrade was done with Intel 6th Generation 6000 series CPU’s, and now we come to the 7th Generation CPU’s that target optimization. To take advantage of these optimizations, Intel has release the 200 series chipsets, and the top end enthusiast level version is the Intel Z270 Chipset found in the ASRock Z270 Extreme4 we have for review today.
Certainly when it comes to motherboards, the high end enthusiast products get all the attention, while the more budget friendly options fly under the radar. That’s a shame too. The more budget friendly products are really the bread and butter of the industry. MSI’s Pro Series motherboards are aimed directly at those enthusiasts that have less than an unlimited budget.
With the upcoming launch of Intels new 7th generation of Core Processors, there’s no surprise that we are starting to see new motherboards with Intel’s new Z270 chipset as well. With new features, such as support for Intel’s new Optane SSDs, more downstream PCIe lanes, 14 to the previous 10 that the Z170 chipset has and even front USB 3.1 support, The Z270 chipset is an upgrade over the Z170 chipset.