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ASUS Prime Z270-A Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Features and Motherboard Layout

Features

Courtesy of ASUS

  • 5-Way Optimization with Auto-Tuning and FanXpert 4 automatically tailors overclocking profiles to your unique build for maximum OC performance and dynamic system cooling
  • Maximize your connectivity and speed with integrated Dual M.2, Intel® Optane™ Memory compatibility, USB 3.1 Type A / Type C connections, and Intel® Thunderbolt 3 support
  • Dual Patent-pending SafeSlots featuring an injection molding process that integrates metal framing for a stronger, firmly anchored PCIe slot built for heavyweight GPUs
  • AURA Sync RGB lighting features a nearly endless spectrum of colors with the ability to synchronize effects across an ever-expanding ecosystem of AURA Sync enabled products
  • On-board 3D-printing mounts for creating unique designs on your customized build

Motherboard Layout

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The Prime Z270-A features the black and white branding common to ASUS' channel product line with the rear panel cover and chipset featuring the brand logos. The VRM heat sinks are brushed aluminum, meshing well with the white accents on the board's black PCB. The board's aesthetic comes together well, giving the board a high-tech and futuristic type look. The board's layout is spacious with more than adequate room provided between all components for easy user access.

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With the exception of circuitry underneath the CPU VRMs, the back of the board is relatively free of exposed circuitry. The area directly behind the CPU socket is clear of components, alleviating any concerns when using large custom backplates.

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The Prime Z270-A board contains the following ports integrated into its rear panel: a PS/2 hybrid keyboard / mouse port, four USB 3.0 ports (blue), two USB 3.1 10Gbps ports - one Type A (teal) and one Type C (black), one GigE RJ-45 port - an Intel I219-V NIC, an HDMI output port, a DisplayPort video output port, a DVI-D video output port, an S/PDIF digital audio output, and five analogue audio outputs.

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The board contains a total of seven PCIe slots - three PCIe x16 slots and four PCIe x1 slots. The PCIe x16 slots can be used in x16, x8 / x8, or x8 / x8 / x4 mode. The CMOS battery is located just below PCI x1 slot 2, to the right of the primary PCIe x16 slot. The is also a 2-pin temperature sensor header to the left of the secondary PCIe x16 slot's midpoint.

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Just below PCIe x1 slot 1 (and to the right of the primary PCIe x16 slot) is one of the board's M.2 slots. The M-key slot supports M.2-type SSDs up to 80mm in length and with speeds up to PCIe x4. The slot was designed so that a card seated in the slot will not interfere with the CPU cooler seating, nor with the seating of a card in the primary PCIe x1 or PCIe x16 slot.

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The audio subsystem lives on an isolated PCB to minimize line-noise and distortion caused by other integrated components. The PCB separator line illuminates according to the color scheme configured through the UEFI or the AURA applet in Windows. ASUS further enhanced the integrated Crystal Sound 3 audio subsystem with the inclusion of Japanese-sourced audio capacitors and an audio de-pop relay. The audio output header is located to the lower right of the overlay along the board's edge. ASUS integrated mount points for custom designed 3D printed panels and accessories. The mount points are along the upper edge of the board, just below the audio PCB illuminated divider line and marked with the 3D Mount label.

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In the upper left corner of the board are the front panel audio header, the serial port header, and the 4-pin RGB power header.

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ASUS integrated support for connecting am RGB LED strip to the board using the RGB 12V header located to the along the outside mid-point of the tertiary PCIe x16 slot. Connecting an RGB LED strip to the RGB 12V header synchronizes the LED strip color and activity with that of the motherboard's integrated LEDs in the audio PCB separator line. In the screencap, an RGB cable is connected to the RGB 12V header.

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The trusted module port header, a USB 2.0 header, and a USB 3.0 header are located to the lower left of the tertiary PCIe x16 slot.

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A USB 3.0 header, two USB 2.0 headers, a 4-pin chassis fan header, the front panel header, external fan device header, CMOS clear jumper, primary PCIe x4 M.2 port, and the EZ XMP switch are located in the lower left corner of the board. The external fan device header can be used to add additional fan and temperature ports by connecting the external fan board to the header using the included cable. The EZ XMP switch allows you to activate the memory XMP speed and setting specifications when enabled, overriding any current active BIOS settings.

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The board's primary M.2 slot is located just under PCI x1 slot 4 and framed by the secondary and tertiary PCIe x16 slots. This M.2 port supports PCIe x4 and SATA type M.2 drives up to 110mm in length. The slot is keyed to accept M-Key type M.2 devices only. Note that the slot is designed so that seated M.2 devices do not interfere with cards seated in PCIe x16 slot 2 or 3 or PCIe x1 slot 4.

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The Intel Z270 chipset is covered by a low profile brushed aluminum heat sink with a white plastic overlay featuring the ASUS corporate logo.

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In addition to the two PCIe x4 M.2 slots, the board was designed with six SATA III ports in a block just below the chipset heat sink and to the right of the M.2 slot.

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The board supports up to four DIMM slots with Dual Channel memory mode active with modules in slots 1 / 3 or 2 / 4. The board supports up to 64GB of memory running at a maximum speed of 3866MHz. Note that memory speeds above 2400MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. Just below the DIMM slots are the 24-pin ATX power connector, a 4-pin chassis fan header, board status LEDs, and the onboard Power and MemOK! buttons. To the upper right of the DIMM slots are the 4-pin CPU and secondary CPU fan headers. The MemOK! button can be used to reset memory-related BIOS settings to defaults, useful when the system doesn't boot because of memory options set over-aggressively.

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ASUS designed the Prime Z270-A with a total of 10-digital power phases in an 8+2 implementation, which should provide more than enough power for the most punishing overclocking. ASUS cools the CPU VRM circuitry with two large heat sinks, one above and one to the right of the CPU socket. The socket itself is clear of obstructions, making for an easy CPU cooler mount.

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To the upper left of the CPU socket and in between the upper VRM heat sink and PCIe x1 slot 1 are the water pump (AOI_PUMP) and high-amp (H_AMP_FAN) 4-pin fan headers. The 4-pin water pump header can be used to power a standard 12V water pump - an AIO cooler's integrated coolant pump or a pump integrated into a DIY loop. The high amp fan headers offers support for fans requiring up to 3A (36W) of power.

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In the upper right corner of the board are the 8-pin ATX12V power connector and the CPU overvolt jumper. The CPU Overvolt jumper enables a higher voltage ceiling for the CPU Voltage (configurable via the UEFI) when enabled.


May 9, 2017 | 04:12 PM - Posted by MRFS

Morry: good job!
What happens when 2 x M.2 SSDs are stacked
on top of each other? Overheating maybe?

May 9, 2017 | 11:25 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

It depends.  If you have airflow over them, should be ok.  But you'd probably want to put thermal tape or some other type of non-conductive medium between the two drives to keep any electrical contact from occuring between the two.

However, this board doesn't have stacked M.2 slots.  It's slots are separated by a good bit of space.  The only design I've heard with stacked slots was in the Intel NUC...