Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 9
Gigabyte turns the Aorus range up to 11.
The Z270X-Gaming 9 is expensive. However, the mindset behind a product like this is that ‘price doesn’t matter’. It’s what’s known, in industry parlance, as a ‘halo product’ — one meant to capture attention, inspire technical potential and explore boundaries. While it’s rare in the motherboard market, plenty of other companies use this kind of strategy.
This is a bit of kit for enthusiasts — it should be approached with an open mind when assessing its features and innovations, especially given many of the reasons for the inflated price are fairly opaque ‘under the hood’ ones.
For example, the audio implementation (Creative Sound Blaster certified ZxRi 120+dB+ Audio) brings together a combination of components to create a genuinely delightful audio experience; including the Creative CA0132 Core3Di quad-core audio processor, BurrBrown PCM1794 stereo DAC, Cirrus Logic CN8416 ADC, two new Japanese Radio Co JRC2114D amps, a Texas Instruments OPA2134 amp and a Texas Instruments TPS5130 for powering the amplifiers.
The APC team has a longstanding preference for Intel networking devices, whether wired or wireless, and to see the Intel i219-V (also featured on the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 5 and 7, see issue 437) dropped in favour of Killer-branded NICs did cause us some concern.
The Gaming 9 has not just one but two Killer E2500 1Gbps NICs, alongside an 802.11ac Wi-Fi NIC, the Killer Wireless-AC 1535. This trio of Killer NICs provides hardware support for Killer DoubleShot-X3 Pro, a software feature providing a three-way network-teaming tech that combines bandwidth and spreads the load across the three network connections. This is a neat feature for those craving network bandwidth, though you will require a hefty network connection to fully utilise the bandwidth capability.
The implementation of a PLX chip provides a PCIe bridging hub for the platform and delivers 3- and 4-Way SLI and CrossFire support — Z270 otherwise only provides 2-Way SLI support. This is a neat feature and a significant point of differentiation; however, these types of setups are notorious for introducing processing latency. This was evident in the performance results in Far Cry Primal. The symptoms also appeared in the 3DMark graphics and combined tests; however, notably, the CPU and memory performance is significant on this motherboard with an outright first place in the physics test compared to the Z270’s we compared in APC 437. Those high CPU and memory performance results appear again in the PCMark 8 and X265 4K video-encoding tests.
We hope to see Gigabyte continue its challenge to ASUS within the halo and premium product categories, as this can only bode well for consumers as innovative tech filters down the product stack in future models, as previously high-end features become the norm.