For the first time in the history of Intel products, with the advent of the Coffee Lake-S family of processors, models with six processing cores have been prepared for ordinary users. Previously, such products were offered only in the HEDT platform segment. However, along with the announcement of new products, an “updated” hub, called the Z370, hit the market. The general scheme for building the platform is shown on the slide:
As it became known even before the release of new products, such a “set” of system logic for the end user does not give anything new, however, previous motherboards will not be able to work with the latest CPU models.
For better clarity, the older desktop chipsets of recent years are compared in a single table:
|Number of DIMMs per channel||2|
|Number of supported displays||3|
|DMI (Direct Media Interface) version||3.0 (8 GT/s)|
|PCI Express version||3.0|
|Maximum number of PCI Express lanes||20||24|
|Total number of USB ports||14|
|Maximum number of USB 3.0 ports||10|
|Support for RAID configurations||0, 1, 5, 10|
|Maximum number of SATA 6 Gb/s ports||6|
|Integrated network adapter||MAC|
|Edition support for PCI Express processor port||3.0|
|Support for PCI Express processor port configurations||x16+x0+x0, x8+x8+x0, x8+x4+x4|
|Intel Optane Technology||–||+|
|Intel Rapid Storage version||14||15|
|Maximum ports for PCI-E drives under Intel Rapid Storage support||3|
According to the developer, the main bias was directed to the processing of processor power. I wonder how the end motherboard manufacturers coped with this task? An older model from the ASUS ROG Strix gaming family will be used as an example. I would like to believe that here the power stabilizer and six-core processors will not have mutual problems.
The basic capabilities of the hub are supplemented by a wireless network adapter and a pair of controllers to implement the latest generation USB interface outputs (3.1 Gen2). It is these innovations that are expected from Intel in the future, but, apparently, the market situation did not allow specialists to properly prepare a truly new chipset, so they decided to get out of the situation with a simple rebranding. The phenomenon in the market of computer components is not new, most often it can be found in the segment of video accelerators. A table with characteristics will help you evaluate the capabilities of the board:
|Model||ASUS ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming|
|Official product page on the Web||asus.com|
|Processor socket||Socket 1151|
|Processors||Core i7, Core i5, Core i3 (Coffee Lake-S)|
|Memory||4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400/2666/2800*/3000*/3200*/3300*/3333*/3400*/3466*/3600*/3733*/3866*/4000*(OC), 64 GB maximum|
|PCI slots||2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16+x0, x8+x8)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4)
4 x PCI Express 3.0 x1
|M.2||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4
SATA 6Gb/s (Key M, 2242/2260/2280)
|Integrated video core (in the processor)||Intel HD 630|
|Video connectors||DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-D|
|Number of connected fans||6x 4pin, 1x 5pin (Extension Fan connector)|
|The port is USB||3 x 3.1 Gen2 (2x rear panel headers (A and C), 2x ASM3142)
6 x 3.1 Gen1 (4 connectors on the rear panel, Z370)
6 x 2.0 (no connectors on the rear panel, Z370)
|Serial ATA||6 x SATA 6Gb/s (Z370)|
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, Z370)|
|Built-in sound||SupremeFX (7.1, HDA):
Codec — S1220 (Realtek ALC1220)
Op Amp — Texas Instruments RC4580 и OPA1688
|Networking||Intel I219V (Gigabit Ethernet)
Realtek RTL8822BE (Wi-Fi 2.4/5GHz (802.11a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.2)
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 244|
|Additional features||Thermal sensor connector, 3D Print ready (presence of holes for mounting products from 3D printers), support for AMD 3-Way CrossFireX and NVIDIA 2-Way SLI, Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED), technologies: Lighting Control Center (ROG Aura lighting system including a pair of Aura RGB Strip Header and Aura Addressable Strip Header), USB BIOS Flashback and more|
|Retail price, $||252|
Packaging and equipment
Box of standard dimensions as for an ATX format product. But it is unusually heavy, and there is no handle for easy transportation.
Behind, in addition to a couple of photos in good angles, a set of features is concentrated, located along their perimeter, there are also several images that characterize the key features – the presence of an intricate-looking backlight, a cooler for an M.2 format device and pads for tapes and a symmetrical USB socket of the latest generation.
In the box under the pallet with the board is the following set:
- user manual, which illustrates and describes the UEFI sub-items in detail (in English);
- memo on the correct installation of the bracket for an additional fan in the VRM area;
- disk with drivers and proprietary software;
- a set of stickers of three round ROG logos (for fans);
- sign on the door “GAME ON! YOU SHALL NOT PASS”/“GAME OFF! YOU MAY ENTER”;;
- another set of ROG stickers for cables;
- coupon with a discount for the procedure of braiding wires (rounding);
- branded plastic retainer for the processor;
- seven nylon ties;
- one remote thermocouple;
- extension cord for connecting a controlled LED strip;
- extension cable for connecting RGB LED strip;
- four SATA 6Gb / s cables, two of which have an L-shaped connector on one of the ends;
- a set of a pair of screws and stands for M.2 devices;
- bracket-rack for an additional fan;
- remote antenna with the possibility of fixing only one position;
- plug for the body, complete with a black sticker with the symbolic designation of all sockets. Its reverse part is pasted over with noise-absorbing material;
- double hard bridge for organizing SLI.
The product belongs to the “gaming” category, that is, there is nothing to facilitate the operation of the system in the open stand mode, as well as some general auxiliary elements (switches, buttons, contact pads) on the surface of the board are completely absent. There is not even a branded MemOK button! To diagnose the state of the system, only the Q-LED complex is provided. The dimensions are traditional for a full-size ATX product, there are nine holes for case screws.
The back side of the device is practically freed from electronic components. There are no LEDs here.
A huge metal structure rises above the PCH. She is collapsible.
The upper part acts as a heatsink for M.2 products. There is a thermocouple.
Above the main PCI-E slot, there is another seat for M.2 devices. Both of them, however, are limited to a size like 2280.
Six longitudinal SATA outputs side by side with a classic longitudinal slot for a cable for the third generation USB interface.
Nearby there is the latest – symmetrical. Three more transverse cables allow the use of two cables of the most common type of USB – 2.0.
The metal-reinforced PCI-E slots can distribute the lines from the CPU to each other, and the remaining five work with the hub.
The implementation of sound is typical for the products of the ROG Strix series of the previous generation (based on the “two hundredth” hubs): the ALC1220 codec from Realtek, two different op-amps. There is no separate DAC chip (as, say, on ROG Maximus IX series boards).
There is only one UEFI chip and it is soldered. Of the interesting additions, we can note the possibility of using an external temperature sensor (it is included). Its readings will be useful for setting up the cooling circuit. To expand the number of controlled fans, a five-pin socket for a proprietary board for three additional seats is provided, but you will have to buy it yourself.
There are also several special places designed for the installation of products from 3D printers.
Radiators of power elements are quite impressive both in size and weight. But their squatness will not be a cause for concern when installing cooling systems.
Surprisingly or not, the voltage stabilizer subsystem migrated here without the slightest changes compared to the previous generation ASUS products. The scheme is basic for many models, you can start from Prime Z270-A (and even Prime Z170-A). The PWM controller is ASP1400BT, it is assisted by six external drivers, that is, four channels are responsible for the processor, and two for the voltage on the integrated GPU. Introducing – new models of transistors (as for ASUS products). These are SiRA12DP and SiRA14DP from Vishay Intertechnology. A pair is included in each channel of the CPU, a total of 16 elements. There are six of them for GPUs, four more powerful ones and a weaker pair (SiRA14DP). There were six pieces in total (two of them are soldered on the reverse side and work without the participation of a radiator).
In power coolers, traditional savings in gasket space are noticeable.
Arguably enough, in my opinion, the content of the rear panel is organized. There are only six USB outputs, and this is with no PS / 2 at all. One of them is symmetrical. But it would be wrong to complain about the network infrastructure, because there are both wired and wireless adapters. By the way, this is the first time I’ve come across a wireless solution from Realtek in ASUS products, before the boards were equipped (all as one) with a module from Qualcomm. Prepared here and three digital video outputs.