Perhaps, it will be difficult to surprise enthusiasts with the phrase “gaming motherboard”. However, as in all segments where sustainable development is observed, manufacturers are looking for ways to attract the attention of the audience. In the ASUS camp, they decided to saturate the already rich lineup of motherboards with another family. In fact, the TUF brand now plays the role of attracting attention, with new products at the very bottom of the hierarchical structure.
By the time this review was written, only three devices had been announced. We will get acquainted, at first glance, with the most powerful of them, which received the proud suffix “Pro”.
I would like to know how justified it will be in overclocking events, but first let’s look at the general possibilities.
In addition to the unusual shape, you can focus on the latest generation of independent USB controller, and even that does not help in the appearance of a symmetrical socket (type C) on the rear panel. All other I/O ports rely on the capabilities of the Intel Z370 hub. And you can immediately note something that is definitely not here – pads for connecting LED strips. That’s right, not a single thing, but the board, after all, is a “game board”! The main properties of the model are collected in a common table:
|Model||ASUS TUF Z370-Pro 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 (x2)
3 x PCI Express 3.0 x1
|M.2||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4
SATA 6 Gb/s (Key M, 2230/2242/2260/2280/22110)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280)
|Integrated video core (in the processor)||Intel HD 630|
|Video connectors||HDMI 1.4b, DVI-D|
|Number of connected fans||5x 4pin|
|PS/2 ports||1 (keyboard/mouse)|
|The port is USB||2 x 3.1 Gen2 (2 connectors on the rear panel, ASM3142)
8 x 3.1 Gen1 (4 connectors on the rear panel, Z370)
6 x 2.0 (2 connectors on the rear panel, Z370)
|Serial ATA||6 x SATA 6Gb/s (Z370)|
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, Z370)|
|Built-in sound||Codec — Realtek ALC887 (7.1, HDA)|
|Networking||Intel I219V (Gigabit Ethernet)|
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 244|
|Additional features||MemOK! button, AMD 2-Way CrossFireX and NVIDIA 2-Way SLI support, Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)|
|Retail price, $||202|
Packaging and equipment
Regular size box. Among the many icons, you can see the personifying the presence of bonus software for sound – DTS Custom.
Since the board does not have any bright features, the main area at the back is reserved for its photo, around there are text fields describing the main characteristics of the product.
The scope of delivery corresponds to mid-range boards. There is:
- user manual, which illustrates and describes the UEFI sub-items in detail (in English);
- a set of stickers with various images of the TUF Gaming series (not shown in the photo);
- disk with drivers and proprietary software;
- coupon with a discount for the procedure of braiding wires (rounding);
- mounting screw and M.2 device stand — two sets;
- branded plastic retainer for the processor;
- an adapter for convenient connection of ASUS Q-Connector case connectors (not shown in the photo);
- double hard bridge for organizing SLI;
- two SATA 6Gb / s cables, one of which has an L-shaped connector on one of the ends;
- cap for the housing with embossed symbols and icons for the designation of sockets.
Distinctive features of “gaming” boards are backlighting and exterior elements. There is no “shell” traditional for products of the TUF series, therefore the figured cutout near the SATA ports is destined to attract attention. The board is made in the usual ATX format, there are nine mounting points in the case. The illumination here is one-color, in yellow tones. You can see the etched sections of the textolite through which it will break through, the largest is the inscription “TUF GAMING”. Actually, almost all the LEDs are grouped at the starboard side.
But in general, there are not so many of them; the glow cannot be called particularly intense. The board is simple in topology, there is no accumulation of electronic components behind.
The chipset cooler is relatively unpretentious as for an image board. It only has an overlay with an image.
There are only two M.2 sockets. For the upper one, you can use 2280 form factor devices, and the lower one has no length restrictions, this is where all types of equipment can work.
Two SATA sockets are transverse, and four are longitudinal.
There are two pads of each generation (second and third) under the body cables of the USB ports. All of them are of the usual, transverse type of execution, which do not facilitate cable laying in the housing.
The sixteen PCI-E lanes from the processor can be distributed equally, but only the main slot is reinforced here. Other slots work with Intel Z370.
A shielding cap is provided for the sound part. Apparently, only one codec is hidden under it. The number of special capacitors is small. OUs don’t seem to apply.
It’s nice to emphasize the presence of the MemOK! button, you don’t often see it now even on more expensive devices. It will help you get into UEFI when the system is not able to work out the hardware polling procedure. Another useful tool is the Q-LED diagnostic LED kit. The POST codes indicator for “gaming” boards is perhaps redundant, but a simplified implementation of it would not hurt, especially during overclocking.
The power unit is equipped with small radiators, the effect is added by a large visor hanging over the main one. There were no difficulties during the installation of the cooler.
The construction of the voltage converter circuit is made according to a completely familiar tracing paper of the manufacturer. There is an ASP1400BT PWM controller, six external drivers, four channels work for the needs of the CPU, and two more for the integrated GPU. The last section is the same as before: there are a couple of ON Semiconductor NTMFS4C06B and NTMFS4C09B elements. But instead of doubling their number in each “phase”, the processor voltage was left with only three pieces – two more efficient NTMFS4C06B and one NTMFS4C09B.
Again, you can blame the thermal pads for their area, it is clearly not enough for full contact with transistors. The situation on the main cooler looks especially depressing. The radiators themselves are made of light alloy metal. Pleased with their screw mounting system.
On the rear panel, the set of ports is, in general, sufficient. There are eight USB outputs, five audio jacks, and an optical S/PDIF is prepared. Two digital video outputs are also quite appropriate. It’s a bit premature to expect a pre-installed wireless network adapter as part of a lower price segment product.