The native retail has already got all kinds of Intel Z270-based models from different manufacturers. In particular, the entry-level category has as well been represented by all of them. And ASRock Z270 Pro4 seems to be the best-equipped one having 6 SATA sockets, 3 M.2 ports, an Intel network adapter and an ALC892 codec.
The presence of a PCI slot should be separately noted as it quickly disappears from the surface of many boards. The full range of options is as follows:
- • Chipset: Intel Z270
- • Processor socket: Socket 1151
- • Processors: Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium, Celeron (Skylake-S, Kaby Lake-S)
- • RAM: 4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400/2800 * / 2933 * / 3200 * / 3600 * / 3733 * (OC), a maximum of 64 GB
- • PCI-E slots: 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16)1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4)3 x PCI Express 3.0 x1
- • M.2: 2 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280)1 x PCI Express 3.0 x1 (Key E, 2230)
- • Integrated graphics core (processor): Intel HD 510/530/610/630
- • Video inputs: HDMI, DVI-D, D-Sub
- • Fans connected: 4x4pin
- • Ports PS/2: 1 (keyboard/mouse)
- • USB ports: 8 x 3.1 Gen1 (6 sockets on the rear panel (one type C), Z270)5 x 2.0 (no sockets on the rear panel, Z270)
- • Serial ATA: 6 x SATA 6Gb/s (Z270)
- • RAID: 0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, Z270)
- • Integrated audio: Realtek ALC892 (7.1, HDA)
- • Network capabilities: Intel I219V (Gigabit Ethernet)
- • COM: 1 (internal)
- • TPM: +
- • UEFI: AMI UEFI
- • Form factor: ATX
- • Dimensions, mm: 305 x 224
- • Additional features: PCI slot (ASMedia ASM1083), a rack for two antennas at the rear panel, support of AMD 2-Way CrossFireX.
The baseline package includes the following:
- • Multilingual quick guide
- • CD with drivers and proprietary software
- • Sticker with the company logo
- • 3 mounting screws for M.2 format devices
- • 2 cables SATA 6Gb/s cables, one of which is with an L-shaped connector
- • Case plug for a housing with the embossed symbols and icons denoting nests.
The motherboard is a couple centimetres narrower than the standard ATX-format width and has an unusual number of attachment points – 7. There are no auxiliary buttons, indicators or backlights.
In the accommodation of a multicontroller on the rear side of the board there is a small number of electronic components. Apparently, they are placed there solely for image considerations.
The overall cooler area is quite enough to not worry about the temperature limits. And 6 SATA ports of longitudinal type add much to the picture.
There are also 3 of extremely popular M.2s, the smallest is for the wireless adapter and the other two can be used for connecting storage devices.
An additional controller is just one, it is necessary for the implementation of PCI interface. A number of sockets for USB cables with second-generation interface is unusual – they are five (one of them is the single-type), a more recent check-up discovers one seat for a pair of ports. The device firmware is now sealed, and there is a special socket for the programmer nearby, as it is done on the MSI motherboards.
The upper PCI-E slot uses sixteen lines from the CPU, the other four ones work with PCH. Organization and placement of network and sound adapters are simple-minded: there is a small number of special ELNA capacitors, but there are no filters or auxiliary op amp.
The only finned heat sink is placed in the CPU VRM zone, although there is enough room for a second one. Though the radiator clamp is provided with clips, still there are no questions to the transistors’ print on the thermal pads.
There are only three audio output on the rear part. The outdated D-Sub is implemented by the bridge DP-D-Sub — RTD2168 of Realtek. An ingenuous rack is a kind of bonus in the wireless network adapter system, there will be a proper place for carefully switching antennas.
To update the firmware, let’s take advantage of an integrated into the UEFI Instant Flash utility. The base of the settings is called EZ Mode.
In the ‘Advanced Mode’ a lot more points can be found. The first page will allow concentrating the selected, frequently used variables.
When the computer needs overclocking, OC Tweaker should be used. There are five sections to store the settings, as well as several ones prepared by the manufacturer’s engineers.
From expensive boards, the novelty differs by is a smaller number of strains available to change, and the limits themselves are much more modest. The remaining points are quite enough, there are several LLC profiles as well.
There is a tool for working with the periphery on the ‘Advanced’ page. The proprietary supportive mechanisms are not as many as they could be. An interactive map of the system functions without any problems.
The monitoring system has pleased with lots of strains. Everything needed for the overclocking with no additional devices is present here.
The processor cooler, which is the third in a row, can be quite powerful; the board has a safety factor of 1 and 1.5 A, respectively. The fan speed change selection mode can be based on the board or the processor temperature. Case coolers slow down by changing the supply voltage, the CPU one uses the method of changing the PWM duty cycle, and the last socket offers a user an opportunity to choose the method oneself.
The equipment initialization routine is fast, in any case, there is a classic set of mechanisms for this rubric.
As usual with the ASRock, all the software is concentrated in an APP Shop complex. The software offered includes the following:
- • Proprietary: APP Shop (AppCharger, A-Tuning, Restart to UEFI)
However, the number of tools displayed is extremely small for ASRock Z270 Pro4. Installing the utilities goes right here.
The branded A-Tuning offers a mechanism for setting the system coolers using the calibration of all the devices. Parameters control is well-realized, including the activate the profiles for overclocking a PC.
A ‘Restart to UEFI’ is provided which allows getting into the UEFI environment immediately after the computer is restarted.
The sound system is satisfied just with the Realtek branded configurator which is not unusual. In fact, XFast LAN is the only bonus, this product allocates priority among the programs that use network connection.
First of all, the potential of the model considered pleasantly surprises. The main point is a record-breaking RAM overclock. It turns out there is also some margin for overclocking the Core i7-7700K, and in fact low-end models will give even less stress to the system. The excess ring bus frequencies are also possible, albeit with some reservations.
The main differences from the more prestigious models are the truncated limits of all the strain groups, as well as a considerable step for a number of groups. The bitterest limitation is a maximum of 1.2 V for the CPU IO, but it is still not frighteningly low. The voltage stabilization looks poor enough, although the use of the PWM controller from Intersil is quite obvious. LLC profiles’ availability does not rescue from the voltage fails, but it should be mentioned that it stays on a good, flat level, though the level is reduced.
The product hardware features offer no bonuses, such as additional control or indication devices, no backlights are placed. There is no POST indicator as well; the sound system has no operational amplifier. Quite modest is the set of proprietary utilities.
Obviously, the developers have focused their attention on the hardware aspects, paying minimal attention to the rest. The implemented program monitoring gives an opportunity to be aware of what is happening. As a result, the ASRock is an interesting model primarily for overclockers on a budget, as well as all those who might be interested in the use of high-speed RAM in conjunction with ordinary processors (without their overclocking).