ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming-ITX/ac
The ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming-ITX/ac is very similar to its predecessor, with a few small changes in regards to its appearance. The PCI-Express x16 slot is now reinforced, which is a trend among motherboards these days. There are few changes otherwise from an aesthetic viewpoint. There have been a couple of changes in terms of the feature set, which we'll take a look at now.
We find seven USB ports on the I/O panel of the Fatal1ty: six times USB 3.0 and one USB 3.1 Type C port. The Type-C port is connected with a fully enabled Intel Alpine Ridge controller, which means that Thunderbolt 3 devices can also be connected. Alpine Ridge is capable of a second USB 3.1 port, however it unfortunately has not been implemented on this board. Lastly, the board also has headers for two times USB 3.0.
Storage features are aplenty on this board. No less than six SATA600 ports are present on this ITX board, in addition to an M.2 slot. Most ATX boards have two or more M.2 slots, but this is harder to achieve on the ITX form factor.
It probably doesn't come as a surprise that the board features the newest audio codec from Realtek, the ALC1220, which should offer audio quality one step above its predecessor in terms of quality. A headphone amplifier is also present, namely the Ti Ne5532. The board isn't completely perfect in terms of audio however, even though it features an optical TOSLINK output (above the connectors for the IGP), it lacks DTS Connect and therefore you won't be able to use it for e.g. 5.1 game sound. You can do this using the 3.5mm jacks, six of which are present - three more compared to its predecessor.
In addition to the integrated network controller from the chipset, which is enabled by the Intel WG-I219V PHY, the Fatal1ty also offers a WiFi controller. This one is also from Intel: the Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265, which supports a maximum speed of 867 MB/sec and Bluetooth.
Power circuit and overclocking features
Mini-ITX boards generally don't have a huge number of phases, this board has eight. This doesn't tell the whole story, as the quality of the phases could play an even more important role, and in any case, the quality of the phases on this board is excellent. The PWM controller is the digital IR35201 from International Rectifier, a high-quality chip that we've also seen on some high-end overclocking motherboards. The MOSFETs, the Texas Instruments 87350D, are well-known and of good quality. The six most important MOSFETs are covered by a heatsink, which is attached to the board by screws. All in all, this power circuit is more than good enough to not be a bottleneck when overclocking on air or water, and maybe even on LN2.
The board has three fan connections, which all support PWM, a large amount for an ITX board. This is an improvement compared to the previous generation, because only the CPU fan header supported PWM on the Z170 variant. There are also other improvements in the overclocking area: the board now comes with a Clear CMOS switch.