Z270 Micro-ATX review: four motherboards compared

Small Kaby Lakes

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Connectivity: USB

It was heavily rumored that the Kaby Lake chipset would have integrated USB 3.1 functionality. It turns out that this isn't true: reportedly the implementation hereof has been pushed to the 300 Series chipset that will release with Coffee Lake, the fourth generation of 14 nm processors from Intel.

There were quite a few issues with the, at the time, brand new USB 3.1 technology. However there is a new controller now from ASMedia, namely the ASM2142, that has been improved in multiple areas. Pretty much all motherboards with this chip are able to achieve speeds of 1GB/sec.

MSI was the only manufacturer to label its USB 3.0 ports as ''USB 3.1 Gen1'', however Gigabyte has followed suit, unfortunately. According to the consortium for the USB standard this is allowed, but this is quite misleading, especially for consumers that aren't very tech-savvy. For this reason we're happy to see that ASUS and ASRock have kept labeling their USB 3.0 ports as such.

The presence of a USB 3.1 header on some motherboards from ASUS is new. This header was shown recently by MSI and Phanteks, however it is not present on the MSI motherboard that we tested. In the table below 'external' refers to the ports found on the I/O panel, while 'internal' refers to the headers on the motherboard.

The ASUS board has the largest number of USB ports on the I/O panel, namely eight, followed by seven on the Gigabyte. The MSI and ASRock boards both have six. It should be noted that all seven ports on the Gigabyte board are USB 3.0 ports. The ASUS and ASRock boards have USB 3.1 ports on the I/O panel, one Type-A and one Type-C. The ASUS board is the only one to have the new internal USB 3.1 header.

Motherboard USB 2.0 external USB 3.0 external USB 3.1 external USB 2.0 internal USB 3.0 internal USB 3.1 internal
ASRock Z270M Extreme4 0 4 2 4 5 0
ASUS Strix Z270G Gaming 2 4 2 4 2 2
Gigabyte Z270M-D3H 0 7 0 4 2 0
MSI Z270M Mortar 2 4 0 4 4 0

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