Motherboard Layout

The Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard features a black colored PCB with black colored heat sinks cooling various on board components with carbon fiber-style overlays (thus the Carbon in the board name) on the heat sinks and rear panel cover. MSI embedded their corporate logo into the chipset's overlay with the board's series imprinted in the rear panel cover's overlay. The board was designed with an ATX form factor for compatibility with most standard-sized enclosures, and is designed with more than adequate surface area to house its integrated components.

MSI designed the Z270 Gaming Pro Carbo with a total of 10 digital power phases, configured in an 8+2 design and providing more than enough to handle any load thrown at the system. The CPU VRMs are cooled by large heat sinks framing the top and right sides of the CPU socket.

The board houses a total of two PCIe x4 M.2 slots, one sandwiched in between the CPU socket and the primary PCIe x16 slot (slot M2_1), and the other underneath PCIe x1 slot 3 (slot M2_2). The slot M2_1 M.2 cards up to 110mm in length, while the other supports cards up to 80mm in length. Both M.2 ports are keyed for M-key slot devices with standard SSD, PCIe x2, PCIe x4, and Intel Optane type M.2 drives supported. Note that the two M.2 slots can be used in a RAID array. M.2 slot M2_2 shares bandwidth with SATA slots 5 / 6 with both slots disabled when a PCIe type M.2 drive is seated and slot 5 disabled with a SATA type M.2 drive seated. M.2 slot M2_1 shares bandwidth with SATA slot 1 with SATA slot 1 disabled when a SATA type M.2 drive is seated.

MSI included a hinged cover plate for the M.2 slot directly below PCIe x1 slot 3. The cover plate can be raised to a 45 degree angle, or removed entirely, to install an M.2 device into the slot, and is fixed in place with the M.2 hold down screw. The plate has a TIM pad to protect the surface of the M.2 device from the metal of the cover plate as well as to act as a passive heat dissipation path for the device.

The board has a total of four DIMM slots with Dual Channel memory mode active with modules in slots 1 / 3 or 2 / 4. The slots are reinforced with a metal cage that sits in between and around the slots, giving the whole construction additional support and strength. There is a USB 3.0 header to the lower left of the DIMM slots and 4-pin fan headers to the lower and upper right of the slots. Additionally, MSI integrated the EZ Debug LED block directly below the DIMM slots which illuminate when there are problems detected with the monitored areas – CPU, DRAM, VGA, and BOOT.

The Intel Z270 chipset is covered by a low profile black heat sink with a carbon fiber overlay imprinted with the MSI corporate logo. In addition to the two PCIe x4 M.2 slots, the board was designed with six SATA III ports – four in the port block directly below the chipset and two to the left of the chipset. SATA ports 5 / 6 share bandwidth with M.2 slot M2_2 with both ports disabled when an M.2 PCIe device is installed and port 5 disabled with an M.2 SATA device installed. SATA port 1 shares bandwidth with M.2 slot M2_1, being disabled with an M.2 SATA device installed in the board.

The board contains a total of six PCIe slots – three PCIe x16 slots and three PCIe x1 slots. The PCIe x16 slots can be used in x16 / 0 / x4 or x8 / x8 / x4 modes.

MSI integrated support for connecting an RGB LED strip directly into the board using the JLED1 header located to the upper left of PCIe x1 slot 3. Connecting an RGB LED strip to the JLED1 header synchronizes the LED strip color and activity with that of the motherboard's integrated LEDs. Additionally, MSI provided an RGB LED connection for the rear panel cover, located just above M.2 slot M2_1. The color of the LEDs integrated into the rear panel cover syncs with that set for the rest of the board. The board is shown with an external RGB strip connected to the JLED1 header.

The Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard contains the following integrated ports in its rear panel assembly: a PS/2 hybrid keyboard / mouse port, two USB 2.0 ports (black), two USB 3.0 ports (red), two USB 3.1 10Gbps ports (red) – one Type A and one Type C, an Intel I219-V GigE RJ-45 port, an HDMI port, a DVI-D port, an S/PDIF digital audio output port, and five analogue audio output ports.

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