A Closer Look

We begin with a look around the Z270-LIGHTSABER:

The board is a standard ATX form factor, and has a nice matte black PCB and black heatsinks. Don’t let its stealthy appearance fool you, however, as this is has several very bright LED lights situated around the board once it is powered up – unless lighting effects are disabled in the system setup, that is.

Along with three PCI Express Gen 3 x16  slots (x8 + x8 + x4) and four total PCI Express Gen 3 x1 slots, there is an M.2 slot (Gen 3 x4) that works with both NVMe and SATA SSDs. Intel Optane is also supported, though I did not test this for either board.

The LIGHTSABER features 14-phase power, and the VRM heatsinks are pretty substantial. I did not go crazy with CPU overclocking on either motherboard, but I did see how easy it was to push my Core i7-7700K with this board, as we will discuss later on.

One aspect of the Z270-LIGHTSABER that will be readily apparent is the inclusion of several buttons around the perimeter of the board. There is a power and reset button on the upper right, along with the LED diagnostic display, and an 80-port switch (I have to admit I have no idea what this button does – perhaps I will be enlightened in the comments).

Down at the bottom we have a few more buttons, with quick overclocking (it works, but it understandably rather conservative) and buttons for BIOS setting, update, and recovery functions.

Storage options (other than the M.2 slot) include U.2 for those who need it, along with six SATA 6 Gb/s connectors.

The rear I/O port selection is extensive

Now a look at the Z270H4-I:

This mini-ITX motherboard's layout is clean and presents no obstacle to CPU cooler mounting, and while there is an M.2 slot on this side the full-length slot for NVMe SSDs is on the opposite side.

The Z270H4-I offers similar I/O capabilities to its ATX sibling (minus some additional USB ports), though here we have a pair of Gigabit LAN ports, with both an Intel and Realtek NIC present:

The bracket to install the included pair of antennae is attached with a pair of screws on this back panel area:

Next up we'll see how these motherboards performed with some benchmark results.

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