This week Gigabyte took the wraps off its lineup of Z370 motherboards that will support Intel’s 8th Generation Coffee Lake processors. The new lineup is comprised of five models that incorporate Gigabyte Ultra Durable technology, Dual BIOS, server grade digital power delivery, ESS Sabre DAC, a high-quality headphone amplifier, M.2 thermal guards, RGBW and Digital LED headers, and support for monitoring and control of fans and water pumps using RGB Fusion and Smart Fan 5 respectively. At the top of the lineup is the Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 which appears to have a lot to offer for enthusiasts planning a Coffee Lake build.
The LGA 1151 socket is surrounded by an improved digital VRM setup that is rated at 60A per power phase. The board uses 10K Ultra Durable Black capacitors as well. The VRMs are cooled by large aluminum heatsinks as well as a small fan tucked away under the “thermal armor” above the rear I/O panel connectors. Using Gigabyte’s Smart Fan 5 technology, the built-in fan as well as CPU and case fans can be set to stop when the PC is idle and only spin up when needed.
Speaking of cooling, the board has eight fan/water pump Hybrid Fan headers (one is rated at 3A) and nine temperature sensors.
There are four DDR4 DIMM slots to the right of the processor socket that support up to 4400 MHz memory clockspeeds. Storage is handled by six SATA 6Gbps ports, two M.2 (PCI-E/SATA), and one smaller PCI-E M.2 slot with support for Intel’s Optane Memory technology. Expansion slots include three PCI-E x16 slots (x16/x8/x4) and three PCI-E x1 slots. Other internal headers include a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C front panel, additional USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, two RGBW LED headers, two Digital LED headers, two temperature sensor headers, and one Thunderbolt 3 Add-in card header. Power, reset, OC, and Clear CMOS buttons are also included on the board to make running it on a test bench and overclocking a bit easier.
For the RGB fans, there are several lighting zones on this board including on the VRMs, on the “Thermal Armor”, around the DIMM slots, around the PCI-E x16 slots, on the Z370 chipset heatsink, and a LED strip along the right side of the board that you can customize the look of with a 3D printer.
In addition to the Z370 chipset, Gigabyte is also using ASMedia silicon for additional USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, a Realtek chip for a USB 3.1 Gen 1 hub, Intel GbE LAN and Rivet Networks Killer E2500 NIC for Gigabit Ethernet, and Realtek ALC1220 audio codec for audio.
On the audio front, Gigabyte is spicing things up a bit by pairing that Realtek ALC1220 audio codec with an ESS9018Q2C DAC, Nichicon and WIMA audio capacitors, independent analog power(LME49720), a smart headphone amp (auto-detects impedance), gold plated audio jacks, and support for USB DAC-UP 2 technology (adjustable voltage to compensate for voltage drop).
Around back the Aorus Gaming 7 features:
- 1 x PS/2
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x HDMI
- 5 x USB 3.1 Gen 1
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type A
- 2 x RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
- 1 x S/PDIF
- 5 x 3.5mm audio out.
It appears that Gigabyte has packed a lot of hardware into its flagship Z370 motherboard, and with the actively cooled VRMs it should be a decent overclocker even when using water cooling for the CPU (though noise from the small fan might be an issue). Unfortunately, Gigabyte has not yet released pricing information. On the bright side, there are several models in the Aorus Z370 lineup for those that do not want the Killer networking, third PCI-E x16 slot, as many LEDs, or ESS Sabre audio where there is room to save some money to put towards a graphics card or monitor. I'll leave it up to Sebastian and Morry to determine if the audio is audiophile and CMOS placement is good enough respectively.
What are your thoughts on the Aorus Z370 lineup? Is it enough to entice you to upgrade to Coffee Lake?