Kaby Lake is on the scene in a big way, and everyone and their grandma is putting out Z270 boards to support the new 7th Gen CPUs. We’ve talked quite a bit about the different offerings, and today we’re going to take a look at what ASRock has been up to in the Z270 market. We have three of their newest boards in the house, the Fatal1ty Gaming K4, the Extreme 4, and the Newegg exclusive Killer SLI/AC.
The House of Black and White...and Red
Quite a few of the Z270 boards are going with a black and white theme, probably in an effort to make the aesthetic designs a little more neutral for heavily themed builds.
The Killer SLI/AC looks great in black and white, and is going for a more minimalist look. No crazy huge heat sinks here, just a huge white K splashed across the PCB and a white I/O shroud.
Sometimes companies get a little too branding happy and plaster their logos all over the board, but that’s not the case here. Perfect for a minimalist black and white build that needs that sweet Kaby Lake upgrade.
The Extreme 4 has a very similar look, but the X is an X...for Xtreme. Get it? Other than that, they are remarkably similar, with a few minor cosmetic differences.
The Fatal1ty, as expected, is a much more aggressive black and red, and is covered in LEDs and and black stripes. It definitely stands out from the crowd, which makes sense given it’s ASRock’s gaming line.
Bring It On
But we don’t buy motherboards for looks, so what are these boards bringing to the Z270 market?
Well first, let’s talk price. These three mobos are priced midrange in ASRock’s lineup, and they’re frankly inexpensive given the specs.
They’re not the most feature rich on the market, but they’re not designed to compete with the super high end boards coming from other companies. ASRock is focused on getting you upgraded to a 7th Gen CPU without breaking the bank, and for that we thank them.
That being said, budget boards these ain’t, they’ve got some premium features that make them pretty attractive.
The Killer SLI/AC and the Fatal1ty have two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, so those of you who want three way SLI or Crossfire are gonna have to look elsewhere. Two’s doable though, and two 1080s is probably enough for most people. MOST people.
For those who want three or nothing at all, there’s the Xtreme 4 with three PCI Express 3.0 x16 PCIe slots.
Two of the PCIe lanes on the Killer and the Extreme 4 are steel reinforced which is nice for those of you who remove your cards on a regular basis. Or if you’re the Hulk. Oddly enough, the bottom slot on the Fatal1ty doesn’t have that reinforcement, which is strange given the slightly higher price.
Where these boards are quite competitive is the two PCIe Gen3x4 M.2 slots, meaning 32Gb/s a second speeds. They also supports SATA 3 6Gb/s M.2 drives as well, so you should be covered on that front.
A budget board this ain’t, it’s got some premium features that make it pretty attractive.
There’s no U.2 support, but that’s not hugely surprising given the price point, and you can connect one with a ASRock U.2 kit. If traditional SATA 3 is more your speed fear not, there are six ports that support RAID. The Extreme 4 actually has eight SATA connectors which is almost overkill...but we don’t believe in overkill.
Speaking of storage, these boards do support Intel’s upcoming SSD/RAM hybrid Optane drives. That means when it is released, you’ll be good to go.
The four RAM slots support DDR4 up to 3733+(OC) speeds with a 7th gen CPU, and up to 3866+(OC) on the Extreme 4. All three boards max out at with a maximum capacity of 64GB.
They’ve all got a full complement of headers, including RGB LED headers synced with AURA, two four pin chassis fan connectors, and 4 pin water pump connections.
The I/O options are about what you would expect from boards at this price range, with the exception of a USB Type-C output and five USB 3.0 Type-A.
The Extreme 4 is barely ahead as far as USB goes, with two USB 3.1 10Gb/s (one Type-A + one Type-C), eight USB 3.0 (four front, two rear.) Both the Fatal1ty and the Killer have eight USB 3.0 ports, with one of them being Tyce-C.
There’s also a HDMI out, an Optical out, a 802.11ac antenna port, Intel LAN, audio ins and out, and even a DVI output for your legacy monitors on all three boards. The Fatal1ty and the Extreme 4 even support VGA is you’re kicking it real old school.
Not a bad selection, though nothing too revolutionary.
In A Nutshell
Not revolutionary is what ASRock was going with this Z270 lineup. There’s nothing crazy here, just super affordable, good looking Kaby Lake upgrade boards with everything you need and not a lot more.
The dual M.2 slots are a nice touch, and the simple yet attractive designs and understated LEDs are perfect for someone who wants the fastest Intel CPU without spending big money on super flashy boards.
You can get the any of these three ASRock Z270 boards here.