The ASUS PRIME Z370-A is a superior mainstream socket LGA1151 motherboard based on the Intel Z370 chipset, supporting the eighth generation Core i processors, also known as Coffee Lake. It brings LED illumination, three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, six SATA-600 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, and two USB 3.1 ports. Let’s take a good look at it!
The Intel Z370 chipset is the high-end model for eighth-gen Intel Core i CPUs. Although this generation uses the same socket (LGA1151) of the older ones, the new motherboards are not compatible with sixth- (Skylake) and seventh-gen (Kaby Lake) CPUs. Also, Coffee Lake processors are not compatible with motherboards based on 100 and 200 chipset series.
ASUS PRIME Z370-A Motherboard
Except for the support for the new generation CPUs, the Z370 is identical to its predecessor, the Z270, offering 24 PCI Express 3.0 lanes controlled by the chipset, six SATA-600 ports, support to Optane, Smart Response (installing an SSD as a cache for the main hard drive), Smart Connect (allowing the computer to receive emails and refresh webpages while in sleep mode), and Rapid Start (faster boot times) technologies.
You can see the ASUS PRIME Z370-A motherboard in Figure 1. It uses the ATX form factor, measuring 12” x 9.6” (305 x 244 mm).
Figure 1: ASUS PRIME Z370-A motherboard
The ASUS PRIME Z370-A comes with three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots and four PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots.
The first two PCI Express x16 slots work on x16/x0 or x8/x8 configurations, and the third one works always on x4 speed.
The first two PCI Express x16 slots are covered by stainless steel shields, that work as a shield against interference, and also improving mechanical strength of each slot.
The motherboard supports CrossFire with up to three and SLI with two video cards.
There are also two M.2 slots, one supporting PCI Express 3.0 x4 and SATA-600, and one supporting only PCI Express SSDs.
Figure 2: slots
One of the M.2 slots come with a heatsink, shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: M.2 slot with heatsink
Intel socket LGA1151 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
Eighth-gen Intel CPUs are compatible with DDR4 (up to 2,400 or 2,666 MHz, depending on the model) memory. According to ASUS, the PRIME Z370-A supports DDR4 memories up to 4,000 MHz.
The ASUS PRIME Z370-A has four memory sockets. You can install up to 64 GiB with this motherboard if you use four 16 GiB modules.
In order to enable the dual-channel mode, you must install two or four memory modules. When installing two memory modules, use the first and third memory slots to enable dual-channel mode.
Figure 4: memory sockets; install two or four modules for the best performance
The Intel Z370 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip has six SATA-600 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5).
The motherboard comes with these six ports. All of them are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards will not block them.
Three of the ports are shared with the M.2 slots, so if you install a SATA SSD in one of them, the respective port will be disabled.
Figure 5: the eight SATA-600 ports
The Intel Z370 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and ten USB 3.0 ports. The ASUS PRIME Z370-A offers six USB 2.0 ports, two on the rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. There are six USB 3.0 ports, controlled by the chipset, two on the rear panel and four available through two headers. There are also two USB 3.1 ports on the rear panel (one Type A and one Type C,) controlled by an ASMedia ASM3142 chip.
The ASUS PRIME Z370-A does not support FireWire or Thunderbolt ports.
This motherboard comes with a high-end audio circuit. It uses a Realtek S1220A codec, which offers 7.1 audio with a 120 dBA signal-to-noise ratio at the analog outputs, 113 dB for the analog inputs, 32 bit resolution and 192 kHz sample rate. It is a high-end codec and there specs are excellent even if you intend to work professionaly with audio editing.
The codec chip is shielded and all the audio section is physically separated from the other circuitry by a line that reduces the interference and helps the audio section to achieve its nominal signal-to-noise ratios. The capacitors on this circuit are audio-specific Japanese models.
The analog audio outputs are independent and the motherboard also comes with an on-board optical SPDIF output.
Figure 5 shows the audio section of the motherboard.
Figure 6: audio section
The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by an Intel I219V chip.
In Figure 7, you can see the motherboard rear panel with two USB 3.1 ports (one type A and one type C,) DVI-D output, DisplayPort output, HDMI output, two USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports (blue,) optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.
Figure 7: motherboard rear panel
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The PRIME Z370-A has RGB LEDs on the motherboard edge, on the solder side. The color of the lights and even a flashing pattern can be set using an application that comes with the product, or in the board setup.
The motherboard has a set of four LEDs that indicate boot problems.
In Figure 8, you can see the power button, the MemOK! button (which tests the memory,) and the LED indicators.
Figure 8: buttons and LEDs
In Figure 9, you can see the accessories that come with the ASUS PRIME Z370-A. Notice the metal bracket that can be used to install a 40 mm or 50 mm fan (not included) to cool motherboard components, memory modules os SSDs.
Figure 9: accessories
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the ASUS PRIME Z370-A has 8+2 phases for the CPU. The voltage regulator uses a Digi+ ASP1400BT controller chip (digital design). Each phase uses two MOSFETs, one Vishay SiRA12DP and one Vishay SiRA14DP.
Figure 10: voltage regulator circuit
The ASUS PRIME Z370-A uses solid capacitors and all coils on this motherboard are ferrite ones.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
The main specifications for the ASUS PRIME Z370-A include:
- Socket: LGA1151
- Chipset: Intel Z370
- Super I/O: NUVOTON NCT6793D
- Parallel ATA: none
- Serial ATA: six SATA-600 ports, controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5)
- External SATA: none
- USB 2.0: six USB 2.0 ports, two on the rear panel and four available through two headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: six USB 3.0 ports, two on the motherboard rear panel and four available through two headers, controlled by the chipset
- USB 3.1: two USB 3.1 ports, on the rear panel (one Type A and one Type C,) controlled by an ASMedia ASM3142 chip
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): none
- Thunderbolt: none
- On-board video: controlled by the CPU; one DVI-D, one DisplayPort and one HDMI connectors
- On-board audio: Produced by a Realtek S1220S chip (7.1 channels, 120 dB SNR for the outputs, 113 dB SNR for the inputs, 32 bit resolution, 192 kHz sample rate), on-board optical SPDIF output
- On-board LAN: one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by an Intel I219V chip
- Buzzer: no
- Infrared interface: no
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (two working at x16/x0 or x8/x8, one working at x4,) four PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots, and two M.2 slots, one compatible with PCI Express 3.0 x4 and SATA-600 SSDs and one with PCI Express SSDs
- Memory: four DDR4-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-4000, 64 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: two four-pin connector for the CPU cooler, and four four-pin connector for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: RGB LED lights, boot error LEDs, and power button, heatsink for M.2 SSD, fan holder
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: one
- Programs included: motherboard utilities and drivers
- More Information: http://www.asus.com
- Average Price in the U.S.*: USD 175.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this article.
The ASUS PRIME Z370-A is a nicely balanced motherboard for the user who is building a desktop PC based on an eighth-gen Core i CPU.
It has not many bells and whistles, like extra SATA-600 and USB 3.0 ports beyond the ones offered by the chipset, nor advanced overclocking options, but it supports all the features most of the users will need. It also supports two video cards in SLI (or up to three in CrossFire,) which is not a common configuration nowadays.
The audio secion is a highlight on this motherboard, among with the two USB 3.1 ports.
So, if you are building a computer based on an Intel "Coffee Lake" processor, and looking for a solid motherboard with good cost/benefit ratio, the ASUS PRIME Z370-A is a great option.