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The ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING 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 military-spec components, LED illumination, two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, six SATA-600 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.

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 TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING motherboard in Figure 1. It uses the ATX form factor, measuring 12” x 9.6” (305 x 244 mm).

The ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING 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 military-spec components, LED illumination, two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, six SATA-600 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.

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 TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING motherboard in Figure 1. It uses the ATX form factor, measuring 12” x 9.6” (305 x 244 mm).

ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMINGFigure 1: ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING motherboard

The ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING comes with two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots and four PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots.

The first PCI Express x16 slot works alway on x16, while the second one works always on x4 speed.

The first PCI Express x16 slots is covered by a stainless steel shield, that works as a shield against interference, and also improving mechanical strength of the slot.

The motherboard supports CrossFire with up to two video cards, but doesn't support SLI.

There are also two M.2 slots, supporting PCI Express 3.0 x4 and SATA-600 SSDs.

ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMINGFigure 2: slots

One of the M.2 slots come with a heatsink, shown in Figure 3.

ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMINGFigure 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 TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING supports DDR4 memories up to 4,000 MHz.

The ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING 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.

ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMINGFigure 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, as seen in Figure 5.

ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMINGFigure 5: the SATA-600 ports

The Intel Z370 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and ten USB 3.0 ports. The ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING offers six USB 2.0 ports, two on the rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. There are seven USB 3.0 ports, controlled by the chipset, three on the rear panel (two type A and one type C) and four available through two headers. There are also two USB 3.1 ports on the rear panel (both Type A,) controlled by an ASMedia ASM1142 chip.

The ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING does not support FireWire or Thunderbolt ports.

This motherboard uses a Realtek ALC887 codec, which offers 7.1 audio with a 97 dBA signal-to-noise ratio at the analog outputs, 90 dB for the analog inputs, 24 bit resolution and 192 kHz sample rate. There specs are good for the home user, but if you intend to work professionaly with audio editing, you will need a better sound card.

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 shared and there is not an optical SPDIF output. There is, however, an internal SPDIF connector.

Figure 5 shows the audio section of the motherboard.

ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMINGFigure 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 a shared PS/2 connector for keyboard or mouse, two USB 2.0 ports, DVI-D output, one USB 3.0 type C port, HDMI output, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports (blue,) and the shared analog audio jacks.

ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMINGFigure 7: motherboard rear panel

The TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING 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.

In Figure 9, you can see the accessories that come with the ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING.

ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMINGFigure 8: accessories

 

The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING has 7 phases for the CPU. The voltage regulator uses a Digi+ ASP1400BT controller chip (digital design). Each phase uses two or three MOSFETs, models Vishay SiRA12DP and Vishay SiRA14DP.

ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMINGFigure 9: voltage regulator circuit

The ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING uses solid capacitors (5K Black capacitors) and the coils on this motherboard are ferrite ones with military level certification.

If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.

 

The main specifications for the ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING 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: seven USB 3.0 ports, three on the motherboard rear panel (two type A and one type C) and four available through two headers, controlled by the chipset
  • USB 3.1: two type A USB 3.1 ports on the rear panel, controlled by an ASMedia ASM1142 chip
  • FireWire (IEEE 1394): none
  • Thunderbolt: none
  • On-board video: controlled by the CPU; one DVI-D and one HDMI connectors
  • On-board audio: Produced by a Realtek ALC887 codec (7.1 channels, 97 dB SNR for the outputs, 90 dB SNR for the inputs, 24 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: one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot (working at x16,) one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot (working at x4,) four PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots, and two M.2 slots compatible with PCI Express 3.0 x4 and SATA-600 SSDs
  • Memory: four DDR4-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-4000, 64 GiB maximum)
  • Fan connectors: two four-pin connector for the CPU cooler, and three four-pin connector for auxiliary fans
  • Extra features: RGB LED lights, heatsink for M.2 SSD
  • 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 150.00

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this article.

The ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING is a motherboard for eighth-gen Core i CPUs that saves on extra features, but not on robustness.

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It doesn't bring bells and whistles, like extra SATA-600 and USB 3.0 ports more than the ones offered by the chipset, nor advanced overclocking features, but it offers all most of the users will need. Actually, a few people will need more than six SATA-600 or USB 3.0 ports. The lack of SLI support and a high-end audio circuit are limitations that will not affect most of the users.

However, it brings two USB 3.1 ports, which positions it above most mainstream motherboards. But the real highlight of this board is the use of military grade components on its voltage regulator circuit, which brings more durability under several conditions like high temperatures.

So, if you are building a desktop PC for work or gaming, based on a Coffee Lake series Intel CPU, and you are looking for a tough motherboard with good cost/performance ratio, the ASUS TUF Z370-PLUS GAMING is a good choice.