The Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming is a superior mid range 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, seven USB 3.0 ports, and three USB 3.1 ports, one of them Type C. 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 Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming motherboard in Figure 1. It uses the ATX form factor, measuring 12” x 9.6” (305 x 244 mm).
Figure 1: Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming motherboard
The Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming comes with three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots and three PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots.
The two first PCI Express x16 slots work on x16/x0 and x8/x8 configurations, which means the first slot work at x16 if the second one is unused, but it it is occupied, they will both work at x8.
The third PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot works at x4 speed, but shares its lanes with the first and the third PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots. So, if any of these is in use, the third PCI Express x16 slot will work at x1 speed, and not x4.
The motherboard supports CrossFire with up to three and SLI with two video cards.
The two first 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.
There are also two M.2 slots: one up to 22110 (supporting PCI Express 3.0 x4 SSDs,) and one up to 2280 (supporting both PCI Express 3.0 x4 and SATA-600).
Figure 2: slots
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 Gigabyte, the Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming supports DDR4 memories up to 4,000 MHz.
The Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra 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.
An interesting detail is the presence of LEDs between the memory sockets.
Figure 3: 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 the six ports, all of them installed on the motherboard edge and four of them rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards will not block them.
There are no SATA Express or U.2 ports.
Figure 4: the eight SATA-600 ports
The Intel Z370 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and ten USB 3.0 ports. The Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra 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, four on the rear panel and three available through two headers. There are also two USB 3.1 ports, one Type A and one Type C, controlled by an ASMedia ASM3142 chip.
The Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming does not support FireWire or Thunderbolt ports.
This motherboard comes with a high-end audio circuit. It uses a Realtek ALC1220 codec, which offers 7.1 audio with a 120 dBA signal-to-noise ratio at the analog outputs. Unfortunately, no more specs of this codec are available.
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. All the capacitors on this circuit are audio models from the manufacturer WIMA. 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 5: audio section
The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by an Intel I219V chip.
In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel with a shared PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, two low noise USB 3.0 ports (yellow,) DVI-D output, two USB 3.1 ports (one type A and one type C,) HDMI output, two USB 3.0 ports (blue,) Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports (black,) optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.
Figure 6: motherboard rear panel
The Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming has two BIOS chips and troubleshooting LEDs that indicate which part (CPU, memory or video card) is presenting problems.
Besides that, it has RGB LEDs all around the motherboard. 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 Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming.
Figure 7: accessories
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming has seven phases for the CPU. The voltage regulator uses an Intersil ISL95866 controller chip (digital design). Each phase uses two or four MOSFETs, models ON NTMFS4C10N and ON NTMFS4C06N.
Figure 8: voltage regulator circuit
The Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming uses high-end “black” solid capacitors (a.k.a. 10K black 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 Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming include:
- Socket: LGA1150
- Chipset: Intel Z370
- Super I/O: ITE IT8686E
- 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 three headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: seven USB 3.0 ports, four on the motherboard rear panel and three available through two headers, controlled by the chipset
- USB 3.1: two USB 3.1 ports, 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 and one HDMI connectors
- On-board audio: Produced by a Realtek ALC1220 chip (7.1 channels, 120 dB SNR for the outputs, no more information available), 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: two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (working at x16/x0 or x8/x8), one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot (working at x4), three PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots, two M.2 slots compatible with PCI Express 3.0 x4 (one of them compatible with 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 four four-pin connector for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: two BIOS chips, RGB LED lights
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: one
- Programs included: motherboard utilities and drivers
- More Information: http://www.gigabyte.com
- Average Price in the U.S.*: USD 140.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this article.
On the new platform from Intel, that keeps the same LGA1151 socket but brings a new chipset (Z370) and a new "Coffee Lake" CPU family, we had the impression that there are nothing new in the motherboards except for the support for the new processors. Said that, we can say the Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming is a motherboard that is plenty of features, but with no fresh characteristics.
Is is not, however, an issue, because the former generation was pretty complete. Some features were removed (like SATA Express and U.2 ports) simply because they didn't become popular, so there's no sense in bringing features that nobody uses.
Even the slot configuration reflects that: there are two slots for video cards, because the games developers and video card manufacturers do not recommend to use more than two video cards in SLI or CrossFire arrays. Actually, the tendency nowadays is to use only one video card for gaming computers.
So, the Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming, being a motherboard from the upper intermediate segment, saves on features that only a few users need and offers more useful things like a high-end audio interface, two M.2 slots and two USB 3.1 ports. The RGB lightning is also a highlight.
The motherboard is also clearly not intended for an extreme overclocking, which can be seen by the lack of buttons and the mainstream voltage regulator.
So, if you are looking for a motherboard to build a PC based on an eighth-gen Core i3, i5 or i7 CPU with excellent cost/benefit ratio, the Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming is a great choice.
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