GIGABYTE Z370N WIFI
The Gigabyte Z370N-WIFI is a Mini-ITX socket LGA1151 motherboard based on the Intel Z370 chipset, supporting the eighth generation Core i processors, also known as Coffee Lake. It brings one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, four SATA-600 ports, Wi-Fi interface, and two M.2 slots. Let's check this tiny monster.
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 Z370N-WIFI motherboard in Figure 1. It uses the Mini-ITX form factor, measuring 6.7” x 6.7” (170 x 170 mm).
Figure 1: Gigabyte Z370N-WIFI motherboard
As any Mini-ITX motherboard, the Gigabyte Z370N-WIFI offers only one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot.
This slot is covered by a stainless steel shield, that work as a shield against interference, and also improving mechanical strength of the slot.
Obviously, the motherboard does not support CrossFire and SLI.
There are also two 2280 M.2 slots: one supporting PCI Express 3.0 x4 SSDs, and one supporting both PCI Express 3.0 x4 and SATA-600.
Figure 2: slots
The first M.2 slot has a heatsink, shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: M.2 slot heatsink
The second M.2 slot is located at the solder side of the motherboard.
Figure 4: M.2 slot on the solder side
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 Z370N-WIFI supports DDR4 memories up to 4,400 MHz.
The Gigabyte Z370N-WIFI has two memory sockets. You can install up to 32 GiB with this motherboard if you use two 16 GiB modules.
In order to enable the dual-channel mode, you must install two memory modules.
Figure 5: memory sockets; install two 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 four SATA-600 ports.
There are no SATA Express or U.2 ports.
Figure 6: the eight SATA-600 ports
The Intel Z370 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and ten USB 3.0 ports. The Gigabyte Z370N-WIFI offers two USB 2.0 ports, available through a header located on the motherboard. There are nine USB 3.0 ports, seven on the rear panel (six Type A and one Type C) and two available through a header. There are no USB 3.1 (gen 2) ports.
The Gigabyte Z370N-WIFI 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 and 108 dB for the analog inputs. This is a high-end codec that is great even if you intend to work with analog audio editing.
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 and there is a headphone amplifier. The analog audio outputs are shared and there is no on-board optical SPDIF output.
The portrayed motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel I219V chip, and one controlled by an Intel I211AT chip.
Besides that, the Z370N WIFI comes with an 802.11ac Intel 8260NGW wireless interface, supporting dual band and Bluetooth 4.2.
In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel with four USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 1.4 output, one HDMI 2.0 output, DisplayPort output, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one Type C USB 3.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports, Wi-Fi antenna connectors, and the analog audio jacks.
Figure 7: motherboard rear panel
The Z370N-WIFI has two BIOS chips and connectors for RGB LED strips.
In Figure 8, you can see the accessories that come with the Gigabyte Z370N-WIFI.
Figure 8: accessories
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the Gigabyte Z370N-WIFI has six 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 9: voltage regulator circuit
The Gigabyte Z370N-WIFI 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 Z370N-WIFI include:
- Socket: LGA1150
- Chipset: Intel Z370
- Super I/O: ITE IT8686E
- Parallel ATA: none
- Serial ATA: four SATA-600 ports, controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5)
- External SATA: none
- USB 2.0: two USB 2.0 ports, available through a header on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: nine USB 3.0 ports, seven on the motherboard rear panel (one Type C and six Type A) and two available through a header, controlled by the chipset
- USB 3.1: none
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): none
- Thunderbolt: none
- On-board video: controlled by the CPU; one DisplayPort, one HDMI 1.4, and one HDMI 2.0 connectors
- On-board audio: Produced by a Realtek ALC1220 chip (7.1 channels, 120 dB SNR for the outputs, 108 dB SNR for the inputs, no more information available)
- On-board LAN: two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel I219V chip and one controlled by an Intel I211AT chip
- Buzzer: no
- Infrared interface: no
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, two M.2 slots compatible with PCI Express 3.0 x4 (one of them compatible with SATA-600 SSDs)
- Memory: two DDR4-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-4400, 32 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: one four-pin connector for the CPU cooler, and two four-pin connector for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: two BIOS chips, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth interface
- 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 160.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this article.
Even using a small form factor, the Gigabyte Z370N WIFI is similar, in features, to high-end models. Obviously, being a Mini-ITX (which is one of the smaller form factors available) motherboard, it has some limitations like only on PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, two memory sockets and the lack of space-demanding bells and whistles like POST display and on-board buttons.
However, it brings two Gigabit Ethernet ports, a high-end audio codec, excellent overclocking features, two M.2 slots (one with a heatsink) and, as its name tells, a high-performance wireless networking interface.
All of this shows that the Gigabyte Z370N WIFI is a high-end motherboard, perfect for anyone who loves small form factor computers, but doesn't give up on performance and features.