Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Asrock Z270 Extreme4 Motherboard (Gen. Kabylake)

What Asrock says...


  • ASRock Super Alloy
  • Supports 7th and 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors (Socket 1151)
  • Supports DDR4 3866+(OC)
  • 3 PCIe 3.0 x 16, 3 PCIe 3.0 x1, 1 M.2 Socket (Key E)
  • NVIDIA® Quad SLI™, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™
  • Graphics Output Options: HDMI, DVI-D, D-Sub
  • Supports Triple Monitor
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec), Supports Purity Sound™ 4 & DTS Connect
  • 8 SATA3, 2 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
  • 2 USB 3.1 10Gb/s (1 Type-A + 1 Type-C), 8 USB 3.0 (4 Front, 4 Rear)


Running with the latest fad of everything RGB, it is the usual case of form over function as the debug LED and onboard Power/Reset buttons are left out of this mainstream Extreme series model. Add RGB by all means but kindly spare the debug LED which remains a big asset on overclocking oriented models. Having said that, this is probably one of the most extensive LED lit model out there so if you are a RGB fan, take a closer look.








Note the MIV label, looks like the world's factory production is going from mostly MIC to MIV these days




A stark black and white affair with a large striking stylised X (for eXtreme, evidently) and prominent Intel plastic shroud

Properly secured screwed down heatsinks

Very nice collection of i/o ports except where did all the (more compatible) USB2 ports and Displayport go??? 
The onboard latest Realtek ALC1220 audio solution makes for a nice HTPC with the optical audio out.

Onboard power supply and heatsinks look impressive

Foxconn LGA1151 mounting mechanism, full CPU socket SMD caps

Classy printed X on PCB, blending with the southbridge heatsink - storage galore of SATA3 and M.2 ports

Dual soldered BIOS chips, blindingly bright red Power LED above them

 Dual front USB3 headers

Dual metal reinforced full slots for heavy video cards, note the open ended x4 slots

Hidden away - wifi slot (psst, simply Taobao fill it!)

OK OK, we definitely get it... onboard Intel G.LAN!

Windows 7 Support

Asrock seem to put quite a bit of effort with this old reliable OS still used by many. As can be seen in this screenshot, there is even a beta driver for the Kabylake iGPU. Wow!


A smattering of screenshots.

With both EZ and Advanced modes but doesn't this look eerily similar to the graphical interface of the big A? Sure looks and smells like it to me, just with the options a little mixed around and rehashed.

For now (mid-Feb), there is only one final BIOS P1.20 release so far with another 2 beta versions available on their website. The P1.20 final BIOS lacks Aura LED control option though so you need to either use their Windows utility or flash a beta BIOS (no official support).

Asrock Aura LED

LED heaven if you are a rabid RGB fan - a really beautiful effort including generous multiple points of lighting and individual control of each point which truly allows for plentiful possible permutations of colours. For now, seems to be solely controlled from their Windows app with no BIOS options (needs beta BIOS L1.25 or newer).

The lighting effects are solely aesthetic lacking the more functional CPU temperature available in other brands, nothing major though.

Test Setup

Asrock Z270 Extreme4 motherboard | Core i3-6100 Skylake@stock HSF | 2 x 4GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666@2666 MHz | Radeon HD 6670 GPU | Win 10 x64 | Silverstone 450W PSU

Open air caseless, ambient 27C

Note that the Z270 chipset allows RAM to be run at higher than stock JEDEC 2133 MHz speeds even with a non-K chip.

* Overclocking tests with an unlocked CPU are unceremoniously pushed back till later so perhaps take the initial comments on overclocking with a lump of salt
  • ordering a PCI-e debug card (and a wifi card too!) from Taobao for this mobo, no more clueless POST issues when overclocking
  • AMD Ryzen hands on time, think most AMD fans can easily understand the prioritizing





CPU-Z Bench

AIDA64 Bench

 WinRAR Bench

HEVC* Decode Bench
A pure CPU power decoding benchmark. With the latest Realtek S1220A based Purity Sound™ audio and optical audio out, this mobo should make for a nice core of a HTPC. Spotify Free streaming sounds really good.

Cinebench R15


Definitely OK!

DPC Latency

Not bad

Daily Usage

Mobo temps seem ideally low enough while surfing. downloading, playing  Spotify over time

Initial Impressions

Rejoice RGB fans! This model is obviously designed for you with multiple lighting points, lighting styles and speed plus allowing individual control of each individual points from the Asrock Aura LED app.

And for gamers, this model is the works! It has really superb chipset (Z270), video (SLI, CFX), audio (Realtek ALC1220) and storage (M.2, Optane, SATA3, USB 3.1) hardware capabilities. In fact, it should have been more aptly categorized as a Asrock Gaming Series model.

Out of the box, this model seems designed for casual overclocking only. Things are not as rosy for more avid overclockers due to the surprising lack of diagnostic POST feedback despite its LED galore - look instead to the Asrock Z270 Gaming K6 Fatal1ty at a marginal premium. The present Z270 E4 seems rather unfocused for an Extreme Series model, rather ambivalent if it is actually an overclocking oriented mobo or more realistically, a bling gaming mobo with overclocking added as an afterthought.

The only available official UEFI P1.20 seems very detailed though unwieldy and uncomfortably more similar to the Big A graphically than Asrock's own previous iterations.

Overall, a beautiful bling and gamers' motherboard but an uninspiring effort of an Extreme Series model for avid overclocking enthusiasts and long standing fans of their long reputed Extreme series of overclocking motherboards. Asrock can and have done much better before in their many earlier Extreme4 predecessors.