Oct 05, 2017 Written by: Geoff_Gasior

ROG introduces new Z370 gaming motherboards for Coffee Lake

Articles: Motherboards
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The new 8th Generation Core i7 processors are the best desktop CPUs for gaming that Intel has ever made. With up to six cores and 12 threads, these Coffee Lake chips also have huge potential for enthusiasts and power users who do more with their PCs. Their exceptional performance, unmatched versatility, and considerable overclocking potential are a natural fit for ROG, so we’ve developed a diverse collection of Z370 gaming motherboards for a range of priorities and budgets.

Our latest lineup reinforces ROG’s role as both a breeding ground for new features and a proving ground where we test the absolute limits of performance. It includes standouts like the Maximus X Apex, which pushes Coffee Lake’s limits with sub-zero cooling; the Maximus X Hero, which blends leading performance with premium extras; and the Strix Z370-G and Z370-I Gaming, which bring ROG staples to smaller microATX and Mini-ITX form factors, respectively. Let’s meet the family.

money

Common threads in a varied lineup

The first ROG motherboard debuted more than a decade ago. Ever since, we’ve been honing our formula for enhancing not only the underlying CPU platform, but also the entire system around it. Although each of our Z370 boards is unique, they’re bound together by shared ROG values and core DNA that ensure a great overall experience.

A splash of cold brew for extra CPU cores

Coffee Lake boasts formidable performance at stock speeds, but it’s a real beast when overclocked. You don’t have to be an expert to unleash the CPU’s potential, though. With a single click, our 5-Way Optimization software automatically overclocks the CPU based on the characteristics of the chip and accompanying cooling. Simple setup for beginners is balanced with advanced tweaking options veterans, making the boards willing overclockers regardless of your experience.

Squeezing more cores into such a small CPU presents an additional thermal challenge. Liquid cooling is required for top performance, especially beyond stock speeds, so all ROG Z370 motherboards have a dedicated header for an all-in-one liquid cooler or stand-alone pump. The Maximus models include both along with separate headers for monitoring the coolant flow and temperature inside custom loops.

System cooling is best managed by the motherboard, and the latest enhancements to our onboard intelligence specifically benefit gamers. Fan Xpert 4 can read the GPU diode on compatible graphics cards, allowing system cooling to respond to gaming workloads that disproportionately heat up the GPU. Individual fans can also be linked to a group of multiple temperature sensors, which lets them respond effectively to workloads that hammer a range of components. If you don’t want to configure the fans yourself, 5-Way Optimization sets them up automatically with a single click.

Bring on faster memory and more SSDs

The top Coffee Lake CPUs officially support DDR4-2666 memory, but we don’t stop there. With the right CPU and RAM, most of our Z370 motherboards can overclock to DDR4-4000 speeds with all slots populated, and some are capable of reaching DDR4-4333 and higher. Part of the credit goes to ASUS OptiMem, which routes memory traces and vias through optimal PCB layers to preserve signal integrity. OptiMem complements the T-Topology layout we use to equalize trace lengths specifically for four-DIMM configs. These enhancements improve overall signaling, resulting in superior stability, and they raise the frequency headroom for both traditional DIMMs and RGB-infused memory that typically doesn’t scale as well.

dram

Dual slots for NVMe SSDs appear on all of our Z370 motherboards, including microATX Strix Gaming and Mini-ITX Strix Z370-I Gaming models with limited space. The fastest M.2 drives can get hot enough to induce thermal throttling that saps their performance, so the slots are covered by heatsinks or situated clear of potential hot spots. Some boards, like the Maximus X Apex and Hero, even have provisions to direct airflow over your drives.

The M.2 slots work with both standard SSDs and Intel Optane Memory. They’re connected to the Z370 chipset and can be configured in bootable RAID arrays, but they share limited DMI bandwidth with SATA, USB, and networking devices. Coffee Lake will sidestep this bottleneck by extending RAID support to SSDs linked directly to PCI Express lanes in the CPU. With the ASUS Hyper M.2 X16 card (sold separately) and a future Intel software update, you’ll be able to put up to three SSDs just one hop away from the processor. CPU-connected SSD RAID arrays will be supported on all of our Z370 motherboards except the non-WiFi version of the Maximus X Hero.

Enlightened illumination

RGB lighting makes it easy to change your PC’s looks on the fly, whether you’re going for an attention-grabbing disco vibe or low-key highlights. Our Aura Sync lighting advances this art form on multiple fronts, starting with the nature of the illumination itself. Instead of indiscriminately adding LEDs out in the open, where their naked intensity can turn the inside of your PC into a sea of garish lens flares, we diffuse the lighting to produce an even glow that looks more natural.

After pioneering motherboard support for 4-pin RGB LED strips that light up entire systems, we’ve taken things to the next level. Select members of the ROG and Strix families have addressable 3-pin headers that enable advanced effects by allowing control over individual LEDs. We’re working with BitFenix, CableMod, Cooler Master, In Win, Phanteks, and Thermaltake to bring addressable LEDs to light strips, chassis, fans, and other hardware.

To make lighting setup easier, most of our boards come with RGB extension cables that provide some flexibility when positioning strips and other devices inside your chassis. We’ve also developed an improved version of our Aura software that simplifies selecting the exact colors you want. Our Aura Sync motherboards can synchronize colors and effects with compatible components, from graphics cards and memory to peripherals and monitors, putting harmonious system lighting just a few clicks away. Developers who want to harness the LEDs with their own software will be able to access our Z370 motherboard lighting with a future update to the official Aura SDK.

Attention to small details makes all the difference

Although big-ticket features monopolize the spotlight, don’t lose sight of the important little touches. Enhanced overvoltage and ESD protection shield our boards from electrical damage that can fry your hardware, while digital VRMs feed pristine power to the CPU. On the physical side, SafeSlot structural reinforcements prevent heavy graphics cards from fracturing PCIe slots and pulling them away from the PCB.

All of our Z370 motherboards feature fast USB 3.1 Gen2 ports and reliable Intel Gigabit Ethernet controllers as standard equipment. The Maximus X Apex delivers a huge boost in wired networking throughput with onboard 5G connectivity, while other models add robust WiFi via dual-band 802.11ac with MU-MIMO support.

audio

Our SupremeFX audio benefits from continuous evolution. In this generation, we use shielded S1220-series codecs augmented by dedicated headphone amps and premium Nichicon capacitors. And the Maximus X Hero, Code, and Formula go one step further with an ESS Sabre DAC that turns fidelity up to 11. All the boards can detect your headphone impedance automatically and adjust their output accordingly to produce the best sound for your setup. We also paid particular attention to improving the microphone input, resulting in a 113-dB SNR that ensures excellent voice quality for coordinating with teammates, streaming to an audience, and recording hot takes for your followers.

Maximus brews a fully caffeinated family

Now in its 10th iteration, the Maximus series brings ROG’s expertise to bear on Z370 and Coffee Lake. The family includes the armored Maximus X Formula and Code, the LN2-ready Maximus X Apex, well-rounded Maximus X Hero. The table below summarizes their key specifications along with pricing and availability for North America. Keep scrolling for a detailed look at each board, and check with your local ASUS ROG representative for details about pricing and retailers in your region.

  ROG Maximus X Formula ROG Maximus X Code ROG Maximus X Apex ROG Maximus X Hero
Size ATX ATX Extended ATX ATX
Memory 4 x DDR4 up to 4133+ (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 4133+ (OC) 2 x DDR4 up to 4266+ (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 4133+ (OC)
Multi-GPU 2 x SLI, 3 x CrossFireX 2 x SLI, 3 x CrossFireX 2 x SLI, 4 x CrossFireX 2 x SLI, 3 x CrossFireX
PCIe 2 x16 (CPU): x16, x8/x8
1 x16 (Chipset): x4
3 x1 (Chipset)
2 x16 (CPU): x16, x8/x8
1 x16 (Chipset): x4
3 x1 (Chipset)
3 x16 (CPU): x16, x8/x8, x8/x4/x4
1 x16 (Chipset): x4
2 x1 (Chipset)
1 x16 (Chipset): x4
3 x1 (Chipset)
Storage 1 x M.2 (NVMe x4 or SATA 6Gbps)
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4)
6 x SATA 6Gbps
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4 or SATA 6Gbps)
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4)
6 x SATA 6Gbps
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4 or SATA 6Gbps)
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4)
4 x SATA 6Gbps
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4 or SATA 6Gbps)
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4)
6 x SATA 6Gbps
Networking Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet
2x2 802.11ac WiFi MU-MIMO
Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet
2x2 802.11ac WiFi MU-MIMO
Aquantia AQC-108 5G Ethernet
Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet
Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet
2x2 802.11ac WiFi MU-MIMO (optional)
Audio SupremeFX S1220 codec
ESS Sabre ES9023P DAC
SupremeFX S1220 codec
ESS Sabre ES9023P DAC
SupremeFX S1220A SupremeFX S1220 codec
ESS Sabre ES9023P DAC
USB 3.1 Gen 2: 1 x front, 1 x Type-C, 1 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 1: 2 x front, 4 x Type-A
2.0: 2 x front, 4 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 2: 1 x front, 1 x Type-C, 1 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 1: 2 x front, 4 x Type-A
2.0: 2 x front, 4 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 2: 1 x Type-C, 1 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 1: 2 x front, 6 x Type-A
2.0: 6 x front
3.1 Gen 2: 1 x front, 1 x Type-C, 1 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 1: 2 x front, 4 x Type-A
2.0: 4 x front, 2 x Type-A
Aura IO shield, PCIe slots, chipset heatsink, power/reset buttons, 2 x strip headers, 2 x addressable headers IO shield, PCIe slots, chipset heatsink, ROG badge, power/reset buttons, 2 x strip headers, 2 x addressable headers VRM heatsink, chipset heatsink, nameplate, PCB backlight, 4 x strip headers IO shield, M.2 heatsink, chipset heatsink, 2 x strip headers, 1 x addressable header
Cooling 2 x pump headers (AIO, pump+)
5 x fan headers
1 x high-amperage fan header
3 x thermal sensor headers (2 x liquid)
1 x flow header
2 x pump headers (AIO, pump+)
5 x fan headers
1 x high-amperage fan header
3 x thermal sensor headers (2 x liquid)
1 x flow header
2 x pump headers (AIO, pump+)
5 x fan headers
3 x full-speed fan headers
4 x thermal sensor headers (2 x liquid)
1 x flow header
2 x pump headers (AIO, pump+)
5 x fan headers
1 x high-amperage fan header
3 x thermal sensor headers (2 x liquid)
1 x flow header
Price $449.99 USD
$593.99 CAD
$319.99 USD
$422.99 CAD
$349.99 USD
$461.99 CAD
$259.99 USD
$279.99 USD (WiFi)
$369.99 CAD (WiFi)
Availability (USA) Micro Center
B&H
Amazon
B&H
Amazon Newegg (WiFi)
Amazon (WiFi)
Amazon
Availability (Canada) Canada Computers December December Memory Express (WiFi)

Live life aquatic on the Maximus X Formula

Ten years ago, the original Maximus Formula became the first motherboard to combine air and liquid cooling. Its spirit lives on in the new Maximus X Formula, which is brimming with cutting-edge features fit for showcase PCs.

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In this latest generation, hybrid cooling is provided by a CrossChill EK II VRM block developed by the experts at EK Water Blocks. The bespoke design has enough surface area to keep the power circuitry cool with typical airflow, but it performs best with liquid coursing through its central copper channel. Adding the block to a system-wide loop is easy thanks support for standard fittings, and while you’re at it, you can tap into the pump, temperature, and flow sensors integrated into the board.

ROG armor protects the surface and provides a streamlined canvas for your masterpiece. This external skin is laser-etched to let threads of Aura Sync lighting shine through, and additional RGB LEDs are embedded in the I/O shroud, chipset heatsink, and power and reset buttons. They’re joined by dual headers for standard RGB strips, plus two more for addressable gear, giving the Formula the most extensive lighting in our Z370 lineup.

In a new twist for the Maximus family, we’ve mounted a 1.3” LiveDash OLED to the center of the board. The monochrome display can show small static images and animated GIFs, adding another layer of customization for creative builders. Vital system stats like clocks and temperatures can also be displayed in real time, which balances the cosmetic appeal with functional benefits.

Form and function also meet around the back, where a carefully shaped metal plate livens up what would otherwise be a boring view. More importantly, the backplate bolsters the PCB to prevent warping under the weight of heavy hardware, and it dissipates heat from under the VRMs to aid cooling. Then there’s the integrated shield for the rear I/O ports, which completes the Formula’s slick exterior while addressing a common pain point for motherboard installation.

That’s just the extras; the Maximus X Formula also boasts a full complement of more conventional features, including a trio of PCIe x16 slots, room for dual M.2 SSDs, integrated 802.11ac WiFi, an ESS Sabre DAC, and three kinds of USB 3.1 Gen2 connectivity. If you want one Z370 motherboard to do it all, the Formula is tough to beat.

The Maximus X Code streamlines your Coffee Lake build

Based on the same underlying motherboard as the Formula, the Maximus X Code scales back the exotic extras to focus on enthusiast essentials for less extravagant builds. The CrossChill EK II block and full backplate are swapped for substantial heatsinks up front and smaller metal strips around back, but there’s still plenty of VRM cooling to take Coffee Lake well beyond stock speeds.

mxc1

Although the full coat of armor remains, it’s blacked out for a stealthier look, and the LiveDash display is replaced by an illuminated ROG badge. The onboard lighting is slightly more subdued overall but still open to extensive expansion. Like on the Formula, you get four Aura Sync headers: two for standard RGB strips and two more for addressable devices.

Otherwise, the Code is basically the same as its liquid-fueled sibling. The M.2 layout is identical, putting one slot under a substantial heatsink that dissipates heat, and another poking out vertically where SSDs can benefit from ambient airflow. Dual SafeSlots are spaced for larger cards like the ROG Strix GTX 1080 Ti, and a third x16 offers four lanes through the chipset.

Upgraded audio removes the need for a separate sound card. As with the Formula, the Code combines a SupremeFX S1220A codec with an ESS Sabre DAC that produces better sound. Both boards come with the latest versions of our Sonic Radar and Sonic Studio software, and the latter can improve VR immersion by injecting HRTF-powered surround effects into native audio streams for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets.

Connectivity is plentiful enough for fully loaded rigs. In addition to sporting loads of USB ports, including multiple flavors of the latest USB 3.1 Gen2 spec, the Code boasts Intel Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi. The rear ports are surrounded by the same integrated I/O shield that appears on the Formula, complete with convenient buttons for clearing the CMOS and activating USB BIOS Flashback.

A tighter overall focus makes the Maximus X Code an appealing alternative to the Formula even if you’re contemplating custom liquid cooling. After all, you still get a full suite of liquid cooling headers, and only the most sophisticated loops include VRMs.

Pour out some LN2 for the Maximus X Apex

Lots of motherboard makers claim the best performance, but we’ve got the results to prove it. Much of the credit goes to the Apex, an overclocking savant purpose-built for taking new CPUs to the ragged edge at sub-zero temperatures. Apex boards were introduced earlier this year with the Maximus IX series, and they’ve already claimed multiple world records and top scores with Intel’s Z270 and X299 platforms. Now, our internal overclocking team has continued that streak with the new Maximus X Apex, setting a new record frequency with Coffee Lake at 7.3GHz, along with top scores in 10 benchmarks.

mxa1

Our obsession with performance is evident throughout the Apex, from the dual 8-pin connectors that supply extra power to the CPU, to the special operating modes required when liquid nitrogen is flowing. Fresh for this generation, we’ve created a special fan bracket for the I/O heatsink that lets hardcore overclockers blow LN2 vapor away from their CPU pots. The Apex adds full-speed fan headers specifically for this purpose, plus everything required for liquid cooling and traditional system fans.

Less is more on the memory front, where the Apex uses dual slots to hit higher DDR4 frequencies than four-slot boards. The traces are slightly more direct with only one slot per channel, allowing the best CPUs and memory to reach up to DDR4-4200 and beyond. The slot next to the memory is for our DIMM.2 module, which accepts dual M.2 SSDs and includes mounting points for fans. Four PCIe x16 slots stand ready for copious GPU horsepower, equipping the Maximus X Apex for peak performance in every category.

Even the networking is kicked up a notch. In addition to featuring the requisite Intel Gigabit Ethernet controller, the Apex has an Aquantia AQC-108 chip that can push throughput up to five times higher. This auxiliary controller supports Gigabit, 2.5G, and 5G connectivity, so it can step up to faster speeds as you upgrade your network.

Despite focusing on hardcore overclockers and performance junkies, the Apex line has gained a following among PC enthusiasts who are drawn to its distinctive X-shaped circuit boards. On the appropriately named Maximus X version, a ground-effect glow emanates from the PCB cut-outs to accentuate the shape, while onboard lighting provides tasteful accents on the surface. If you want to get creative, the backlit ROG nameplate can be replaced with one featuring custom-cut graphics. Add the four RGB strip headers, and there’s enough Aura Sync illumination to light up elaborate custom mods and even entire rooms.

By straddling the line between performance and style, the Maximus X Apex provides a unique opportunity to overclockers and builders who want to stand out. Look for it soon at $349.99 USD and $461.99 CAD.

Be a Maximus X Hero, just for one day

With premium features and powerful tuning options, the Maximus X Hero has everything serious gamers and enthusiasts need. The well-rounded spec hits all the right notes without excess you can do without.

mxh1

Cooling options abound for liquid and air; in addition to headers for all-in-one coolers and stand-alone pumps, there are hookups for monitoring liquid temperatures and flow. Add support for up to five standard 3/4-pin fans, plus one high-amperage spinner, and there’s enough system cooling for all your high-end hardware. The Hero is also compatible with the ASUS Fan Extension Card, which adds headers for even more fans and temperature probes.

A passive heatsink provides SSD cooling for drives installed in the primary M.2 slot. The secondary slot is situated in the bottom corner, away from typical hot spots and right next to a mounting stud for 3D-printed accessories.

Aura Sync lighting gently illuminates the I/O shield along with the M.2 and chipset heatsinks. It also extends to the onboard headers for addressable and standard RGB devices. There are dual connectors for RGB strips, each capable of powering up to two meters of lighting at peak brightness, and one more for addressable RGB devices. The Hero’s metal-on-monochrome motif won’t clash with any of the rainbow of colors on tap, and it looks still fantastic in stealth mode, with the lighting turned off.

Instead of relying solely on a SupremeFX codec, the onboard audio further improves fidelity with an ESS Sabre DAC. This tag team offers greater range and an exceptional 120-dB SNR, so there’s no need for a discrete sound card. It’s complemented by our latest Sonic Studio III software, which uses HRTF-based virtual surround effects to plunge you deeper in VR experiences powered by headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

The Maximus X Hero has ample USB connectivity for VR and multiple USB 3.1 Gen2 flavors for next-gen peripherals. These ports pierce an I/O shield that’s fully integrated into the board for easier installation and a cleaner overall look. Along with the usual assortment of ports, the rear cluster boasts dedicated buttons for clearing the CMOS and activating USB BIOS Flashback, a handy low-level utility that can update the firmware with only a PSU and thumb drive attached.

Versions of the Maximus X Hero are available with or without a wireless module that offers dual-band 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth support, leaving you free to pick the right one for your networking needs. The standard model is selling for $259.99 USD, while its WiFi twin rings in at $279.99 USD and $369.99 CAD. Look for them at the North American retailers listed above.

ROG Strix brings gaming to systems of all sizes

While the Maximus series covers the high end of the spectrum, the Strix family opens the Republic of Gamers to a wider audience. It provides everything you need in a gaming motherboard but excludes some of our more indulgent extras to hit affordable price points. Full-sized ATX options include closely matched contenders for the sweet spot, the Strix Z370-E and Z370-F Gaming, and an unexpected retro revival, the Strix Z370-H Gaming. Smaller form factors are served by the mATX Strix Z370-G Gaming and Mini-ITX Strix Z370-I Gaming. All the key specs are summarized in the table below along with pricing and availability for North America. Keep scrolling for a detailed look at each board, and check with your local ASUS ROG representative for details about pricing and retailers in your region.

  ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming ROG Strix Z370-F Gaming ROG Strix Z370-H Gaming ROG Strix Z370-G Gaming ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming
Size ATX ATX ATX microATX Mini-ITX
Memory 4 x DDR4 up to 4000 (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 4000 (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 3866 (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 4000 (OC) 2 x DDR4 up to 4333+ (OC)
Multi-GPU 2 x SLI, 3 x CrossFireX 2 x SLI, 3 x CrossFireX 2 x SLI, 2 x CrossFireX 2 x SLI, 2 x CrossFireX NA
PCIe 2 x16 (CPU): x16, x8/x8
1 x16 (Chipset): x4
4 x1 (Chipset)
2 x16 (CPU): x16, x8/x8
1 x16 (Chipset): x4
4 x1 (Chipset)
2 x16 (CPU): x16, x8/x8
1 x16 (Chipset): x2
3 x1 (Chipset)
2 x16 (CPU): x16, x8/x8
2 x1 (Chipset)
1 x16 (CPU): x16
Storage 1 x M.2 (NVMe x4 or SATA 6Gbps)
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4)
6 x SATA 6Gbps
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4 or SATA 6Gbps)
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4)
6 x SATA 6Gbps
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4 or SATA 6Gbps)
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4)
6 x SATA 6Gbps
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4 or SATA 6Gbps)
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4)
6 x SATA 6Gbps
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4 or SATA 6Gbps)
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4)
4 x SATA 6Gbps
Networking Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet
2x2 802.11ac WiFi MU-MIMO
Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet
2x2 802.11ac WiFi MU-MIMO
Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet
2x2 802.11ac WiFi MU-MIMO
Audio SupremeFX S1220A SupremeFX S1220A SupremeFX S1220A SupremeFX S1220A SupremeFX S1220A
USB 3.1 Gen 2: 1 x front, 1 x Type-C, 1 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 1: 4 x front, 2 x Type-A
2.0: 4 x front, 2 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 2: 1 x Type-C, 1 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 1: 4 x front, 2 x Type-A
2.0: 4 x front, 2 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 2: 2 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 1: 4 x front, 4 x Type-A
2.0: 4 x front, 2 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 2: 2 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 1: 2 x front, 4 x Type-A
2.0: 4 x front, 2 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 2: 1 x front
3.1 Gen 1: 2 x front, 3 x Type-A, 1 x Type-C
2.0: 2 x front, 4 x Type-A
Aura IO shield, 2 x strip headers, 1 x addressable header IO shield, 2 x strip headers, 1 x addressable header NA Chipset heatsink Right edge, 1 x addressable header
Cooling 1 x AIO header
5 x fan headers
1 x thermal sensor header
1 x AIO header
5 x fan headers
1 x thermal sensor header
1 x AIO header
4 x fan headers
1 x pump+ header
4 x fan headers
1 x thermal sensor header
1 x AIO header
2 x fan headers
1 x thermal sensor header
Price $209.99 USD
$277.99 CAD
$194.99 USD
$257.99 CAD
$169.99 USD
$224.99 CAD
$184.99 USD (WiFi)
$244.99 CAD (WiFi)
$189.99 USD
$250.99 CAD
Availability (USA) Newegg
Amazon
Newegg
Amazon
Newegg
Amazon
Amazon (WiFi) Newegg
Amazon
Availability (Canada) Memory Express Memory Express Memory Express   Memory Express

Choose wisely between the Strix Z370-E and Z370-F Gaming

Nearly identical twins, the Strix Z370-E Gaming and Strix Z370-F Gaming contrast light and dark sides of the same design. The Z370-E turns heads with a gleaming silver finish on its heatsinks and I/O shroud, while the Z370-F opts for subtle charcoal shades that blend into the shadows. Apart from a couple of additional differences, they’re basically identical boards for mid-range builds.

mxef1

Both have dual PCIe x16 slots with full SafeSlot reinforcement, so they’re ready to double up on graphics monsters like our ROG Strix GTX 1080 Ti. The maximum supported memory speed is DDR4-4000 across all four slots, which is one notch slower than our Maximus boards but still fast enough for the vast majority of kits on the market. You need a special CPU—and special RAM—to reach top speed with Coffee Lake.

Dual M.2 slots populate the landscape, complete with an integrated heatsink for the lower one. This carefully machined piece is separate from the heatsink covering the chipset, so it can be removed to accommodate drives that integrate their own cooling. The M.2 heatsink reduces drive temperatures by up to 15°C, which can help reduce throttling that saps performance under heavy sustained loads. Additional cooling can be added with a 3D-printed fan bracket that attaches to threaded mounting studs in the vicinity.

Although the onboard lighting is confined to a diffused edge on the I/O shroud, the boards still have two headers for conventional RGB strips along with one more for addressable gear. Even at this level, we make sure there’s enough lighting capacity to cast a customized glow over a tricked-out rig.

USB 3.1 Gen2 ports appear in Type-A and reversible Type-C flavors on both boards. The Strix Z370-E Gaming adds a front-panel connector for the 10Gbps USB standard in addition to a dual-band 802.11ac WiFi to augment the wired Intel networking. Those extras raise the asking price to $209.99 USD and $277.99 CAD, while the Strix Z370-F Gaming sells for $194.99 USD and $257.99 CAD. North American builders can find both at the retailers listed in the table above.

Retro styling is reinvented on the Strix Z370-H Gaming

ROG popularized the red-and-black colorway that came to define PC gaming hardware, and the Strix Z370-H Gaming revitalizes that classic look with a modern edge. The slashing cuts and hatched patterns from the rest of the lineup appear with brilliant red highlights that also infiltrate the lighting. In a world filled with RGB LEDs, the Z370-H Gaming’s illuminated heatsink and audio path stand out by glowing red.

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Despite entry-level aspirations, the board is still equipped with the essentials. It has dual PCIe x16 slots with full SafeSlot protection and support for both SLI and CrossFireX. Dual M.2 slots let you add a pair of NVMe SSDs, and the lower slot supports extra-long drives up to 110 mm. There’s plenty of capacity for 2.5” SSDs and traditional hard drives, too. The SATA ports keep an especially low profile along the edge of the board, making it easier to route cables cleanly.

With four fan headers and one more configured for all-in-one coolers, the Strix Z370-H Gaming has enough cooling capacity for a reasonably full system. The only catch is that you’re limited to Fan Xpert 4 Core, which loses the sensor grouping and GPU temperature detection available in the full implementation. But the onboard cooling can still differentiate between 3- and 4-pin fans, and it integrates a calibration routine for tuning response curves to match the individual characteristics of connected fans.

Priced at only $169.99 USD and $224.99 CAD, the Strix Z370-H Gaming makes ROG accessible to gamers on tighter budgets. In North America, it’s available from the retailers in the table above.

MicroATX meets the Strix Z370-G Gaming

Like the dimensions of its microATX form factor, the Strix Z370-G Gaming motherboard strikes a delicate balance between footprint and expansion capacity. We made the board small enough to squeeze into compact chassis without taking away vital features you can’t live without.

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MicroATX builders often opt for the form factor because it leaves enough room for multi-GPU configurations that accelerate gaming and VR performance. The Z370-G obliges with two PCIe x16 SafeSlots primed for a pair of dual-slot graphics cards like the ROG Strix GTX 1080. SLI and CrossFireX are both supported, with the only limitation being insufficient space to stack two 2.5-slot beasts like the Strix GTX 1080 Ti.

Limited real estate forced us to get creative with the M.2 slots. One sits under the secondary PCIe slot, which isn’t ideal for thermals if you’re running dual cards, so the other pokes out vertically near the memory slots. This orientation puts SSDs in the path of natural chassis airflow, helping to reduce drive temperatures and avert throttling under sustained storage loads.

Wireless networking is available via an optional 802.11ac WiFi module with integrated Bluetooth. There’s still plenty of connectivity without it, including wired Intel Gigabit Ethernet, enough USB ports for a stack of gaming and VR devices, and even an old-school PS/2 connector for vintage mechanical keyboards.

The Strix Z370-G Gaming brings the essence of ROG Strix to a smaller form factor that doesn’t force too many compromises. You can find the WiFi version listed for $184.99 USD and $244.99 CAD at the retailers in the table above.

Think bigger but build smaller with the Strix Z370-I Gaming

Diminutive dimensions make Mini-ITX motherboards difficult to produce, especially when integrating all the extras expected from ROG. The Strix Z370-I Gaming picks its shots wisely to maximize value inside small spaces.

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Both of our small-form-factor Z370 boards overclock well enough to keep up with their full-sized siblings. And on Mini-ITX, form-factor limitations actually favor memory overclocking. Having only one DIMM slot per channel allows more direct traces, pushing the ceiling for capable CPUs and modules up to DDR4-4333 and higher.

Smaller Mini-ITX builds usually run hotter, making SSD cooling especially important. That’s why we put the primary M.2 slot under a heatsink that helps keep your drive running at top speed. The heatsink is part of a two-piece assembly with an isolated section devoted to the chipset. While there isn’t room for dedicated cooling for the secondary slot tucked under the board, it’s still useful to be able to add a second SSD without running cables inside a tightly packed rig.

Aura Sync backlighting creates a glowing edge that looks particularly slick with linear effects. The same patterns also come across well on addressable RGB strips, so we added the requisite header. This connector gives the Strix Z370-I Gaming more advanced lighting than a lot of gaming motherboards several times its size.

All the usual trimmings are included, like SafeSlot reinforcement, 802.11ac WiFi, SupremeFX audio, and full Fan Xpert 4 intelligence. Since Mini-ITX chassis usually leave little room to work inside, we include a wiring harness that simplifies front-panel connections. We’ve learned a few tricks in the years since ROG first offered a Mini-ITX gaming motherboard with the Maximus IV Impact.

The Strix Z370-I Gaming punches your Mini-ITX ticket to Coffee Lake for $189.99 USD and $250.99 CAD. For availability in North America, check the retailers in the table above.

Articles: Motherboards
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