Up for review today is a sub £200 ATX motherboard from ASUS, the ROG Strix Z370-F Gaming. The Z370-F Gaming is designed for use with Intel’s Coffee Lake 8th generation processors and offers gamers looking for an affordable, yet good quality pathway to get onto the LGA1151 v2 platform.
With a whole host of features including integrated M.2 cooling through a custom PCH heatsink, onboard audio via the Realtek ALC1220 codec and 8 phase digital VRM for the CPU, it’s sure to be a hit with gamers and users looking to push a little more from their CPUs effectively.
ROG STRIX Z370-F Closer Look
Looking closer at the Z370-F motherboard, ASUS has equipped this ROG branded board with a set of dark grey heatsinks which looks brilliant if I don’t say so myself. It certainly has appeal and is subtle enough to look good with a whole host of other components and parts within your system. Within the dark and classy exterior is a range of components which give a high end feel to it. These include the ROG S1220A audio codec which is actually a utilisation of the Realtek ALC1220, nothing wrong with that of course!
Also featured is 3rd generation T-Topology which has given a boost to the rated specifications regarding memory speeds over Z270; a jump from 3600MHz to 4000MHz with every slot populated…very titillating stuff!
The PCI layout is rather interesting with a total of 3 x PCIe x16 slots (bottom one is hardwired to run at x4 from the PCH) and 4 x PCIe x1 ports, all capable of running Generation 3 supported cards/adapters and devices; it’s even backwards compatible with gen 2. AMD 3-way CrossFireX graphics card configurations are supported as well as 2-way NVIDIA SLI.
Storage wise, the Z370-F has 2 x M.2 slots with the bottom and 2nd slot having full PCIe 3.0 x4 capability, which is apt as this is where the board offers an M.2 heatsink for superior cooling potential. Also present is a total of 6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports with support for RAID 0, 1 and 10 configurations. Speaking more on cooling, ASUS ROG has included 6 x 4pin fan headers in total and for fans of RGB which is integrated into the rear I/O cover, a further addressable RGB header with support up to a maximum of 60 additional LEDs.
On the rear I/O, an interesting selection of ports have been included, which also doesn’t include a couple previously found on the Z270-F. Firstly, there are an array of connectors for onboard VGA including a DisplayPort, an HDMI and a DVI-D port. Also included is 2 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A ports with a single USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C connector, with a complimentary pairing of USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports. You can’t forget about the 2 x USB 2.0 ports also present. ASUS have omitted a PS/2 connector on the Z370-F board, not that we have an opinion on that. For those who use the onboard audio and you should as the ALC1220 is a decent codec, is 5 x 3.5mm audio jacks and a S/PDIF optical output. For networking, a single Intel-based Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45) port is present.
Overall the board looks great, but does it perform as well as it looks? Time to put it on the test bench and see what’s what with this sub £200 offering…
ROG STRIX Z370-F Specifications
|Edition||ROG STRIX Z370-F GAMING|
|RAM Memory Support|
|Memory Channel||Dual (2)|
|Memory Type (ECC)||Non-ECC|
|Memory Type (R/U)||UDIMM (Unbuffered)|
|Memory Speed (Mhz)|
|Max. Memory Capacity||64GB (4x16GB)|
|Audio||ROG SupremeFX 8-Ch. HD Audio S1220A|
|Primary GPU Interface||PCIe 3.0 (x16)|
|SLI Support||2-Way SLi|
|Crossfire Support||3-Way CrossFire|
|On-Board Graphics Connectors|
|SATA Support||SATA3 / M.2|
|RAID Support via||SATA|
|Storage Mode Support|
|Network Interface Type||Wired Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000)|
|Network Chip/Modules||1 x Intel® I219V (Gigabit LAN)|
|Rear I/O Connectors|
Test Setup & Performance
Motherboard: ASUS ROG Strix Z370-F
CPU: Intel Core i3-8350K @ Stock (4.0GHz)
CPU Cooling: be quiet! Silent Loop 240mm
GPU: ASUS ROG GTX 1060 STRIX 6GB
RAM: Ballistix Elite 3000MHz 16GB (2x8GB)
PSU: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 1000w
OS: Windows 10 Professional x64
In the interest of fairness and to show real-world performance, the processor was left at stock. All of the motherboards and processors saw in the graphs below are set with multi-core enhancement enabled (on supported models) and are at the mercy of the motherboard itself.
ROG Strix X Z370-F Motherboard Review: Our Verdict
- Decent VRM for a sub £200 ATX motherboard
- Fantastic looking heatsinks and the M.2 integrated heatsink is cool
- Subtle RGB implementation, as well as an addressable header included
- Good performance
- Pretty good value for gamers looking for an all-around performer without sacrificing on key features such as M.2, NVIDIA SLI support and overclocking
- Plastic heatsinks look good, but plastic has no cooling properties or function aside from aesthetics
Although not brand new to the market (been out since launch), the Z370-F from ASUS ROG is nothing short of beautiful, in virtually every way. Like most premium ROG branded motherboards, if you’re not totally proficient in overclocking, or you’re not too clued up on Z370 overclocking, ASUS’s 5-way optimisation works a treat. 5-Way essentially combines a host of tools designed to make things easier for you but without the danger of pushing too hard which can be detrimental to your components.
Note about MCE: Also featured is MCE (multicore enhancement) which is a regular mainstay on ASUS boards, with performance being increased due to this. This gives ASUS a performance edge at stock thanks to some crafty technical magic, but as mentioned by many, it can increase heat and cause problems. There is an option to turn it off if you wish, which you can do within the BIOS by hitting F7 (advanced mode) and disabling it in the OC tweaking section.
Looks wise, the Z370-F is a winner and is one of the nicest looking Z370 board on the market currently, and with a current retail price of just under £200, it’s perfectly priced too.
If there was a negative, it would be the heatsinks used on the board. Even though the bulk of the heatsink does a good job in heat dissipation, the covers are made from plastic and unlike the heatsinks found on the Z370-E; the sort of twin brother to the Z370-F. Use the metallic heatsinks on both, and there probably isn’t a board under £200 with as much aesthetical appeal and clout in the price range.
If you’re looking for a mid-range motherboard, but want something with just a little bit more to give, then the ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-F is certainly a board that’ll tick the boxes. Ok, there aren’t as many boards in the range that compete with the ROG Maximus range, but this board is certainly a worthy younger sibling and with a couple of refinements in features, it could have been one of the best on the platform for the price.
Huge thanks to ASUS ROG for sending a sample in for review.