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Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming K5 Motherboard Review

Gigabyte Z270 UEFI

The UEFI used for Gigabyte’s Aorus Z270X-Gaming K5 is almost identical to that found on the Gaming 7. As such, we have re-used the bulk of our analysis from that review and updated the text where there are subtle differences.

Firstly, we are pleased to report that our generic wireless mouse worked correctly in the Gigabyte Z270 UEFI. Some mice can be troubling with UEFI support, so when a generic wireless unit functions correctly in the interface, that is usually a good sign for overall mouse support.

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Gigabyte’s Easy Mode page is a solid attempt at sectioning a handful of simple settings into a single section. Users can alter the boot sequence, check fan speeds, monitor temperatures and voltages, enable XMP, and change the performance mode without jumping into the deeper (and scarier for less experienced users) UEFI sections.

I don’t have any complaints about Gigabyte’s Easy Mode implementation. It is as good as the versions used by competing vendors.

mit-1 mit-2-frequency mit-3-cpu mit-3_2-cpu-2

mit-4-mem mit-5-power mit-6-volt mit-8-monitor

MIT is the main section where parameters relating to voltages, frequencies, and power settings for the system’s main components are found. The Memory and Voltage sections are split from the Frequency subsection, which makes sense until one realises that an entire group of memory settings is replicated in both the Frequency and Memory subsections.

The subsection splitting does force a user to jump back and forth between pages but it also helps to keep the individual subsections tidy and without an overwhelming amount of information on one page (I’m looking at you, ASUS and MSI). Judging whether this sectioned layout or one where most settings are on a single page is better is down to individual preferences, as my colleague Ryan is not particularly fond of jumping between subsections but I personally prefer the segregation.

Standard, High, and Turbo LLC settings don’t make any sense because there’s no explanation (be it visual or written) as to how the voltage profile is adjusted with each mode. As it happens, our trial-and-error testing suggests that you should use the High LLC setting if you want CPU VCore to stay close to your applied numerical value without a significant overshoot (Turbo) or undershoot (Standard). Is this so hard for Gigabyte to write in the UEFI?

There is a help section on the right side of UEFI pages but it must be manually selected to be displayed. Competing motherboard vendors’ approach of permanently displaying important information on the right side is better.

A dozen overclocking presets for Skylake and Kaby Lake unlocked i5 and i7 CPUs is great to see.

fan-1 fan-3

The Smart Fan 5 settings subsection can be accessed from the MIT page. This superb fan control system is the crown jewel for Gigabyte’s Z270 UEFI.

All fan headers can be individually selected and their speed profiles can be tweaked. Gigabyte includes several preset fan speed control settings and a choice of temperature monitoring points. The headers can also be set to PWM or Voltage (DC) mode at will, which is ideal for feeding continuous current to a watercooling pump or letting PWM fans adjust in speed.

It’s the manual fan speed tweaking mode where Smart Fan 5 really shows its worth. Six points on a graph can be used to create the fan speed curve. A level as low as 0% PWM speed down to 0°C is also supported, meaning that you can set the fan to switch off if the system is operating at ambient temperature (provided the fan is able to stop itself spinning).

I have also had positive experience of the motherboard automatically managing the speed profile of 3-pin and 4-pin PWM Noctua fans, as well as 4-pin PWM Cooler Master units.

peripherals rgb

The Peripherals tab contains settings and information relating to onboard devices such as the SATA controller and NVMe configuration.

RGB Fusion is Gigabyte’s basic UEFI-based LED colour control tool. Colours can be adjusted and the LED activation mode can be set, but that’s about it. There is a limit to how complex the tool can be given its residence inside the UEFI and the OS version has greater functionality.

With that said, I like to see at least some form of LED control available in the UEFI as it helps to maintain user-defined parameters in the case of an OS reinstall or system corruption that damages the OS-based LED profiles.

chipset

Settings relating to the internal graphics and virtualisation support, among others, can be tweaked in the Chipset page.

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Up to 8 individual profiles can be saved to the board’s internal memory. Further profiles can be transferred using a storage medium.

The profile manager is accessed through the Save & Exit page. I can see the logic in this location but I would prefer that the profiles were available in a more obvious section, perhaps MIT as this is where the bulk of parameter adjustment is conducted or BIOS as that would be logical.

flash-bios

Gigabyte’s BIOS updating tool – Q-Flash – is accessed via a hidden tab on the bottom of the screen. I took a few minutes to find its location which was annoying as it would make more sense if there was some reference to it in one of the main pages, such as BIOS.

We were able to enter different folders within our USB drive using Q-Flash and then update the BIOS with ease. There’s no internet-based BIOS update tool available through the Gigabyte UEFI, as we have seen some competing vendors offer.

UEFI Summary:

Good fan control options through Smart Fan 5 and an ability to control RGB LED settings, albeit in a basic manner, through RGB Fusion are positive points for Gigabyte’s Z270 UEFI. The interface was stable throughout our testing and we didn’t seem to be missing any glaring system tuning settings that limited our overclocking capabilities. That is, with the exception of LLC settings which make any sense or have an explanation tied to their operating mode.

Overall styling of the UEFI is older, less interactive, and far less appealing than the solutions by ASUS and ASRock in particular. I found myself relying upon the keyboard for parameter adjustments more than I do in competing UEFI implementations. There’s no ‘special‘ UEFI feature like SSD Secure Erase with ASUS and MSI or ASRock’s and MSI’s System Browser and Board Explorer tools, respectively. And some tools are found in questionable locations (Profiles and Q-Flash).

Gigabyte’s current Z270 UEFI is certainly a major improvement over the implementation seen on the early X99 boards and the Easy Mode page is a nice addition over Z170. But there’s no denying that further work is required if Gigabyte wants a UEFI implementation that can wholeheartedly compete with those of ASRock, ASUS, and MSI in more than a small number of select areas. With that said, fan control functionality is superb and that may be enough of a positive for users to overlook the other negatives.

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