Intel's Z270 platform reigns supreme for compact mini-ITX motherboard builds. This isn't just because Intel is a clear leader in power efficiency terms, even after AMD's significant leap forward with Ryzen, but also because there is considerably more choice for Intel's mainstream platform.
Motherboard vendors have been releasing mini-ITX motherboards for Intel's Z-Series platforms for many years, enabling mini-ITX to achieve almost mainstream status. Gigabyte's Z270N-Gaming 5 is another example of a motherboard championing the mini-ITX form-factor with a well-rounded combination of connectivity and features that consumers have come to demand from all mid-range and high-end motherboards.
While considerably smaller in stature than ATX equivalents the Z270N-Gaming 5 still manages to pack away USB 3.1, M.2 NVMe, Intel Gigabit and AC Wireless Networking, Realtek ALC1220 audio and a high quality power delivery system.
Gigabyte has shied away from bold colour schemes more recently but the Z270N-Gaming 5 brings back a bold orange and still offers end-user customisation with a fully configurable RGB LED lighting system. There are some other neat touches too like a shielded PCIe lane, up-rated power components, a heat pipe to cool the CPU VRM and a metal rear I/O shield. Build quality is comparable to high-end motherboards of higher price points.
On test today the Gigabyte Z270N-Gaming 5 goes up against mini-ITX rivals such as the MSI Z270i Gaming Pro Carbon AC and ASUS ROG Strix Z270i Gaming.
|Gigabyte Z270N-Gaming 5|
|Form Factor||mini-ITX, 17cm x 17cm|
|CPU Socket||LGA 1151, 6+2 phase VRM|
|Memory||DDR4, 2 DIMMs, up to 32GB, up to 4266MHz+ with OC|
|Onboard Graphics||Intel HD Graphics (supported CPUs), up to 1024MB of video memory|
|Discrete Graphics||Single Graphics Card Configurations only|
|Expansion Slots||1 x PCIe 3.0 16X electrical (wired to CPU)|
|Storage||4 x SATA III (via PCH)
1 x M.2 SATA (6Gbps) or NVMe PCIe 3.0 X4
|USB||2 x USB 2.0 (2 Front, via PCH)
6 x USB 3.0 (4 Rear, 2 Front, via PCH)
2 x USB 3.1 (2 Rear, 1 Type-A, 1 Type-C, via ASM2142)
|Networking|| 1 x Intel I219-V Gigabit LAN
Intel Wireless-AC8265 (8265NGW) 2T2R
802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.2 (populates a second M.2 slot)
|Audio||Realtek ALC1220-based 7.1 channel HD audio|
|Fan Headers||3, all support 3/4 pin fans (1 x CPU, 2 x SYS_FAN)|
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
|UEFI||UEFI AMI, 1 x 64Mb Flash|
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