The Best Micro ATX Z270 Motherboards featured

Best Micro ATX Z370 Motherboards

The Best Micro ATX Z370 Motherboards featured
Intel recently revealed their 7th generation Kaby lake series CPUs and with them, the Z270 chipset. While the performance of Kaby lake leaves many disappointed, it isn’t unsurprising. Intel abandoned their Tick-Tock model early last year and AMD has been struggling for market share. Therefore, Intel doesn’t have any reason to dump more money into R&D. But if you’re upgrading from an older generation and you’re in the market for the best micro ATX Z370 motherboard then look no further. Here is our breakdown.

 
Motherboard
Price
asus rog strix z270 gaming matx
High End
Asus ROG Strix Z270 Gaming

Mid Range
Asus Prime Z270M-Plus
gigabyte d3h micro atx motherboard
Budget
GIGABYTE GA-Z270M-D3H
It’s important to note you can use your old Z270 motherboard with Kaby Lake processors but they’ll require a BIOS update in order to work if you’re looking to upgrade from Skylake (which you shouldn’t if you don’t have to.) There are quite a few good additions to the Z370 chipset that might just entice users to upgrade. One of those features is Intel Optane, you can read about it here.

ASUS and GIGABYTE Come Out Swinging

The new round of motherboards has come around again and each has their own unique design and features. Many manufacturers have opted for the RGB trend this time around, no doubt to incentivize users to upgrade. The difference between Z270 and Z370 is very little otherwise. But it’s still worthy of an upgrade from older generations.

While there aren’t that many micro ATX Z370 motherboards out as of late January, we will keep reviewing and adding new boards as they are released. Until then, let’s check out what’s currently available.

So, what’s the difference between Z270 and Z370?

The biggest difference comes in the form of the four additional PCI-E lanes. These additional lanes open up bandwidth for things like your m.2 storage, SATA connectors and more. This gives you more options to configure your rig without reducing lanes on say your graphics card for example (normally GPUs use x16 lanes in PCI-e 1 but can be reduced to x8 lanes which can reduce performance about 4%).

Pugetsystems made a nice chart outlining the differences and think it’s worth highlighting.

 
Z270
Z170
Processor Support
Kaby Lake/Skylake
Kaby Lake/Skylake
Graphics Support
1x16 or 2x8 or 1x8+2x4
1x16 or 2x8 or 1x8+2x4
DRAM Support
DDR4
DDR4
Mem/DIMMs Per Channel
2/2
2/2
DMI Version
3.0
3.0
Intel Rapid Storage Technology
Yes
Yes
Intel Smart Response Technology
Yes
Yes
USB Total (USB 3.0)
14(10)
14(10)
Total SATA 6Gb/s
6
6
Additional PCI-E lanes*
24x PCI-E 3.0
20x PCI-E 3.0
Independent Display Support
3
3
CPU Overclocking
Yes
Yes
Max Intel RST for PCI-E Storage ports
(x4 M.2 or x2 SATA Express)
3
3
Intel Optane Technology
Yes
No

If you’re looking to upgrade from Z270 the honest answer I can give you is don’t. Unless you’re in a position where the additional PCI-E lanes can benefit you in some tangible way there is no real reason to do so. The biggest benefit you’ll see is if you’re sporting SLI and want to put in a couple of the new PCI-e M.2 storage devices (check out our break down of the best PCI-e M.2s here.

Micro ATX (mATX) Motherboards and Why to Downsize?

While the focus has been on full ATX motherboards, we thought it prudent to give an overview of the smaller form factor Mobos for those of us who love smaller form factor cases. We lose out on a few features like additional USB ports, possibly fewer memory slots, fewer PCI slots and a few SATA ports. But, for a lot of us, we don’t really use them all anyway.

Whichever the reason may be, you’re here for details on which mATX motherboard is the best for you. So let’s break down some of the best Z370 micro ATX motherboards out on the market.


Best Micro ATX Z370 Motherboards

This list will inevitably grow, but as of now, there are very few Micro ATX motherboards on the market. Therefore, we will be limiting our list to the top 3.

Editors Pick

High End | ASUS ROG Strix Z370G Gaming

asus rog strix z370 gaming matx

The ASUS ROG Strix Z370G Gaming is the new branding of the former Gene from the ROG lineup. It has the same market in mind and comes with all ASUS has to offer. The Strix has fantastic build construction and clean power delivery. Therefore, making it a great choice for anybody looking to overclock their Kaby Lake or Skylake processors.

Aside from build quality, the Strix has some great unique features aimed to set itself up for the future. For example, this motherboard comes with a USB 3.1 front panel connector, a feature to which no current case supports (at least not as of the time of this article.) In-Win recently reviled the 303 Type-C at CES 2017 but it isn’t currently on the market.

Other notable specifications for the ASUS ROG Strix Z370G Gaming include:

X2 m.2 slots (both support PCI-E only one supports SATA)X2 internal USB 2.0 headers, X1 USB 3.0
6 SATA 6.0GB portsPCI-E x16 or PCI-E x8 x8 for SLI
DDR4 4000mhz X4 channel capabilitySupremeFX Audio
Built in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and 4.1 BluetoothPS2 mouse and keyboard port
5 fan headers, 1 designed for a water pumpIntel I219-V 1GB Ethernet port
X2 USB 3.1 ports (1 Type-A 1 Type-C)X2 RGB headers
More Info

ASUS brings a lot of functionality with the Strix and the price is honestly reasonable. You don’t see the $400+ price tags like you would on their high-end ATX motherboards. But, you still get every feature you should need.

The software bundle you receive with the Strix is also very useful. Gone are the days where you scuff at included software with motherboards. ASUS includes their proprietary RAMCache II software giving you options to set up a RAM Drive. Also, they offer “one-click overclocking” which works fantastically. I would check out Wendell’s video to learn more.

ASUS’s ROG Strix Z370G Gaming is an amazing motherboard for micro ATX users. Great UEFI, fantastic build quality, and easy overclocking capability. I can definitively say ASUS knocked it out of the park. One last thing, if you’re wanting to pick up some custom sleeved cables for this build, wait until you receive the mobo. ASUS includes a 20% off coupon for Cablemod cables with your purchase. That alone could save you upwards of $40. I would have to say The Strix Z370G is the best micro atx Z370 motherboard on the market at the time of this review.


Mid Range | Asus Prime Z370M-Plus Micro ATX

best Micro ATX z370 motherboard
The ASUS Prime Z370M plus is basically a cut down version of the Strix Z270G. It comes with most of the same connectivity as the Strix but without a lot of the bling attached. You lose out on a couple SATA connectors, some onboard RGBs, and the new 3.1 connectors. As well as fan connectors, cable shields, and the SurpremeFX audio driver.

If you’re not looking to build a top end system and just want a reliable Z370 mATX motherboard without all the flash then this might be your board. You don’t get a lot of the cool new functionality the Strix has but you still get everything a modest gamer needs. Either way, you’ll want to compare the two feature sets and decide if you’re willing to fork over the extra dough for what equates to “bling”

A few notable specs on the ASUS Prime Z370M-Plus:

X2 m.2 slots (both support PCI-E and SATA)X4 USB 2.0 ports (x2 internal, x2 external)
4 SATA 6.0GB portsX4 USB 3.0 Ports (x2 internal, x2 external)
DDR4 3866mhz X4 channel capabilityPCI-E x16 or PCI-E x8 x4 for SLI
X1 CPU fan connector, X2 chassis fan connectorsRealtek ALC887 Audio
X1 5Gb/s Type-C PortPS2 mouse and keyboard port
X2 USB 3.1 ports (1 Type-A 1 Type-C)Intel I219-V 1GB Ethernet port
More Info

The Prime series is a target for people looking to get the most bang for the buck. It includes really everything the average gamer would need. If you’re looking to build a single GPU setup with reasonable storage and an AIO then this might be your mobo. You’re going to want to look at your needs and determine if it’s worth the extra $50 to move up to the ROG series. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

While the hardware you get is a downgrade, you still receive all of the great software and Z370 specific improvements that ASUS provides. You still get the great overclocking software, the nice UEFI, and RAMCache II RAMDisk software. Although, the 20% cable mod discount isn’t included in this motherboard, bummer. Overall, it’s a great micro atx Z370 motherboard for those who don’t need it all.


Budget | Gigabyte Z370M Gaming 5 mATX


While many of us would love to build the best of the best systems, sometimes we have to be budget friendly. This is where the Gigabyte GA-Z370M-D3H plays its cards. While you won’t get many of the features a premium Z370 mATX motherboard will have you still get everything a reasonable user will need. The Gigabyte Z370M Gaming 5 still comes with great build quality, fantastic USB and SATA support, plus a lot more. We’ve highlighted the key features down below but if you need a full list check out the manufacturer’s site here. Otherwise, keep reading.

X1 m.2 slots (both support PCI-E and SATA)X4 internal USB 2.0 ports
6 SATA 6.0GB portsDualBIOS support
DDR4 3866mhz X4 channel capabilityPCI-E x16 or PCI-E x8 x4 for SLI
X1 CPU fan connector, X3 chassis fan connectorsRealtek ALC892 Audio
X1 5Gb/s Type-C PortPS2 mouse and keyboard port
X8 USB 3.1 ports (6 external, 2 internal)Intel GbE LAN chip Ethernet
The Z370M Gaming 5 might not be the best micro ATX Z370 motherboard but it gives you the best bang for your buck. You cannot argue with the features and build quality provided at this price point. If you’re not looking for extreme overclocking capabilities and don’t necessarily need the software included in any of the ASUS boards then you might want to settle for the gaming 5.


Conclusion

While it’s apparent that Kaby Lake isn’t a huge upgrade over Skylake, it still provides nice new features for the chipset. More PCI-E lanes is great for people adopting the new PCI-E standard of m.2 SSD’s. Also, the new Intel Optane tech looks cool for when the new 3D NAND technology peeks its head out.

Overall, we look forward to seeing what other motherboard manufacturers bring this year and will update this guide of the best micro ATX Z370 motherboards as we move forward. In the meantime check out one of our other articles, we have recently rated the best seo company in Michigan and you might find a gem in there. Cheers!

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