Gigabyte GA-Z270-Gaming K3

Score

Pros

  • Fast in gaming tests
  • Solid core features
  • More affordable than rivals

Cons

  • Missing enthusiast features
  • Middling in application tests

Key Features

  • Review Price: £125.00
  • ATX Form Factor
  • Intel Z270 Chipset
  • Intel LGA 1151 socket
  • 4 x 3866MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
  • 4 x PCI-E x16, 3 x PCI-E x1
  • 4 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x PS/2, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI, 6 x audio
  • 1 x M.2, 2 x SATA Express, 6 x SATA 3
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What is the Gigabyte GA-Z270-Gaming K3?

This is one of the most affordable gaming motherboards I’ve seen lately, which immediately marks the Gigabyte out as a bit of a curio – gaming products are usually expensive, partly to accommodate their extreme physical design but also to include all of the features that enthusiasts demand.

Related: Everything you need to know about Kaby Lake

Gigabyte GA-Z270-Gaming K3 – Design and Features

Despite the low price, Gigabyte has done well to make this board look vibrant and attractive. It’s a black board with black heatsinks, and LEDs line the right-hand edge, the PCI socket and the audio circuits. They’re red lights rather than RGB LEDs, but they look good and consistent – which is more than I can say for many of the multi-coloured boards on the market.

Gigabyte GA-Z270-Gaming K3

As usual, the lights are managed from software in Windows, but there isn’t a header to connect an LED strip, so you’ll need to use a USB connector instead.

The choice of normal LEDs is fine, given the lower price – and the rest of this board involves a fair bit of sensible compromise.

There’s only one PCI-Express x16 slot, for instance, with the second running at just 4x speed. That means dual-graphics is out, which also means that this board doesn’t even support running two Nvidia GPUs. Dual-graphics is only used by a tiny group of people, so it’s not much of a loss.

There are no on-board buttons or displays, either, which is another feature found on high-end boards – but, here, their omission was presumably an easy way to save some pennies.

Gigabyte GA-Z270-Gaming K3 1

Elsewhere, the Gigabyte is better-equipped. Its four RAM slots accept DDR4 at 3866MHz, and it has one M.2 socket, two SATA Express connectors and six SATA 3 ports – so there’s plenty of storage versatility. There are three PCI-Express x1 connectors, and the usual high-quality UEFI BIOS to manage the machine.

Its ALC1220 audio chip is one of Realtek’s best, and I’m impressed to find Killer Ethernet on a board at this price. It’s a game-specific feature, and only that only usually appears on pricier products.

All five of the Gigabyte’s fan connectors can identify and work with water-cooling pumps, which is more than many boards include, and a row of tiny LEDs can be used to identify problems with major components. I like the colour-coded front-panel header at the bottom of the board, too, and appreciate the plastic surrounds around many of the other delicate connectors placed around the PCB.

Gigabyte GA-Z270-Gaming K3 3

The backplate is more ordinary. It’s got plenty of USB 3 ports and both Type-A and Type-C USB 3.1 connections, but no optical S/PDIF and no buttons or extras like Wi-Fi.

Related: Best motherboards

Gigabyte GA-Z270-Gaming K3 – Performance

The K3 delivered its best benchmark result in the 3D Mark test – not a shock considering this is a gaming board.

Its Fire Strike result of 6837 is one of the better figures I’ve recorded from a recent Intel board. That’s good for gaming, and it also helps the K3 punch above its weight: only the ruinously expensive Asus ROG Maximus IV Formula was quicker in the 3D Mark test, and even then it wasn’t far ahead.

The K3 was more ordinary in other tests. Its Geekbench 4 scores of 5772 and 19,900 fall right into the middle of the pack, and its storage benchmarks are good, but not great – not enough to slow a PC down, but not quick enough to break any records or sate those who need top-tier application speed.

It’s not an efficient board, either. Its idle power requirement of 55W is one of the highest from an Intel board I’ve tested recently, and its peak draw of 111W is the highest of any board, even those that cost twice as much.

Should I Buy the Gigabyte GA-Z270-Gaming K3?

The K3 costs £125/$160, which is cheap for a gaming board that retains Intel’s best chipset, so Gigabyte has had to concentrate on the core features and make compromises in many areas.

Thankfully, the firm has done a great job. Multi-GPU options, on-board buttons and RGB LEDs fall by the wayside but are largely spurious, and this board retains its versatile port selection, great storage and beefed-up audio and networking hardware. It’s quick in games benchmarks, too, which is incredibly important.

If you want to build a single-GPU gaming machine without spending loads of money, there are no better boards that this.

Verdict

The Gigabyte doesn’t have every feature I’d like to see on a gaming motherboard, but its solid design means that unnecessary additions are given the boot while the important stuff stays nailed to the PCB. It’s fast in the games benchmark, too. It’s the ideal board for building a budget gaming PC.

Score

Features

Type Motherboards

CPU & Northbridge Support

Supported Processor Intel Kaby Lake
Chipset Intel Z270
CPU Socket LGA 1151

Memory Support

Memory Slots 4
Max System Memory (Gigabyte) 64GB
Memory Technology DDR4

Connectors

USB 2.0 2
USB 3.0 6
LAN 1
Audio 6
SATA 6
Slots: PCI-E x16 4

Additional Features

Multi GPU Support Yes

Physical Specifications

System Board Style ATX

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