As we said in our previous Z270 board review, it's tit for tat here except in a couple of areas. MSI's M.2 Shield heatsink does seem to work quite well, cooling our SSD by 10°C and maybe accounting for the small speed bump enjoyed over the Asus board. This may well be down to EFIs as well, though. Whether they're overclocked or at stock speed, in raw performance terms there's very little between the boards, but it's the ROG Strix Z270F Gaming's overclocking prowess that set it apart.
It was a tad more power-frugal than the MSI board at stock speed, but was noticeably so when overclocked, thanks to that lower vcore required to hit 5GHz. It made for a 10W difference under load, although it's the slightly lower temperatures under load when overclocked that are probably the most useful element. Again, this could be down to early EFIs, but when we tested a bunch of boards a few days ago, Asus definitely had a big edge.
Audio performance was once again superior to Z170, with the ROG Strix Z270F Gaming outstripping the previous top scorer - the Maximus VIII Impact - with an impressive dynamic range of 114dBA and super-low THD of 0.0021 percent.
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Apart from a nifty M.2 heatsink, which we did like about the MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon, the ROG Strix Z270F Gaming impresses in its own ways. It looks fantastic, has the best-looking and refined RGB lighting we've seen yet thanks to its muti-LED strip on the I/O shield, and its overclocking performance was exceptional. The latter really has won us over, and while later EFIs may even things out, we are very impressed with the ROG Strix Z270F Gaming, which makes for a fantastic base for a Z270 system. Asus's usual awesome software feature set and EFI mean that it should be top of your list if £200 is your limit.