We managed 5GHz with our Core i7-8700K with the MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming, so we were interested to see what a mid-range board from a different manufacturer could achieve.
We started at 5GHz and applied 1.3V, and using Intel's Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) which we had installed on the desktop, we managed to lower the voltage all the way down to 1.22V, which is considerably lower than the MSI board. However, we noticed the board still sneaking up to 1.28V on occasions, and when we rebooted it failed to get into windows.
This continued to happen until we increased the voltage to 1.3V in the EFI; any lower resulted in a failed boot. We then had to increase it to 1.31V to be stable in all tests, although it would then often fall to just 1.25V under full load in Prime95, resulting in some lower power numbers. This is just likely some teething issues with early BIOSes or Intel's XTU, but the end result is that the board did need a fair bit more voltage than the MSI board. That said, temperatures were still well within limits using an all-in-one liquid-cooler, never topping 85°C.
The latest EFI and software are nearly identical to those we detailed in our X299 launch coverage, and you can read more about these here.
Starting with the audio performance, Asus had a small lead over the MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming in the dynamic range test stretching to 112.6 dBA compared to 110.3 dBA, but the noise levels and THD were similar - you won't notice much difference between the two or indeed between it and most Realtek ALC 1220-based Z270 boards either. Storage performance was again very similar too with both boards pushing out Samsung 960 Evo M.2 SSD to its limits.
There was very little between the two boards at stock speed or overclocked in any of the other performance tests, although the Asus board did manage to drop the M.2 load temperature by a further 5°C thanks to its larger heatsink. The power issues were somewhat puzzling. The board was significantly less power hungry at stock speed and when overclocked under load. The need to have 1.3V to get into Windows and then seeing the reported vcore fall in CPU along with a lower power consumption backing that figure up was odd, but there were no stability issues, despite the fact that many tests appeared to be dealing with just 1.25V vcore. We'll ask Asus to see if it has an explanation, but seeing as the power consumption and temperature actually fell and both results and stability were unaffected, we don't have much of a reason to be concerned here.
The main issue for the ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming is that it doesn't appear to offer that much for £200. Sure, you get Wi-Fi and a USB 3.1 Gen header as well as funky RGB lighting, but there's a lack of USB ports and overclocking and testing tools for starters. However, looking at the rest of the bunch out there on retailer websites, there's very little around for this price that offers more, and even then it's somewhat questionable features such as a third M.2 port, often sacrificing Wi-Fi or USB 3.1 headers. As a result, this seems to be the new norm with Z370, so we can't be too harsh here given that the board performed well and looks great, too.
Of course, there are alternatives if you like those extra features - Asus' own Maximus X Hero sports all the usual overclocking and testing tools as well as more USB ports, but it costs £60 more. Meanwhile, there are much cheaper options such as the Asus Prime Z370-P, but we honestly don't know how less capable power circuitry will handle Coffee Lake CPUs when overclocking. We therefore feel we're justified in dishing out a recommendation despite some overclocking shenanigans, as these didn't have any negative ramifications, and we still managed to push our shiny new Core i7-8700K to its limit, while Asus again offers its excellent EFI and software to help get you there.
July 15 2021 | 20:30