Final Words & Conclusion
The Gigabyte Aorus Z370 Gaming K3 motherboard is all about the benjamins, and I do mean that in a good way, value. Currently, the board is listed at 139 USD/EUR. For that money, you receive a very capable and equally as fast as it's more expensive brethren motherboards. For even a high-end gamer that does not exceed 2-way SLI or Crossfire, really this mobo offers features enough to get you up-to-snuff in technology. That platform overall was simply rocking solid in performance and stability. We see a tiny bit perf degradation due to the latest Windows CPU bug patches, it's 2% here and there mostly. The tweaking performance as well is good and easy to set up. Gigabyte is advancing with the new Aorus line of products, and the Gaming K3 certainly is a good answer to what the market desires, better value products. I do need to mention though that I miss WIFI or the new 5 Gbps LAN connection, but then again, at this price level, it actually makes sense. Overall in its default non-overclocked setup, the platform also manages heat and power consumption at very acceptable levels.
Performance & tweaking
We have had a good look at many Z370 motherboards all with the latest BIOS, the Aorus Z370 Gaming K3 feels solid overall. Once tweaked we noticed that the six cores like extra voltage, we expect all-core tweaks in the 5 GHz marker to need 1.37 Volts on the processor. While that does increase power consumption significantly, it wasn't something that scared us. Temps at such voltages reach the 80 Degrees C marker (depending on your cooler). We did however use an ES sample, perhaps the final retail product can do with a little less juice. Overall though, we did manage to reach 5.2 GHz on all six cores stable, and that is impressive. If you plan a tweak at that 5 GHz marker then remember my remarks on cooling, you will need LCS, that or a very good heatpipe cooler. Again, we have been using an ES sample so I cannot say anything conclusive on the final retail products (these might run a tiny bit cooler). The infrastructure that Z370 offers is easy to use, you increase the CPU voltage and multiplier and you are good to go. Another plus for the Intel platform is that over the years they have been able to refine their memory controllers, pop in anything XMP 2.0 and you have a 90% chance it'll work straight out of the box with very fast memories. Mind you, all our tests are performed at 3200 MHz DDR4 these days, similar to Ryzen and Threadripper, to remain objective and for fair play on both sides.
Z370 with a six-core, twelve threaded proc equals a 95 Watt TDP processor. With the system at idle with a GeForce GTX 1080 installed / 16 GB memory / SSD and the Z370 motherboard, I hovered at roughly 50 Watts in IDLE. That's just fine and normal really, but the load values are okay as well. When we stressed the processor 100% run we reach roughly 150 Watts with the 6-core 8700K part. When we game we hover at ~250 Watts with the GeForce GTX 1080, but obviously that factor is dependent on the type of graphics card you use of course and sure, most games certainly do not utilize the six CPU cores. Overall I have no worries here.
For Coffee Lake (8th Gen Intel procs) DDR4 may be clocked a notch faster at 2400 MHz as per Intel reference. We always say, volume matters more than frequency. A 3,200 MHz kit, for example, is far more expensive and does offer better bandwidth but the performance increases in real-world usage will be hard to find. Unless you transcode videos over the processor a lot. As always, my advice would be to go with lower clocked DDR4 memory with decent timings, but get more of it. Don't go for 8 GB, get four DIMMs and in total a minimum of 16 GB. The reason we test at 3200 MHz is simple, we do the same for AMD Ryzen and want to create a fair and equal playing ground for both.
Gigabyte's Z370 Aorus Gaming K3 is a fun product that offers good value at a price of under 150 USD/EUR marker, in fact here in the Netherlands I have already seen it listed at 130 Euro, which is a terrific value. The motherboards offer everything the Z370 chipset combined with Coffee Lake has to offer, and that's plenty enough for a high-end system. You get two x16 PCIe slots, dual M2, Gigabit LAN, USB 3.0/3.1 and six SATA3 ports. Where the motherboard is soberer, is its looks and design. It is less thrilling to look at compared to all RGB LED lit counterparts. Then again, some of you would not be bothered by that whatsoever. Personally, I would have liked a more dark design though, the red PCIe slots and segments I personally do not like. But hey, taste is different of course. We do miss an AC Wireless LAN implementation, but at this price-point, we understand. Connectivity wise, in terms of your PCIe slots for your graphics subsystem you are looking at a full x16 Gen 3 lanes for one graphics card. The second PCIe slot shares its lanes with the first one, ergo you'd end up at x8/x8 Gen3. No biggy, but keep that in mind. Tweaking wise the processor is the limit these days, not your motherboard. The mobo often can go higher and will facilitate anything your Coffee Lake processor can do. We expect Coffee Lake to be able to manage the 5 GHz domain on all cores with the exception being 5.2, or maybe 5.3 GHz (all-core). From there onwards you are looking at proc ASIC quality and cooling being the more important denominator. In closing, as mentioned we think that the K3 is offering terrific value for money, and if you are on the lookout for properly fast performance with a more than decent enough feature set, hey at 139 bucks this motherboard certainly comes recommended.
** This review has been performed with the most recent CPU bug patches, however, Gigabyte did not have its firmware ready (updated) at the time of writing this article. Performance in the future might differ on the CPU side a bit and more overly for 4K SSD NVMe performance in the future **
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