We should start out by looking at the one stand-out result here, which is the audio performance. As we expected, the Creative onboard audio was much better than Realtek's, although in RightMark Audio Analyzer you're forced to test differently, passing the audio recordings through the internals of the processor instead of out and back in a 3.5mm mini-jack. Even so, the results speak for themselves, plus you get a host of Creative audio software too that enables popular features such as Crystalizer. Realistically, is the audio four times better than Realtek's ALC1220 as the noise level suggests? No - you probably won't be able to tell the difference, but you will need a seriously good sound card to better these results.
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In raw performance terms, there wasn't much between the three boards we've tested so far. The Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 was able to keep up a little better with the MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon in the M.2 speed test, but apart from that things are barely separable.
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Despite a small hiccup when reaching for a maximum overclock, which may even be solved by recent BIOS releases, we're very impressed with the Gigabyte Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7. Part of our praise does rely on the price Gigabyte is telling us, though - at around £240, this is noticeably less than we expect its nearest competitors to retail for, with the Maximus IX Hero set to come in at between £10-£20 more. We'll hopefully know more later this week.
While Gigabyte loses out to Asus in terms of EFI and software features - which is a massively reduced gap compared to Z170, it should be noted - it does make up for it somewhat in a few areas such as Thunderbolt 3 support and Intel-powered USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, dual BIOS, some very funky lighting, as well as better onboard audio. Our position may change as prices are announced - they're still under NDA - but for the moment, this is both a great board in its own right and one that's very good value compared to the competition.