Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 5 Review: Big Flash, Medium Cash

Gigabyte's Z370 Aorus Gaming 5 offers a more cost-conscious alternative to its big brother, the Z370 Aorus Gaming 7: Shaving the second Gigabit Ethernet port off the I/O panel, the firm also shaved $50 off the price tag while adding a low-cost Wi-Fi adapter. A few onboard buttons are also gone, along with the Gaming 7’s single M.2 heat spreader, but Gaming 5 buyers still get the three M.2 storage slots of its higher-priced sibling.

The company also kept the full onboard RGB package and associated light strip headers, but the value of those additions typically depends on the builder’s choice of case aesthetic. We'll treat this as a potential value bonus for RGB fanatics as we delve deeper into the Z370 Aorus Gaming 5's value credentials.

The Z370 Aorus Gaming 5’s layout looks strikingly familiar, from its triple M.2 storage and triple x16-length PCIe slots to its single Type-C USB front-panel header, yet a closer look at the specs reveals that the Type-C output is merely of the Gen 1 variety (aka USB 3.0), while a closer look at the long PCIe slots reveals that only two of these are lighted and surrounded by metal reinforcement. That last change should be considered purely aesthetic by most users, since both motherboard models limit the bottom slot to four lanes from the PCH, and it drops all the way down to two lanes when the bottom M.2 slot is occupied.

Changes to the I/O panel are a little more obvious, beginning with the absence of a second RJ-45 connector and the presence of two Wi-Fi antenna connectors. The USB ports have been rearranged to offer one additional Type A port, along two yellow “DAC-Up 2” USB 3.0 ports with adjustable voltage, two regular USB 3.0 ports and a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A port that sits on the same 2-lane PCIe 3.0 controllers as the Type-C port. The final two ports are USB 2.0 and suitable for low-speed peripherals such as keyboards and mice.

As with the Gaming 7, the top M.2 ports of the Z370 Aorus Gaming 5 steal two HSIO resources from two SATA ports, regardless of whether they are loaded with SATA or PCIe based M.2 modules.  The middle M.2 slot has a full set of PCIe lanes, and steals a SATA port only if an SATA module is installed.

The lower slot has no SATA connectivity, but does steal two lanes from the four-lane lower PCIe slot when filled. The top PCIe x1 slot steals an HSIO resource from an SATA port, so the worst-case scenario of having any M.2 drive in the first slot, an SATA M.2 in the second slot, and an x1 card in the top PCIe slot would leave builders with only two active SATA cable ports.

The two metal-reinforced LED-lighted PCIe slots switch from x16/x0 to x8/x8 mode whenever a card is installed in the lower of these two slots. That’s par for the course with Z370 motherboards, given the CPU interface’s ability to support sixteen lanes directly, and the ability of the CPU’s onboard PCIe controller to split those across up to three cards. Hardly any gaming motherboard has more than two CPU-fed slots because hardly any gamer wants to put a card on an x4 slot, though a few storage geeks were probably hoping for CPU-based NVMe via M.2.

The Z370 Aorus Gaming 5’s  bottom edge features an HD-Audio front-panel header, a power header for demonstrating LED lighting using a bare board, one (of two) addressable LED headers with voltage selector jumper, one (of two) RGBW LED strip header, a TPM module port, two USB 2.0 two-port headers, a two-digit diagnostics code display, three (of eight) four-pin fan headers, one (of two) thermistor lead headers, a CLR_BIOS jumper, a Thunderbolt add-in card header, and an extended front-panel switch/activity light header with the standard AC-97 pin arrangement on the left, a beep-code speaker and three-pin power LED header on the right, and a chassis intrusion header in the middle. The chassis intrusion header uses the “N/C” (not connected) pin typically found on AC-97 style power/LED headers as a ground.

The installation kit includes the driver disc and documentation, an RGBW extension cable with detachable white lead, a high-bandwidth SLI bridge, a magnetic-base Wi-Fi antenna, four STA cables, two Thermistor cables, an I/O shield, and Gigabyte’s connector coupling for front panel activity LED/button leads.

Specifications

SocketLGA 1151
ChipsetIntel Z370
Form FactorATX
Voltage Regulator11 Phases
Video PortsDisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4
USB Ports10Gbps: (1) Type-C, (1) Type A, 5Gb/s: (4) Type A; (2) USB 2.0
Network Jacks(1) Gigabit Ethernet, (2) Wi-Fi Antenna
Audio Jacks(5) Analog, (1) Digital Out
Legacy Ports/Jacks(1) PS/2
Other Ports/Jacks
PCIe x16(3) v3.0 (x16/x0/x4*, x8/x8/x4*, x8/x8/x2*) (*Two lanes shared w/3rd M.2)
PCIe x8
PCIe x4
PCIe x1(3) v3.0 (3rd slot excludes SATA port 1)
CrossFire/SLI3x / 2x
DIMM Slots(8) (4) DDR4
M.2 Slots(2) PCIe 3.0 x4^ / SATA*, (1) PCIe 3.0 x4 (*Excludes ports 0, ^4-5)
U.2 Ports
SATA Ports(6) 6Gb/s (SATA M.2-2 takes pt 0, M.2-1 pts 4-5)
USB Headers(1) 5Gb/s Type-C, (1) v3.0, (2) v2.0
Fan Headers(8) 4-Pin
Legacy Interfaces
Other InterfacesFP-Audio,TPM, (2)RGBW-LED, (2) D-LED, (2)Thermistor Header
Diagnostics PanelNumeric
Internal Button/Switch✗ / ✗
SATA/RAID ControllersIntegrated (0/1/5/10)
Ethernet ControllersWGI219V PHY
Wi-Fi/Bluetooth ControllersIntel 3165 802.11ac (433mb/s) / BT 4.2 Combo
USB Controllers(2) ASM3142 PCIe 3.0
HD Audio CodecALC1220
DDL/DTS Connect
WarrantyThree Years

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