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ASRock's 5Gbit Journey and the Z270 SuperCarrier

By: Steven Bassiri | Editorials in Motherboards | Posted: Apr 20, 2017 3:03 am

Z270 SupperCarrier Equipped For 4-Way SLI

 

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The Z270 SuperCarrier offers four full sized x16 slots that operate at x16/x0/16/x0, x16/x0/x16/x0, x8/x8/x16/x0, x16/x0/x8/x8, or x8/x8/x8/x8. The motherboard supports 2-Way, 3-Way, and 4-Way SLI and CrossFireX. The multi-GPU capabilities of the motherboard are made possible by the Avago PEX8747, which takes x16 PCI-E 3.0 from the CPU and outputs x32 PCI-E 3.0 to the slots below. It does incur a slight latency penalty, so it's not too useful with a single card, but with two or more cards, the chip and setup can be beneficial. You cannot run 3-way or 4-way SLI without this chip on a Z270 motherboard.

 

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The Z270 SuperCarrier is equipped for 4-way SLI. It has a 6-pin power input that will push more power into the PCI-E x16 slots so that running 4-way SLI is possible as the 24-pin power connector doesn't provide enough power on its own. The motherboard also offers redundant HD audio output pin headers so that you can still plug into the header with a card in the last slot.

 

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The Z270 SuperCarrier's right angled connector makes it easy to plug into the HD audio header when a card is installed in the last slot (like above). ASRock also supplies 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way SLI bridges. They also supply a NVIDIA SLI HB Bridge, which offers more bandwidth over a normal single flexible SLI connector.

 

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First off, I tested using 3DMark FireStrike Ultra and Extreme. The only difference between the Native x8/x8 system and the x16/x16 PEX8747 system is the motherboard. The native system uses the ASRock Z270 Gaming i7 while the Z270 SuperCarrier is used in the PEX8747 system. I used the most up to date BIOS and the same driver and software versions.

 

When only a single card is used, the PEX8747 can hurt performance, but with two or more cards it seems that performance is increased with the use of a PEX8747. However, that performance increase is marginal.

 

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I also saw the same results in ResidentEvil 6 and UNIGINE Heaven 4 benchmarks.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

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The Z270 SuperCarrier and Z270 Gaming i7 are two well-equipped motherboards, and their 5Gbit NICs allow them to transfer files between each other at speeds faster than some SATA SSDs can produce. With throughput at up to 480 MB/s in real-world scenarios, the new 5Gbit network protocol gives your affordable Cat5e infrastructure a much-needed speed upgrade. Sure, there are faster protocols to transfer files between computers such as ThunderBolt 3, USB 3.1, and 10Gbit, but they either suffer from distance limitations or higher costs.

 

The 5Gbit NIC fills the gap between 10Gbit's performance and 1Gbit's affordability. As NBase-T switches and access points become more widespread, you will be able to leverage your Z270 SuperCarrier or Z270 Gaming i7 system into a network five times faster than what you had before.

 

The Z270 SuperCarrier is one of the few motherboards that support 3-way and 4-way SLI. The Avago PEX8747 PCI-E switch chip that ASRock has implemented makes this possible by doubling bandwidth to the slots. There is some benefit to this, even with just two cards. ASRock is a strong proponent of faster storage, and the implementation of three 32Gb/s M.2 slots on both motherboards is great for those who want to leverage the latest and greatest storage devices. SATA is saturated, and SATA Express is non-existent, leaving M.2 and U.2 as the optimal storage interface for the fastest drives. The good news is that you can convert an M.2 port into a U.2 port, in case you also want to be ready for drives that come out in that form factor.

 

The final thing I want to say is that ASRock has gone above and beyond with the Z270 SuperCarrier by offering more high-end and cutting edge features that do make a difference.

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