Builders of Kaby Lake systems have tons of motherboard choices from Asus. The company updated almost 90 of its 100-series boards to work with Intel's seventh-generation Core CPUs, and it's launched a bevy of Z270 motherboards, to boot. The company must feel like it still has a gap in its product line, because it just announced the Z270-WS, a workstation motherboard built with Intel's upper-level mainstream chipset.
The Z270-WS has all the normal features of a high-end Z270 motherboard, like dual M.2 slots, six SATA ports, six rear USB 3.0 ports, and four DIMM slots with room for up to 64GB of DDR4 memory. Asus adds some extra hardware goodies to give it the Workstation label: two U.2 connectors, USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports courtesy of an on-board ASMedia controller, and dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet jacks. TechPowerUp says the board also multiplies some of its PCIe lanes thanks to a PLX PEX8747 bridge chip. Workstations typically call for system stability over all else, but the Z270-WS sports a full set of overclocking features. Don't even think of trying to build a Z270-WS system with a cheap 300W power supply, though. This motherboard has 24-pin ATX, eight-pin EPS, and six-pin PCIe power connectors.
Thanks to that PLX chip, the board offers four physical PCIe x16 slots capable of running four-way AMD Crossfire or Nvidia SLI setups with supported graphics cards. Three-way configurations will run in a x16 + x8 + x8 arrangement and four-way setups will run at x8 + x8 + x8 + x8. There's also an additional PCIe x4 slot in the middle of the board, though even two-way multi-GPU configs will block it off.
For sound, Asus chose a Realtek ALC S1220S 8-channel audio codec for times when users want to listen to something other than spinning fans and hard drive platters. Asus says the audio solution supports DTS Connect multi-channel encoding, and signal-to-noise ratios of 120 dB for playback output and 113 dB on the line input.
Asus didn't offer pricing or availability information for the Z270-WS, but we would suspect that it won't be far off the $350 asking price of the company's Z170-WS motherboard.
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