Intel Z170 VS Z270… What should you know?

There are numerous things that you need to know about the differences between these two motherboard types.

If you’re looking to buy the best motherboard for your budget this article is important, and even if you’re not looking to buy something right away, it’s still worth checking out the bottom-line if you’re into hardware in any way.

In this article, I’m going to go over the basics of what you actually need to know.

What Is A Z170 Board?

The Intel Z170 Motherboard is based on the Skylake architecture range of processors developed by Intel. These boards are still powerful and actually offer amazing performance even now. There are different options depending on your budget, which we went over in detail in our best z170 motheroards review here.

One key thing to know about the Z170 is that it’s actually compatible with Kaby Lake as well as Skylake, albeit after a BIOS update. Which makes this type of motherboard extremely versatile, especially if you’re not looking to upgrade your processor.

What Is A Z270 Board?

The Intel Z270 is the next gen of motherboard after the Z170. Where the Z170 is forwards compatible with Kaby Lake, the Z270 is built specifically for Kaby Lake processors. That being said, the Z270 is also backwards compatible with Skylake. No BIOS update needed.

These motherboards are more powerful and better suited for the Kaby Lake processors, so if that’s the processor you’ve got or are looking to buy then going for a Z270 motherboard is a no-brainer.

We’ve compared and reviewed the best z270 motherboards, so check that out if you’re interested.

Z170 vs Z270 Specification Comparison:

To make clear the specifications that you really need to know I’ve created this handy table below.

SpecsIntel Z170 ChipsetIntel Z270 Chipset
Code NameSkylakeKaby Lake
Launch date20152017
SocketLGA 1151LGA 1151
PCI-E 3.0 Lanes2024
Intel Optane TechnologyNoYes

As you can see, there aren’t actually many huge out of the box differences between the two boards. The same can be said across many other specifications such as DIMM Lanes, both having 2.

There is a slight difference in the amount of PCI-E 3.0 Lanes, but this is a minor difference and most people looking at these motherboards are probably not planning on utilizing all of these anyway. But if you are it’s definitely a plus.

In my opinion, the main difference between the boards is that one is a true native Kaby Lake mobo. That offers peformance improvements beyond what the specifications can tell you.

What Is Intel Optane Technology?

Since the Z270 boards offer Intel Optane while the Z170s do not, you might be interested in exactly what Intel Optane is.

Intel Optane, based on what Intel calls “3D XPOINT” is an accelerated memory feature of the Kaby Lake and onward motherboards, which slots into your M.2 slot. This memory feature is for improving the performance of your computer by creating something that works similarly to RAM (Random Access Memory) and SSDs (Solid State Drives) and is according to Intel at least 4.42 times faster than previous tech. The truth is that Optane is neither one or the other and doesn’t seek to replace either your RAM or your SSD. Allowing you to choose how you want to use it.

This is actually a huge game changer and makes the Z170 way less impressive than Z270 Motherboards.

Still confused? Check out the video below.

The Bottom Line

Z170 VS Z270 = Z270 Wins hands down for me.

The Bottom Line here is that both the Z170 and the Z270 offer great motherboards, however if you’re looking to buy something that is more future-proof and performs way better for a similar price point (in some cases) then you need to go with the Z270.

If you have a Kaby Lake CPU then the advantages of going for a Z270 Mobo which allows you to make use of Intel Optane Technology is also too good to ignore for any gamer.