Being one of the top computer brands, Asus are the first to launch Kaby Lake motherboards in Sri Lanka. With the end of the 14nm node series coming to an end, Intel announced that it would shake up its longstanding business model of introducing a smaller fabrication process every 2 years, and instead it would ship a third generation of products in the 14nm node series. Codenamed, Kaby Lake, the 14nm+ node was inserted into roadmaps to serve as a successor to Skylake and to fill the void created by pushing the 10nm Cannonlake generation a year out.
While the main caveat about Kaby Lake was the minor difference in processor die size with Skylake, There are quite a few performance gains to talk about, especially since Kaby lake is targeted at people who use PCs and laptops which are now around five years old. Users will see significant cumulative improvements if they haven’t upgraded in that long.
The most notable would be the major improvements to the integrated graphics capabilities of these processors. All of the Kaby lake processors feature the new Intel HD Graphics 600 series, for superior 4K UHD. While the high end versions feature the more powerful Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 and 650, which promise as much as a 65 percent performance boost over older Intel HD graphics. The now mature 14nm manufacturing process (dubbed 14nm+) promises better battery life throughout the Kaby lake series. Moreover, Kaby Lake uses exactly the same socket as Skylake, and there is full cross-compatibility between both lines of CPUs and motherboards.
Much like all of Intel’s releases, Kaby Lake is coming out in waves. The first phase, in late 2016, comprised of the low-power processors for Ultrabooks, 2-in-1s and similar small devices, since these are the top selling PC form factors. Manufacturers were thereby able to release new products in time for the busy US holiday shopping season. Now, the same architecture is coming to servers, desktops and more traditional laptops.
Naturally, there’s also a new generation of chipsets aka motherboards, to go with Kaby Lake. We received a few Kaby Lake Motherboards from Asus – the first to launch them in Sri Lanka and we’ll be taking a good look at them.
The Asus ROG Maximus IX Code was one of the motherboards we’ve received and the first one we’ll be talking about in brief. Standing close to the top of Asus’s Z270 motherboard lineup, the Asus ROG Maximus IX Code is priced at around 60,000 LKR. At this price point, Asus has proficiently designed a motherboard that combines premium gaming features with streamlined aesthetics.
For starters, the Maximus IX Code allows gamers and enthusiasts seeking a unique look for their builds, to access that distinctive ROG Armor clad in stylish black-and-gray design, while also getting the added aesthetic appeal with the AURA Sync lighting. Geared towards high performance, while maintaining a competitive price to catch any gamer’s eye. The motherboard also comes with practical features like onboard Wi-Fi and long-lasting components, giving gamers everything they’re looking for in a high-end board.
This spectacularly motherboard also boasts 5-Way Optimization for one-click system-wide overclocking, ROG SupremeFX with a significantly new upgraded audio solution on both back and front panels, advanced networking, fastest onboard M.2 storage interfaces with up to 32Gbps and extra pair of USB 3.1 ports, and features an extra pair of USB 3.1 ports (one Type-A one Type-C) on the rear via an additional Asmedia controller.
Interestingly, Asus has also placed a USB 3.1 header on the board itself for use with front panel Type-C connectors. It’s also worth mentioning that this motherboard offers a Water Cooling Zone, which feeds information straight into ROG’s intuitive Fan Xpert 4 utility to enable DIY users a better experience and better enjoyment on water cooling requirements. All in all, this motherboard has quite bang for buck and gives you more than what other manufacturers offer the same price point.
Next up, is another one of the Kaby Lake motherboards we’ve received. The midrange Asus Prime Z270-A. Starting at a price range of 28,500 LKR, Asus had the modest PC builder in mind. This is the motherboard sits at the perfect price range for those who are planning to build a powerful gaming PC without having to splurge too much cash.
Clad in a classic neutral color scheme, the motherboard features a black PCB with white accents.
The rear I/O port and the Intel Z270 chipset heatsink also has a white cover, with some silver accent lines, giving it the perfect blend of black and white. The color scheme makes it quite easy for this motherboard to fit into numerous color schemes.
While it’s true that the motherboard is priced at a mid-range value, it boasts most of the storage options available. With support for six SATA 6Gb/s drives, two M.2 (both SATA and PCIe) with support for Intel Optane, and multiple USB 3.1 connections, data storage and file transfer is going to be quite simplified. As for Video options, you have a choice between integrated graphics supplied by the latest Intel HD Graphics 600 series with HDMI 1.4a, DisplayPort 1.2 or DVI-D. This also includes support for Intel InTru 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology and Insider. However since most Gamers will look at adding in a dedicated GPU, it’s quite worth knowing that the Asus Prime Z270-A supports 2-Way NVIDIA SLI or 3-Way CrossFireX. There’s also three PCIe x16, four PCIe x1 slots and 4x DDR4 slots.
Quite the motherboard for the price, isn’t it ?
Apart from the options we’ve discussed, the Prime Z270-A has quite more to offer. Having the audio separated from the rest of the motherboard has become pretty common with most manufacturers these days, But Asus does this and also lights up the audio separation with RGB lighting. The Asus Aura Sync lighting system is easily one of the most popular RGB lighting standards around, especially since it gives you bells and whistles straight out of the box. This makes it quite the sight since you can combine the Realtek S1220A 8-channel CODEC(with Crystal Sound 3) with the Asus Aura Sync system to display numerous lighting effects while playing flawless audio. The Prime Z270-A also includes a connection on the motherboard to support RGB light strips in case you want to desk your casing with more lighting effects. The Asus Prime Z270-A is a great motherboard at its price point and it features the latest technology from Intel, along with the mesmerizing Asus Aura Sync.
Last not but least would be the 3rd Kaby Lake motherboards we’ve received, the low end Asus Prime B250M-A. Targeting the budget PC builder, the Asus Prime B250M-A is for those who want very affordable components without having to sacrifice quality. At a glance, you can tell that this motherboard has the bare minimum you’d need from a motherboard, but at the same time it does so with durability and stability. This motherboard comes in the mini ATX form and can also appeal to those interested in building tiny form factor PCs. Clad in black with frosted silver accents and components; the color scheme reflects the barebones nature of this motherboard.
The Asus Prime B250M-A offers support for the latest Intel Skylake and Kaby lake processors, DDR4 RAM, and M.2 SATA for storage. The support for USB Type-C is quite welcoming since this is a budget motherboard. The other I/O ports and components are pretty much the standard for an mATX board but these basics has been strengthened by Asus. For example, the board has extra PCB coating which is moisture resistant according to ASUS. Since its common for motherboards to die due to moisture, this is one top feature to look out for. The USB ports also feature extra over voltage protection, together with a SATA power to deliver extra juice when needed. There are also the added protection features like audio shielding and superior components that you’d find in most Asus Motherboards.
While the Asus Prime B250M-A doesn’t boast as many features as the motherboards we’ve covered, it holds its ground against the competition and is quite worth its price. Asus has managed to make a wide range of Gamers and PC enthusiasts happy with this range and we look forward to seeing more products targeted at all demographs.
Picture Credit – RuwanTech