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ECS Z270H4-I Review

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ECS Z270H4-I: Conclusion

On to the conclusion! I have to admit that I've been putting off the review far longer than I should have. Other review sites have already posted their thoughts and opinions, but it seems some have glazed right over a few questionable design flaws. Of course that is their right as a reviewer. Our job as reviewers is to write down our observations for the reader to make an informed opinion. Maybe it wasn't an issue for that particular reviewer. Anyways, I might as well start on the obvious problems most consumers will come across when using this motherboard and then I'll wrap this up with a nice bow at the end.

Before I poke at ECS, I want to point out that for this motherboard I can point out so many flaws because you will be hard pressed to find a Z270 ITX hovering around $100 that isn't ultra low budget or cheaply made. On top of that, components, marketing, and R&D costs money, and no company can get around this. Those factors have an impact on the final MSRP, which ECS has a very competitive advantage if you are looking for this particular form factor.

However, not all is forgiven, as what stands out the most to me is placing the M.2 slot on the back. This in turn makes the feature a throwaway addition that serves little purpose. For starters, not all computer cases are made equally and from reviewing a few dozen and buying just as many of the years, I can tell you the standoffs for the motherboard are never the same. That means you will invariably come across one that has limited clearance. ITX cases tend to keep things very compact and a higher probability of short standoffs, which gives even more reason for concern. But say for the time being that height clearance is not a issue. You will then run into thermal throttling on practically any performance driven NVMe SSD because of lack of airflow on the backside and the inability to place a heat sink on the SSD.

I think the intent of the M.2 slot was for Intel's new Optane SSD, since the specifications lists it as using only 3.5 watts of power under load. However, not all users are willing to shell out a large amount of money for a drive that's sole purpose is to cache other drives in the system. So that leaves the user the choice of standard protocol SATA in a M.2 form factor or a low performance NVME SSD; neither is extremely appealing since the difference in performance over a SATA port is practically non-existent. This points towards the M.2 slot going unused unless an Intel Optane SSD is in the budget.

As for the WiFi, ECS does has a choice to bundle it with the board. My review sample, however, did not include one. It was easy enough to find a card laying around from the LIVA Z I reviewed, but for many it isn't that easy. After installing the WiFi card it functioned as expected. I do not have any real gripes about this besides the possibility of moving it so the rear M.2 slot could be in front. That would solve the potential thermal throttling problem of placing an NVMe SSD on the back side. I am not an engineer, although I think with some rework the WiFi slot could be set vertically, maybe even placed in the I/O backplane section. The choice to have it placed above the PCIe slot can only be because it was an optional feature. It is very hard to predict what people will want and use, but using WiFi on an ITX setup has a much higher probability than a gaming desktop.

Alright, this is my final tidbit. ECS deploys the Realtek ALC1150 audio chipset, which is the best Realtek provides, and unless you have some serious headphones like the Audeze LCD-2, you will be hard pressed to hear the difference from a standalone audio card in a blindfolded audio test. The placebo effect can influence our precipitation and that is just part of being human. While some companies throw money at audio for the sake of saying it has the best, ECS kept it within reason, which in turn keeps the overall manufacturing cost down. What I do not like is the placement of the audio capacitor and lack of heat shield. These heat shields often provide a clean motherboard design, but it also doubles as a heat repealer that often goes unnoticed by the user. So, next time you look at your setup and see the video card dumping its heat exhaust over the motherboard, look at the audio section and thank the manufacturer for providing that extra bit of protection for longevity with a heat shield. It is not the end of the world, but these Nichicon NW capacitors are only rated for 85 °C. Not much ECS can do about this, because the higher rated capacitors would potentially block the PCIe slot due to height restrictions.

To wrap this up, I think ECS has created a decent motherboard that falls in place exactly where It should be based on the price point. The Z270H4-I is the lowest priced Z270 ITX motherboard on the market. As a consumer, you are paying a premium for the Z270 chipset and even though this is a budget-oriented motherboard, it had no problem powering an i7-7700K with DDR4 memory running at 3200MHz. This motherboard isn't aimed for overclocking, but out of the box performance is everything one should expect from the Z270 chipset. It is unfortunate the M.2 slot is on the back, but besides this flaw, ECS has done a decent job in creating an ITX motherboard backed by the Z270 chipset. If you have a set budget for this type of system build, look no further because ECS has you covered.



  • ITX form factor
  • Price
  • Clean BIOS menu


  • Optional WiFi
  • Rear M.2 slot
  • Audio capacitor placement
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