If you look at the overall history of computing development, efficiency and miniaturization go hand-in-hand. This applies not just to the individual components involved but on the overall system as well. As parts shrink, more of it can be crammed on the same space a less efficient set of components occupied. This is why for the longest time, ITX form factors held the stigma of being only for low-powered systems. Thankfully for consumers, there are mini-ITX motherboards now available with the same fully unlocked chipset as high-end desktop motherboards.
In particular, the ECS’ Z270H4-I mini-ITX motherboard supports both 6th and 7th generation Intel Core processors with free reign on overclocking both CPU (for K variants) and DDR4 RAM. While it is not as feature rich as its full-ATX Z170/Z270 Lightsaber cousin, the ECS Z270H4-I mini-ITX motherboard manages to fit two DIMM slots, 4x SATA 3 6Gb/s ports, M.2 slot for storage, M.2 slot for WiFi/BT module, dual Gigabit LAN, 7x USB 3.0, 3 x and USB 2.0 ports on its 170 x 170mm PCB. The dual-LAN and Wi-Fi/BT module support is particularly interesting for users looking to build a mini-ITX-based home server.
Review Sample Provided by: ECS
Product Name/Link to Website: Z270H4-i
Product was given in exchange for work done to produce this review.
Since the Z270H4-I is a mini-ITX motherboard, it just makes sense that the packaging is equally as compact. While it does not have the ostentatious gold foil packaging of the ECS Lightsaber motherboard, it uses a black and gold theme instead. The Z270H4-I is part of ECS’ Durathon 2 motherboard line and sports that logo front and center of the box. There is actually no photo of the Z270H4-I at all in the packaging except for the diagram of the rear IO at the back of the box.
The contents inside the box are stored in two compartments. The top area contains the motherboard housed inside an anti-static bag while at the bottom, all the accessories and documentation are stored.
Aside from the essential drive disc, the accessories include two SATA cables, an IO shield, and antenna for the WiFi/BT module. Since the Z270H4-I does not come with a WiFi card pre-installed, the antenna requires some assembly effort as well. For the documentation, a quick multi-lingual user’s guide is included as well as a more elaborate user’s guide.
The ECS Durathon 2 Z270H4-I motherboard measures 170 x 170mm and uses a mini-ITX form factor. There really isn’t any strict layout rules for mini-ITX mainboards so it is up to the manufacturer where to place certain connectors. The only clearance issue they really have to abide by is the Intel socket keep-out zone in order to get the Intel sticker printed on the packaging. Durathon motheboards from ECS also use a “triple density”, bi-directional splitting glass fabric PCB which claims to be more durable than typical glass fabric and is supposedly more resistant to moisture.
Due to the limited space, many of the components are located at the back. This includes an extra M.2 socket in addition to several VRM MOSFETs and the PWM controller.