It’s one thing to brand your name onto a component and sell it with everything else you already do – it’s another thing entirely to build something from scratch and make it your own. That’s what NZXT is doing with their first-ever motherboard, the N7 Z370. No, it doesn’t come with Commander Shepard’s stamp of approval, but it’s easily one of the slickest designs I’ve seen from a company trying to make components for the first time. If it was possible to make this look even more like a solid slab of dark matter, I’m sure NZXT would have done it already.
The N7 Z370, as the name implies, is an Intel-based board belonging to the Intel 300 series chipset for Coffee Lake processors. It uses the LGA1151 v2 socket, supports four DIMM slots for up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, has space for two full-sized PCI Express graphics cards, four SATA 3 ports two M.2 PCIe slots for solid state drives, and ships with a single gigabit ethernet port.
There are some questions about who the OEM is, and it might turn out to be either ECS or Foxconn (personally, I think it’ll be Biostar). Once reviewers overseas get hands-on time for their reviews we might learn from the board’s markings who the OEM is. Not that it really matters, to be honest. It’s just the first foot in the door for NZXT, and they can follow up with a better design if this is successful.
At the rear we count five USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, HDMI 1.4b, Displayport 1.2a, optical out, and support for a 7:1 channel sound system. It’s an interesting choice because the Z370 chipset has support for USB 3.1 Gen 2, and the omission of a USB-C port of any kind is odd. USB-C at least is becoming an expected feature in new PCs in 2017/2018, and not having it may be a dealbreaker to some. There’s no front panel support for USB-C either, so it’s not like you can pick up a case that uses it.
I do like that the board has absolutely no RGB LEDs whatsoever. It has some basic status lights but the rest of the board is completely dark, and even the PCB is black. It’s a very serious look, and it might work out to NZXT’s favour. The minimalist look is easier to pull off if your motherboard doesn’t light up like a christmas tree, and the only other vendor with an all-black design is EVGA. Even ASUS’ TUF family was more brown and beige.
NZXT’s N7 Z370 should go on sale in the US and European markets at an estimated $299.99 and €299.99 respectively. If it ever finds its way to us locally, it’s not going to be cheap.