For those who are in the IT industry that has a server-related job, then you might have heard of the motherboard brand called Supermicro. They’ve been making server motherboards for years – and now they’re making motherboards for the mass market under the name SuperO. We have our hands on the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW mini-ITX motherboard with Z370 chipset.
How well does the motherboard perform? How’s the user experience? What impression does SuperO give? Let’s find out in this review here.
At first glance, the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW comes in a rather simple box. Nothing special in particular – especially the color. It’s black entirely with some tacky-looking font and an unnecessary visual effect. There’s also a SuperO logo at the bottom with the tagline “server quality, built for gaming”. We’ll have to test that to know more.
Behind the box reveals a list of specs, an aerial view of the board itself, and also some feature highlights. The box is super glossy here so pardon the reflection.
At the top, there’s a handle and it highlights all of the contents that are included in the box itself. Surprisingly well done by SuperO on this part.
Opening up reveals… a big mess of all the contents jumbled into one compartment. You’ll have to get everything out of the way and move the cardboard pedestal away to reveal the motherboard that’s underneath it.
There it is – the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW. Wrapped in an oversized antistatic bag and has minimal wiggle room, surrounded by folded cardboard as force dampeners.
Actually, there are lots of other accessories included in the the box. There are screws to mount the motherboard, two SATA cables, some labels for cable management, a case badge, and a padded rear I/O plate.
In terms of aesthetics, the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW looks rather typical. Not that impressive, in my opinion. It has a dark motherboard color scheme with a rather stylish heatsink that is right below the first M.2 2280 SSD mount. Since there’s a heatsink right below the M.2 2280 SSD mount, it should help dissipate heat. Though, using a low-profile CPU cooler should be able to circulate air and cool everything around the CPU as well.
There’s also another heatsink covering the CPU MOSFETs. It’ll provide some degree of overclocking headroom, but don’t expect magic to happen. As for the SoC MOSFETs, SuperO didn’t bother covering it with a heatsink and just let the air do its thing.
At the back, we see that there’s nothing much other than another M.2 2280 SSD slot and a line of LEDs at the right side edge of the motherboard.
Also, it doesn’t seem like SuperO bothered to clean the solder flux off of the motherboard. Though it doesn’t matter, cleaning solder flux will definitely give a better impression for enthusiasts.
Even with such a tiny footprint to play with, the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW manages to pack some 4 debug LEDs at the top right corner, beside the screw hole. It’s really cramped, so I doubt one is able to see the LEDs when the motherboard is installed in a case. Also, the labels for the debug LEDs are printed at a separate place on the motherboard. In this case, refer to the user manual.
The pins and its labels are all over the place, actually. When in doubt, always refer to the user manual for a clearer idea. From our initial inspection, there’s a “clear CMOS” label at the front, and yet there’s another “CMOS clear” label behind the motherboard.
In terms of I/O, the motherboard, internally, the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW has 4x SATA III slots and a single USB 3.0 header.
At the rear I/O, the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW comes with a PS/2 combo port, 4x USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 Type-A and another USB 3.1 Type-C, a DisplayPort, HDMI port, Intel PHY i219V Ethernet, two antennae for 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with Bluetooth 4.2 combo, and audio jacks powered by ALC1220 chip.
While the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW does comes with its very own UEFI design, its user interface isn’t as good as we hope it would be. As we navigate through the menu and options, we noticed that both the input for mouse and keyboard is pretty sluggish.
Apart from the unpleasant sluggish input, we also noticed something odd with the overclocking options. The moment you enter the CPU or memory overclocking menu, the adjustable options is everywhere. For those of you who are accustomed to the well-organized menu like the ones from ASUS, you’ll be in tears with the SuperO in just a matter of seconds.
Just to highlight a few major issues which we find it rather disturbing:
- Some of the voltage adjustment are shown in milivolt (mV) instead of volt (V)
- Voltage adjustment for system agent, PCH, IO doesn’t allow manual input, but rather, in the increment of 0.05 V only.
- Memory timings are not adjustable as soon the extreme memory profile (XMP) is enabled.
- The absent of shortcut key for toggling between easy mode and advance mode (F7), save settings and reset system (F10)
Since the release of the 7th gen Kaby Lake CPU, getting your Intel CPU to run on 5.0 GHz has never been easier. This goes the same for the 8th gen Coffee Lake CPU – getting a 5.0 GHz overclock is almost guaranteed on pretty much every Intel Z370 chipset motherboard.
The Intel i5 8600K we have here is a pretty good chip, as we manage to get it to run on 5.0 GHz with only 1.12V and capable of surviving a number of benchmark and stress test. We manage to get it to run at 5.3 GHz as well, with a maximum temperature of 83°C using a ThermalTake Floe Riing 360 RGB liquid cooler.
So, it’s safe for us to say that CPU overclocking performance on the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW is still pretty acceptable.
Memory overclocking wise, we weren’t able to do anything at all, mainly because of the limitation of the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW. The Apacer Panther Rage Illumination DDR4 kit that has been working perfectly fine in all of our previous reviews couldn’t even get past the 2666 MHz mark after countless of adjustments.
Bad IMC on the CPU was the prime suspect at first, but turns out that the same issue still happens after we swapped the CPU to an i7 8700K. After swapping components from other test bench, we found out that problem is actually the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW itself. This means that the speed you can achieve is actually depends on the rated speed of the memory kit itself.
We recently purchased a set of the G.Skill Trident Z RGB F4-3200C14D-16GTZR to further confirm our claim on the memory overclocking limitation with the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW. While tested on the ASUS ROG Maximus X Apex, this kit can actually achieve 4533 MHz with ease. With the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW, we only manage to achieve 3733 MHz at most.
Wrapping up the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW review
First of all, the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW isn’t really that user-friendly when it comes to the UEFI. It works just fine for normal usage i.e gaming, office work, entertainment purposes, etc, but things gets pretty little tough if you’re into overclocking. Memory overclocking is pretty much impossible on this board. Your only option for higher speed memory is to go for the ones with high rated speed for XMP. However, overclocking for CPU turns out just fine and we have no problem reaching 5.0 GHz with both i5 8600K and i7 8700K.
Overclocking aside, the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW still packs quite a number of good features which a Z370 motherboard should have. One thing we do appreciate is that the board still comes with a PS/2 port for those who still prefer this over the newer USB interface. Other than that, the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW also comes with 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 type-A and 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 type-C which is deemed to be future proof. It’s a pretty complete package in overall, but it’ll be even better if the 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 ports in between the Wi-fi module and RJ45 port can be replaced with a 4 x USB 3.1 port instead.
At the price of $189.99, the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW is slightly expensive for the features it can offer. If you’re not the type of users who really overclock your system much, the SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW will work just fine, else, you might want to look else where.
- Reasonable CPU overclocking performance
- Comes with onboard Wi-fi
- Supports PS/2 port for legacy devices
- Minimal onboard RGB lighting
- The UEFI is pretty bad
Memory overclocking is almost impossible
- Very picky with the choice of memory kit
- Could use more USB ports
- Clearing CMOS requires the removal of graphics card