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::>Motherboards > 2015 > 08 > ASUS Z170-A

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06-08-2015


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MotherboardASUS Z170-A: review and testing

5th August 2015 Intel has announced a new family of processors Intel Skylake for the platform Socket LGA1151, as well as the flagship chipset Intel Z170. Of course, all the key players in the motherboard market has prepared their models and began to actively demonstrated them.

ASUS Z170-A

In this review we will learn the features of the motherboard ASUS Z170-A produced by renowned Taiwanese company. Based on design and equipment, a novelty is a high-level solution, which received an excellent sound system, high-quality circuitry, support for two ports USB 3.1, as well as a number of proprietary enhancements. But let’s start from the technical specification.

The specs:

Producer  

ASUS

Model

Z170-A (rev 1.03)

Chipset

Intel Z170

CPU socket

Socket LGA1151

Supported CPUs

Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron 6th gen

Memory frequency

3400* / 3333* / 2133 MHz

(*OC)

Memory support

4 x DDR4 DIMM-slots with memory support up to 64 GB

Expansion slots

 

3 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16 / x8+x8 / x8+x8+x4)

3 x PCI Express 3.0 x1

1 х PCI

Disk subsystem

Intel Z170 chipset supportd=s:

1 x M.2 32 Gb/s (M.2 2242, M.2 2260, M.2 2280, M.2 22110)

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x SATA Express (compatible with 2 х SATA 6 Gb/s)

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

LAN

1 x Intel WGI219V (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec Realtek ALC892

8-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power

1 х 24-pin ATX connector

1 x 8-pin ATX12V connector

Fans

2 x CPU fan connectors (4-pin)

4 x system fan connectors (4-pin)

Cooling

Алюминиевый радиатор на чипсете

Aluminum radiator on the elements of the processor power subsystem

Extenral I/O

1 x PS/2 Combo

1 x HDMI

1 x DisplayPort

1 x D-Sub

1 x DVI-D

1 x LAN (RJ45)

2 x USB 3.0

1 х USB 3.1 (Type-C)

1 х USB 3.1 (Type-A)

2 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

5 x audio jacks

Internal I/O

2 x USB 3.0, each with support of two USB 3.0 (19-pin)

2 x USB 2.0, each with support of two USB 2.0

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x SATA Express

1 х socket TPM

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x S/PDIF out

1 х button «MemOK!»

1 х module «TB_HEADER»

1 x power button

1 x CMOS

1 x switch «TPU»

1 х switch «EZ_XMP»

BIOS

64 Mb Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

PnP, ACPI 5.0, SM BIOS 2.8, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty card

Disk with drivers and utilities

1 х set ASUS Q-Connectors

1 х tool ASUS CPU Installation Tool

3 x SATA cables

1 х bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 х interface panel plug

Form-factor, dimensions

ATX

Producer website

ASUS
Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available on support page

Package and content

ASUS Z170-A

Motherboard ASUS Z170-A comes in a cardboard box with printing in dark colors. In addition to the model and the manufacturer, the front side features the supports for technology 5-Way Optimization and interfaces USB 3.1 with a bandwidth of 10 Gb/s. Additionally you can pay attention to the name of used chipset, support for technologies NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX, OS Windows 10, as well as the use of audio technologies DTS Connect and DTS Studio Sound. At the top you can notice nice gift for lovers of the game World of Warships: with the purchase they will get codes on 15 days of premium access and premium protected cruisers Diana.

ASUS Z170-A

In addition to the image of the motherboard and a short list of its characteristics the reverse side of the box contains information about support of a number of technologies:

  • 5-Way Optimization – board is equipped with two smart chips: CPU power (Energy Processing Unit - EPU) and TurboV-processor (TurboV Processing Unit - TPU). The fifth generation of the chips allows fine optimization of the system, depending on the current needs of the user. Also it includes a special generator of base frequency for easy overclocking Intel Core second generation.
  • USB 3.1 - ports located on the interface panel have a capacity of 10 Gb/s, which is two times higher than that of USB 3.0.
  • TurboLAN - using the included software you can monitor network activity of your PC in real time, and also to set each program priority access to network resources.
  • Crystal Sound 3 - preinstalled audio codec Realtek ALC892 which uses a special amplifier TI R4580I offers support for eight-channel sound. In order to avoid interference caused by electromagnetic interference, a special screening technology is applied. Audio capacitors produced by company Nichicon are used to ensure maximum audio quality. In addition, the left and right audio channels are on different layers of the PCB that accompanies minimizing crosstalk.

ASUS Z170-A

In the box with the ASUS Z170-A we found the following set of accessories:

  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • user manual;
  • three SATA cables;
  • set of ASUS Q-Connectors;
  • tool ASUS CPU Installation Tool for quick and correct installation of the processor;
  • bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • interface panel plug.

Design and features

ASUS Z170-A

New product is made dark brown PCB ATX format and has stylish decor in light shades and steel. Do note the presence of a protective casing on the interface panel.

ASUS Z170-A

Talking about the layout and ease of assembly, it is worth mentioning a little overloaded the lower edge of the PCB by various interfaces, but this feature will appeal to its owners. For the rest we have no complaints, as the location of all elements is balanced and convenient.

ASUS Z170-A

For example, the manufacturer made sure that the installed graphics card does not interfere with the replacement of memory modules, equipping DIMM-slots with latches on only one side. And overall expansion cards will not block access to the disk subsystem.

ASUS Z170-A

Looking at the back of the motherboard, you can draw attention not only to the usual base plate of the socket, but to the fact that the chipset heatsink is securely fastened with screws and coolers on the elements of the power subsystem attached with plastic clips.

ASUS Z170-A

In the lower left corner of the PCB you can find: the front panel audio connectors, S/PDIF Out, module «TB_HEADER» (for realization of interface Thunderbolt), power button, socket COM and TPM, one 4-pin socket for case fan connection , as well as front panel connation module. Do note two blocks to activate ports USB 2.0 and one for USB 3.0. In total, the new product supports six USB 2.0 ports: four are internal and two on the interface panel. The quantity of USB 3.0 is also six: four internal and two on the interface panel.

Special attention is given to two small switches «TPU» and «EZ_XMP». The first has three positions: "Off." "1" (automatic overclocking by increasing multiplier) and "2" (automatic overclocking by increasing the FSB clock and CPU multiplier). The second switch is used to activate the corresponding Intel XMP-profile memory.

ASUS Z170-A

ASUS Z170-A

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is presented by socket M.2 with bandwidth of 32 Gb/s (SSD-drives .2 2242, M.2 2260, M.2 2280 и M.2 22110 are supported), four ports SATA 6 Gb/s and one SATA Express that is compatible with two SATA 6  Gb/s. 

There is support for arrays SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10. Due to lack of available chipset lines, the motherboard contains a number of restrictions on the simultaneous use of several interfaces:

  • Interface M.2 shares the bandwidth with SATA Express, therefore their simultaneous use is not possible.
  • The third slot PCI Express 3.0 x16 (the board «PCIEX16_3») shares bandwidth with two of the six SATA 6 Gb/s (on-board «SATA6G_56»), so by default it is limited to x2 mode of operation.

ASUS Z170-A

Mainboard ASUS Z170-A is equipped with four DIMM-slots for memory modules of the standard DDR4, which are equipped with latches on one side. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. Its implementation is realized by installation either in the first and third or second and fourth slots (or takes all available ports). Modules operating at frequencies up to 3400 in overclocking mode are supported. The maximum amount of memory can be up to 64 GB, which is enough for almost any tasks.

Also note the presence of connection module for ports USB 3.0 ports and a button «MemOK!», which allows you to automatically pick up the necessary parameters of the memory for the successful launch of the system.

ASUS Z170-A

ASUS Z170-A

The cooling system of this motherboard consists of three aluminum radiators: the first removes the hot air from chipset Intel Z170, while other two cover the elements of the processor power subsystem. In the process of testing we’ve recorded the following temperature:

  • radiator for cooling the chipset - 32,7°C (during overclocking - 32,8°C);
  • top radiator of processor power subsystem cooling elements - 37°C (during overclocking - 38,1°C);
  • bottom radiator for cooling elements of the power subsystem processor - 42,4°C (during overclocking - 43,5°C);
  • chokes of processor power subsystem - 50,2°C (during overclocking - 52°C).

These results clearly indicate the higher efficiency of the cooling system, indicating the proper selection of materials and design.

ASUS Z170-A

ASUS Z170-A

Processor powering is carried out on 10-phase scheme for cores and additional nodes. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ASP1400B with integrated power consumption control system DIGI+ VRM. All components of the power CPU have a high degree of reliability: used solid capacitors and chokes with ferrite core. The main 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are used to provide supply voltage.

ASUS Z170-A

The possibility of expanding the functionality of the motherboard ASUS Z170-A is presented by seven slots:

  1. PCI Express 3.0 x1;
  2. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х16 or х8);
  3. PCI Express 3.0 x1;
  4. PCI;
  5. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х8);
  6. PCI Express 3.0 x1;
  7. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х4).

Due to the support for technologies NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX, this configuration provides the user to organize the graphics subsystem of the two or three video cards. Also note that the arrangement of the slots will allow easily connect two video cards with three slot cooling system. And you will have access to one connector PCI Express 3.0 x1.

ASUS Z170-A

Since the chipset Intel Z170 does not support bus PCI, and operation of the respective slots is implemented by the bridge PCIE-PCI, based on the controller ASMedia ASM1083.

ASUS Z170-A

If you decided to take advantage of the integrated graphics core into the CPU, you have four video outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI-D and D-Sub, service which is provided by chip ASMedia ASM1442K.

ASUS Z170-A

Multi I/O opportunities are based on chip NUVOTON NCT6793D, which controls the operation of the system fan, ports COM and PS/2, and provide monitoring.

ASUS Z170-A

Correct operation of the two USB 3.1 ports on the interface panel is provided by the chip ASMedia ASM1142.

ASUS Z170-A

In order to support network connections there is a gigabit LAN-controller Intel WGI219V. The distribution of network resources and prioritization of traffic is realized by proprietary utility TurboLAN.

ASUS Z170-A

The audio subsystem of the motherboard is based on the 8-channel HDA-codec Realtek ALC892, which supports audio formats 2/4 / 5.1 / 7.1. It has a number of proprietary features (concept Crystal Sound 3).

ASUS Z170-A

The interface panel of model has the following ports:

  • 1 x PS / 2 Combo;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 2 x USB 3.0;
  • 2 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 x USB 3.1 (Type-C);
  • 1 x USB 3.1 (Type-A);
  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DisplayPort;
  • 1 x D-Sub;
  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x Optical S / PDIF out;
  • 5 x audio ports.

This configuration can be described as excellent, because here is not only everything you need, but even more: four video outputs, a large number of ports USB (including two high-speed USB 3.1), as well as easy connection of multi-channel speakers and support the periphery PS/2 .

Also do note that using the appropriate modules on the PCB, you can put ports COM and Thunderbolt to the rear panel.

UEFI BIOS

Model uses modern preloader based on UEFI. To provide the setting is possible via mouse control. It proposes two main scenario of the usage.

ASUS Z170-A

“EZ Mode” mode where all required settings are grouped in one screen.

ASUS Z170-A

Or standard “Advanced Mode” mode where all settings should be done manually.

ASUS Z170-A

All overclocking parameters are in section “Ai Tweaker”.

ASUS Z170-A

Frequency multiplier allows to set module connection speed within 800-4266 MHz.

ASUS Z170-A

If necessary you can get the access to memory latency adjustments.

Adjustments required to overclock and optimize the system:

Parameter

Menu

Range

Step

System bus frequency

BCLK Frequency

40,0 – 650,0

0,1

RAM frequency

Memory Frequency

800 − 4266

 

RAM timings

DRAM Timing

CAS Latency, RAS to CAS, RAS PRE Time, RAS ACT Time, DRAM COMMAND Mode, RAS to RAS Delay, REF Cycle Time, Write Recovery Time, READ to PRE Time, FOUR ACT WIN Time, WRITE to READ Delay, Write Latency

 

 

CPU Core Ratio

8 – MAX

1

 

Long Duration Package Power Limit

1 – 4096

1

 

Package Power Time Window

1 − 127

1

 

Short Duration Package Power Limit

1 − 4096

1

 

CPU Load-line Calibration

1 − 7

 

 

CPU Current Capability

100 − 140

 

 

CPU Core / Cache Boot Voltage

0,600 – 1,700

 

 

DMI Boot Voltage

0,300 – 1,900

 

 

CPU SA Boot Voltage

0,7000 – 1,8000

 

 

CPU VCCIO Boot Voltage

0,7000 – 1,8000

 

 

CPU Standby Boot voltage

0,700 − 2,200

 

 

CPU Core Voltage Override

0,600 – 1,720

0,005

 

CPU System Agent Voltage

0,70000 – 1,80000

0,001

 

IA AC Load Line

0,01 – 62,49

 

 

IA DC Load Line

0,01 – 62,49

 

RAM voltage

DRAM Voltage

1,0032 – 2,0064

0,0067

Chipset voltage

PCH Core Voltage

0,70000 – 1,80000

0,01250

 

VPPDDR Voltage

1,86500 – 2,70000

 

 

DMI Voltage

0,30000 – 1,90000

 

 

DRAM CTRL REF Voltage

0,39500 – 0,63000

0,00500

 

DRAM DATA REF Voltage on CHA

0,39500 – 0,63000

0,00500

 

CPU VCCIO Voltage

0,70000 – 1,80000

 

 

CPU Standby Voltage

0,800 – 1,600

 

ASUS Z170-A

ASUS Z170-A

“Monitor” section provides the access to information about temperature of CPU and chipset and monitor rotation speed of installed fans. Additionally you can monitor the voltage of the CPU core and lines +12V, +5V and +3,3V. The key indicators of the processor, memory and power lines can be monitored in any section due to the side panel.


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