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::>Motherboards > 2015 > 08 > GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

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Republish review

30-08-2015


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Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7: review and testing

An updated series of devices for gamers GIGABYTE G1 GAMING includes not only the mid-level model, such as the GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 3, but the flagship cards. And one of them will be described in this review. GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 has a very good equipment, including the traditional advantages of this series: gaming network controller supplemented company Intel; a good sound system, as well as a number of overclcking opportunities that will help you get an extra performance boost in games.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

The specs:

Producer and model

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Chipset

Intel Z170

CPU socket

Socket LGA1151

Supported CPUs

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

Memory frequency

3866* / 3733* / 3666* / 3600* / 3466* / 3400* / 3333* / 3300* / 3200* / 3000* / 2800* / 2666* / 2400* / 2133 MHz

(*OC)

Memory support

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

Expansion slots

2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16 / x8+x8)

1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4)

3 x PCI Express 3.0 x1

Disk subsystem

Intel Z170 chipset supports:

2 x M.2 Socket 3 (M.2 2242, M.2 2260, M.2 2280)

3 x SATA Express (each is compatible with 2 х SATA 6 Gb/s)

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

ASMedia ASM1061 controller supports:

2 x SATA 6 Gb/s

LAN

1 x Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2400 (10/100/1000 Mb/s)

1 x Intel WGI219V (10/100/1000 Mb/s)

Sound subsystem

Creative Sound Core3D

5.1-channel sound

Power

1 х 24-pin ATX connector

1 x 8-pin ATX12V connector

Fans

2 x CPU sockets (4-pin)

3 x system fans sockets (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminium radiators on the elements of processor power subsystem connected by heat pipe 

Aluminum heatsink on the chipset

External I/O

1 x PS/2 Combo

1 x HDMI

1 x DisplayPort

2 x LAN (RJ45)

5 x USB 3.0

1 х USB 3.1 (Type-C)

1 х USB 3.1 (Type-A)

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

5 x audio jacks

Internal I/O

2 x USB 3.0, each compatible with two USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0, each compatible with two USB 2.0

2 x SATA 6 Gb/s

3 x SATA Express

1 х socket TPM

1 х COM

1 x audio output connector on the front panel

1 x unit front panel connectors

1 x CMOS reset

1 x diagnostic LED-indicator

1 x button «ECO»

1 x button «OC»

1 x button «Power»

1 x button «reboot»

1 x button «CMOS reset»

1 x set of contact for voltage measuring  

1 х BIOS switch

BIOS

2 x 128 Mb Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

PnP 1.0а, ACPI 5.0, SM BIOS 2.8, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty card

Driver and utility CD

4 x SATA cables

1 х bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 x set GIGABYTE G Connector

1 х interface panel plug

Form-factor  

ATX

305 x 244 мм

Producer website

GIGABYTE
New versions of BIOS and drivers are available on support page

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 is shipped in a rather large and high-quality cardboard box. Most of the front side is taken by the logo of the series GIGABYTE G1 GAMING and the image of the radiator. Also note the information about the support for RAM DDR4 and interface USB 3.1 Type-C. In addition here is the information about the presence of complete code for a protected cruisers Diana and other bonuses in the game World of Warships.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

In addition to picture of interface panel and brief specifications the reverse side of the package features a description of the key features and supported technologies:

  • USB 3.1 - four lines of the internal interface PCI Express 3.0 are used to arrange two ports USB 3.1 on the interface panel. They provide a common channel with a capacity of 32 Gb/s. This is more than enough to realize optimum potential.
  • Killer Gaming + Intel GbE LAN - the motherboard has two network controllers: one from the company Intel, as the second Qualcomm. The latter has the ability to automatically allocate gaming traffic and raise its priority in relation to the low-level system, providing low latency in online games.
  • Creative Sound Core 3D - model is equipped with a high-quality quad-core audio processor manufactured by Creative, and also a set of proprietary software in the package.
  • AMP-UP - preset audio amplifier TI OPA2134PA can be easily replaced by any other.
  • Dual DAC-UP USB Ports - on the interface panel we found two special USB 3.0 ports with gold-plated connectors that are designed for connecting an external sound card or amplifier. They are powered through a special converter directly from the power lines and provide a more stable and less noisy output voltage. In the case of own power supply, power on the connectors can be disabled to improve the quality of signal transmission.
  • LED Trace Path - the area of the PCB, which is soldered to the sound system, shielded with a special metal strip with LED-backlit, the color of which can be adjusted using the included software.
  • Long Lifespan Solid Capacitors - all power circuits of the motherboard use only Japanese solid capacitors Durable Black series with extended life.
  • TURBO B-CLOCK - special generator allows you to adjust the reference frequency of processor cores up to 1 MHz, increasing the overclocking potential.
  • Ultra Durable PCIe Metal Shielding - connectors PCI Express 3.0 x16 are reinforced with special metal plates.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Package of GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 features:

  • user guide;
  • brochure with a description of the guarantee;
  • drivers and utilities CD;
  • four SATA cables;
  • bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • set GIGABYTE G Connector, which greatly simplifies the process of connecting the PC;
  • interface panel plug.

Design and features

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

The black ATX printed circuit board is combined with red splashes in the design of the expansion slots and white radiator design elements and protective shroud on the interface panel. In general it can be noted that during design a lot of attention to the appearance of GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 was paid.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

As for the on-board elements layout, the layout of all the ports and connectors do not complicate the assembly process of the system:-DIMM slots are equipped with latches on one side only, and SATA ports are arranged parallel to the surface of the board.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

The reverse side has traditionally the base plate of the socket and fastening screw of a radiator.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

The bottom of the PCB contains: pads for connecting audio connectors, system fan connector, front panel module (with color highlighting to simplify the process of connecting the corresponding cables), the switch between the two chips with firmware BIOS, ports COM and TPM. Additionally, we note two pads to activate the four ports USB 2.0.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is presented by two connectors M.2 Socket 3 (drives M.2 2242, M.2 2260 and M.2 2280 are supported), two ports SATA 6 Gb/s and three SATA Express. Each is compatible with two SATA 6 Gb/s. There is support for arrays SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10.

Note that not all of them can operate simultaneously. The manual describes in detail the different operating configurations for the involvement of various interfaces of the disk subsystem.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Mainboard GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 is equipped with four DIMM-slots for modules RAM DDR4, which for convenience are equipped with latches only on one side. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. The modules should be installed in the first and third or second and fourth slots (or occupy all available slots). Modules operating at frequencies up to 3866 MHz in overclocking are supported. The maximum amount of memory can be up to 64 GB, which is enough for any task.

Additionally we note two modules for connecting remote panel with ports USB 3.0, which operate through the controller Renesas D720210. A chipset is implemented using five external ports USB 3.0.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

The upper right corner of the PCB deserves special attention. There are some interesting controls that will be especially useful in the case of application of new item as the basis for an open stand or overclocking experiments. Here we have: "Enable", "Restart", “CMOS reset”, «OC» and «ECO»; diagnostic LED-indicator, as well as point to measure the voltage on key components of the system using a multimeter.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Cooling System of GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 consists of three main aluminum radiators, one carries out the removal of heat from the chipset Intel Z170, while the other two connected with heat pipe have covered the elements of the power subsystem processor.

The following temperature were observed during testing:

  • cooling heat sink of the chipset - 32°C (during overclocking - 33,2°C);
  • upper cooling heat sink of processor power subsystem elements - 33,5°C (during overclocking - 35,1°C);
  • bottom cooling heat sink of processor power subsystem elements - 31,9°C (during overclocking - 33,8°C).

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

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

CPU power is carried out by a reinforced 11-phase scheme for cores and additional nodes. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ISL95856. Element base is realized using high-quality components. It is composed of a series of Japanese solid capacitors Durable Black, FETs with low on-resistance (Low RDS (on)), as well as ferrite core chokes. Main 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are used to supply voltage. It also has an additional PCI Express power connector near the 24-pin connector, which will be useful in organizing a powerful graphics subsystem of two or more graphics cards.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

To extend the functionality of the motherboard GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 has six slots:

  1. PCI Express 3.0 x1;
  2. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16 mode or x8);
  3. PCI Express 3.0 x1;
  4. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x8 mode);
  5. PCI Express 3.0 x1;
  6. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4 mode).

This configuration offers the user to organize the graphics subsystem of the two or three video cards with support for technologies NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX. Location of slots will allow easily connect two video cards with three slot cooling system. And you will still have access to one connector PCI Express 3.0 x1.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

If you decided to take advantage of the graphics core integrated into the CPU, you have two video outputs: HDMI and DisplayPort, navigated by the chip MegaChips MCDP2800BB.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Multi I/O capabilities are based on chip ITE 8628E which controls the operation of the system fans, COM and PS/2 ports, as well as provides the monitoring.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Correct operation of four internal USB 3.0 ports is provided by chip Renesas D720210.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Two additional SATA 6 Gb/s controller is implemented by ASMedia ASM1061.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

To support network connections there are two GB LAN-controllers: Intel WGI219V and Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2400. The last has a number of advantages of hardware and software to improve the processing speed of the gaming network traffic.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Sound subsystem of model is based on the HAD-codec of 5.1-channel sound Creative Sound Core3D. It includes special audio capacitors Bi-Polarized produced by Nichicon companies and pre-amplifier Texas Instruments OPA2134PA. According to the manufacturer, it has a neutral color of sound and is suitable for all genres of music. There is the possibility of easy replacement to the other one, which has a narrow focus on a specific genre of music. In addition, we note the presence of a protective housing to shield the audio codec and the use of gold-plated audio connectors on the interface. A software Sound Blaster SBX Pro Studio is used for fine-tuning the sound quality to the desired level.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Interface panel of the model contains the following ports:

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DisplayPort;
  • 2 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 5 x USB 3.0;
  • 1 х USB 3.1 (Type-C);
  • 1 х USB 3.1 (Type-A);
  • 1 x PS/2 Combo;
  • 1 х optical S/PDIF out;
  • 5 x audio jacks.

This arrangement can be considered as very successful, as there are two modern video outputs, easy connection of multi-channel speakers, a large number of ports USB 3.0 and two USB 3.1, as well as two LAN connectors. Also here are additional two special ports USB 3.0 (yellow) that are designed to connect an external sound card thanks to the implementation of the technology USB DAC-UP.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

The possibility of organizing the cooling system inside the body of GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 is very standard. There are five 4-pin fan connectors, two of which serve to cool the CPU, while the others are intended for the system fan.

UEFI BIOS

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

The tested model is equipped with modern firmware UEFI based on microcode AMI with the ability to operate in four modes: «Smart Tweak», «Smart Tweak HD», «Classic» and «StartUp».

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

As you may have noticed the mode «Smart Tweak HD» doesn’t have separate section responsible for monitoring voltages and temperatures of the main components, because all the necessary information is displayed directly on the side panels. Here you can watch the CPU temperature and fan speed set to monitor the voltage of the module memory, processor, and on the lines +12V, +5V and +3.3V, as well as a number of other important parameters. Additionally we want to note that not all items in the mode of «Classic», are available in «Smart Tweak HD».

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

All settings associated with the key elements of the system are conveniently grouped in the appropriate tabs.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

In the tab «Frequency» it is possible to select one of six types of automatic optimization of parameters of the system.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

Memory frequency multiplier allows you to set the speed of the connected modules in the range from 800 to 4133 MHz.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

If necessary, in the section «Voltage» you can access the voltage regulation on all of the key components of the system.

The settings required to optimize the system, are summarized in the table:

Parameter

Menu

Range

Step

CPU multiplier

CPU Clock Ratio

8 – MAX

 

 

CPU Base Clock

80,00 – 500,00

0,01

 

CPU VCCIO

0,800 – 1,300

 

RAM frequency

System Memory Multiplier

800 – 4133

 

CPU voltage

CPU Vcore

0,600 – 1,800

0,001

Profiles of automatic overclocking

Performance Upgrade

Auto, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100%

 

CPU Upgrade

Auto; 4,3; 4,4; 4,5; 4,6; 4,7 GHz

RAM voltage

DRAM Voltage

1,000 – 2,000

0,020

 

DDRVPP Voltage

1,980 – 3,020

 

 

DRAM Termination

0,375 – 1,666

 

Chipset voltage

PCH Core

0,800 – 1,300

 

0,020

Graphics core voltage

CPU Graphics Voltage

0,600 – 1,500

0,001

System agent voltage

CPU System Agent Voltage

0,800 – 1,300

0,001

RAM timings

Timing Control

CAS, tRCD, tRP, tRAS, tRRD, tWTR, tWR, tWTP, tWL, tRFC, tRTP, tFAW

 


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