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ASUS Z170 PRO GAMING/AURA Review

ASUS Z170 PRO GAMING/AURA Review. Today on the bench is a Z170 motherboard from ASUS. Sporting an all black/gray design, it is perfect for any consumer theming a sleek rig. The aura lighting is an interesting take on the current RGB phase, which matches many other ASUS products. Feature-wise, it’s rich with the likes of 2 way SLI and Crossfire, USB 3.1 (type C), M.2,  and DDR4 frequency up to 3466 MHz. For those eagled eyed out there, this is indeed a new revision of the the original. The standout element is the 3d printer add-on support, allowing you to customize and make the product 100% unique!

The ASUS Z170 PRO GAMING/AURA is retailing on the day of review for £150 (check other regions)

[ASUS Z170 PRO GAMING/AURA  Main Features]

  • LGA1151 socket for 6th-generation Intel® Core™ i7 / Core i5 / Core i3, Pentium® and Celeron® processors
  • Dual DDR4 3466 (OC) support
  • True gaming aesthetics: 3D-printing friendly and Aura RGB lighting
  • Easy and stable overclocking: Pro Clock technology, 5-Way Optimisation and 2nd-generation T-Topology
  • SupremeFX: Flawless audio that makes you part of the game
  • Sonic Radar ll: Scan and detect your enemies to dominate
  • Top-speed protected networking: Intel Gigabit Ethernet, LANGuard and GameFirst IV
  • RAMCache: Speed up your game loads
  • Ultra-speedy transfers for faster gaming: USB 3.1 Type-A/C & M.2
  • Gamer’s Guardian: SafeSlot, highly-durable components and smart DIY features

Courtesy of ASUS, see FULL specifications

[nextpage title=”Packaging & Accessories”]

The new ASUS packaging has had a rethink, moving toward a super clean design. With a real emphasis on the lighting, around the back, the vast array of features are precisely detailed.

Taking a look at the bundle now in no particular order, you’ll find the following:

  • Velcro Strap
  • I/O Shield
  • 4X SATA Cables
  • Sticker Label Kit
  • User manuals/Quick start
  • CPU Install Tool

For the price point, it’s about right. Comparing it, to the competition this is more enticing

First Look

 

The first impressions are great; this is exactly the kind of board I’ve been hoping for! Finally, a board that ticks all the boxes, simplistic, low key and dark! Sure, that’s been done before, but they tend to be on the cheaper boards, and the end results average. Not here, this has been styled to perfection. The amount of black and greys are immense, and that’s exactly what I and many others want. The silver accents are low key, and don’t spoil the design.

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The trace lines along the PCB are a nice touch, and the heatsinks blend well, the Intel Z170 heatsink, is made up with lots of accented, and hard edges. The two-part heatsink over the MOSFETs is a unique approach, with an aggressive and oversized feel.

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[PCI-E Setup]

Plenty of choice on this board for the graphics card setups.

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  • Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
  • Supports NVIDIA® 2-Way SLI™ Technology
  • Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
  • Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ Technology
  • Expansion Slots

    2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (Single at x16, dual at x8/x8

    1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode)

    3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x1

[Audio]

SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
– Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-recording, Front Panel Jack-retasking
– High quality 115 dB SNR stereo playback output
Audio Feature :
– SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
– Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
– Sonic Radar II

[Storage Options]

Geared towards gamers, clues in the product name!. ASUS have gone for an all SATA approach, avoiding SATA Express, which let us face it..is dead already

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  • 6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s),
  • Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
  • Intel® Rapid Storage Technology supports
  • Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology

 

[M.2 / U.2]

  • 1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M Key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode)*1

An interesting design element is a 3D printer friendly feature. Shown above is the M.2 cover, for those that don’t intend to use any drive!

[Fan Locations]

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A total of 5 headers for system or CPU fans

1 & 2. Near DDR4 Banks

3. Near 24 pin POWER

4. Above PCIe Slots

5. Base of board

[Other ports/ Features]

Along the motherboard base, you’ll find plenty of headers and the actual placement of everything is neat and well thought out.

  • 1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
  • 3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
  • 1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key design, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (Supports both SATA & PCIE SSD)
  • 1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
  • 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
  • 1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
  • 1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
  • 3 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (3 x 4 -pin)
  • 1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
  • 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
  • 1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
  • 1 x System panel(s)
  • 1 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
  • 1 x CPU OV
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
  • 1 x 5-pin EXT_FAN(Extension Fan) connector
  • 1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s)
  • 1 x 14-1 pin TPM connector

Finishing up our tour of the board, looking at the I/O which consists of:

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  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x D-Sub
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
  • 1 x USB 3.1 (red)Type-A
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF out
  • 5 x Audio jack(s)

[Lighting]

ASUS has added lighting along the right edge of the PCB. It’s not the same caliber as the implementation the ASUS X99 we recently reviewed. That said it does offer a subtle glow, which is what most prefer in my experience anyhow.

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ASUS Z170 PRO GAMING AURA Review
Bottom Line
The performance of the board, was fantastic from one test to the next, nipping at the tails of more expensive products. No single weak areas, or any cause for concern. being an ASUS product we could have called exactly that, right at the start of the review. The decision to breathe some fresh life into a perfectly fine product, may be questionable...but in this instance, we support the decision. The end result is yet another stunning ASUS product. Pricing on the day of review is very fair too.
Positive
Clean and refreshing design
Simplistic but effective ligthing
3D Printer support!
Strong and consistent performance.
UEFI will change how you look at others! Amazing...
Negative
Nope...none!
9.5
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