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Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE Z170X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard Review. Today on the bench is a Z170 motherboard from GIGABYTE. Sporting an all black design, it is perfect for any consumer theming a sleek rig. The ambient lighting is an interesting take on the current RGB phase. Feature-wise, it’s rich with the likes of 2 way SLI and Crossfire, USB 3.1 (type C), M.2, U.2, and DDR4 frequency up to 3866 MHz.

The GIGABYTE Z170X-Ultra Gaming is retailing on the day of review for £155 (check other regions)

[GIGABYTE Z170X-Ultra Gaming Main Features]

  • Intel® Thunderbolt™ 3 Certified Motherboard
  • Supports 6th Generation Intel® Core™ Processor
  • Dual Channel, Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4, 4 DIMMs
  • Intel® USB 3.1 with USB Type-C™ & PD 2.0 100W Support
  • 2-Way SLI™ & CrossFire™ Multi-Graphics Support
  • NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 22110 M.2 Interface & U.2 Interface for Intel® SSD 750
  • Best Support for 3 Intel® SSD 750 Devices in RAID 0
  • 2 SATA Express Connectors for Up to 16Gb/s Data Transfer
  • Intel® GbE LAN with cFosSpeed Internet Accelerator Software
  • High Quality Audio Capacitors and Audio Noise Guard with Ambient LED Trace Path Lighting
  • Ultra Durable Metal Shielding over PCIe and DDR Slots
  • Ultra Durable Anti-Sulfur Resistors for Longer Lifespan
  • Ultra Durable Anti-Rust Rear I/O Connectors
  • Dual Hybrid Fan Headers with Precise PWM / Voltage Control for Water Pump & Fan
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™ Technology
  • APP Center Including EasyTune™ and Cloud Station™ Utilities
  • Rear Panel Mini DisplayPort-In for Future Feature Upgrade

Courtesy of GIGABYTE, see FULL specifications

[nextpage title=”Packaging & Accessories”]

Starting with the front side of the box, most of the new GIGABYTE packages, share the same bold and colorful look. It is a classy design, that relays information you to, in a clean manner.

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

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-ULTRA-GAMING- bundle

  • Door Hanger
  • Badge/Sticker
  • G- Connector
  • Velcro Strap
  • I/O Shield
  • 4X SATA Cables
  • Sticker Label Kit
  • User manuals/Quick start

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

[nextpage title=”First Look”]

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard (10)

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 is immense, and that’s exactly what I and many others want. The silver accents are low key, and don’t spoil the design.

 

The heatsinks are on that fine line between basic and minimalistic, the decision to keep any colours out, and the design toned down, was the right move. Upon closer inspection, they both feature a brushed finish. The shroud is another welcome addition, sporting a unique honeycomb mesh. Which thermally may or may not help, regardless I like it!

 

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard (8)

The DDR4 banks support for DDR4 3866(O.C.)

 

[PCI-E Setup]

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard (3)

  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
    * For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.

 

  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
    * The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot operates at up to x8 mode.

 

  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
    * The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with the SATA3 0/1 connectors. When the PCIEX4 slot is installed with overclocking x4 or above card, the SATA 3 0/1 connectors becomes unavailable.

2 way SLI and Xfire is supported

[Audio]

Gigabyte Z170X ULTRA GAMING Review (13)

Audio here is handled by the ALC892 codec.

[Storage Options]

Gigabyte Z170X ULTRA GAMING Review (18)

  • 2 x SATA Express connectors
  • 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  • Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10

The vertical ports aren’t to my liking, but the location means they will not clash with any GPU!

[M.2 / U.2]

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard (2)

  • 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4/x2 SSD support)
  • 1 x U.2 connector

 

[Fan Locations]

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard Review- Fan Locations

A total of 5 headers for system or CPU fans

. Above top heatsink

2 & 3. Near DDR4 Banks

4. Near 24 pin POWER

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 front panel header
  • 1 x front panel audio header
  • 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  • 1 x S/PDIF Out header
  • 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
  • 1 x Thunderbolt™ add-in card connector
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper

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

Gigabyte Z170X ULTRA GAMING Review (6)

  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
  • 1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 support
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A port (red)
  • 1 x Mini-DisplayPort In port
  • 1 x Mini-DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI port
  • 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 1 x RJ-45 port
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)

[Lighting]

GIGABYTE has added lighting in unusual and unexpected points such as the DDR4 slots. The effect is brilliant We also have lighting from the heatsink and down both sides of the board. The LED’s around the PCIE slots will add a subtle under glow to any GPU too. I appreciate their unique take on lighting.

The problem is…what if you don’t like red? Or wanted to change it too blue or green? Sadly theirs no option to do so. A real shame

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard Review- Lighting

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard (2)

BIOS Overview

The UEFI BIOS has had a rethink, and the idea is to direct offer control, without the extras cluttering the UEFI. The layout is much cleaner, than past revisions

Gigabyte X99 ULTRA GAMING BIOS (2)

 

Gigabyte X99 ULTRA GAMING BIOS (1)

You can switch over to easy mode, if you prefer to set up XMP or check temps.

[MIT]

MIT is GIGABYTEs offering for overclocking. Inside you’ll find everything is sectioned into logical tabs.

[System]

A generic tab with readouts and BIOS info

[BIOS]

Self-explanatory tab,  boot order and such

[Peripherals]

Control for USB, audio and network

[Chipset]

Power control and save/exit
Test Setup and Overclocking

 

Proudly Powered by our Dimastech Mini V1.0 Test Bench

Expand to Read

Processor:

Intel® i5 6600K (Skylake)
Memory: 16GB Kingston Kingston Predator 16GB  DDR4 PC4-24000C15 3200MHz Quad Channel Kit
Motherboard:
Video Card:  AMD/ XFX 390
PSU: Bitfenix Fury 750G
Hard Drives: SSD – Kingston HyperX 3k240GB

M.2 -Kingston M.2 HyperX 240GB

OS: Windows 10 X64

We would like to thank or sponsors for their support with our test system, Kingston,Dismatech,Cooler Master,Noctua and MSI

[6600K Overclocking]

BIOSTAR Z170X REVIEW 6600K CPUZ (2)

In a nutshell, we have 4 physical cores, DDR4 and DDR3L support, a new IGPU in the form of Intel® HD Graphics 530, the 14nm architecture, and a base clock of 3.5 GHz, which can boost to 3.9 GHz

After so many Z170 reviews, I just want to jump in and talk numbers today. Our  CPU has a limit of 4800Mhz. we hit that target and held stability with no issue.

[Testing Method]

Our test method  uses a large variety of software to determine the results and product award. For your viewing, these are broken down into the following categories

  • General System
  • CPU & Memory
  • Gaming
  • Storage & USB
  • Audio &Networking
[nextpage title=”CPU & RAM Results”]

[General Performance]

We start with a broader view of general system performance and then break it down, as we delve deeper with sub testing, where we can examine key areas.

-[PC Mark 8]

PCMark 8 from Futuremark. PCMark 8 is designed to test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. It’s the complete PC benchmark for home and business.

The first  test we run is PCMark 8, as we’re also able to gauge an all-around score. This test is heavily affected by all internal components rather than focusing on just one.

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming - PCMARK

PC Mark shows this board, as the better of the three Z170 products we’ve seen from GIGABYTE.

[CPU]

-[Performance Test 8]

Passmark PerformanceTest is an award winning PC hardware benchmark utility that allows everybody to quickly assess the performance of their computer and compare it to a number of standard ‘baseline’ computer systems. Find out if your PC is performing at its best, compare the performance of your machine to similar machines and make objective independent measurements on which to base your purchasing decision.

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming -Performance Test 8 CPU

Fantastic results here, from the product.

[-AIDA64 CPU]

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users. AIDA64 Extreme Edition provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory.

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming -AIDA CPU

Strong results again, taking the top spot.

-[CINEBENCH]

Cinebench is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming -Cinebench Results

Best 6600K results to date, in cinebench, impressive!

[RAM/CACHE]

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming -AIDA Cache

The 3000Mhz kit performs well, placing where I expected it would

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming -Performance Test 8 RAM

Different testing methods show the RAM in a better light with Performance Test 8.

Gaming Results

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming -Gaming Results

We tested a selection of games, and the product delivered brilliant performance, narrowly missing the top spot! For the price point, this is unprecedented,

[nextpage title=”Storage & USB Results”]

 

[SATA]

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming - SATA

Almost top of our charts, with SATA III speed.

[M.2]

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming -M2 READ Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming -M2 WRITE

Both Read and Write performance on the ULTRA GAMING are strong,

[USB]

We don’t have any USB 3.1  (Gen2 ) devices at the time of testing, so will be focusing on 3.0/3.1 only. Be sure to understand the actual difference between USB 3.0/3.1 Gen 1 & Gen 2. As it’s something that not all brands have explained clearly.To measure speeds we use AS-SSD, with an SSD inside a USB 3.0 Caddy from Startech

The Kingston SSD has a theoretical limit of 499MB/s Write, when hooked up internally to a SATA 6GB/s port. Overheads and such we accept that some degradation occurs when used over USB 3.0/3.1

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming - USB

As expected the controllers have matured over time but differences in terms of speed between models, are minimal.

 

[Network]

Using the inbuilt network test for Performance test 8. The method is to install the software on two machines, which are on the same network. One acts as a client and the other as a server, a designated amount of data is sent across and then the Min, Avg, and Max transfer speeds are outputted.

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming - LAN

The Intel solution proved very impressive.

[Audio]

We use RightMark Audio Analyzer, connecting  “Line out” to “Line in” with a 3.5mm cable.

The Audio quality, as you would expect from GIGABYTE, was fantastic!

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB
+0.65, +0.09
Good
Noise level, dB (A)
-94.8
Very good
Dynamic range, dB (A)
94.7
Very good
THD, %
0.0037
Very good
THD + Noise, dB (A)
-80.7
Good
IMD + Noise, %
0.012
Very good
Stereo crosstalk, dB
-88.4
Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %
0.011
Very good
General performance
Very good
[nextpage title=”Conclusion – TL:DR”]

[Conclusion – TL:DR]

So then conclusion time, almost a year has passed since the Skylake launch. Availability and pricing weren’t at the same level that we’ve seen in the past. In turn, there just wasn’t that massive surge of interest that we tend to see. Over time the CPU prices have settled, as has the RAM. Back when DDR4 launched, the asking price was hard to digest. Now in mid-2016, they’re almost giving it away. Ok slight exaggeration… on a serious note, the upgrade prices from AMD or even older gen Intel kits, are now at the sweet spot. As with past chipsets, we have the entry, mid and high-end. This product sits at the mid-range level but borrows features from a product of a higher caliber.

 

Before we even talk performance, we have to chat about the visuals. GIGABYTE has evolved with the growing demands of the consumer; two tones just aren’t enough anymore. Now we can go in so many directions, and they’ve covered all the commons combos. What about those that want a stealthy, subtle or dark look? Well, This product is one of few that ticks the boxes for such desires, before now you’d have to mod heatsinks to achieve anything like this. It feels like I talk about RGB in every review at the moment, thankfully those of use that don’t really want it, have a decent alternative to the ambient red lighting. Granted that almost goes against the whole point of having a black blank canvas, to theme your rig, still it’s appreciated. I’d much prefer a white LED, but red should please most.

 

The performance was fantastic from start to finish, with no weak areas to be found. Likewise overclocking was easy and solid as a rock, with little effort in the UEFI. For the price tag, I was delighted to see it bettering much more expensive products from other brands!

 

We would like to thank GIGABYTE for providing the sample, and eagerly await more from them soon!

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard Review
Bottom line
In the market for something dark or stealthy, but don't want to comprosmise on the features set? This is the product for you! 
Positive
Fair Asking Price
Solid UEFI
Overclocks Well
Performs Great Even At Stock
Decent Bundle
All Black Design Is Very Welcome!
Negative
FIXED RED Ambient light wont please all consumers.
9.7
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