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ASUS Z170-A Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Z170-A motherboard is among initial offerings from ASUS' channel line of Intel Z170 chipset board line. The board features ASUS' new Channel line aesthetics, featuring white and black coloration to differentiate the line from their Z97 gold-theme offerings. ASUS uses the Z170-A to redefine the definition of a base-line motherboard, integrating many "upper-tier style" features not normally found on the lower tier offerings. The board's integrated Intel Z170 chipset integrates support for the latest Intel LGA1151 Skylake processor line as well as Dual Channel DDR4 memory. Offered at a price-competitive MSRP of $165, the Z170-A threatens to give the rest of the Z170-based boards a run for the money.

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Z170 shares the same DIGI+ style power system of its higher priced siblings, featuring an 8-phase digital power delivery system. ASUS integrated the following features into the Z170-A board: four SATA 3 ports; one SATA-Express port; one M.2 PCIe x4 capable port; an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; one PCI slot; on-board power, and MemOK! buttons; EZ XMP and TPU switches; Crystal Sound 3 audio subsystem; integrated DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and VGA video ports; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Z170-A motherboard comes standard with ASUS latest iteration of their sound technology, dubbed Crystal Sound 3. Like its predecessors, Crystal Sound 3 integrates the audio components on a isolated PCB from the other main board components minimizing noise generation caused by those other integrated devices. ASUS designed the audio subsystem with high-quality Japanese-sourced audio and power circuitry for a top-notch audio experience.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Z170-A motherboard!

Technical Specifications (taken from the ASUS website)

CPU LGA1151 socket for 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 / i5 / i3 / Pentium® / Celeron® Processors
Supports 14 nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0

* The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types.

Chipset Intel® Z170 Express Chipset
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4
3400(O.C.) / 3300(O.C.) / 3200(O.C.) / 3100(O.C.) / 3000(O.C.) / 2933(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666(O.C.) / 2600(O.C.) / 2400(O.C.) / 2200(O.C.) / 2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory *
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)

* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs. Please refer to Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists) for details.

Graphics Integrated Graphics Processor - Intel® HD Graphics support
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DVI-D/RGB/DisplayPort ports
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DVI-D with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
- Supports RGB with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2304 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 512 MB
Supports Intel® InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
Supports up to 3 displays simultaneously
DP 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport compliant, supports DP 1.2 monitor daisy chain up to 3 displays
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode)*1
3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x1
1 x PCI

*1: The PCIe x16_3 slot shares bandwidth with SATA6G_56. The PCIe x16_3 is default set at x2 mode.

Storage Intel® Z170 chipset :
1 x SATA Express port, compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 x4 Socket 3*2 with M Key, type 2242 / 2260 / 2280 / 22110 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode)*3
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology*4

*2: Supports PCIE RAID configurations via onboard M.2 and PCIex16_3.
*3: M.2 shares SATA mode with SATA Express. Change this item before installing M.2 SATA devices.
*4: These functions will work depending on the CPU installed.

LAN Intel® I219V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s), Dual interconnect between the Integrated Media Access Controller (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY)
Gigabit Intel® LAN Connection- 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) appliance
ASUS Turbo LAN Utility
ASUS LAN Guard
Audio Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC featuring Crystal Sound 3
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel MIC Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
- DTS Connect
- DTS Studio Sound
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
- LED-lit Audio Shielding: Ensures precision analog/digital separation and greatly reduced multi-lateral interference, with a gorgeous illuminated trace path
- Dedicated audio PCB layers: Separate layers for left and right channels to guard the quality of the sensitive audio signals
- Audio amplifier: Provides the highest-quality sound for headphone and speakers
- Premium Japanese-made audio capacitors: Provide warm, natural and immersive sound with exceptional clarity and fidelity
- Unique de-pop circuit: Reduces start-up popping noise to audio outputs
- Top notch audio sensation delivers according to the audio configuration
- EMI protection cover to prevent electrical noise to affect the amplifier quality
- Absolute Pitch 192khz/24bit true BD lossless sound
- Power pre-regulator: Reduces power input noise to ensure consistent performance
Separate layer for left and right track, ensuring both sound deliver equal quality
USB Ports Intel® Z170 chipset :
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 4 at mid-board)
Intel® Z170 chipset :
6 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, , 4 at mid-board)

ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller :
1 x USB 3.1/3.0/2.0 port(s) (1 at back panel, , Type-C)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller :
1 x USB 3.1/3.0/2.0 port(s) (1 at back panel, teal blue, Type-A)

Special Features OC Design - ASUS PRO Clock Technology
- Full BCLK range for extreme overclocking performance
5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5
- Whole system optimization with a single click! 5-Way Optimization tuning key perfectly consolidates TPU, EPU, DIGI+ Power Control, Fan Xpert 3, and Turbo App together, providing better CPU performance, efficient power saving, precise digital power control, whole system cooling and even tailor your own app usages.
ASUS 5X Protection :
- ASUS DIGI+ VRM - 8 Phase digital power design
- ASUS Enhanced DRAM Overcurrent Protection - Short circuit damage prevention
- ASUS ESD Guards - Enhanced ESD protection
- ASUS High-Quality 5K-Hour Solid Capacitors - 2.5x long lifespan with excellent durability
- ASUS Stainless Steel Back I/O - 3x more durable corrosion-resistant coating
ASUS TPU :
- Auto Tuning
- GPU Boost
- TPU switch
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 8 Phase Power Design
- CPU Power Utility
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- Remote GO!
- USB BIOS Flashback
- AI Suite 3
- Anti-Surge
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
- USB 3.1 Boost
- Disk Unlocker
- Turbo LAN
- Crystal Sound 3
- EZ XMP ASUS Exclusive Features
- Mobo Connect
- PC Cleaner
Remote Entertainment
- Media Streamer
- HyStream
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-sink solution
ASUS EZ DIY :
- ASUS O.C. Tuner
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 3
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode
- Push Notice
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector
Special Memory O.C. Design
Overclocking Protection :
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Media Streamer
Turbo App
Fan Xpert 3
Operating System Support Windows® 10, 64bit
Windows® 8.1, 64bit
Windows® 7 x86 / x64
Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
1 x USB 3.1 ()Type-C
1 x USB 3.1 (teal blue)Type-A
2 x USB 3.0 (blue) Type-A
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
5 x Audio jack(s)
Internal I/O Ports 2 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x SATA Express connector: , compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3
1 x TPM header
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)
4 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 x 4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x Thunderbolt header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x EZ XMP switch
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x TPU switch(es)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
1 x 5-pin EXT_FAN(Extension Fan) connector
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Card header
1 x Water Pump header (4-pin)
1 x 14-1 pin TPM connector
Accessories User's manual
I/O Shield
3 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x M.2 Screw Package
1 x CPU installation tool
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (1 in 1)
BIOS 128 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI 2.0, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.8, ACPI 5.1, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 3, CrashFree BIOS 3, F11 EZ Tuning Wizard, F6 Qfan Control, F3 My Favorites, Quick Note, Last Modified Log, F12 PrintScreen function, and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information
Manageability WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, PXE
Support Disc Drivers
ASUS Utilities
EZ Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch (30.5 cm x 24.4 cm)

 


August 28, 2015 | 04:28 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

From the specs:
DVI-D with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz

That looks like a dual link DVI connector which should have a max resolution of 2560x1600.

August 28, 2015 | 05:24 PM - Posted by Laurentiu Roman (not verified)

I understand what it actually is, but, in most pictures that Sata Express port looks a lot like an IDE connector. It certainly brings back memories.

August 29, 2015 | 02:00 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What does this BLK overclocking capability mean for non-k chips? It looks like it is a much more viable option for skylake than it has been for many generations.

August 29, 2015 | 05:28 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

for both, it decouples the PCIe clock from the base clock so your PCIe clock remains static no matter what.  However, your memory speed is still tied to the base clock value.  For non-K overclocking specifically, it is still bound to the limits of what speed your CPU can run at.  Should be easier than with a Z97, but still constrained because you cannot change the CPU ratio - your memory may not like odd base clocks as much...

August 29, 2015 | 07:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It looks like there are a bunch of memory strap options as well though. The article states that they got the BLK up to 266 from 100. That seems to be a huge amount of headroom.

October 6, 2015 | 03:41 AM - Posted by CanveyCricket (not verified)

I'm having a nightmare with the onboard ethernet (I219-V) on this board.

The moment I install the Intel ethernet driver (version 12.13.17.4), the system will not reboot. It makes it past the splash screen and I'm then left with a blinking cursor in the top left of the screen. It seems as if the SSD isn't being recognised?

I've searched for a other/newer versions of the driver on both the Asus and Intel sites but cannot come up with any alternatives. So frustrating...

January 7, 2016 | 04:26 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The non-K OC is really easy and can be done within few minutes. Depending on the CPU you can increase the clock between 15-70% without any problems.

Pre-Skylake CPUs such as Haswell or Devils Canyon could only be overclocked by about 3-5% using the BCLK because the BCLK was still tied to the DMI and the PCIe.

However, for Skylake CPUs, BCLK and PCIe have a dedicated reference clock which always stays at 100 MHz – no matter how you change the BCLK. In other words: You can push the BCLK without worrying about other components.

The non-K BIOS is skipping some parts of the power-management, so there are few things you have to keep in mind:-
1) The missing power-management will not allow to read out any core temperature. No matter which tool you use, it will always just read 100°C.
2) No C-States. CPUs will always run full speed and full voltage.
3) No Turbo-Mode.
4) No iGPU.
5) Intel AVX is screwed. Some benchmarks like Intel XTU use AVX and you will have about 4-5 times lower score. As far as I know no game is using AVX so it’s no problem to use this for gaming rigs. Not suitable for professional usage though.
6) Avoid high memory clocks. Everything around 2600 MHz will be fine.

Follow this link for a complete OC guide:-
http://overclocking.guide/asus-z170-non-k-overclocking-guide/

July 17, 2016 | 01:32 AM - Posted by AnonymousMe (not verified)

My ASUS-Z170-A motherboard bios; Under 'Tools' tab, the 'Graphics Card Information' does not exist. Could you please tell me what is wrong? (CPU: Intel core I5-6600k).

July 17, 2016 | 01:49 AM - Posted by AnonymousMe (not verified)

I am sorry, my mistake. It is a H110M-D D3 Asus motherboard.

December 3, 2016 | 07:25 PM - Posted by Ray (not verified)

Would a be quiet Dark Rock Pro 3 CPU Cooler be compatible with this motherboard? I think the backplate might come into contact with that troublesome chip...

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