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GIGABYTE Z170X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Features and Motherboard Layout

Features

Courtesy of GIGABYTE

  • 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

Motherboard Layout

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The Z170X-Ultra Gaming features a black colored PCB with black colored heat sinks cooling various on board components. The GIGABYTE logo is stamped into the chipset heat sink with the board series logo on the rear panel cover. The board was designed with an ATX form factor to easily fit into most consumer enclosures, while providing more than enough surface area for its integrated components.

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The back of the board is mostly free of sensitive components, reducing the risk of damaging the board during install or moving it to a new case. LEDs are integrated into the upper right for the audio PCB separator line and along the bottom for illuminating front underside of the board. The area surrounding the CPU is completely free of components, so there should be no issues with any using any cooler back plates with this board.

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The Z170X-Ultra Gaming motherboard has the listed ports integrated into its rear panel assembly: a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 3.1 ports (1 Type-A and 1 Type-C), one RJ-45 port tied to the Intel I219-V controller, mini DisplayPort in and out video ports, an HDMI video port, an optical audio port, and five analogue audio ports. All blue colored USB 3.0 ports are controlled by the Intel Z170 controller. The red colored type A and type C USB 3.1 ports are controlled by the Intel Thunderbolt 3 controller. The white colored mini DisplayPort port can be used as a pass-through for a connected video card to output the video signal to the USB 3.1 Type C port using the Thunderbolt 3 chipset.

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The Z170X-Ultra Gaming motherboard has a total of six PCI-Express device ports - three PCI-Express x16 slots and three PCI-Express x1 slots. For the PCI-Express x16 slots, the board supports full x16 bandwidth with a single card, x8 / x8 bandwidth with dual cards, and x8 / x8 / x4 with three cards. Note that PCIe x16 slot 3 shares bandwidth with SATA ports 0 / 1. With a card sitting in PCIe x16 slot 3 operating at its full x4 bandwidth, SATA ports 0 / 1 are automatically disabled.

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The board's integrated audio components live on an isolated PCB to minimize line-noise and distortion caused by other integrated components. The PCB separator line glows red when the board is actively powered. The front panel audio header is located to the lower left of the audio chipset along the board's edge.

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In the upper left corner of the board (and along the outer edge of the PCIe x16 slot 4) are the front panel audio header, the SPDIF output header, an LED debug header, the trusted module port header, and a USB 2.0 header.

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The two USB 2.0 headers and a system fan headers are located to the lower left of the tertiary PCIe x16 slot.

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In the lower left corner of the board are a system fan header, the front panel header, the CMOS clear jumper, and SATA ports 2 and 3.

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The Intel Z170 chipset is cooled by a low-profile black heat sink with a chromed GIGABYTE corporate logo. The integrated Intel Thunderbolt 3 header is located just under the heat sink to the right of the SATA port block.

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GIGABYTE integrated a total of two SATA-Express 10 Gb/s ports and a PCI x4 NVMe capable U.2 device port into the board's port block. Two additional SATA ports are surface mounted to the left of the U.2 port. The SATA-Express ports house two SATA 6 Gb/s ports each that can be used as stand alone ports as well, adding an additional four SATA 6 Gb/s ports to the board. All SATA ports and the SATA-Express ports are tied ot the Z170 controller. Note that the U.2 slot and upper SATA-Express port share bandwidth with the M.2 slot. The M.2 port and SATA port 4 / 5 share bandwidth with those port automatically disabled with a drive installed in the M.2 port. Similarly, The U.2 device port shares bandwidth with SATA ports 2 / 3 with those ports disabled with a U.2 device connected to the board.

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The four on-board DDR4 memory slots are located just below the CPU socket in the lower right quadrant of the board. Dual Channel memory mode is enabled by seating memory modules in slots 1 / 3 or slots 2 / 4 with slots 2 / 4 being the primary memory slots. The board supports up to 64GB of memory running at a maximum speed of 3800MHz. Note that memory speeds above 2133MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. In between the memory slots are LED strips that glow red when the board is powered. Directly below the memory port block are the 24-pin ATX power connector, a USB 3.0 header, and a system fan header.

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To the upper right of the DIMM slots are CPU primary (CPU_FAN) and CPU water pump (CPU_OPT_PUMP) 4-pin fan / power headers. The 4-pin water pump header can be used to power and monitor a standard 12V water pump - an AIO cooler's integrated coolant pump or a pump integrated into a DIY loop.

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The CPU socket area is clear of obstructions allowing for use of most coolers without issue with the board. While we didn't run into issues in testing the board, the capacitors just above the CPU socket may pose problems for coolers not tightly complying with the Intel specs. The board was designed with seven power phases for CPU and integrated GPU power delivery requirements, providing sufficient power for most overclocking. The VRMs are cooled by large heat sinks to the upper and right sides of the CPU socket.

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The integrated PCIe x4 M.2 port sits to the left of the CPU socket. The M.2 port supports M-Key style M.2 SSDs with PCIe or SATA interfaces with length of up to 110mm. The M.2 port supports PCIe x4, PCIe x2, and SSD style M.2 devices. Note that the M.2 slot shares bandwidth with SATA ports 4 / 5. Those SATA ports are automatically disabled with an M.2 device active.

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A single 8-pin ATX12V power connector is included for additional CPU power, positioned to the upper right of the CPU socket along the edge of the board.

Video News


November 18, 2016 | 01:24 PM - Posted by razor512

I wish gigabyte would fix their onboard audio. Their G1 line is overall good with the exception of the audio.
It is not that the audio hardware is bad, but the drivers are really bad.

Currently there is an issue with their realtek drivers where frequencies below 40Hz gets a strange averaging effect which reduces detail in the bass.
This happens on the front outputs, but not on the front outputs if just the realtek drivers are installed. And for the ones that support X-Fi MB3, when the creative software is installed, both the rear and front get the issue regardless of what settings of toggles you mess with.
While the front ports have issues with sub 40Hz sounds, tones within the 41-150Hz range have more detail in the front output.
The real output will do the entire range, but the lower frequencies have less detail,, even though it is the port that is connected to the main audio amp designed to support 600ohm impedance headphones. The other supporting tones for various bass notes have no real presence, and thus you start to get more of the drum sound that you get from midi audio where it sound fake due to it only producing a small set of the frequencies needed to make an instrument sound real., and any attempt to boost those frequencies, results in some slight distortion.

If a generic driver is installed, the issue goes away, but then you lose proper support for 5.1 speaker systems, as well as some of the input functions

I ultimately ended up having to buy a sound blaster Z, because because 3 different boards on their G1 gaming line had the same issue.

I recorded samples of the issue.

Anyway, instead of designing new boards, they need to reallocate some staff to work on the onboard audio.

November 20, 2016 | 05:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The funny thing about this is that the Gigabyte boards with audio issues are the higher end ones using the Creative Sound Core chipset as opposed to Realteks.

Maybe a conspiracy theory? After all in your case it net Creative 2 sales!

November 20, 2016 | 04:13 PM - Posted by razor512

It might be, considering that if the on board drivers worked properly, I would not be able to tell the difference between it and the soundblaster Z.

November 18, 2016 | 01:55 PM - Posted by carlosdebernard

I was amaze that these board can do a very solid 4.5 (1.32v) and 4.6 (1.35v) Did use the EasyTune for 3 weeks and is easy to use. stable app. The fan app need to be polish and perfected. I box 2 Asus boards since all the issues with there programs and apps. and 1 with VR spikes These board for 160.00 is perfect Imagine other models like Designare or the new Auris.I am happy with these since I get my problems with voltages and app, and I wanted to discard the cpu. And was not. I also recomend these board to everyone. I am still playing with fans on my case since the PWM OP2 beside the case plugs and system 3 fan only reads the PCH Temps. Is a very smart board also. I just change a fan and the bios automatically see that turns off and turn on again and the changes where done. Sound is ok Not the best, miss my Asus on that area, but since that was my last software that works, since just stop working. A nice detail was the app update screen perfect. no more looking for drivers and apps and updates. Gigabyte has to make it better but works perfect. A note. I use my pump from the deep cool captain 360 on the the CPU fan. I also use it on the OPT1 there is NO difference on performance either speeds. on normal. The 3 fans also. I just select PMW the board see that and on these conditions WORKS on both as same.

I will wait of the new Auris bord.

November 18, 2016 | 02:55 PM - Posted by Mr.Prayer

I like how in their promo material (3rd picture in the article) coolant tubes pass CPU waterblock without entering it. It's a nice way to spend crapload of money to quickly fry high-end CPU. EK would be proud of this promotion, i'm sure of it.

;)

November 21, 2016 | 08:31 AM - Posted by razor512

Well, it does take extra work to actually connect the tubes, thus laziness deems it unnecessary.

November 20, 2016 | 05:48 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I saw this and was excited.

But then they seem to have stripped down the audio compared to other boards in this segment including those from GB.

Realtek 892 instead of 1150. No more Creative X-fi MB3 or equivalent.

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