MSI Announces Z170A SLI PLUS Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | November 3, 2015 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: Z170A SLI PLUS, X99 SLI PLUS, sli, msi, motherboard, crossfire, black PCB

MSI has announced their third PRO Series motherboard, the all-black Z170A SLI PLUS.


"MSI, leading in motherboard design, completes the PRO Series motherboard line-up with the launch of the all black Z170A SLI PLUS motherboard. Inheriting DNA from the critically acclaimed X99A SLI PLUS motherboard, the Z170A SLI PLUS is powerful, packed with features and styled with class."

While not lacking in stealthy looks from the black PCB to the matching RAM slots and heatsinks, the specifications of this new SLI PLUS board place it firmly into the premium category.


Features include Intel Gigabit LAN, MSI’s DDR4 Boost technology (which isolates memory traces on the board), Turbo M.2 (and U.2) with speeds up to 32 Gb/s with NVMe SSDs, and the Steel Armor PCI Express slots. And while SLI is right there in the title, there is also support for AMD Crossfire with those super-strong PCIe slots.


The board is fabricated with MSI’s Military Class 4 components including super ferrite chokes and all solid capacitors, and also offer a “EZ Debug” LED and overvoltage protection. In addition to support for the fastest internal storage standards (M.2, U.2, and SATA Express), the Z170A SLI PLUS offers full USB 3.1 Gen2 support for transfers up to 10 Gb/s for compatible devices.

  • Supports 6th Gen Intel Core / Pentium / Celeron processors for LGA 1151 socket
  • Supports DDR4-3600 Memory (OC)
  • DDR4 Boost
  • USB 3.1 Gen2
  • Turbo M.2 32Gb/s + Turbo U.2 ready + USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C + SATA 6Gb/s
  • Steel Armor PCI-E slots; Supports NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire
  • OC Genie 4
  • Click BIOS 5
  • Audio Boost
  • Military Class 4
  • Guard-Pro
  • EZ Debug LED
  • Overvoltage Protection
  • 4K UHD Support
  • Windows 10 Ready


Pricing and availability were not specified with this morning’s announcement.


GIGABYTE Adds Thunderbolt 3 Support to Existing Z170 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | October 29, 2015 - 11:01 AM |
Tagged:  Z170X-Gaming GT,  Z170X-Gaming 7, Z170X-Gaming G1, thunderbolt 3, motherboard, gigabyte, firmware

GIGABYTE has announced support for Intel Thunderbolt 3 for three existing Z170 motherboards after receiving certification from Intel.


The motherboards include the GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming G1, GA-Z170X-Gaming GT, and GA-Z170X-Gaming 7. How do you get Thunderbolt 3 if you own one of these boards? Simply update to the latest firmware.

“Users that wish to upgrade their motherboard can download an updated version of the firmware from GIGABYTE’s website. Once the user installs the updated firmware, Thunderbolt™ 3 support will be enabled on the motherboard.”

GIGABYTE has provided quick links to access the firmware update page for each motherboard:


Thunderbolt 3 on the motherboards is powered by Intel’s controller, and is available via USB Type-C connector on the motherboards to provide bandwidth of up to 40 Gb/s, double that of Thunderbolt 2.


ASUS’ New ROG Maximus VIII Extreme Flagship Now Available For $500

Subject: Motherboards | October 28, 2015 - 08:38 PM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, Maximus VIII Extreme, e-atx, ddr4, ASUS ROG, asus

Motherboards supporting Intel’s latest “Skylake” processor have been trickling out for months, and ASUS is no stranger to the Z170 chipset. After several months of waiting, its flagship motherboard is now available under the Republic of Gamers brand. The ROG Maximus VIII Extreme is a monster both in size – it’s an E-ATX board – and features. It’s not cheap though with an MSRP of $499.

The Maximus VIII Extreme is clad in black and red with silver capacitors. A massive heatsink keeps the Extreme Engine Digi+ power delivery hardware cool even under heavy overclocking conditions. Nested between the VRMs and the four DDR4 slots (up to 3866MHz) is the LGA 1151 processor socket. This motherboard can be used with the OC Panel II hardware overclocking module which can sit outside the case or in a 5.25” drive bay. There are also overclocking buttons on the top-right corner of the board itself.

ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Extreme EATX Skylake Motherboard.png

Storage options include eight SATA 6Gbps ports (two SATA Express), a M.2, and a separate U.2 MVMe connector. Networking is handled by Intel Gigabit Ethernet (1219-V) and a 3x3 802.11ac WiFi NIC. ASUS is further including its SupremeFX 8-channel audio chipset.

When it comes to PCI-E expansion, this board delivers with four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (which can run at x16/x8/x8/x4) and two PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots. 

Rear I/O includes:

  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 4 x USB 3.1 (3 x Type A + 1 x Type C)
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 5 x Analog Audio
  • 1 x S/PDIF optical audio out
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x PS/2 combo port
  • 3 x Wi-Fi antenna connectors
  • 1 x Clear CMOS + 1 x BIOS Flashback button

Needless to say this board has everything but the kitchen sink (though that might be unlocked with a BIOS update...) in it. It is squarely aimed at extreme overclockers and gamers wanting to run triple or quad multi-GPU setups along with Intel’s latest Skylake CPU. The flagship hardware will cost you though, with street prices just under $500 USD. If you’re interested in this beast, keep an eye out for reviews (which appear to be scarce at the moment).

Source: ASUS

Gaze again onto the glory that is the MSI Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition

Subject: Motherboards | October 16, 2015 - 06:06 PM |
Tagged: Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition, skylake-s, msi, lga1151, Intel Z170

As you saw from the pictures in Morry's article, the MSI Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition is a gorgeous looking motherboard and a shoo-in to power modders systems for this generation as it will lend great character to any inventive build you might construct.  Looks are not everything in a motherboard however, enthusiasts also want to know how well it performs.  [H]ard|OCP have also recently reviewed this motherboard which earned a Gold Award from their team as well but some of their experiences differed.  For instance they saw a stable overclock of 4.7GHz @ 1.45v with the memory at DDR4-2666, albeit with some small problems which they discuss, a bit better than the 4.5GHz Morry achieved.  They also had some issues with the sensors and Command Center software which you should read about in addition to Morry's discoveries.

MSI, keep doing what you are doing as some of us are not cultural illiterates!

"MSI has a goal to be the number one motherboard maker in PC Gaming. To that end MSI has been rebranding and the Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM EDITION motherboard is an example of this shift in focus. This new XPOWER series retains much of its heritage but shifts gears towards being an upper echelon gaming oriented solution."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:


Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications



Courtesy of MSI

Unique is a word I don't throw around much with motherboard reviews, but the latest revision of MSI' XPower series is nothing if not unique. The Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition features a stunning silver and black aesthetic for a look unlike any of its competition in the LGA1151 realm, featuring a silver colored PCB and black and red accents in some key areas of the board for some additional eye-catching value. The board features branding on its VRM and chipset heat sinks as well. By integrating the Intel Z170 chipset, the motherboard supports the latest Intel LGA1151 Skylake processor line as well as Dual Channel DDR4 memory. With an MSRP of $299, the Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition sits at a competitive price point for the features it offers.


Courtesy of MSI


Courtesy of MSI


Courtesy of MSI

To give the board some teeth, MSI paired up the Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium (Ti) Edition motherboard with its Military Class 5 component architecture. This latest iteration includes a 16-phase digital power delivery system with DrMOS 3-in-1 chip MOSFETS, Titanium chokes, and a mix of Hi-c and DARK capacitors to ensure stable operation under the most extreme circumstances as well as the greatest degree of power efficiency possible. MSI also integrated a high quality audio subsystem, centered around their Nahimic sound technology with Chemi-Con sourced audio capacitors and headphone amplifiers on an isolated PCB. MSI chose to integrate the following features into the Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition board: four SATA 3 ports; two SATA-Express ports; two M.2 PCIe x4 capable ports; an Intel I219-V GigE controller; four PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; a 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, BIOS Flashback, and Game Boost buttons; Multi-BIOS, Hotkey, and PCI CeaseFire switches; OC Dashboard device support; BIOS Flashback+ BIOS updater; integrated V-Check voltage measurement points;dual HDMI video ports; a DisplayPort video port; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z170X-Gaming G1 motherboard!

ASUS Announces ROG Maximus VIII Impact Mini-ITX Z170 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 9, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, SFF, ROG, motherboard, mini-itx, Maximus VIII Impact, lga1151, asus

ASUS has announced their latest mini-ITX offering in the Republic of Gamers series, and the Maximus VIII Impact motherboard packs an outrageous number of features into one formidable little 6.7-inch square. In fact, short of the second PCIe slot afforded the larger mATX form-factor, the newest Impact board looks to be every bit as powerful as the recently released Maximus VIII Gene motherboard.

Maximus VIII Impact_3D-1.jpg

"To push performance even further, Maximus VIII Impact has a full-scale voltage-regulator module (VRM) dubbed Impact Power III vertically-mounted onto the tiny board, allowing you full access to digital power management for ultra-precise and stable overclocks with your  processor and memory.  ROG has also managed to squeeze in 5-Way Optimization auto-tuning and Pro Clock technology so you can get the most out of your 6th Gen. Intel processor and overclocked DDR4 memory which goes up to 4133MHz or higher." 

Let’s check out the specs on this new Impact board:

  • CPU: LGA1151 socket for 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron processors
  • Chipset: Intel Z170 Express
  • Memory: Dual-channel memory architecture
    • 2x DIMM, max. 32GB DDR4-4133(OC) non-ECC, un-buffered memory
  • PCIe Slot: 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (supports x16 mode)
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics Processor
    • HDMI 1.4b
    • Intel InTru 3D/Quick Sync Video/Clear Video HD Technology/Insider
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac supports dual frequency band 2.4/5GHz; MU-MIMO
  • Bluetooth: V4.1, 4.0LE
  • USB: 2x USB 3.1 ports (1 Type-A and 1 Type-C) powered by Intel USB 3.1 controller; 6x USB 3.0 ports (2 at mid-board)
  • Storage: 1x U.2 port (PCIe x4, 32Gb/s), 4x SATA 6Gb/s ports. Supports Intel Smart Response Technology
  • LAN: Intel® I219-V Gigabit LAN with Anti-surge LANGuard, ROG GameFirst Technology
  • HD Audio: SupremeFX Impact III
    • ROG SupremeFX 2015 High Definition Audio Codec
    • ESS® ES9023P DAC with Hyperstream™ Architecture
    • 2Vrms Headphone Amp into 32-600 Ohms
    • SupremeFX Shielding Technology
    • Optical S/PDIF output at back panel
    • Sonic Studio II; Sonic Radar II; Sonic SenseAmp; DTS Connect
  • Fan headers: 2x 4-pin onboard; 3x 4-pin on daughter card
  • Form Factor: Mini-ITX, 6.7" x 6.7" (17 cm x 17 cm)

Maximus VIII Impact_2D Front.jpg

Update, 10/11/15: The ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Impact motherboard is now available at for $248.99.

Source: ASUS

ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Extreme Z170 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 9, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, ROG, overclocking, motherboard, Maximus VIII Extreme, lga1151, asus

While a little less flashy looking than some of the performance motherboards we’ve seen lately, opting for an understated gray/red color scheme over a black PCB, there is nothing subtle about the new Maximus VIII Extreme. From the specs it looks to be the most overbuilt gaming/overclocking motherboard possible for the Intel Z170 chipset, and that’s exactly what the ROG Extreme motherboards are made for.

Maximus VIII Extreme_3D-3.jpg

Here are the (very lengthy) specifications:

  • CPU: LGA1151 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3/Pentium®/Celeron®
    • CPU Cache Ratio Tuning
    • Turbo Ratio OC
    • BCLK OC (Pro-Clock)
    • iGPU OC
  • DRAM: Spec supported 4x DIMM, max. 64GB
    • DDR4 3866(O.C.) non-ECC, un-buffered memory, XMP 2.0
  • Extreme Overclocking   
    • OC Zone: Retry button, Safe Boot button, LN2 mode, Slow Mode switch, Probelt, PCIe x16 lane switch, DRAM channel jumper
    • OC Gadget: OC Panel II
    • OC Design: ASUS PRO Clock Technology
  • Optimize System             
    • Power Design: Extreme Engine Digi+
    • DRAM Layout: 2nd Generation T-Topology
  • Performance Optimization          
    • Intel® Quick Sync Video
    • Intel® Smart Response Technology
    • USB 3.1 Boost
    • HW Fast Boot support
  • Network: Intel® I219-V NIC with LANGuard Anti-surge
    • Network bandwidth management: GameFirst III + GameFirst IV (Beta)
  • Intel® Rapid Start Technology
  • Intel® Smart Connect Technology
  • Expansion Slots:
    • PCIex16 @ x16 - 1x Max. @Gen3
    • PCIex16 @ x4 - 1x Max. @Gen3
    • PCIex16 @ x8/x4 - 1x Max. @Gen3
    • PCIex16 @ x4 - 1x Max. @Gen3 via PCH
    • PCIex1 @ x1 - 2x Max. @Gen3

OC Panel II_4.jpg

The included OC Panel II fits in an open 5.25” bay

  • BIOS: CPU-Free Update/USB BIOS Flashback/UEFI Level Update/EZ Flash 3/BIOS Flash Protection/CrashFree BIOS 3
  • BIOS feature:
    • All fans including pump header are DC and PWM mode compatible
    • Wizard for simple OC and RAID
    • SSD Secure Erase
    • My Favorite & Shortcut
    • Boot Logo Size Adjustment
    • F12 BIOS Print
  • Power Solution:
    • Full Digital 8 Phase CPU Power Design
    • 4 Phase for iGPU
    • 2 Phase Digital DRAM Power Design with ASUS DRAM Power Utility
    • System Agent Power: 1 Phase for VCCSA
  • Extreme Engine Digi+     
    • Dual PWM Controllers, 1 for Vcore, 1 for VGT
    • 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
    • MicroFine Alloy Chokes
    • OptiMOS™ MOSFET
  • Real-time adjustment: ASUS DIGI+ Power Control Utility
  • Anti-Surge Protection
  • Mass Storage:
    • 1x M.2 socket 3 with M Key; Supporting form factor 2242, 2260, 2280, 22110, PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA mode, PCIe RAID
    • 1x U.2 connector (sharing PCIe with M.2)
    • 2x SATA Express via PCH (SATA-E 1 share SATA with M.2)
    • 8x SATA 6Gbps (2 via PCH native; 4 via SATA-E; 2 via ASM1061)
    • RAID: RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 via iRST 14
  • USB Support:
    • 4x 3.1 (1 Type-A and 1 Type-C via Intel Alpine Ridge; 2 Type-A via Asmedia USB 3.1 controller)
    • 4x USB 3.0 (4 rear, 4 mid) via PCH
    • 6x USB 2.0 - 6 mid via PCH, two shared with ROG extension (ROG_EXT) port
  • Bundled Software           
    • AI Suite 3 (Real-Time OC); ROG GameFirst III + GameFirst IV (Beta); ROG Keybot II; RAMCache; ROG RAMDisk; USB 3.1 Boost; ROG CPU-Z; ROG MemTweakIt; Lighting Control

Pricing and availability were not immediately available.

Source: ASUS
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications



Courtesy of GIGABYTE

As the flagship board in their Intel Z170-based G1 Gaming Series product line, GIGABYTE integrated all the premium features you could ever want into their Z170X-G1 Gaming motherboard. The board features a black PCB with red and white accents spread throughout its surface to make for a very appealing aesthetic. GIGIGABYTE chose to integrate plastic shields covering their rear panel assembly, the VRM heat sinks, the audio components, and the chipset and SATA ports. With the addition of the Intel Z170 chipset, the motherboard supports the latest Intel LGA1151 Skylake processor line as well as Dual Channel DDR4 memory. Offered at at a premium MSRP of $499, the Z170X-Gaming G1 is priced to appeal to the premium user enthusiasts.


Courtesy of GIGABYTE


Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE over-engineered the Z170X-Gaming G1 to take anything you could think of throwing at it with a massive 22-phase digital power delivery system, featuring 4th gen IR digital controllers and 3rd gen IR PowerIRStage ICs as well as Durable Black solid capacitors rated at 10k operational hours. GIGABYTE integrated the following features into the Z170X-G1 Gaming board: four SATA 3 ports; three SATA-Express ports; two M.2 PCIe x4 capable port; dual Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2400 NICs; a Killer™ Wireless-AC 1535 802.11AC WiFI controller; four PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, ECO, and CPU Overclock buttons; Dual-BIOS and active BIOS switches; audio gain control switch; Sound Blaster Core 3D audio solution; removable audio OP-AMP port; integrated voltage measurement points; Q-Flash Plus BIOS updater; integrated HDMI video port; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming G1 motherboard!

ASRock Scores a Fatal1ty With Its $200 Mini ITX Gaming Motherboard For Skylake CPUs

Subject: Motherboards | September 28, 2015 - 01:23 AM |
Tagged: SFF, mini ITX, M.2, LGA 1151, Intel Skylake, asrock

ASRock (the Taiwan-based manufacturer currently owned by Pegatron) recently revealed its take on miniature Skylake motherboards with the Mini ITX form factor Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac.

The new SFF motherboard uses an 8-layer PCB with high quality Nichicon capacitors and the company’s Digi Power 8-phase power delivery feeding the LGA 1151 socket. The board has a red and black aesthetic with red VRM and Z170 chipset heatsinks, memory slots, and PCI-E slot adding a bit of flair to the otherwise all-black PCB and connectors. Very little space is wasted on this board save for the top edge. To the right of the CPU socket are two DDR4 memory slots (maximum 32GB at 4,000 MHz) and a single SATA Express connector. The Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac further features four SATA III 6 Gbps (in addition to the two ports used for SATA Express) ports.

ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX_ac.jpg

Expansion slots include a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, a M.2 slot with four lanes of PCI-E 3.0 mounted on the underside of the board, and a half-size Mini PCI-E slot that is used for the pre-installed 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 card

ASRock is using an Intel Gigabit Ethernet NIC, a 2x2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi radio, and Realtek ALC1150 audio codec on this board. Keeping in line with the “Fatal1ty” theme, the board supports, using software, and adjustable USB polling rate on a certain rear port from 1 Hz up to 1,000 Hz with the default being 500 Hz.

On the back of the motherboard, it provides the following I/O options:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 5 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 3.0 “Fatal1ty Mouse Port” (adjustable polling rate up to 1,000 Hz)
  • 2 x USB 3.1 (one Type-A and one Type-C)
  • Video outputs:
    • 2 x HDMI (4K@60Hz)
    • 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3 x Analog audio ports
  • 1 x Optical audio output

The ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming ITX/ac is available now for $185 at various online retailers (Amazon affiliate code – support PC Perspective when you shop at Amazon).

This board looks to be a solid base for a tiny gaming system (perhaps paired with the R9 Nano in a svelte living room friendly chassis even without going in for the Fatal1ty gamer-centric branding, if that's your thing. I am expecting this board to be priced competitively with or to come in slightly less than the Asus Mini ITX Z170 motherboard I wrote about yesterday. The audio and overclocking potential, at least in theory and bare specifications, appear to be a bit cut back on this board in comparison, but in exchange for that it's (hopefully slightly cheaper while still giving you most of the essentials. We'll have to wait for actual reviews where they are both put to the test to see for certain though!

For those curious, check out the manufacturer's page with photos and specifications as well as our previous coverage of the board from CES before we had the details on pricing and confirmation of 4K@60Hz HDMI and the Ultra M.2 slot support (and the user discussions).

Source: ASRock

Asus' Z170I Pro Gaming Is A Stylish Mini ITX Motherboard For Skylake

Subject: Motherboards | September 26, 2015 - 01:08 AM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, SATA Express, mu-mimo, mini ITX, M.2

Small Form Factor (SFF) enthusiasts will soon have another Mini ITX option for Skylake-based builds in the form of the recently launched Asus Z170I Pro Gaming motherboard. The Z170I Pro Gaming packs a ton of features for its size including all of the latest storage and networking technologies.

Asus is not wasting any space on the PCB with this new board. The LGA 1151 socket is surrounded by two red and black heatsinks covering the Digi+ VRMs (which looks to be 10-phase power delivery which isn’t bad for a SFF board), two DDR4 memory slots (up to 32GB at 3400 MHz), the PCH/Southbridge (part of the Z170 chipset), and a single PCI-E x16 slot along the bottom edge.

Asus Z170I Pro Gaming Mini ITX motherboard (1).jpg

Storage options include two SATA III (6Gbps) ports, a single SATA Express port (which holds two SATA III ports of its own), and a M.2 slot on the underside of the motherboard supporting four PCI-E 3.0 lanes.

Other components on the board include an ASMedia USB 3.1 controller, and an EMI shielded SupremeFX 8-channel audio solution that is comprised of the Realtek ALC1150 audio codec, isolated circuitry and an EMI cover, Nichicon capacitors, a dedicated 5V power supply, and a 300-ohm headphone amplifier. Asus is further including a 2x2 MU-MIMO capable 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 radios, and an Intel 1219V Gigabit Ethernet NIC.

Rear IO on the Z170I Pro Gaming includes:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A (ASMedia controller)
  • 4 x USB 3.0 (2 additional ports via internal header)
  • 2 x USB 2.0 (2 additional ports via internal header)
  • 5 x Analog audio ports
  • 1 x Optical audio out

The Z170I Pro Gaming is a nice looking board that incorporates many of the features of its Z170 Pro Gaming (ATX) brother. This miniaturization comes at a price, however. While Asus has not yet released official pricing and availability, expect it to be out soon at least $200 USD.

Check out more Mini ITX hardware at PC Perspective!

Also, if you have not already, please consider reading our review of the Intel Core-i7 6700K "Skylake" Processor

Source: Asus