Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 Review

Manufacturer: Gigabyte
UK price (as reviewed): £96.20 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $163.78 (ex Tax)

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Building a Skylake system was a pretty expensive thing to do when the new CPUs and motherboards launched last year. We're now seeing the Core i5-6600K regularly appear online for less than £190 both on its own and as part of motherboard bundles and there are now loads of motherboards available for around £100 too. The Z170-Gaming K3 is Gigabyte's new offering in this price range and appears to offer quite a bit for the money.

It's relatively good-looking, although the PCB is actually a dark brown colour and not plain black, but it sports the familiar red and black colour scheme of Gigabyte's Gaming-series boards such as the Z170MX-Gaming 5, although it does only have one steel-shrouded PCI-E slot.

It's snazzy enough for the price though and, more importantly, includes many of the features your average enthusiast needs from a Skylake system. The M.2 port offers full PCI-E 3.0 x4 SSD support with space for up to 22110/110mm SSDs and it's handily placed above the top 1x PCI-E slot. However, it's also pretty darn close to the CPU socket, so your average tower cooler may well end up preventing easy access. In addition to this, there are the usual six SATA ports, which also make up two SATA Express connectors.

Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 Review Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 Review
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Thankfully, that frees up the rest of the PCB, which is fairly spacious. The two 16x PCI-E slots are double-spaced for better dual-GPU cooling and the four 1x PCI-E slots are dotted around so whatever your graphics setup, you should have at least two free to use. However, the AMD CrossFire logo on the motherboard might have suggested to some that Gigabyte has cut some corners here and you'd be right. Not only is SLI not supported but the second 16x slot can only run in x4 mode, potentially limiting dual-GPU setups.

Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 Review Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 Review
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Including overclocking tools is a tall ask at this price and we'd have been surprised if Gigabyte had managed it, so if you want features such as power, reset or CMOS clear buttons then you'll need to spend a little more. Even USB 3.1 is supported via the two red Type-A connectors on the back panel, but there's no reversible Type-C port.

Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 Review Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 Review
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The onboard audio looks like it could potentially out-class a number of other boards in the same price bracket though, with 115dB SNR HD Audio playback, 104dB SNR recording, built-in rear audio amplifier and high end Chemicon audio capacitors along with noise-isolated circuitry, which also sports illumination courtesy of red LEDS. There's more lighting on the other side of the PCB too, with dual strips running down the edge of the PCB near the 24-pin ATX connector.

Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 Review
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Specifications

  • Chipset Intel Z170
  • Form factor ATX
  • CPU support LGA1151 compatible (Skylake)
  • Memory support Dual-channel, 4 slots, max 64GB
  • Sound 8-channel Realtek ALC1150 Codec
  • Networking Killer E2201 Gigabit LAN
  • Ports 6 x SATA 6Gbps via Intel Z170, 2 x SATA Express, 1 x M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4 (up to 22110), 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 6 x USB 3.0 (2 x via header), 4 x USB 2.0 (4 x via header), 1 x LAN, audio out, line in, mic, HDMI 1.4, DVI-D
  • Dimensions (mm) 305x 244
  • Extras Isolated audio circuitry, steel-plated PCI-E slot

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