Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 Review

Written by Antony Leather

October 8, 2015 // 1:55 p.m.

Tags: #best-skylake-board #best-z170-board #gigabyte #gigabyte-z170x-gaming-7-review #lga1151 #skylake #z170

Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 Review

Manufacturer: Gigabyte
UK price (as reviewed): £169.98 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $219.99 (ex Tax)

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While Z87 and Z97-based motherboards became somewhat run of the mill when it came to aesthetics, features and overclocking, their Z170 counterparts are proving to be a more jazzed-up bunch.

There's greater variation in overclocking, at least when you're gunning for speeds in excess of 4.6GHz, there's loads to talk about with next gen storage standards and aesthetics are a much bigger focus too.

Few are better examples of the latter as Gigabyte's Z170X-Gaming 7, which fans of racy colour schemes are probably drooling over. A lot of the exterior pizazz is down to a large, white plastic shroud that covers the audio circuitry and I/O panel, but there are metal heatsink shrouds too as well as aluminium PCI-E slot covers that act as reinforcement against weighty graphics cards.

It all adds up to a PCB that would have blown most Z97 boards out of the water but, thankfully, Asus and MSI are also adding new and exciting looking boards to their line-ups.

In terms of features, there's little lacking from this £170 board. It has two M.2 ports, both of which support up to 80mm devices. There are three apiece of 16x PCI-E and 1x PCI-E slots, as well as a 12-phase power delivery plus the full complement of overclocking and testing tools including power, reset and CMOS clear buttons, an LED POST code display plus a dual BIOS switch.

Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 Review Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 Review
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It even sports dual USB 3 headers, three SATA-Express connectors and an additional ASMedia SATA controller offering two further SATA 6Gbps ports to the six provided by the Intel Z170 chipset. Gigabyte has raised its game with the onboard audio too - instead of the usual ALC1150 Realtek offering, there's a Creative Sound Core 3D chip with an upgradable OP-AMP, USB DAC-UP ports, isolated audio circuirty and Creative's SBX Pro Studio audio suite, which is slightly more lavish than your usual Realtek affair.

Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 Review Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 Review
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There's been a lot of talk about Killer Ethernet ports being a little lacklustre recently, but rather than offer just one port, as well as a Killer E2400 Gigabit port there's also an Intel Gigabit port too. As you'd expect with just about all the latest gear, the Z170X-Gaming 7 also sports both Type-A and Type-C USB 3.1 ports.

Layout is generally excellent too. Although that large plastic shroud rises a good 44mm off the PCB, it's around 50mm away from the CPU socket, while the heatsinks stand at 29mm high. It's cramped, but the vast majority of tower coolers should fit with no issues.

Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 Review Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 Review
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The upper most 1x PCI-E slot sits above the top 16x PCI-E slot so should always be accessible, as will the top M.2 port, although this may be covered by large CPU coolers. The second M.2 port is likely be to obscured by most dual-slot graphics cards, but seeing as you probably won't need to get at it that often, it's not a massive issue.

Lighting is another feature that's finding its way onto some high-end boards and like the Asus Maximus VIII Hero, the Z170X-Gaming 7 has multi-colour lighting, this time around the audio shroud and I/O panel. You can check it out in action in the video below.


Specifications

  • Chipset Intel Z170
  • Form factor ATX
  • CPU support LGA1151 compatible (Skylake)
  • Memory support Dual-channel, 4 slots, max 64GB
  • Sound Creative Sound Core 3D
  • Networking 1 x Intel Gigabit LAN, 1 x Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2400 Gigabit LAN
  • Ports 8 x SATA 6Gbps ( 6 via Intel Z170, 2 via ASM1061), 2 x M.2, 9 x USB 3.0 (4 x via header), 4 x USB 2.0 ( 4 x via header), 1 x USB3.1 Type-A (Intel), 1 x USB3.1 Type-C (Intel), 1 x LAN, audio out, line in, mic, Optical S/PDIF out, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort
  • Dimensions (mm) 305 x 244
  • Extras LED POST code read-out, power and reset buttons, clear CMOS button, OC Genie function, isolated audio circuitry, voltage measuring points, replaceable operational amplifier.

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