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GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming G1 (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Aug 13, 2015 3:21 pm
TweakTown Rating: 95%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Packaging and the Board

 

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The Z170X Gaming G1 has a huge box, it's the same size box as the X58A-UD9. It is very thick and while it might just seem like it is for show, there is actually a lot in the package including a USB 3.1 front panel bay, and the huge motherboard. The motherboard is well protected inside its own mini box, and some of the accessories come in a smaller box. The packaging is very high quality, probably the best I have seen from GIGABYTE.

 

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All accessories outside the mini box are individually packaged and the USB 3.1 front panel bay is sealed in an anti-static bag. The mini box has a lot of the smaller accessories; there is even a retention bracket for the MMCX antenna for the Wireless AC/BT 4.0.

 

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Accessories include 6x braided SATA6Gb/s cables, RGB LED IO shield, 2-way SLI bridge, 2-way CrossFireX bridge, 3-way SLI bridge, 4-way SLI bridge, G-Connector, MMCX antenna retention bracket, plugs for unused back panel IO ports, USB 3.1 front panel bay, SATA Express cable for the bay, 2x2 MMCX antenna, M.2 to U.2 add-in adapter, Gaming G1 case badge, driver DVD, and manuals. The package comes with everything you would expect from a $500 product.

 

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GIGABYTE has increased the number of fan headers to 7; the one CPU fan header circled in green offers PWM or voltage (DC) mode operation, and the rest which are circled in blue offer voltage mode operation (which can control all fans including PWM fans in voltage mode). Control for all the fan headers is offered through the UEFI or Windows, it is the same as on the X99 series Gaming G1. The aesthetics of this motherboard are very nice, and the red and white color theme looks pretty good in person. GIGABYTE did a very nice job with the looks of the motherboard, especially with the shields over the IO panel and the audio section.

 

While many people might not like LEDs, I have to admit they look quite good on this motherboard. The SATA area also has its own mini shield and LEDs shine through that area as well. The motherboard has a refined look, and I am told it is modeled after a futuristic spaceship, and I am glad they didn't add a heat sink in the shape of a spaceship. The back of the board is pretty much bare except for LEDs, and some MOSFETs for the PLX chip's VRM.

 

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The IO Panel features 7x USB 3.0 ports (the white one can be used for USB BIOS recovery), 2x USB 2.0 "DAC-UP" ports, 2x 1GBit NICs, 2x MMCX antenna ports, HDMI (future support for 2.0), 1x USB 3.1 Type-C/Thunderbolt 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-A, 7.1 audio outputs with TOSLINK, and PS/2 keyboard or mouse.

 

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GIGABYTE is providing PCI-E supports, which are one-piece metal guards for the PCI-E slots. GIGABYTE claims that in shear testing the slots are 1.7x stronger than traditional PCI-E slots and in retention tests they are 3.2x stronger. GIGABYTE also claims that their implementation is a one piece design which is stronger than two piece designs. The PCI-E layout is actually quite simple. All the CPU's 16x PCI-E lanes are routed to a PLX bridge which outputs 32x PCI-E 3.0 ports downstream. Two sets of 16x lanes are routed to the first and third PCI-E slots, and each of those slots shares 8x lanes with the 16x slot below it. You can run 16x/0x/16x/0x, 16x/0x/8x/8x, 8x/8x/16x/0, or 8x/8x/8x/8x for 4-way SLI/CrossFireX. All the PCI-E 1x slots are PCI-E 2.0 and go through an ASMedia bridge chip.

 

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Two M.2 slots get their bandwidth from the PCH, but depending on what type of drive you install, some of the SATA ports might be disabled. The top M.2 slot is known as M2C_32G and the bottom one is known as M2B_32G. If you want to know what will be disabled or enabled, look at page 36 of the manual or the image above (from the manual). Both M.2 slots can operate at 32Gb/s max and you can RAID them. I would recommend using the bottom one.

 

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The Z170 PCH provides six SATA6Gb/s ports and two ASMedia controllers provide four ports not inline with SATA Express ports. All six of the Intel SATA 6Gb/s ports also work as SATA Express. There are two USB 3.0 internal headers located right below the 24-pin connector and both of them get their bandwidth from a USB 3.0 hub.

 

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The audio this time around has been upgraded some more. GIGABYTE has added a dedicated DAC which works with the Core3Di chip with different amplifiers to produce 120dB+ output which has been certified by Creative. Two switches located near a SATA power connector for more PCI-E power are used to change the gain from 6x to 2.5x. One switch is for the rear output and one for the front.

 

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GIGABYTE didn't forget overclockers, located at the top of the board is a POST code display, power, reset and clear CMOS buttons as well as voltage read points. There is also an OC button which provides automatic overclocking and an ECO button which provides power savings. At the bottom of the board are two switches for BIOS control; one switches between the main and backup BIOS and the other disables dual BIOS so that the BIOS ROMs are separate entities.

 

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RGB LEDs are located under the motherboard and their light emanates through the PCB audio divide and on the other side of the board where it says "Gaming G1" to produce lighting effects.

 

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There is one huge heat sink which cools the PCH, the PEX8747 PCI-E switch, and the VRM. The PEX8747 produces the most heat and it spreads throughout the heat sink. The heat sink is held down by metal screws and makes very good contact with the components. The shields over the audio and IO panel are plastic, but the shield over the SATA ports is metal.

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