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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

Circuit Analysis Continued

 

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There is no hiding the fact that GIGABYTE had no USB 3.1 capability on any of its motherboards until now. They might have been waiting for Intel's Thunderbolt 3.0/USB 3.1 controller, otherwise known as Alpine Ridge, but now known as the DSL6540. This controller can take up to a 4x PCI-E 3.0 link from the PCH and two DisplayPort connections from the CPU's integrated GPU and produce a whopping 40Gb/s of output when using the C-Type connector for Thunderbolt 3.0. GIGABYTE is providing the controller with 4x PCI-E 3.0 on the Z170X-Gaming G1.

 

If you are using a USB 3.1 device, you will get 10Gb/s of bandwidth, and GIGABYTE is providing both USB 3.1 type-a and type-c outputs on the back panel, both of which get their bandwidth from this controller. There are also other notable ICs in this image including a Texas Instruments TPS65982 which is a USB 3.1 type-c switch and USB PD (power delivery) controller and power switch which can provide 3A output power at different voltages. A MegaChips MCDP2800 is also present. According to MegaChips, it's a "high-speed level-shifter and active-protocol converter (LSPCON) in a single chip", which most likely is responsible for the HDMI on the back panel IO.

 

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I took apart the USB 3.1 front panel bay which is included with the Z170X-Gaming G1 just to see what it had on the PCB. Since SATA Express is basically PCI-E mixed into SATA ports, you can use it to provide two PCI-E lanes over wires, so GIGABYTE uses a SATA Express connector to provide the front panel bay with the 2x PCI-E lanes needed for USB 3.1. An ASMedia ASM1142 is used here for one Type-C and one Type-A USB 3.1 port. GIGABYTE is using the same Texas Instruments TPS65982 for the USB 3.1 Type-C switch and USB PD (power delivery specification) controller. Two SATA power connectors are needed to power the bay, and there is also a VRM for the USB ports, but this time it is a boost regulator using a Texas Instruments 43061 as the controller and a Texas Instruments CSD87350Q5D, which is more commonly found on high-end CPU VRMs.

 

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The PEX8747 from PLX Technologies makes the Z170X-Gaming G1 one of only a handful of Z170 motherboards capable of supporting 3-Way SLI and 4-Way SLI/CrossFireX. Together with eight PCI-E quick switches from ASMedia, it provides all bandwidth to the PCI-E 16x slots.

 

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Texas Instruments HD3SS3415 are used as PCI-E quick switches. There is a single switch in charge of switching SATA ports 4 and 5 to the M.2 slot when it is in use. Four other switches are used to switch 8x of PCI-E from the first PCI-E slot to the second. While the Z170 PCH might have 26 ports of bandwidth, the Z170X-Gaming G1 requires much more, so GIGABYTE is using an ASMedia ASM1184e which will take one PCI-E 3.0 lane and output four PCI-E 2.0 lanes. Three of those four PCI-E 2.0 lanes are directly routed to three PCI-E 1x slots, and the fourth is routed to an ASMedia ASM1061 used for extra SATA.

 

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There are two ASMedia ASM1061 on the motherboard, one gets bandwidth from one of the M.2 slots and the other gets bandwidth from the ASM1184e pictured above. There are also two USB 3.0 1-to-4 hubs from nec/Renesas, the D720210. While the Intel PCH provides six USB 3.0 ports on the Z170X-Gaming G1, one is routed to one of the hubs for the internal headers, and four are routed to the back to four of the seven USB 3.0 ports. The last remaining USB 3.0 port is routed to one of the hubs which outputs three of the seven USB 3.0 on the back panel.

 

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The iTE IT8628E is GIGABYTE's main SuperIO in charge of voltage, temperature, and fan monitoring and control as well as the PS/2 on the back panel. For control over all seven fan headers and overclocking features GIGABYTE has implemented the iTE IT8792E which is an embedded controller. The iTE IT8951E provides the USB BIOS recovery functionality and GIGABYTE has two 128Mbit BIOS ROMs located right above it.

 

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These five ASMedia ASM1480 switch SATA and PCI-E bandwidth between the M.2 slots and the M.2 ports for different configurations. You can refer to page 36 in the manual if you want to see exactly what functionality you will lose if you plug in different devices.

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