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GIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Sep 3, 2015 4:45 pm
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Packaging and the Board

 

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There is nothing too special about the box other than a promo for "Heros of the Storm" as GIGABYTE is an official sponsor of BlizzCon. The board is packaged inside an antistatic bag and well protected from the elements.

 

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Accessories include 4x SATA6G cables, IO shield, 2-Way SLI bridge, G-Connector (for front panel headers), IO panel port protectors for video outputs, driver DVD, case badge, door hanger, and manuals.

 

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The GIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 has five fan headers. The single one circled in red is the PWM header and the four circled in blue are 4-pin voltage mode headers. All headers will work with both PWM and voltage mode fans. The motherboard itself has a gold/black color scheme, but instead of a heavy emphasis on gold, like on the previous Z97X-UD5H, the emphasis is now on black. This makes it much easier to mix and match case accessories, and most people prefer black to gold. The shade of gold here isn't very dark; it is more like the champagne color of the iPhone depending on the angle of observation. I think GIGABYTE did a nice job with the heat sink design, and the heat sinks are big and should cool the components well. The motherboard is full sized ATX. The back of the motherboard is pretty bare of components, which is a good thing. There are only a few LEDs on the underside to illuminate the PCB divide for the audio subsection.

 

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The IO Panel features 3x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2x USB 2.0 ports, two Intel NICs, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, PS/2 KB/Mouse, 7.1 audio outputs with TOSLINK.

 

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The PCI-E layout is pretty much standard. The first and second full sized PCI-E 16x slots work at 16x/0x with one card or 8x/8x with two cards. The last 16x slot is electrically 4x and wired to the PCH instead of the CPU. The M.2 slot closest to the last PCI-E 16x slot shares bandwidth with it, so you can use one or the other, not both. All the PCI-E 1x slots are hardwired to the PCH at 1x. Both M.2 slots can run at 4x PCI-E 3.0, but you will sacrifice some SATA and the last PCI-E 16x slot if you use both at the same time. For Z170, M.2 uses many of the same ports as SATA allowing manufacturers to provide both, but allowing the use of one or the other to expand options. You might also notice that the PCI-E 16x slots have a solid metal guard over them. This shield/guard over the slots helps protect the physical integrity of the slot from bending or pulling of the video card. GIGABYTE claims that their metal PCI-E shield design is stronger than others which aren't one solid piece.

 

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There are a total of eight SATA6Gb/s ports. There are also three SATA Express connectors and each SATA Express connector is shared with the two SATA ports adjacent to it. Two SATA ports are hooked up to a third-party ASMedia controller, the rest that are SATA Express/SATA6Gb/s are connected directly to the PCH. In the image on the right, there is a connector for SATA power input to the motherboard for extra PCI-E power and two USB 3.0 internal headers. All seven of the USB 3.0 ports (four from headers and three on the IO panel) are directly connected to the PCH.

 

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GIGABYTE has their AMP-UP audio on the Z170X-UD5. The gold Nichicon capacitors match the gold heat sinks quite well. GIGABYTE also added some styling to the PCB for the isolated audio subsection. GIGABYTE included overclocking features on the Z170X-UD5, including a POST Code display, voltage read points, power button, reset button (white), auto OC button, auto ECO (power savings) button, and a clear CMOS button (black).

 

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There is a single BIOS mode switch, which will disable the dual BIOS functionality of the motherboard for easier overclocking recovery and troubleshooting. There is no dual BIOS selector switch, and I am not sure why GIGABYTE removed this feature. GIGABYTE has soldered metal shields over many of the critical ICs, one of them being the extra clock generator for better BLCK overclocking.

 

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The heat sinks on the Z170X-UD5 are all screwed into the motherboard and the contact between the heat sink and the ICs is very good.

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