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Supermicro C7Z170-SQ (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Oct 23, 2015 6:10 pm
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Supermicro

Packaging and Overview

 

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Supermicro ships their new motherboard in a unique box, possibly the best I have seen in a long time when it comes to being simplistic yet elegant. The motherboard box is like that of phones, where you lift off the top, but the motherboard is sitting on a slant on the red internals. I would use the box for something afterwards because it is slanted at the edges and looks quite neat. The accessories are not much different compared to previous Supermicro consumer motherboards, but they have changed the color of the SATA cables from red to a much more popular black.

 

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There are only a few accessories including; 4x SATA6Gb/s cables, screws for the M.2 slot, IO shield, driver DVD, and a chart with jumper locations and functions. There is a manual on the driver DVD and the website.

 

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The Supermicro C7Z170-SQ has five fan headers, all of which are 4-pin PWM headers with automatic motherboard fan control. While 3-pin fans will work, they won't have the speed control that 4-pin PWM fans will have. There is one strong point; each header can support up to 2.5A @ 12v. There isn't any fan control other than pre-set automatic settings (and full speed), and Supermicro says they will address this in the future. The motherboard has a red and black color theme going on, and it's simple enough to blend in nicely with red and black themed builds and not overpower the aesthetic appeal of other accessories. The back of the motherboard is bare of components, except there are 15 red LEDs with insanely high output stacked below the audio divide.

 

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The IO panel features a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 2x USB 2.0, S/PDIF, HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1Gbit Intel NIC, and 7.1 audio outputs.

 

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There are three red full sized PCI-E 3.0 slots. They operate at: 16x/0x/0x, 8x/8x/0x, or 8x/4x/4x for 2-way or 3-way CrossFireX, but SLI is not supported. The black slots are connected to the PCH. The first two black slots look like 4x slots, but they each only get 1x of bandwidth, but the last PCI-E 4x black slot operates at 4x PCI-E 3.0. A single M.2 slot operates at PCI-E 3.0 4x for 32Gb/s of bandwidth, but there is no SATA connectivity which means that only PCI-E based M.2 drives will work.

 

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There are six SATA ports from the Intel PCH, and none of them share bandwidth with the M.2 slot. There are also two USB 3.0 internal headers, each supporting two USB 3.0 ports. These two USB 3.0 headers are located apart from each other; one is easier to reach for a case's front panel ports and the other for a back PCI-E add-in slot. The one for the front panel is angled at 90 degrees to enhance aesthetics. The clear CMOS battery is located under the last full sized PCI-E 16x slot for easy access with one or two cards installed. There is a BIOS recovery enable/disable switch located below the last PCI-E slot which will enable the BIOS recovery feature that needs to be initialized by the button in the image below.

 

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While Supermicro claims that this isn't the top end SKU for the Z170 platform, they do provide some critical OC features. A power button and a clear CMOS button are located at the top of the motherboard. There is also a BIOS recovery button that will initialize BIOS recovery from a USB stick with a BIOS ROM loaded onto it. This BIOS recovery only works if the recovery mode is enabled by the first switch. The motherboard also carries a POST code LED and an onboard speaker. Most of the controllers on the motherboard have jumpers nearby that allow you to disable them.

 

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The audio section of the PCB is isolated from the rest of the motherboard by a thick PCB divide. 15 underside red LEDs illuminate this divide, and these aren't your typical motherboard LEDs, they are high powered directional LEDs.

 

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Supermicro has improved the styling and color scheme of the motherboard and heat sinks, and here they make good contact with the PCB, but they are still using plastic pushpins to secure the heat sinks to the PCB.

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