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GIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 TH (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Nov 13, 2015 11:15 pm
TweakTown Rating: 94%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Here are key points about the GIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 TH.

 

What's Hot

 

Thunderbolt 3 with Dual Type-C Ports: The Z170X-UD5 TH released a few weeks ago as the first Thunderbolt 3 certified motherboard. The controller that provides Thunderbolt 3 is also the same one that provides USB 3.1 and is the first USB-IF certified USB 3.1 controller. This Intel chip is very powerful, and when paired with proper USB Power Delivery 2.0 chips from TI can support up to 12 daisy chained devices, dual 4K monitors (or a single 5K monitor), and still provides up to 40Gbps of bandwidth. Needless to say, GIGABYTE implements the chip well and provides a Thunderbolt 3 implementation that is rare.

 

 

All Intel without Hubs: The circuit analysis I did on the Z170X-UD5 TH was one of the shortest I have ever done. This is because most everything on this board is powered directly through Intel chipsets. All eight USB 3.0 ports come directly from the PCH (2 more than standard FlexIO configurations). Networking is Intel. Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 also both come from an Intel controller. Compatibility with certified devices should be quite good, and headaches that sometimes arise from hubs should be nonexistent.

 

Overclocking Features: I was surprised to find voltage read points, a POST code display, and onboard buttons for overclocking. Usually, these features aren't found on motherboards targeted at workstations, but GIGABYTE made sure to include them to make tweaking more simple.

 

Aesthetics: GIGABYTE's recent gold/black/silver aesthetics has grown on me a little bit. The shade of gold they are using along with the yellow LEDs and gold audio capacitors matches quite well. The shields over the audio codec, NIC, and clock generator and the metal braces for the PCI-E slots create a theme that makes the motherboard look protected and equipped for hard work.

 

What's Not

 

UEFI Fan Control: While GIGABYTE's fan control in the UEFI does provide manual control over the headers, control is much more basic than some might want. GIGABYTE says this is for ease of use, but it would be nice to have the same controls from their Windows application present in the UEFI, so there is no need to install extra software.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Motherboards are all about features, quality, and performance. They not only connect all other components but also act as hubs for the majority of input and output devices. The benefit to buying higher-end motherboards is that they usually carry novel features, and they have higher quality parts.

 

The Z170X-UD5 TH carries one very novel feature, Thunderbolt 3.0. Not only does it operate at a maximum of bandwidth forty times that of your 1Gbit NIC (40Gbps), but it supports multiple devices (including monitors) off a single Type-C connector. People are looking at Thunderbolt 3 as the first consumer grade feature capable of handling the bandwidth to support external GPUs. Intel's drive to toss in a versatile controller also seals the deal. The Z170X-UD5 TH supports either USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt 3 over its ports, and since the Type-C port is becoming more common, hopefully we will see more devices utilize the new technology.

 

gigabyte-z170x-ud5-th-intel-z170-motherboard-review_999

 

Looking at features other than Thunderbolt 3, the differences between the Z170X-UD5 and Z170X-UD5 TH dwindle. The original Z170X-UD5 has an extra NIC along with some extra OC features and costs $50 less than the Z170X-UD5 TH. Nevertheless, Thunderbolt 3.0 is not a common feature, and it is not cheap. GIGABYTE's Z170X-UD5 TH is as solid as its little brother, the Z170X-UD5, but comes with the novel dual Type-C Thunderbolt 3 ports.

 

If you consider the total cost of the product, you are paying an extra $50 for the TH version, but it is one of the most affordable motherboards with Thunderbolt 3 on the market. The Z170X-UD5 TH is a solid option if you are looking for a Thunderbolt 3 capable motherboard.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance (including Overclocking)95%
Quality including Design and Build96%
General Features96%
Bundle and Packaging92%
Value for Money90%
Overall TweakTown Rating94%

The Bottom Line: If you are looking for a reliable motherboard with Thunderbolt 3.0 and a solid Intel centric feature set, then the GIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 TH will do the job without breaking the bank.

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