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GIGABYTE Z170N-WIFI (Intel Z170) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Dec 24, 2015 7:05 pm
TweakTown Rating: 89%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Here are key points about the GIGABYTE Z170N-WIFI.

 

What's Hot

 

Triple Intel Network Controllers: The Z170N-WIFI doesn't just use Intel for connectivity and storage, but also for all of its network adapters. Both wired NICs use the same wired Intel network controllers as full-sized enthusiast motherboards. The Wireless AC is power conscious and driven by Intel's third-generation Wireless AC 8260NGW, which is built to support fully Windows 10. The Wireless controller also support Bluetooth 4.2.

 

 

Full 7.1 Audio Outputs: Surprisingly, the Z170N-WIFI utilizes the ALC1150 to its maximum, providing 7.1 audio outputs and S/PDIF through TOSLINK. Usually on Mini-ITX motherboards, you find only three audio jacks, but this board carries all five just like larger ATX boards.

 

Full M.2 and SATA Express Support: M.2 and Mini-ITX go together very well, and the Z170N-WIFI provides the fabric for cohabitation of M.2 and fix SATA 6Gb/s ports. Four of those SATA 6Gb/s ports can be used to provide two SATA Express ports in case you have SATA Express devices.

 

Cost Effective: The Z170N-WIFI is a cost-effective product, offering a lot of features in the Mini-ITX form factor at less than $150. It is currently the second-least expensive Z170 Mini-ITX motherboard, yet it carries better network connectivity and audio than more expensive Z170 Mini-ITX motherboards.

 

What's Not

 

Not Really an Overclocking Product: Because of the 4-Pin power port and the lack of heat sinks on the VRM, the Z170N-WIFI can't sustain a higher-end overclock. If you maintain constant airflow over the motherboard, then you can get away with a 1.3v 4.5-4.6GHz overclock without throttling.

 

Common sense dictates that if a motherboard has a 4-pin power header for the CPU, no heat sink over the CPU core VRMs, and the minimum phase count then that motherboard isn't built for high-end overclocking and the manufacturer is up front with that fact. I was surprised that LLC is included, and I thought that was a nice touch for those who want to optimize voltage at a humble overclock while maintaining airflow.

 

No USB 3.1: In this day and age, most every Z170 motherboard has USB 3.1 except a few, and I was sad to see that while the Z170N-WIFI has a Type-C port, it only supports up to USB 3.0.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

GIGABYTE's Z170N-WIFI is an interesting motherboard. For starters, it's one of the least expensive Z170 Mini-ITX motherboards, but it carries dual Intel NICs, dual HDMI, dual SATA Express, and ATX sized audio. What is interesting is that GIGABYTE has kept close to this same feature set generation after generation, as one market segment demands this product. The Z170N-WIFI is built to satisfy system integrators (manufacturers that put together PCs and sell them) because it makes for a great multimedia server. It has the proper audio outputs for 7.1 channel surround sound, tons of network connectivity, dual HDMI for different display configurations, and carries enough features to get the job done.

 

Obviously, the product has its drawbacks, but considering the price of the motherboard, I wouldn't have expected much more. If you want a GIGABYTE Z170 Mini-ITX motherboard but you want to run a decent overclock, then you should look to the Z170N-Gaming 5, which has an 8-pin power header and full heat sink with a heat pipe for the VRM and the PCH.

 

Overall this little motherboard will make a solid backbone for a home media server or even a small rig. If you are looking for a Mini-ITX motherboard with a low price tag but a rich feature set, then you should give the Z170N-WIFI a look.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance (including Overclocking)83%
Quality including Design and Build85%
General Features95%
Bundle and Packaging89%
Value for Money95%
Overall TweakTown Rating89%

The Bottom Line: GIGABYTE's Z170N-WIFI is a cost-effective Intel Z170 Mini-ITX motherboard with desktop-class audio and storage capabilities loaded with triple Intel network controllers to seal the deal.

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