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Supermicro C7Z170-OCE (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Jan 6, 2016 2:15 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: Supermicro

Packaging and Overview

 

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The C7Z170-OCE's box is unique compared to offerings from other brands. It is identical to the C7Z170-SQ I reviewed a few months ago.

 

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The packaging of the motherboard and accessories is identical to the C7Z170-SQ, but the box is green on the inside to match the motherboard's color scheme. The motherboard is well protected from the elements.

 

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Accessories are uneventful; 6x red SATA6Gb/s cables, an IO shield, M.2 screws, driver DVD, and quick start manual.

 

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The Supermicro C7Z170-OCE has five four-pin PWM headers located on the edges of the board from the middle upwards. There are many around the CPU socket which is great for people with dual fans on their air coolers. Control of these headers is possible through the UEFI, but options are limited. The green color scheme of the C7Z170-OCE is honestly quite refreshing. I always see the popular colors such as red, black, gold, and sometimes orange or yellow, and it's nice to get finally get a green motherboard back on the test bench.

 

Many manufacturers either shy away from green or limit their green offerings because of a limited variety of green accessories such as fans. However, NVIDIA is green all the way, and their GPU's have green LEDs built into them. Green accessories aren't absent from the market, they are just rarer, and even then many modders will color their accessories to match the motherboard or other components.

 

You might have noticed the center heat sink on the motherboard, underneath it is a PLX bridge chip that doubles the available lanes from the CPU to expand GPU and storage possibilities. I will cover its implementation shortly. The back of the motherboard is bare except for some red LEDs that light up the PCB audio divide.

 

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The IO panel on the C7Z170-OCE carries two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 keyboard/mouse, gold plated HDMI, gold plated DisplayPort, DVI, S/PDIF digital, two 1Gbit NICs (both Intel), a USB 3.1 Type-C port, and 7.1 audio outputs.

 

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The C7Z170-OCE has a unique PCI-E layout, especially considering it has a PLX PEX8747 but doesn't support 4-way SLI like most other motherboards carrying the PEX8747. Supermicro decided to provide the ability for 3-way SLI support through three full sized PCI-E 16x slots. The PCI-E 16x slot closest to the CPU is hardwired at 16x directly to the PEX8747, while the 16x slot furthest from the CPU also offers 16x from the PEX8747 but will switch 8x to the middle 16x slot if it's occupied.

 

The board can run the three PCI-E 16x slots at 16x/0x/16 or 16x/8x/8x. The first PCI-E 16x slot is also a single slot lower than it is on other PEX8747 Z170 motherboards, so a large CPU heat sink (like an NH-D15) will not interfere. The two PCI-E 4x slots are hard wired with 1x of PCI-E 3.0 each from the Z170 PCH.

 

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The M.2 slot supports extra-long M.2 drives and is directly connected to the PCH at 4x PCI-E 3.0 (32Gb/s). It will not be disabled by installing any SATA devices, but it also does not support any SATA based M.2 drives. There are six SATA 6Gb/s ports at a right angle. A right angled USB 3.0 connector is also provided.

 

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Supermicro has brought back their OC buttons. The green buttons are (from right to left); memory OC, user defined profile (jet), 20-25% OC (race car), 15% (motorcycle), and a home button arrive at default settings. The black button with the negative sign on it is the power button. There are two basic metal buttons, the one nearest the memory slots is a ClearCMOS button, and the other is a BIOS Restore button.

 

Supermicro also provides a POST code display, a 128Mbit BIOS ROM in a replaceable socket, a built-in buzzer, and a wide variety of jumpers to disable almost all of the controllers. Another USB 3.0 header is located at the bottom of the board and is wired to a USB 3.1 controller, so USB 3.0 performance should be superb.

 

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I liked that Supermicro decided to make the fan headers, SATA, and PCI-E slots all green. Most manufacturers only apply color to some connectors, but Supermicro has gone a bit further than what is typical. There is a single 8-pin power connector for the CPU.

 

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All heat sinks are screwed into the motherboard, no more plastic pushpins, and the heat sinks seem to make excellent contact with the components.

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