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GIGABYTE Z170X-GAMING 7 (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Jan 8, 2016 8:39 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Here are key points about the GIGABYTE Z170X-GAMING 7.

 

What's Hot

 

Creative Audio and AMP-UP: The Z170X-GAMING 7 uses a Creative Core3Di CA0132 quad-core audio processor with built-in DACs/ADCs; it's the same chip used on Creative's Core3D discrete sound cards. GIGABYTE's Core3Di implementation on the Z170X-Gaming 7 consists of a line driver for the back output and a replaceable AMP for the front panel output. A special TI power chip, which provides +/- 15v to support a variety of amplifiers, powers the front panel amplifier. GIGABYTE also includes a gain adjustment switch and some high-quality Nichcon Gold series audio capacitors to sweeten the deal.

 

 

Dual NICs and M.2: The Z170X-GAMING 7 offers both Intel and Killer's latest NICs. The Qualcomm e2400 is marketed towards gamers while the Intel NIC is targeted at workstation users. Since the board is targeted towards both users, you will have the option to use either. Many boards only have one M.2 connector, but the beauty of the Z170 chipset is that it can RAID M.2 slots, and the Z170X-Gaming 7 has two full speed ports.

 

RGB LEDs in the Audio and IO: I am a big fan of GIGABYTE's IO shields with built-in LEDs, and this board takes it a bit further by using RGB LEDs for the IO shield. I like being able to see the ports in the darkness that exist behind a computer case. GIGABYTE's audio section cover looks sleek, and the inclusion of RGBs on the bottom to illuminate the divide, and on top to illuminate through the shield provides unique aesthetics.

 

Intel Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1: GIGABYTE provides the Intel "Alpine Ridge" controller that provides both USB 3.1, and if implemented to do so, Thunderbolt 3. At Z170 launch, GIGABYTE implemented the controller with the proper hardware for USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3, but only advertised USB 3.1 since it was not officially certified for Thunderbolt 3 at that point. The HDMI 2.0 controller and the proper power and switch chip for the Type-C port are required for Thunderbolt 3.0, and both are present. Recently, GIGABYTE attained the proper Intel Thunderbolt 3 certification for the implementation and now offers firmware updates for both the HDMI 2.0 controller and Alpine Ridge controller, so with those two updates, you will have full-fledged Thunderbolt 3. The Z170X-Gaming 7 is one of the least expensive Thunderbolt 3 motherboards.

 

What's Not

 

UEFI Fan Control is a bit basic: GIGABYTE's Windows fan control is extensive, their System Information Viewer application is very versatile and competitive. However, their UEFI BIOS support for fan header configuration is a bit lacking compared to competitors. You have the ability to change between preset profiles for each header individually, but the manual configuration of the fan curve is lacking (the UEFI only provides the ability to set a linear slope). GIGABYTE provides the ability to select one PWM slope amount between 0.75-2.5x, which compared to nice GUIs with multiple PWM slope options seems a bit lacking.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

GIGABYTE's Z170X-GAMING 7 is loaded with features and connectivity. You have USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 3, Intel NIC, Killer NIC, Creative Audio with Amplifier, and extra USB 3.0 (through a hub) and SATA6Gb/s (through an ASMedia controller). GIGABYTE has also provided OC features that I expect on boards that cost over $200.

 

The aesthetics of the motherboard are impressive, and the RGB LEDs add a nice touch to the audio section and rear IO panel. Like all motherboards, the board does lack in some areas; for instance, its UEFI fan control is not as extensive as competitors are.

 

gigabyte-z170x-gaming-7-intel-z170-motherboard-review_105

 

The motherboard comes in at around $225 which brings it into the lower-end of the premium motherboards and high-end of the mainstream motherboards. At this price point, I expect great overclocking abilities, the latest performance features, and rock solid durability. The Z170X-Gaming 7 has all of those things, plus it has Thunderbolt 3, making it one of the most affordable Thunderbolt 3 motherboards on the market. Overall if you are looking for a gaming motherboard with the latest features and solid all-around performance, the Z170X-Gaming 7 is worth a look.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance (including Overclocking)92%
Quality including Design and Build92%
General Features95%
Bundle and Packaging93%
Value for Money95%
Overall TweakTown Rating93%

The Bottom Line: GIGABYTE's Z170X-Gaming 7 is loaded with features sure to impress, and while maintaining solid quality all around, it is one of the least expensive Thunderbolt 3 motherboards.



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