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ASUS Z170-WS (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Mar 4, 2016 2:40 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: ASUS

Here are key points about the ASUS Z170-WS.

 

What's Hot

 

PEX8747 offers 4-Way SLI/CrossFireX: If you want to stick with Intel's latest and greatest 6th generation Core microarchitecture, but you also want to run three or four GPUs in SLI or CrossFire, then you have to get a board with a PEX8747. The PEX8747 offers the ability to run up to four GPUs in SLI/CrossFireX, by expanding 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes into 32.

 

 

Premium CPU Voltage Regulator: The dual International Rectifier PWM setup provides the CPU VCore with eight true phases. Each of those phases goes to an IR3555, providing a crazy high 60A output capability. While this would have been enough to satisfy 99.99% of enthusiasts, ASUS went a step further and upgraded their 10K capacitors to 12K. The lower temperatures from the increase in power stage quality and the increase in capacitor hours should result in a very durable and long lasting VRM.

 

Dual M.2 and Intel NICs: This is the first ASUS board I have seen with dual M.2 slots, allowing users to RAID top of the line M.2 drives to produce very fast RAID arrays. Since we are talking about doubles, ASUS's dual Intel NICs are sure to please the workstation crowd.

 

Heavy on Workstation Features: While a lot of ASUS's Z170 features, such as fan control, have been carried over to the Z170-WS, there are some others that I didn't expect to be on the motherboard. ASUS provides the ability to log the POST-code errors for easy troubleshooting. They also provide a lot of extra jumpers and headers to do things such as lock in PWM mode for chassis fans and access some of the data busses on the motherboard. You can do a lot without ever entering the BIOS, such as engaging XMP. ASUS also added Macro key abilities to the Z170-WS as well.

 

What's Not

 

Weird Clear CMOS Positioning: When I went to clear the CMOS on the Z170-WS, I had to open the manual to see where the button was. I finally found it hidden below my GPU. Since most users will stick their first card into the first PCI-E 16x slot, they might also run into this issue.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

ASUS's Z170-WS is a very durable and well-built piece of hardware. The Z170-WS feels sturdier and has higher quality parts than many of the ROG motherboards I have used. The Z170-WS is what many have come to expect from ASUS - high quality and proper execution. The truth of the matter is that workstations are built for durability and uptime, and they need to support the latest in connectivity. The PEX8747, U.2, dual M.2, dual Gbit NICs provide the Z170-WS with the latest in high-performance connectivity. The only thing missing is Thunderbolt 3, and you can add a card later on if you need it.

 

asus-z170-ws-intel-motherboard-review_115

 

While the Z170-WS isn't built for extreme overclocking, it still does a nice job of pushing the CPU. I would be careful and stick to ASUS's memory compatibility list if you go with high-speed memory kits. Overall I was very impressed with the performance of the Z170-WS's voltage regulator. Sure, cheaper sub $150 motherboards can push high overclocks on Skylake, but their voltage regulators run at almost double the temperature that the VRM on the Z170-WS runs. This reduction of temperatures coupled with the increase in capacitor lifespan should provide a motherboard built to last for years, perhaps even outlive the CPU.

 

The price of the Z170-WS at $349.99 is more than fair in my mind considering the PEX8747 and the high-quality VRM. The Z170-WS is an excellent motherboard for users that want the latest in features with hardware that performs.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance (including Overclocking)95%
Quality including Design and Build90%
General Features94%
Bundle and Packaging90%
Value for Money90%
Overall TweakTown Rating92%

The Bottom Line: The ASUS Z170-WS is loaded with high quality hardware that not only provides great features, but also provides excellent thermal performance.

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