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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

Packaging and Overview

 

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The Z170-WS's box is unassuming; there is a picture of the motherboard and it does have a window inside the front panel that lets you see the product before you buy. Packaging is sturdy; the motherboard is well protected from the elements.

 

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There are plenty of accessories: 6x SATA 6Gb/s cables, SLI bridge, 3-way SLI Bridge, 4-way SLI bridge, IO shield, Q-connector, Serial port bracket, CPU installation tool, and software DVD/user manuals.

 

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The ASUS Z170-WS has seven fan headers circled in red, and a fan extension header circled in green. All fan headers are PWM or DC mode (voltage mode) and can be configured in the UEFI or through Windows.

 

The Z170-WS is first and foremost a workstation class enthusiast motherboard, so aesthetics need to be as useful as they are elegant. ASUS did a good job of mixing cooling ability with sleek looks. The PCH and the PEX8747 are located near each other, and the PCH heat sink cools both. A thick heat pipe moves the heat to a heat sink in the middle of the motherboard to be dissipated. You might also be wondering why ASUS has used gold and black colored capacitors instead of their black ones, and the answer is because these capacitors are higher quality than their typical 10K capacitors. The back of the PCB is bare except for a few ICs.

 

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The IO panel on the Z170-WS carries eight USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, S/PDIF optical, USB 3.1 Type-A, USB 3.1 Type-C, two 1Gbit NIC ports, POST Code logger button, BIOS flashback button, and 7.1 channel audio outputs.

 

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The PCI-E layout is straightforward. The two gray 16x slots are wired to the PEX8747; each one can support 16x PCI-E 3.0. Each black 16x slot can take 8x from the gray slot above it. So you will be able to run 16x/0x/16x/0x, 16x/0x/8x/8x, 8x/8x/16x/0x, or 8x/8x/8x/8x. The center brown PCI-E 4x slot gets it's bandwidth from the PCH and doesn't use the same lanes as the other PCI-E slots.

 

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The U.2, M.2_2, and SATA6G_12 connectors share two ports of HSIO bandwidth. M.2_1 shares bandwidth with SATA6G_56. There is no other way to RAID M.2 slots on Z170 than to use up the SATA ports, so this port switching is a very common occurrence. All of the SATA ports come from the Intel PCH. This is one of the only ASUS Z170 motherboards I have seen with dual M.2 slots and tests our storage editors have done reveal that RAIDing super-fast M.2 drives can yield upwards of 3.5 GB/s of bandwidth.

 

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ASUS has positioned one of the USB 3.0 internal headers right below the 24-pin power connector. The other header is located in the lower right-hand corner of the motherboard along with TPU, EPU, and XMP switches. A straight USB 3.0 port is located internally as well for benchtop use or USB license keys.

 

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The clear CMOS button is located above the SATA ports and a "MemOK!" button is located at the top right-hand corner of the motherboard.

 

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The motherboard also has a POST code display as well as power and reset buttons located near the COM port and TPM headers. The motherboard also has dual 8-pin CPU power ports.

 

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A 6-pin PCI-E power port is located above the first PCI-E slot to provide extra power for multi-GPU setups. I also noticed that the socket has more pins than other Z170 sockets (even ASUS's overclocking motherboards), but I did not find any benefit to the extra pins.

 

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These heat sinks are quite heavy and make excellent contact with PCB components.

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