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BIOSTAR Racing Z170GT7 (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Mar 9, 2016 5:12 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: BIOSTAR

Packaging and Overview

 

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The Z170GT7's box is unlike anything I have seen from BIOSTAR in the past. It has a sleek design, feels high quality, and has a window so you can see the motherboard. Packaging is done well; the motherboard is protected inside a box.

 

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There is a good number of accessories: 4x SATA 6Gb/s cables, IO shield, and driver DVD with manuals. My sample came with a "Free Gift" in the form of an RGB LED strip. I am not sure if all packages come with the RGB LED strip; it might be regional.

 

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The BIOSTAR Z170GT7 has five fan headers circled in red; each fan header can be controlled in the UEFI with a good number of customization parameters. BIOSTAR's fan control is surprisingly good in the UEFI. The motherboard looks very nice in person. I am not the biggest fan of the silk screen racing flag on the PCB; I just pretend it isn't there since it is dark enough in color to blend into the darkness of the inside of my case. The motherboard's PCB does have a matte finish.

 

I applaud BIOSTAR for going with their unique design regarding colors, RGBs, and carbon fiber décor. The RGB LEDs on this motherboard in the heat sinks is very classy and sleek. I am not so much a fan of the bright RGBs that form a vertical line near the audio section; I would have preferred them beneath the motherboard to keep with the glowing theme.

 

The PCH heat sink also has an RGB LED, but you cannot customize it, instead of changes from green to red depending on the CPU temperature. The back of the motherboard is bare except for some cooling solder strips behind the VRM. That is perhaps the cleanest motherboard backside I have ever seen.

 

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The IO panel on the Z170GT7 totes five USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, 1Gbit Intel LAN, gold plated audio TOSLINK, PS/2 keyboard, HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, and VGA.

 

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The PCI-E layout is not as straightforward as you might think. The first two full sized 16x slots are wired to the CPU and can operate at 16x/0x or 8x/8x. The first PCI-E 1x slot and the last PCI-E 16x slot (electrical 4x) are hard wired to the PCH. The bottom two 1x slots and the third 16x slot (electrical 4x) share bandwidth, so you either run the 3rd 16x slot at 4x with the two 1x slots disabled or you run it at 2x with the two 1x slots enabled. There is a table that easily explains this in the manual.

 

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BIOSTAR provides the ability to turn all the SATA6Gb/s ports from the PCH into three SATA Express ports if the user wants. Otherwise, they will be normal SATA6Gb/s. The M.2 slot is a 32Gb/s slot, and it does share bandwidth with SATAExpress1, so you will lose that slot if you use the M.2 slot.

 

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BIOSTAR provides their capacitive touch panel on the Z170GT7. While it doesn't have as many options as the one found on the GAMING Z170X, it does offer Power, Reset, Sport (OC), and Eco (down clock). I was very happy to find a POST Code display; it doubles as a CPU temperature readout when you enter the OS. There is an LN2 switch that can be used to down clock the CPU core and cache to 8x on-the-fly. The Z170GT7 even has dual BIOS ROMs with a physical switch.

 

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BIOSTAR didn't forget to include a USB 3.0 internal header, but its location is a bit far for many front panel cables. There are also two USB 2.0 internal headers. BIOSTAR added a 5050 RGB header; it works in harmony with the motherboard RGBs.

 

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Heatsinks for the motherboard VRMs are held down by screws while the PCH is held down by pushpins. I was surprised to find that the IO panel shield is metal rather than plastic.

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