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BIOSTAR Racing Z170GTN Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: 1 week, 5 days ago
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: BIOSTAR

Here are key points about the BIOSTAR Z170GTN.

 

What's Hot

 

High-Performance Aesthetics: The RGB LEDs under the diffusion panels on the heat sinks allows you to change the motherboard's color theme. BIOSTAR's execution of RGB LEDs is among my favorite of any motherboard maker, and while the Z170GT7 does it best, the Z170GTN does it well. The RGB LED header is also a nice touch, and control through the UEFI or Windows isn't something all motherboards have.

 

I was surprised to find a VRM heat sink on the Z170GTN, as most Mini-ITX motherboards in this price range lack any VRM cooling. The Z170GTN looks high performance, even though it doesn't have that high-performance price tag.

 

 

U.2 and M.2: With both U.2 and M.2, and the ability to use both at the same time, the Z170GTN does what many Mini-ITX motherboards can't. Both the U.2 and M.2 run on separate x4 PCI-E links, but the M.2 can also work in SATA mode if you prefer.

 

VRM Cooling: The heat sink on the 4 phases that power the CPU VCore VRM isn't just there for looking, from my thermal tests I saw that it aids in cooling the MOSFETs so that the CPU doesn't throttle. Having seen other Mini-ITX motherboards throttle with a 6700K at stock, I was very surprised that a motherboard at this price point can sustain a 4.8GHz overclock without throttling.

 

Intel NIC: Do you need an Intel NIC in a reasonably priced Mini-ITX motherboard? The Z170GTN has you covered.

 

What's Not

 

No XMP for Memory OC: I was very surprised that BIOSTAR didn't provide XMP options in the BIOS. I even updated the UEFI to the latest version, and I still could not find it. Not only does the motherboard lack XMP, but you also cannot set higher memory dividers. Perhaps BIOSTAR doesn't consider the Z170GTN an overclocking motherboard so they didn't tune it, or maybe they will add it in the future. Since most people do not overclock their memory, this might not be an issue for many.

 

USB 3.0 header placement: The USB 3.0 internal header is positioned right below the CPU socket, which makes it closer to the rear of the case than the front. Reaching it shouldn't be an issue in a Mini-ITX case, but it will be visible.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

The Z170GTN is a mini version of the Z170GT7 whose VRM heat sinks I fell in love with. The Z170GTN offers almost everything you might expect from a Mini-ITX motherboard. It has both M.2 and U.2, a decent number of USB ports and headers, and good spacing to avoid cable and heat sink conflicts. It also carries a neutral color aesthetic that many enthusiasts have wanted for a long time, and the VRM and PCH heat sinks will allow you to fully customize the color theme of the motherboard.

 

The most impressive part of the Z170GTN is the price. At under $120, the Z170GTN offers extremely high value in a small package. I didn't expect to find the Intel NIC nor the VRM heat sink on a motherboard of this price, but the Z170GTN delivered. However, you can't expect USB 3.1 as well as excellent memory overclocking support, so the motherboard does have its pitfalls.

 

If you are in the market for an extremely well equipped and very reasonably priced Mini-ITX Z170 motherboard, you should give the Z170GTN a look.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance (including Overclocking)87%
Quality including Design and Build90%
General Features93%
Bundle and Packaging85%
Value for Money98%
Overall TweakTown Rating91%

The Bottom Line: With its chameleon-like RGB heat sinks, Intel NIC, CPU overclocking ability, U.2, and M.2, the Biostar Racing Z170GTN offers a very strong feature set at an extremely reasonable price.

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