Packaging and the Board
There isn't too much to say about the box. It shows off BIOSTAR's commitment to maintaining gaming features with the front panel GAMING COMMANDER box. The packaging looks good, and the motherboard is well protected and the box sections off the GAMING COMMANDER box so it doesn't hurt the board while in transit.
Accessories include 4x SATA6G cables, IO shield, USB card with drivers/software, Velcro cable ties, manuals, and the GAMING COMMANDER box with screws.
The BIOSTAR GAMING Z170X has five fan headers. They are all circled in red and all support PWM and voltage (DC) mode fans and have SMART fan control in Windows and the BIOS. BIOSTAR used the same color scheme and the same shield design on their Z97 motherboard, and it looks like aluminum in person. While some might not like brown, you can populate the slots and get rid of color, plus in a case, the entire motherboard takes on a black look. The back of the board reveals the audio divide and some components for the VRM and the external clock generator for overclocking. The big three 16x PCI-E slots are all connected to the CPU and can operate at 16x/0x/0x, 8x/8x/0x, or 8x/4x/4x for CrossFireX.
The IO panel features a 6x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1x Intel Gbit NIC, 1x Killer Gbit NIC, 2x HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, PS/2 Keyboard, 7.1 gold plated audio outputs with TOSLINK. There are no hubs used for the USB 3.0; it's all directly from the PCH, and the top two have re-drivers.
Each of the three SATA Express connectors has two individual SATA ports from the PCH, resulting in a total of six SATA6Gb/s ports. The bottom two SATA Express connectors each share 2x PCI-E 2.0 with each of the two M.2 slots. If you use the bottom-most PCI-E 4x M.2 slot, then the lower SATA Express connector (in the stack) will be disabled. If you populate the topmost PCI-E 4x M.2 slot (covered by the shield), then you will disable the upper SATA Express, which is not located in the stack. There is also a 1x M.2 slot located right under the top-most M.2 slot that is used for WIFI/BT modules.
Surprisingly, BIOSTAR is focusing on overclockers as well, implementing the first capacitive touch panel that replaces buttons. Power, reset, CPU Ratio +, CPU Ratio -, BLCK +, and BLCK - touch pads are all black-lit by red LEDs, and blink when you touch them. An LN2 mode switch is located at the top of the motherboard. ClearCMOS and XMP Enable buttons are located right above the 24-pin power header. A POST-Code display doubles as a CPU temperature meter.
There is a single BIOS ROM, which is located in a socket for simple replacement. There is a sole USB 3.0 internal header located in the bottom right corner of the motherboard, which might pose a problem for people with large cases and short USB 3.0 internal cables.
The heat sinks all use plastic push-pins, but the shield is screwed into place. If you don't like the look of the shield, you can easily remove portions of the plastic shield without removing others; making the shield modular. There is a flat LED on the PCH heat sink that illuminates the star on the PCH shield.
Here is the motherboard without the shield.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and the GAMING Z170X]
- Page 3 [BIOSTAR GAMING Z170X Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [BIOSTAR GAMING Z170X Circuit Analysis Continued]
- Page 5 [BIOS and Software]
- Page 6 [Test System Setup]
- Page 7 [Overclocking]
- Page 8 [CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks]
- Page 9 [System IO Benchmarks]
- Page 10 [Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption]
- Page 11 [What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts]
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