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BIOSTAR GAMING Z170X (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Sep 28, 2015 2:17 pm
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: BIOSTAR

Overclocking Results


CPU Overclocking


CPUID recently released their latest CPU-Z version that brings some major changes to the much-loved software. One of these changes has made it harder to get validation at lower stability levels, so it becomes much more troublesome to validate 5.2GHz at 1.5v with every board. While CPU-Z has changed, many motherboards (not this one) don't have LLC. I have to set a higher voltage to compare all these boards at the same voltage.


I have decided to reduce the CPU VCore to 1.4v applied (I will measure real VCore at the output capacitors), and see how high I can validate. On most boards, it's 5.0. I have also decided to add real voltage levels compared to what is set for all motherboards, if they don't have voltage read points I will mark where I got the readings from on the board.




The GAMING Z170X does 5.0GHz just like other high-end boards.





I test stability at 4.8GHz CPU, 4.0GHz Uncore, and 2666MHz on the memory with 1.4v on the VCore. I am using HandBrake to transcode a 2GB video, and it is very telling since it pulls all cores to the maximum frequency and load. Handbrake is good for a quick stability check, plus I get a log of the encoding speed and the number of errors. It is very easy for the queue not to finish all the way and just error out, and 1-3 hours of AIDA is about equal to this HandBrake test, so I am replacing it. The reason the CPU frequency and Uncore are so low is because EIST drops the CPU frequency at idle points. You can see HWiNFO's CPU frequency and temperature maximums that the CPU runs at full speed when loaded.




These are the voltage read points if you want to try and use the built-in LLC because in-Windows reading isn't very good for most Z170 motherboards. You can expect a 0.05-0.1 drop in the voltage if you don't use LLC, which I figure most people will use. However, if you set a value of 50 for both DC and AC and test, you could find some benefits and reduction in vdroop. I reported there was no vdroop control, and they added in the integrated AC/DC LLC, so hopefully they will add in external LLC in the future. Measuring the VCore manually is recommended. If you don't want to measure, then look at your CPU temperature to see how much VCore you need. As a reference, 80C is about 1.39-1.43v on a good AIO water cooler at 4.8GHz. And you might need to set 1.45-1.5v for that (Intel's recommended maximum is 1.52v). So, just try and stay under that since the VCore will drop under load.


Memory Overclocking


I have decided to expand the overclocking tests to the following:


Test 1: 4x8GB (32GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX 2666MHz C16




The motherboard runs four sticks each at 8GB at 2,666MHz XMP, but BIOSTAR's XMP applies its own timings that are applied when applying XMP on other kits as well. That includes C19 and T1 for some reason.


Test 2: 4x4GB (16GB) Corsair Dominator Platinum 3200MHz C16




This kit meant for X99 works just fine on the board, but again with an altered XMP profile. I had to go in and set C16 and command rate to T2 from T1.


Test 3:2x4GB (8GB) G.Skill Ripjaws V 3600MHz C17




This kit doesn't work on all motherboards. Usually, only overclocking models can even boot this kit by just enabling XMP. On the GAMING Z170X, I can get to 3200MHz, but 3600MHz isn't attainable at this moment. BIOS updates should bring support for these modules as I wasn't able to get 3200MHz earlier, but with the second oldest BIOS, I can (a new BIOS just released while writing this review).

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