This is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review, and get a quick recap and points on the Supermicro C7Z170-SQ.
Server Level Quality with Validation: The C7Z170-SQ carries over a wide array of server-level parts and design practices, just like we have seen with previous Supermicro consumer motherboards.
They use higher quality parts throughout including the PCB, MLCCs, and polymer capacitors. Server grade Vitec inductors are also used with Infineon parts for the rest of the VRM. Supermicro also tells us that they run a 100% load with intensive programs running for 150+ hours to test the stability of the product, the same validation process as their server lineup. Their server practices are also evident when you look at the audio, as the results are the best I have seen for a motherboard that only uses the Realtek codec without amplifiers or audio grade capacitors.
No Sharing, Only Caring: The Z170 platform offers a wide array of features, but to expand the feature set of many of their products, many manufacturers employee port sharing through hubs and switches. Supermicro does none of that; making it almost unique. At a minimum, we see other manufacturer share one or two SATA ports with the M.2 slot to provide SATA support, but Supermicro forgoes this practice to provide only PCI-E, so you can run a PCI-E based M.2 drive with six SATA drives all on Intel ports. Nothing on this motherboard is shared or switched other than the 16x PCI-E slots that are a given for this platform, and we see the performance benefit of not using switches in the IO testing.
Overclocking Features and Focus: While the C7Z170-SQ isn't the typical C7XXX-OCE model, it does use many of the same OC features. The post code display, BIOS recovery, onboard ClearCMOS, and power buttons show that Supermicro has overclockers in mind. The ability to disable individual controllers manually through jumpers is also a nice touch. They provide an external clock generator for higher BLCK overclocking as well. The new UEFI is also more overclocking friendly than previous versions from Supermicro, and there are also profiles for more novice users. However, one of the better overclocking features of this motherboard is its powerful VRM that operates at cool temperature due to its high quality.
Value: The C7Z170-SQ provides quite a good value when you take into consideration the high quality and the price point, considering you have to go close to $250 to get the same quality in a Z170 motherboard.
Few IO Panel USB Ports: There are only four backpanel USB Type-A ports, and only two are USB 3.0. There is a USB 3.1 Type-C connector, but the lack of Type-C devices doesn't help. Most people will use two USB ports off the bat for a keyboard and mouse, and that only leaves two more unless you add more through the internal headers. I think Supermicro had in mind users who would use the internal headers to provide more USB ports on the back and front of the case, but maybe an included bracket would smooth over this point.
Fan Control: For starters, the C7Z170-SQ does have the same number of fan headers as most other Z170 motherboards, but they are all 4-pin PWM only fan headers. This means that you can use 3-pin voltage mode fans, but they will run full speed. Apart from that, fan control is almost non-existent except for a standard mode (an automatic profile that should suffice for most people), and a full speed mode.
The C7Z170-SQ can be found for $210 (Supermicro says it should be $209.99 on Amazon), and it does provide a lot for that price. Many people think motherboards are all the same, but it couldn't be further from the truth. If you are going to work your system hard, the motherboard is going to be worked hard as well. Heat from the CPU coupled with other components can strain the PCB and components, which will reduce their lifespan.
Supermicro is known for high quality, and their C7Z170-SQ exemplifies just that; bringing the latest in server components and digital PWM technology to a reasonably priced motherboard. Some manufacturers have moved away from very high-quality hardware at the $200 price point, but Supermicro is sticking with it, hoping that buyers will notice.
In the end, the C7Z170-SQ offers everything you could expect from a Z170 motherboard, but it does have its caveats. If you use a lot of USB at the back of the case, I recommend buying a cheap $10 USB bracket to stick in one of the case's PCI-E slots for extra USB, the headers are located perfectly for USB expansion. What surprised me was that IO performance was quite strong, but I should have expected it because Supermicro isn't sharing or swapping bandwidth anywhere.
If you want a well-rounded Z170 motherboard with server-level quality and overclocking in an affordable package, then the C7Z170-SQ is worth a look.
Product Summary Breakdown
|Performance (including Overclocking)||90%|
|Quality including Design and Build||95%|
|Bundle and Packaging||89%|
|Value for Money||93%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||91%|
The Bottom Line: If you want a well-rounded Intel Z170 motherboard with server level quality and overclocking in an affordable package, then the Supermicro C7Z170-SQ is definitely worth a look.
PRICING: You can find the Supermicro C7Z170-SQ (Intel Z170) Motherboard for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
United States: The Supermicro C7Z170-SQ (Intel Z170) Motherboard retails for $224 at Amazon.
United Kingdom: The Supermicro C7Z170-SQ (Intel Z170) Motherboard retails for £262 at Amazon UK.
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon Canada's website.
- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and C7Z170-SQ Overview]
- Page 3 [Supermicro C7Z170-SQ Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [Supermicro C7Z170-SQ 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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