GIGABYTE came out strong at the launch of the Intel Z170 chipset with numerous gaming and mainstream motherboard models, but their overclocking series was missing. Recently GIGABYTE finalized its plans for their Z170 overclocking lineup, and the top dog is the Z170X-SOC Force.
The Z170X-SOC Force is more similar to the Z87X-OC Force than the Z97X-SOC Force, which didn't have a huge VRM and PLX chip for 4-way SLI/CrossFireX. GIGABYTE segments their overclocking lineup into two varieties. The first is a board stripped down of everything not essential, and tuned for overclocking. A perfect example of this was the Z97X-SOC Force LN2 that had only two DIMMs and no mounting holes to expand memory overclocking margins to the maximum. This first variety is aimed at increasing margins at any cost (even everyday functionality), and the Z170X-SOC Force isn't this type of product.
The second variety that GIGABYTE usually launches is their super loaded motherboard with as many overclocking features as possible; these boards usually have the most expansive graphics capabilities and flair. These motherboards usually have some over the top feature while still facilitating practicality and hardcore overclocking. The X58A-UD9 was this type of product, the Z77X-UP7 introduced the overclocking colors and an insane 32 phase VRM, and the Z87X-OC Force is the closest relative to the Z170X-SOC Force. The Z170X-SOC Force is the natural evolution of this product line and GIGABYTE sent over an early sample. The Z170X-SOC Force has a lot to live up to, so let's check it out.
The GIGABYTE Z170X-SOC Force is one of the few Z170 motherboards which supports 4-way SLI, and this is because of the PLX PEX8747, that takes in the 16x PCI-E lanes from the CPU and outputs 32x for graphics. It is one of few Z170 motherboards that have three 32Gb/s 4x PCI-E 3.0 slots, which is the maximum the Z170 chipset supports (with RAID support).
If you use all of the M.2 slots then all of the Intel SATA ports are disabled, so GIGABYTE added a few extra through an ASMedia chip. GIGABYTE also uses the Intel USB 3.1 controller codenamed Alpine Ridge and provides nine USB 3.0 ports on the back and through two internal headers.
The Z170X-SOC Force hasn't been released yet but is expected to be $400 USD.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and Z170X-SOC Force Overview]
- Page 3 [GIGABYTE Z170X-SOC Force Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [GIGABYTE Z170X-SOC Force 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]