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GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review (Page 2)

By Steven Bassiri | Oct 28, 2015 09:17 am CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Packaging and Overview

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The Z170XP-SLI has basic packaging, and it's a no frills experience. The motherboard comes in an anti-static bag and the way things are packaged, it does seem the motherboard is protected from the elements by the cardboard lining and box.

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The Z170XP-SLI comes with a modest amount of accessories; 4x SATA6Gb/s cables, 2-way SLI bridge, IO Shield, G-Connector, manual, driver DVD, and a case badge.

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The GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI has five 4-pin voltage mode fan headers circled in red. They are voltage mode which means they will control both 3 and 4-pin fans. The back of the motherboard is bare except for some yellow LEDs that illuminate the PCB divide for the audio. The motherboard has a basic color scheme, and it doesn't scream enthusiast.

Although it is quite basic, GIGABYTE did make some strides towards the enthusiast market by adding red accents to the heat sinks, a spruced up audio section, and a metallic shield over the clock generator. I think the motherboard is a bit confused when it comes to color aesthetics; while the heat sinks have red accents, the audio PCB divide lights up yellow. So if you are going to buy accessories and want to color match you should keep that in mind. You can disable the audio LEDs through the UEFI, or you could cover up the red accents on the heat sinks.

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The IO panel features a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 2x USB 2.0, DVI, D-SUB (VGA), HDMI, 3x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Type-A (red port), 1Gbit Intel NIC, and 7.1 audio outputs.

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The PCI-E layout supports up to 2-way SLI and 3-way CrossFireX. The first and second full sized PCI-E slots run at 16x/0x or 8x/8x and are hooked up to the CPU. The third full sized PCI-E slot is routed to the PCH and shares 1x bandwidth with the second PCI-E 1x slot. There are also two legacy PCI slots and even an LPT port for your vintage printer. PCI-E spacing is quite good, allowing for two cards to get a good amount of airflow while not restricting CPU heat sink size since the first slot is shifted down by one PCI-E slot space.

There is a single M.2 slot that provides 4x PCI-E 3.0 for 32Gb/s and installing a PCI-E based M.2 drive won't have any effect on the SATA ports, but if you install a SATA based M.2 drive, then you will lose SATA3_0. A dedicated BLCK clock generator is hidden under the metal shield.

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GIGABYTE provides all six SATA6Gb/s ports in the form of SATA Express ports so you can use either. If a SATA based M.2 drive is installed into the M.2 slot then SATA3_0 will be disabled. It's nice to see that GIGABYTE is providing two internal USB 3.0 headers positioned for front panel case ports.

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The audio section of the PCB is physically isolated from the rest of the PCB; there is a shield over the codec, and high-grade audio capacitors are provided to enhance aesthetics and audio quality.

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The PCH heat sink is held down by two screws and two spacers even out the load. The VRM heat sinks are held down by push pins, but they seem to make decent contact with the VRM components.

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Steven Bassiri

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Steven Bassiri

Steven went from a fledgling forum reader in 2003 to one of the internet's brightest stars by 2010. Armed with an information systems degree, a deep understanding of circuitry, and a passion for tech, Steven (handle Sin0822) enjoys sharing his deep knowledge with others. Steven details products down to the component level to highlight seldom explained, and often misunderstood architectures. Steven is also a highly decorated overclocker with several world records under his belt. He brings that knowledge and experience to TweakTown.

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