Here are key points about the BIOSTAR Z170GT7.
RGB LEDs Done Right (In the VRM Heatsinks): I am not a fan of RGB LEDs glaring right in my eyes, and I prefer them to be properly diffused. I shouldn't be able to see where the brightness of one LED ends and another starts, it should be constant. I also should have total control over the RGBs, and I should be able to choose whatever colors the RGBs can output. BIOSTAR executed RGB LEDs to perfection in the VRM heat sinks. I wasn't so crazy about the RGBs around the audio section; I would have preferred them under the PCB to produce a glow. The PCH RGBs can only be controlled by CPU temperature, but that is okay considering they provide an RGB header.
Intel NIC and Overclocking Features: At under $150, I don't expect to find Intel NICs (they are expensive compared to others), and I also don't expect robust overclocking features. The Z170GT7 has an Intel NIC plus surge protection circuitry. Overclocking features include the venerable POST code display, power button, reset button, dual BIOS with switch, LN2 switch, Sport button, and ECO button.
Totally Revamped UEFI: I was very impressed with the UEFI of the BIOSTAR Z170GT7. I felt like I was using a much more expensive motherboard. BIOSTAR did a very nice job of revamping their previous Z170 UEFI.
Unique PCI-E Slot Spacing: The Z170GT7 has a unique PCI-E layout with the first two full sized 16x slots routed to the CPU and the other two PCI-E 16x slots routed to the PCH. You can run both of the PCH slots at the same time at 4x each which increases possibilities when dealing with add-in cards and PCI-E based storage (you cannot HW RAID).
Fan Control: I didn't expect to find detailed fan control in the UEFI, but I was surprised to see individual fan customization options for each of the five headers. Through BIOSTAR's GAMING application you can also change up fan settings in Windows.
Excellent Value: I don't think you can find another motherboard with the same number of modern and unique features combined with a high-quality aesthetic at the $130 mark.
No SLI Support: Many of the lower-end motherboards on the market do not support SLI because the licensing fee would add to the price of the product; the Z170GT7 is no exception.
No LLC Presets: While the AC/DC LLC from the internal VR controls is present, it also requires users to set an ohm value between 0 and something in the 6000 range. BIOSTAR didn't provide any LLC options that control the PWM's LLC parameters. If you do not set these AC/DC LLC values, then there is a built-in auto LLC (which is much better than no LLC), but it overcompensates. If you are going to mess with those LLC settings, I would buy a digital multi-meter, so you know exactly what voltage is being fed into your CPU.
RGB LEDs only work with Software: The RGB LEDs built into the PCH are always-on, but those near the audio section, in the VRM heat sinks, and through the onboard header will only turn on when you launch BIOSTAR's application. Yes, you can minimize the application to the system tray.
BIOSTAR's Z170GT7 is the best BIOSTAR motherboard I have ever used. In fact, it could be the best sub-$150 motherboard I have ever used. BIOSTAR has done a great job of setting their Z170GT7 apart from the competition with many premium features. At $130, it offers the same feature sets I see from motherboards in the $150+ range, and it offers RGB LED supports I have never seen on such a reasonably priced motherboard.
If you cannot tell, I have fallen in love with the VRM heat sink RGB LEDs on the Z170GT7. While many think the market has become oversaturated with RGB LEDs, the truth of the matter is I have not seen them executed exactly to my liking until I turned this motherboard on. In fact, I did not know they could look so nice until I saw this motherboard in person; they create an almost pastel like color range to fit anyone's preference.
Even if this motherboard had no RGB LEDs, it would still be an awesome value for the hardware and UEFI BIOSTAR is offering up. When I first saw the price of this motherboard, I thought it was a mistake. I thought that BIOSTAR was going to charge close to $200 for this product, and even then, it would be a worthwhile option.
UPDATE: The MSRP of the BIOSTAR Z170GT7 is $159.
|Performance (including Overclocking)||90%|
|Quality including Design and Build||88%|
|Bundle and Packaging||90%|
|Value for Money||99%|
The Bottom Line: BIOSTAR's Z170GT7 is not only the most elegant motherboard in its price range, but it also the most feature-endowed. You definitely get a lot for the price.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and Z170GT7 Overview]
- Page 3 [BIOSTAR Z170GT7 Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [BIOSTAR Z170GT7 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]