Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
While many Z370 motherboards are high-end, there are still many entry-level Z370 motherboards, and today we will take a look at one from GIGABYTE. The Z370 HD3P supports all 8th generation Intel CPUs, and it carries many features that are targeting power users who might not only want a gaming-centric motherboard. The Z370 HD3P is an affordable motherboard that looks to hit the nail on many heads, so let's take a look at what it has to offer.
The Z370 HD3P offers two M.2 slots, USB 3.1, USB 3.0, SATA6Gb/s, CrossFireX, COM, LPT, and it even has a PCI slot.
The Z370 HD3P costs $139.99
Packaging and Z370 HD3P Overview
Packaging and Overview
The box for the Z370 HD3P uses GIGABYTE's new Ultra Durable brand art. Packaging is simple.
The accessory package includes two SATA6Gb/s cables, IO shield, G-Connector, case badge, manual, and driver DVD.
The Z370 HD3P has four fan headers, which isn't the least we have seen on a Z370 motherboard. All headers are hybrid PWM/DC mode headers, and should all offer up to 1A of current. The fans can be controlled through the UEFI or Windows.
The motherboard uses a pretty common black/gray color theme, which has become much more popular in the past year or two since many users want a motherboard that just fades into the blackness of their case. The back of the motherboard is bare of any components, which is great for handling.
The rear IO panel features PS/2 keyboard and mouse, two USB 2.0 ports, VGA (D-Sub), DVI, HDMI, USB 3.1 type-A, USB 3.1 type-C, four USB 3.0 ports, 1Gbit LAN, and 7.1 audio ports.
The PCI-E layout is simple enough, the top x16 slot with the metal shielding is connected directly to the CPU. All other PCI-E slots are routed to the PCH, so SLI is not possible. All x1 slots are routed to the PCH, and the x4 slot (looks like x16) is routed to the PCH as well but shares all bandwidth with the M.2 slot right below it. You also get six SATA6Gb/s ports that are connected to the PCH.
We also find two M.2 slots routed x4 PCI-E 3.0. The top M.2 slot supports both PCI-E and SATA drives, but only the bottom one supports SATA based drives.
There are two USB 3.0 internal headers on the motherboard. One is your typical type-A connector, but the other is a type-C internal header. In the lower right corner of the motherboard, we find four boot LEDs, front panel headers, and two USB 2.0 internal headers.
We also have a COM header, an LPT header, and an RGB LED header. The motherboard has heat sinks cooling down all CPU VCore and iGPU phases, and it uses a push pin system to secure the heat sinks to the motherboard, and they seem to be doing a good job.
GIGABYTE Z370 HD3P Circuit Analysis
With the heat sinks removed we can check out the VRMs and other ICs.
The motherboard is in a 4+3 phase VRM, and it uses zero doubling. It uses the Intersil ISL95866 PWM controller in 4+3 mode. It adds multiple ISL6625A on the CPU and iGPU rails to enhance phase count. The CPU VCore VRMs use double the number of MOSFETs per phase, while the iGPU phases use the standard number. On Semiconductor NTMFS4C06N is the low-side MOSFET, and the NTMFS4C10N is the high-side MOSFET for each of the power stages.
The memory VRM uses a Realtek RT8120D for a single phase PWM with driver and then three On Semiconductor NTMFS4C06N in a two-low one-high MOSFET configuration. More Realtek RT8120 controllers are used for the VCCSA and VCCIO rails.
GIGABYTE Z370 HD3P Circuit Analysis Continued
Z370 HD3P Circuit Analysis Continued
A Realtek ALC1220 is present for 120dB SNR audio, and we find Nippon Chemicon audio capacitors on the motherboard as well as a physical PCB divide to enhance audio quality.
The NIC is from Intel, and we find an i219v PHY near the rear IO. An ASMedia ASM3152 USB 3.1 controller and Texas Instruments HD3220 type-C switch chip are used to provide the two rear USB 3.1 ports.
VGA/D-SUB isn't a natively supported video output, so GIGABYTE added on a Realtek RTD2168 to add back VGA functionality. The PCI protocol is also not native, so GIGABYTE added in an ITE IT8892E controller to support the single PCI slot.
The main SuperIO controller is the IT8686E; it provides fan control, system monitoring, and the PS/2 on the rear IO panel. A Texas Instruments GD75232 is a drivers and receivers chip that provides solid COM port functionality.
These two ASMedia quick switches are used to switch bandwidth between the x4 PCI-E slot and the M.2 slot right below it.
BIOS and Software
The UEFI BIOS offers two operating modes, an Easy Mode, and a Classic Mode. You get GUI fan control with multiple features. You also get basic LED control, but since the motherboard only offers up orange LEDs, they aren't RGB LED. The motherboard has all the overclocking features you need to get things done, and layout is pretty similar to other GIGABYTE motherboards from the past five years.
GIGABYTE includes APP Center, 3D OSC, @BIOS, BIOS Setup, USB Blocker, Cloud Station, EasyTune, Fast Boot, PlatformPowerManagment, RGB Fusion, SIV, Smart Backup, Smart TimeLock, Smart Keyboard, and VTuner among some other programs.
Test System Setup
Steven's Motherboard Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z370 HD3P
- CPU: Intel Core i7 8700K
- Cooler: Corsair H110 - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum (2x8GB) 3200MHz
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FE - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - Boot Drive: Kingston KC1000 256GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - SATA6G Drive: Corsair Force LS 240GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - M.2 Drive: Intel 750 400GB U.2
- Storage - USB Drive: Corsair Voyager GS 64GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 900D - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: Corsair RM1000 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 - Buy from Amazon
- Monitor: ASUS PA328 ProArt 32" 4K - Buy from Amazon
- Keyboard: Corsair K70 LUX - Buy from Amazon
- Mouse: Corsair M65 PRO RGB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Headset: Corsair VOID RGB Wireless - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- BIOS: F3
The Z370 HD3P has a simple black and grey color theme that can disappear if you want it to. There are yellow/orange LEDs built into the audio section, but they are actually kind of cool and not obtrusive.
He Z370 HD3P overclocked our CPU to 4.9GHz quite easily, although the VRM was cooled actively. I highly recommend a fan over the VRM area. We used 1.3v, LLC level Turbo, and XMP enabled. While the Gaming 3 and Gaming K3 didn't OC our Dominator Platinum kit, the HD3P here does easily.
Compatible Memory Overclocking Kits
In this section, I overclock four memory kits only using XMP, if the kit works then the results are below. I welcome memory vendors to send in their kits to be tested on each motherboard.
Corsair Dominator Platinum 3200MHz C16 8GBx2
As you can see above, the Dominator kit worked perfectly.
G.Skill TridentZ RGB 3600MHz C16 8GBx2
The board overclocked two of the G.Skill sticks to XMP with ease.
Patriot Viper LED 3600MHz C16 8GBx2
The board overclocked two of the Patriot sticks to XMP with ease.
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
AIDA64 FLOPS and IOPS
3DMark: Fire Strike
3DMark: Cloud Gate
These tests are done out of the box, so I have decided to include whether or not the vendor has implemented some type of default overclocking, such as multi-core enhancement. Multi-core enhancement is when the motherboard vendor pushes all cores to maximum turbo speeds instead of just one or two. MCE as I will call it, can cause instability if your CPU isn't great, and we would hope vendors would have it off by default, but it does offer a free performance boost out of the box.
Some motherboards also might increase the BCLK a bit over stock to score higher, and some might even mess with the turbo boost table. If we standardize settings, then most motherboards should perform the same, but in this case, we haven't. The Z370 HD3P is not using multi-core enhancement, which is pretty good and straightforward since it's using Intel specifications. Overall, there were no performance issues with the motherboard.
System IO Benchmarks
ixChariot Network Throughput:
The Z370 HD3P's M.2 speeds were very good, although it didn't go over 2800MB/s like some of the other motherboards. SATA performance was also quite good.
Audio RMAA 5.5:
I disable all audio features, set the correct bitrates, and then test the audio with a loopback test.
Sound Judgment by Ear: Excellent, which is surprising for such a basic implementation of the ALC1220. There are five ratings for audio: 1. Problems, 2. Okay, 3. Acceptable, 4. Very good, 5. Excellent
Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption
System power is measured at the wall with an AC power meter.
Note on Thermal Images: In the temperature section, we use our Seek thermal imaging camera to capture the surface temperatures of major components on the board. I look at the VRM and then all other things that light up the screen. If there is something to worry about, then I will state it. Otherwise, I will just show the hotter running parts of the board for fun. Unless some component is over 80-90C, then there isn't anything to worry about.
All systems will act differently, so I will look for commonalities, such as how far from the VRM the heat spreads through the PCB and the difference in temperature between the front side and backside of the PCB. Keep in mind, the majority of the heat from the VRM goes into the PCB as it is a giant soldered on copper heat sink. A larger difference in temperature between the back and front of the PCB points towards a more effective heat sink.
Thermal Testing at Stock Speeds:
The image on the left is always at idle, and the image on the right is at load. During ALL TESTS, fans to the right of the motherboard from the (Corsair H110i) radiator are left on automatic mode (ramps with internal block temperature). Additionally, a 120mm fan is situated right above the VRM, and it blows down at a medium rate (very quiet). Thermal Images are taken at loop 15 of Intel Burn Test
Up-close of the front of the VRM.
Up-close of the back of the VRM.
Thermal Testing at 4.9GHz/1.3v Overclocked Speeds:
The image on the left is always at idle, and the image on the right is at load. During ALL TESTS, fans to the right of the motherboard from the (Corsair H110i) radiator are left on automatic mode (ramps with internal block temperature). Additionally, a 120mm fan is situated right above the VRM, and it blows down at a medium rate (very quiet). We standardize this test with a 4.9GHz on all cores with 1.3V real under load and take pictures at the 80% mark of HandBrake rendering a 4K video.
Up-close of the front and back of the VRM.
The Z370 HD3P's thermal performance is acceptable, and that's with the small VRM it has to work with. We highly recommend VRM cooling on this motherboard. We also want to mention that the motherboard's rear VRM temperatures are a few degrees lower than the topside of the VRM, which is interesting as it means that heat isn't supersaturated. Anything under 60C is great, 60-80C is acceptable, and anything above 80C is a bit worrisome (if at stock).
What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts
Here are key points about the GIGABYTE Z370 HD3P.
Controller Quality: The Z370 HD3P might be on the more entry-level side of the spectrum when it comes to price, it doesn't lack controller quality. We find the high-quality Realtek ALC1220 120dB SNR audio codec as well as audio capacitors to improve quality. We also find Intel's i219v PHY that combined with the MAC in the PCH produces a full 1Gbit NIC. We also surprisingly find ASMedia's most recent USB 3.1 controller, the ASM3142 that provides two rear USB 3.1 ports.
Legacy Support: GIGABYTE also took steps to add on legacy connectivity, something that not only cost them money in regards to the physical ports but also includes the cost of the extra ICs. We find a special Realtek chip used to provide VGA (D-SUB) support, an ITE chip that provides the PCI slot, and we even get a fully functional COM port that uses a Texas Instruments chip, and they tossed in the LPT port.
Fan Control: While we find four fan headers on the motherboard, they are all hybrid DC/PWM mode headers that can be controlled through the UEFI or through GIGABYTE's Windows application.
Aesthetics: If you want solid aesthetics that are easy on the eyes and offer a unique look, the Z370 HD3P has you covered. Combining the silk screen on the PCB with heat sinks with the same design style, the motherboard offers a seamless visual effect. That being said, it will easily fade into a dark case. I will say the LEDs built into the motherboard are not RGB; they are fixed orange.
Dual BIOS: We do find two BIOS ROMs on the motherboard for extra protection.
No SLI: Since the main PCI-E x16 slot is routed directly to the CPU it's not possible for SLI to work on this motherboard.
The GIGABYTE Z370 HD3P is one of those unique products that offer the past and the future in a single product. On the same motherboard, we find an internal type-C header as well as a legacy PCI slot, COM port, and LPT port. On the rear IO, we find USB 3.1 type-A and type-C ports along with DVI and VGA (D-SUB) ports. Overall, the motherboard offers a wide variety of features, solid 3rd party controller quality, and affordability. If you need an affordable motherboard that is compatible with your legacy devices but will also support your future devices, give the Z370 HD3P a look.
The Bottom Line: The GIGABYTE Z370 HD3P offers platform features, legacy features, and future features such as two M.2 NVMe slots, a VGA video port, and a USB 3.1 type-C port.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de