GAMING Z170X is designed to work with Intel’s 6th Generation of processors – Skylake. We therefore have the LGA1151 socket, around the socket there are mounting holes for LGA115X so if you have a cooler that has been used on another socket such as LGA1150/55 then it will work fine here too. Immediately next to the memory slots and VRM heatsink there are dual-fan headers to work in conjunction with coolers which have two cooling fans.
BIOSTAR have given GAMING Z170X 12-phases designated specifically for the CPU. There are two heatsinks which sit over the VRMs which are interconnected via a copper heatpipe. The heatsinks are aluminium but do have a plastic shroud as can be seen above. Around the socket and throughout the board BIOSTAR are using a number of high-quality components including:
• Super Durable CAPs
• Super Durable Ferrite Chokes
• Moisture Proof PCB
• Low RfsON MOS
On the top-edge of the motherboard, behind the heatsinks there is an 8-pin CPU power socket.
Moving to the memory there is support for dual-channel DDR4 – up to 64GB and up to DDR4 3200MHz (OC).
Around the memory there are also some additional features which include a handy onboard button strip which supplies a power button, reset button, BCLK/CPU Ratio modification. This strip will be useful if you’re intending to use GAMING Z170X on a test bench. Usually, manufacturers place bulky buttons onto the edge of the motherboard for such usage, it’s great to see BIOSTAR delivering a solution which is condensed and streamline.
Directly next to this strip there is a clear CMOS button and Intel XMP switch – again these are both useful for troubleshooting and are in easy reach if this configuration is going onto a test bench. Above the 24-pin ATX power there is an LED debug panel which will display digits for POST troubleshooting.
So overall, GAMING Z170X is well-equipped for testing and diagnosis.
For storage there are three SATA Express ports and up to six SATA ports (borrowing from those SATA Express). This should be sufficient for most user’s needs – if you do have more than two SATA drives you’ll need to borrow from those SATA Express ports but with this standard being premature it’s unlikely all three ports will be used simultaneously.
Behind these SATA ports sits a large heatsink which covers the Intel Z170 chip. The heatink isn’t immediately visible due to a large plastic shroud. This shroud has a red LED which plugs directly into the motherboard.
By detaching the plastic cover an additional M.2 slot is revealed. This M.2 slot can be accessed without having to remove the entire fascia.
In the PCI Express region there are a whole host of features available. First of all we have the expansion slots which consist of:
• 3 x PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots
• 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, running at x16
• 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, running at x8
• 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, running at x4
GAMING Z170X supports multi-GPU configurations via AMD CrossfireX only. The omission of NVIDIA SLI support is unusual – we’d expect all motherboards nowadays to be compatible with both vendors.
In between the PCI Express slots there are two M.2 slots which are Gen3 x4 (one is hidden behind the plastic shroud as already mentioned). This allows bandwidth of up to 32GB/s and allows drives like Samsung’s 950 PRO to be installed, which uses NVMe technology.
Located on the bottom edge with the other USB/audio ports, BIOSTAR has given GAMIKNG Z170X a “GAMING_PANEL” port, this is to work in connection with the included Gaming Commander unit.
On the far-edge we also have the audio components (Hi-V CAPs) which are backed by Realtek ALC898. The audio components are compatible with BIOSTAR Hi-Fi 3D.
Last of all we arrive at the rear IO section of GAMING Z170X. This region supplies us with:
• 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
• 2 x USB 3.0 ports
• 2 x HDMI 2.0 ports
• 1 x DisplayPort
• 1 x DVI-I port
• 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C port
• 4 x USB 3.0 ports
• 2 x RJ-45 ports (via Killer E2200)
• 1 x Optical S/PDIF Out connector
• 5 x Audio Gold Plated Jacks
It’s great to see that BIOSTAR are using HDMI 2.0 ports on this motherboard as we can output to ultra hi-resolutions with bigger refresh rates. There are a plethora of different video ports for onboard usage.