GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7 Review

👤by David Mitchelson Comments 📅17-11-15
Closer Look

Gaming 7 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 GIGABYTE has placed twin-CPU fan headers.

GIGABYTE has employed an all-digital phase power design with Gaming 7 – using 16+4+2. Covering the VRMs is a dual-heatsink design. These heatsinks make use of the white/red theme which GIGABYTE has used on other aspects of Gaming 7 – this style works really well and looks rather sleek. Both heatsinks are interconnected with a thin copper heatpipe.

Dotted around the motherboard and in the socket area are black solid CAPs which provide up to 10K hours of usage.

On the top-edge of the motherboard, behind the heatsinks 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 3866MHz (OC).

This region also lends itself to having some advanced features for those wishing to make use of them. On the right-side there are voltage check-points which pair up with a multimetre. Running along the bottom-edge we have an LED panel for POST debug, ECO and OC buttons, reset switch and reset CMOS switch and two USB 3.1 headers.

The ECO button enables a power efficiency mode taking the CPU while the OC button applies a

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.

In the PCI Express region there are a whole host of features available. First of all we have the expansion slots which consist of:

• 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
• 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
• 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
• 3 x PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots

Each of the x16 slots feature a stainless steel shield to reinforce the connectors.

At the top of the PCI Express stack there is a Turbo B-Clock IC. Having this on the motherboard allows the BCLK to operate from a range of 90MHz to 500MHz. traditionally this is limited to much shorter ranges.

In between the PCI Express slots there are two M.2 slots which are Gen3 x4. This allows bandwidth of up to 32GB/s and allows drives like Samsung’s 950 PRO to be installed, which uses NVMe technology.

Running along the bottom-edge of the motherboard there are two switches – SB and CAP_SW. SB enables or disables the dual-BIOS feature while CAP_SW modifies the audio gain control (2.5x or 6x).

Over on the far-edge we have the audio components. Gaming 7 uses Creative’s Sound Core3D with the world’s first quad-core audio processor. This work hand-in-hand with SBX Pro Studio Suite offering users a plethora of audio control.

Underneath the plastic shroud are a handful of Japanese Nichicon audio CAPs – these capacitors are well-known for delivering high-quality sound resolution. Another interesting feature which GIGABYTE has implanted (which we’ve seen before) is the “Upgradable OP-AMP”. This allows the user to modify the audio quality and preference by swapping out the OP-AMP.

Further to this, the EMI shielding line has an active LED which can be adjusted via the software to fit in with the colour-scheme and preference of the system. GIGABYTE has produced a video demonstrating this.

Lastly, we arrive at the rear IO section of Gaming 7 which has a nice selection of ports. Available in this area are the following:

• 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
• 1 x DisplayPort
• 1 x HDMI port
• 1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 support
• 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A port (red)
• 5 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
• 2 x RJ-45 ports (via Killer E2400)
• 1 x Optical S/PDIF Out connector
• 5 x Audio Jacks

Interestingly, Gaming 7 is Thunderbolt 3 ready which supplies astounding bandwidth. This is what GIGABYTE has to say:

Powered by Intel's own Thunderbolt controller the new Thunderbolt™ 3 protocol, which is available over a USB Type-C™ connector on the back I/O of the GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7, brings an unprecedented single-wire bandwidth of up to 40 Gb/s -- twice more than the previous generation of Thunderbolt! This incredible increase in bandwidth is also accompanied with support for different protocols such as DisplayPort 1.2 and USB 3.1, which is backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, opening up a world of new possibilities. [/qiuote]

Furthermore to this, Gaming 7 also utilises the Extreme Intel USB 3.1 Controller which offers up to 32GB/s compared to 10GB/s from rival motherboards. This Extreme controller uses PCI Express Gen3 x4 lanes to offer this bandwidth.

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