GIGABYTE Z170X-Ultra Gaming Review

👤by David Mitchelson Comments 📅22-06-16
Closer Look

Arriving with the LGA1151 socket the Ultra-Gaming is designed to work with Intel’s 6th Generation of Core i5/i7 processors codenamed Skylake.

Our motherboard uses digital power delivery and utilises an 8-phase power design. Covering the MOSFETs there are two independent heatsinks which are not interconnected. A single 8-pin EPS CPU Power is found just behind the uppermost heatsink. Ultra Durable 10K Black CAPs are used through Ultra Gaming too.

GIGABYTE has also chosen to provide two CPU fan headers, one of which is tailored for water pump usage. This header can be modified to choose between voltage calibration or PWM mode.

Turning to the memory section, there are four slots to support dual-channel DDR4. Up to 64GB is supported with the customary XMP. GIGABYTE has also tied the memory area into their ‘Ambient Surround LED’ feature – in between the slots there are a series of clear strips – these illuminate red when the system is powered up. If you are using a twin module kit this feature works well, but if you do happen to occupy each of the four slots, the lighting struggles to be seen. The memory slots also benefit from having Ultra Durable armour which reinforces the slots.

Directly next to the 24-pin ATX power, GIGABYTE has placed a single USB 3.0 header – this is the only USB 3.0 header found across this motherboard.

The eagle-eyed among you will notice the two yellow strips which run down the outer edge of the Ultra Gaming – this, again relates to the Ambient Surround LED feature. The entire right-side and other elements of this motherboard light up red, different effects can be applied via the included software.

Storage is something which comes in a variety of forms with the Ultra Gaming. We have:

• 2x SATA Express
• 1x U.2
• 2x SATA 3 (6GB/s)
• 1x M.2 slot (Above the PCI Express slots)

As usual, if the SATA Express aren’t being used the redundant SATA ports can be used for standard SATA connectivity. The inclusion of U.2 is a notable addition; we expect to see more U.2 devices over the forthcoming months. It’s possible to take advantage of a triple NVMe storage configuration with Intel’s 750 SSD with this motherboard since we can use a PCI Express slot, M.2/U.2 converter and the U.2 port combined. GIGABYTE had a running demo of this type of setup at Computex 2016 just a few weeks ago.

There is also a connector named “THB_C” next to the SATA Express, this serves to combine with a GIGABYTE Thunderbolt add-in card. (not included).

Behind the storage ports we have a large black heatsink which covers the Intel Z170 chip.

Moving to the PCI Express region, we have a nice selection to choose from, including:

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

The most obvious slot to use if you’re opting for a single-GPU configuration is the top PCI Express X16 as this runs in X16 mode. Ultra Gaming supports NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire too.

The triple X16 slots benefit from a double-lock feature, plus steel armour plating as reinforcement (similar to that of the memory slots). This adds strength to the motherboard and is a feature we’ve seen on quite a few motherboards already.

For the audio, the Ultra Gaming benefits from the renowned Realtek ALC1150. Accompanying this popular codec we also have an isolated area for the PCB and Japanese Solid CAPs – both should help to achieve the best audio resolution.

Casting an eye over the rear IO section of Ultra Gaming (which has a protective metal brace), we have the following:

• 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
• 1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 support
• 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A port (red)
• 1 x Mini-DisplayPort In port
• 1 x Mini-DisplayPort
• 1 x HDMI port
• 4 x USB 3.0 ports
• 2 x USB 2.0 ports
• 1 x RJ-45 port (via Intel i219)
• 1 x Optical S/PDIF Out connector
• 5 x Audio jacks

There is a surprisingly large gap at the back of the motherboard – while this will be covered up by the Rear IO we would have expected some additional USB functionality in its place.

GIGABYTE has given the USB 3.1 Type-C connector 100W – giving it greater power for multiple devices and which offers up to 32GB/s.

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