It goes without saying that Skylake
(particularly 6700K) and Z170-chipset motherboards are an attractive pairing to say the least. Speaking specifically about Gigabyte's Z170X-Gaming G1 board, the platform is formidable and makes a compelling case for itself with a wealth of sought-after features and a striking red-on-white color scheme. The board is supremely easy to work on with plenty of space for seating and unseating components. We found that tuning and navigating through the BIOS is also intuitive and comprehensive. It is definitely one of the more bland UEFI
BIOS environments of late, yet quite effective nonetheless with plenty of OC tweaking and system tuning options. It's nice to see a return to incremental BLCK tweaking for even more meticulous overclocking. The board is replete with so many ways to OC from one-click tuning to diving deep into the host of options. It's all there.
Its not often we see a board virtually dripping with top-shelf features. Right on the mobo you have support for USB 3.1 via Intel's USB 3.1/Thunderbolt
3.0 controller. Thickening the plot Gigabyte has tossed in a much welcomed USB 3.1 Bay with reversible Type-C USB for front-of-case convenience. We have dual connectors for Gen3 x4 M.2 storage solutions. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also supported on a single antennae.
Gamers should also take note; the board features 4-way SLI/CrossFireX support and serves up some powerful audio by way of Creative's certified Sound Blaster
ZxRi 120+db SNR using the company's Core3D audio processing engine. This motherboard also comes with three swappable OP-AMPs to fine tune your sound. Rounding out the gaming options is the Killer
DoubleShot-X3 Pro for dedicated network processing. With the included software, you can tweak network traffic priority by allocating the highest bandwidth to traffic types you deem most vital.
The Gigabyte Z170Z-Gaming G1 was also rock-solid and a pleasure to work with. We experienced no hiccups, BSODs, system freezing or crashes at stock settings. However, there are a few downsides. Gigabyte is using a PEX8747 bridge chip for the multi-GPU SLI/CrossFireX configurations. We saw the same bridge chip on the ASRock Extreme11 board we tested. It allows for 3- and 4-way SLI and 4-Way CrossFireX, which is fantastic. However we know the PEX8747 bridge chip introduces some level of latency when a single GPU is in play--making this board perhaps more ideal for multi-GPU setups. Finally, as mentioned in our BIOS segment, the board could benefit from a graphic-based UI to create and govern fan profiles from the BIOS.
: Maybe these are hair-splitting gripes, yet at a cost of $463ish
, buyers should be armed and informed. That said, the cost is far below the X99 ASRock Extreme11 motherboard, which first hit the market at $700 with, then, no USB 3.1 and no premium onboard sound. To be fair, Haswell-E is a definitively more expensive platform of course as well.
On paper, the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1
is dream-board for enthusiasts, rich with features and promise. We're here to say that dream is a completely obtainable reality if your wallet can weather the hit. It's a solid performer and a bit of an overachiever with regard to features, functions BIOS options and overclocking. It's definitely targeting gamers and enthusiasts. However, music lovers and media editors will be pleased with its performance and features as well.
That said, we can't wait to get a few more Z170 boards in for testing, to get a better assessment from low to high end of this new product space. Stay tuned!
- Formidable performance
- Brimming with features
- Onboard USB 3.1 support
- Include 5.25" USB 3.1 + Type-C Bay
- 3 or 4-Way SLI & 4-WayCrossFireX
- Wi-Fi + Bluetooth antennae
- Creative Sound Blaster ZxRi onboard audio
- UEFI BIOS is clean and intuitive
- 3x swappable OP-AMPs
- Killer DoubleShot-X3 Pro
- Dual Gen3 x4 M.2 connectors
- Potential Added latency w/ a single GPU
- No BIOS GUI for system fans