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Gigabyte Z170X-UD5 Review

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Gigabyte Z170X-UD5 Conclusion:

From a technology and durability standpoint, the Z170X-UD5 motherboard from Gigabyte is pretty well loaded. You get great storage performance options, especially with the dual M.2 and SATA Express connectivity, along withgreat durability options that include 15 micron thick gold plating in the LGA 1151 CPU socket pins and DIMM slot pins, 10K solid capacitors, Dual BIOS, 2oz copper layers in the PCB, and PCIe Metal shielding, to name just a few. Dual Intel NICs that support teaming help improve network bandwidth and the board comes with cFos traffic management software to improve usability even further. One of the signature callouts on the Z170X-UD5 is that it is equipped with USB 3.1 connectivity, both Type-A and what may prove to be the new USB standard, a Type-C port.

Gigabyte put together a fully integrated software suite called the APP Center. In it you get tools that make it easy to manage the features of the board from setting up RAID Arrays, to managing fan and clock speeds, to the color of the interface. The Easy Tune Utility worked just like it was supposed to and allowed the system to be overclocked from within the OS. The @BIOS utility worked well and downloaded and installed an updated BIOS from one of Gigabyte's servers. It did not pick up the latest BIOS, but did flash without any issues. Working through the BIOS on the Z170X-UD5 is fairly easy and I could navigate easily with either a mouse or keyboard. That being said, visually the BIOS feels basic in design by comparison, but has all the features you need to get the board set up and running.

Overclocking the Z170X-UD5 takes a little more work to reach the maximum clock speed of my processor, but ultimately gets there and delivered a 4.75GHz clock speed by manually tuning the settings. One challenge I saw was the vdroop on the CPU core under load that ultimately was the biggest obstacle when it came to overclocking. I had to set the vcore manually at 1.395v to get close to 1.37v under load even when using Gigabyte's Load Line Calibration. That being said, the board was fully stable at the final clock speed. If manually tuning the board takes a bit too much time, there are presets under the MIT section that allow you to choose an overclock based on a percentage of improvement or by clock speed. 4.6GHz is about the top clock speed you will get using the options in the BIOS. Pressing the OC button on the motherboard gives up a solid 4.4GHz clock speed for no work on the user's part other than pushing a button.

One drawback that was obvious right from the start was that I was seeing lower levels of performance running at stock speeds. What I found was that the board only boosts one core up to 4.2GHz, following Intel's specification to the letter. This is something the comparison boards don't quite follow. By that I mean that the comparison boards boost up all the cores rather than just a single core. It is a point of difference at stock speeds that can easily be overcome with the push of a button. Stock performance aside, the board is fully stable and offers a lot of options for the end user. At $169 after rebate from e-tailers, it's tough to look the other way when you have a capable board in your hands. As an added bonus, you can register the Z170X-UD5 and throw your name into the hat for some serious Gigabyte gear.

 

Pros:

  • Feature set
  • Sound solution
  • Software bundle
  • Overclocking

 

Cons:

  • Stock Performance


 

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