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INTEL Z170 MOTHERBOARDS

The Intel Z170 motherboard and processors make up the Skylake series. While Skylake is designed for DDR4, Intel mentioned that DDR3 is an available option. Gigabyte has the widest range of models for the Z170 chipset and socket LGA 1151.

THE SKYLAKE CPU

Intel initially offered 2 CPU choices with the i5-6600K and the i7-6700K. Running at 4.0 GHz, the i7-6700K is fast enough for dual graphics cards easily. The hyperthreading gives Windows 8 logical cores to work with.

Skylake processors have much more graphics to them compared to earlier processors. The i7-6700K has about 2/3 of the die used for graphics. We would have preferred a pure CPU with more cores so that general Windows performance would be better.

Kaby lake processors will mostly work with Z170 boards with a BIOS update. Coffee lake may coexist with cannonlake in 2018. Ice Lake and Timberlake are further out..

 

MODEL CORES HT CLOCK
i7-6700K 4 yes 4.0 GHz
i7-6700 4 yes 3.4 GHz
i5-6600K 4 no 3.5 GHz
i5-6500 4 no 3.6 GHz
i5-6400 4 no 2.7 GHz
i3-6300 2 yes 3.8 GHz
i3-6100 2 yes 3.7 GHz
Pentium G4500 2 no 3.5 GHz
Pentium G4400 2 no 3.3 GHz

Skylake CPU internal archtectureThis is a list of all of the Skylake processors including mobile models and chipsets. http://ark.intel.com/products/codename/37572/Skylake. This page is focused mostly for the enthusiast market.

Broadwell, Skylake and Braswell generation of processors are utilizing the 14nm process technology and enhancements to performance and efficiency for desktop platforms. Intel will be offering new CPUs for older systems who desire reduced power consumption. Intel has pushed back 10nm until 2017.

Intel claims that Skylake is the most significant processor improvement in a decade. Skylake is much more like a system on a chip which will find use with mobile machines as well as desktops. The i5-6600K and i7-6700K are the highest power processors, the rest are down clocked to reduce power consumption.

The faster connection from the CPU to the Z170 means a 40% gain in performance. While this means that the CPU can communicate with the chipset (and all the USB, LAN, SATA, etc. ports that go through the chipset) faster, the main advantage it brings is simply in being able to put more devices on the chipset without creating a bottleneck. This is the main reason why the Z170 chipset has 20 PCI-E 3.0 lanes versus the 8 PCI-E 2.0 lanes that are on Z97.

If you don’t need a discrete video card, the Skylake K CPUs have much improved onboard graphics compared to Haswell. 530 may be a smaller number than 4600, but we saw more than a 25% increase in 3D performance when using the onboard graphics. The HD Graphics 530 supports newer feature sets such as DX12 with feature level 12. The integrated graphics adds about 7W to the TDP.

Intel i7-6700K and Z170 system diagramGenerally the difference between the i7-4790K and the i7-6700K are minimal. Both CPUs are quad-core with hyperthreading. DDR4 is very slightly faster. In most situations, the i7-6700K uses about 4-10 fewer watts than the i7 4790K. Depending on what you are doing, the i7 6700K should run about 4-7°C cooler than the i7-4790K. The onboard graphics will negate the advantages.

The Intel Turbo Boost 2 will increase the speed of the i7-6700K to 4.2 GHz. Intel claim the processors will boost PC performance up to 10 percent with a 20-40 percent performance increase in Intel HD graphics. You can also expect a performance improvement in multitasking thanks to Intel’s Hyperthreading Technology.

The Skylake instruction set changes include Intel MPX (Memory Protection Extensions) and Intel ADX (Multi-Precision Add-Carry Instruction Extensions).

Overall the speed of DDR4 has more impact than the core CPU performance. Its advisable to select best timing possible. DDR4-3200 is now available for the extreme bandwidth users.

Intel Boxed Core I7-6700K 4.00 GHz 8M Processor Cache 4 LGA 1151 BX80662I76700K

SKYLAKE Z170 FEATURES

  • LGA1151
  • Dynamic Base Clock (BCLK)
  • 6x SATA Gen 3
  • SATA Express
  • PCI Express 3.0
    • x16
    • x8+x8+x8
    • 2×8+2×4
  • Thunderbolt 3
  • DDR4 4x DIMM (max 128GB)
  • DMI 3.0
  • Intel HD 530 graphics
    • HDMI 1.4
    • DisplayPort 1.2
    • Miracast
  • 1GBASE-T Ethernet
  • 10x USB 3.0 ports
  • 14x USB 2.0 ports
  • Intel High Definition Audio
  • Windows 10

Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 DRAM 3200MHz (PC4-25600) C16 Memory Kit – Black (CMK16GX4M2B3200C16)

DMI 3.0

The processor is connected to the chipset by the four-lane DMI 3.0 interface. The DMI 3.0 protocol is an upgrade over the previous generation which used DMI 2.0 – this upgrade boosts the speed from 5.0 GT/s to 8.0 GT/s, but requires the motherboard traces between the CPU and chipset to be closer (7 inches rather than 8 inches) in order to maintain signal speed and integrity. This also allows one of the biggest upgrades to the system, chipset connectivity.

BCLK

The new dynamic base clock give the new i7-6700 and Z170 systems a whole new degree of granularity for power management. Compared to the multiplier, this refinement will be able to manage power much better. Usually the base clock is the default for overclocking, but now dynamic control will enhance the power management.

M.2

The M.2 slots seen on most Z170 models supports a SSD using the NVMe interface which is much faster than the older AHCI used by SATA and hard disks. The Samsung 850 series offers a 500 GB M.2 card that fits the board slot and it can be used for the boot device. Many models of SSD for the M.2 slot are pouring into the market with a vengeance. The M.2 slot can reach 2000 MB/s when provisioned with PCI Express 3.0 x4. The M.2 is also able to provide USB 3 capability.

SATA EXPRESS

SATA Expess is the new faster version that leverages the PCI Express 3.0 speeds to provide support for AHCI and NVMe command sets.

SATA Expess can be used with existing SATA hardware easily with conventional cables. Using SATA Express cables use more of the connector for extreme bandwidth.

THUNDERBOLT

Computer ports with Thunderbolt 3 provide 40Gbps Thunderbolt – double the speed of the previous generation, USB 3.1 10Gbps, and DisplayPort 1.2. For the first time, one computer port connects to Thunderbolt devices, every display, and billions of USB devices.

A single cable now provides four times the data and twice the video bandwidth of any other cable, while also supplying up to 100W of power. It’s unrivaled for new uses, such as 4K video, single-cable docks with charging, external graphics, and built-in 10 GbE networking. Simply put, Thunderbolt 3 delivers the best USB-C.Thunderbolt technology is a transformational high-speed, dual protocol, PC I/O delivering performance, simplicity and flexibility.

Thunderbolt I/O technology lets you move data between your devices and your computer with 2 channels of 10Gbps flowing both ways (upstream and downstream) at the same time. And it allows you to connect as many as 6 devices, daisy chained, through a single compact port.

OTHER FEATURES

We expect to see the new ASMedia ASM1142 controller surface on many motherboards to provide USB 3.1 ports from 2 PCI Express lanes.

The Z170 boards are designed for Windows 10. Windows 7 will require the BIOS options to be changed to support it. DVD will be the only way to to install Windows 7, USB will not be supported. Its likely a BIOS update will be provided to fix this problem.

Seagate 4TB SSHD SATA 6Gb/s 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive (ST4000DX001)

Seagate 6TB Desktop HDD SATA 6Gb/s NCQ 64MB Cache 7200RPM 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST6000DM001

Corsair AX1500i 1500 Watts ATX 12V/EPS 12V Power Supply with Titanium Efficiency CP-9020057-NA

GIGABYTE

The Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 is a typical enthusiast motherboard with support for 2-way video cards. Gigabyte has expanded their lineup to have 38 different motherboards for the LGA1151. Gigabyte has a DDR3 board for those are upgrading from an older machine. DDR4 prices are now similar to DDR3 at the same speed.

MODEL FORM FACTOR DIMM SLOTS SLOTS M.2 SATA
GA-Z170X-Gaming 3-EU ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×8+1×4+3×1 2x Key M 6 SATA (3x SATA Express)
GA-Z170X-Gaming G1 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×16, 4×8+3×1 Key M 6 SATA (3x SATA Express)
GA-Z170X-UD5 TH ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 2×8+1×4+3×1 Key M 6 SATA (3x SATA Express)
GA-Z170X-UD5 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 2×8+1×4+4×1 Key M 6 SATA (3x SATA Express)
GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 2×8+1×4+3×1 Key M 6 SATA (3x SATA Express)
G1.Sniper Z170 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×8+2×1+2xPCI Key M 6 SATA (3x SATA Express)
GA-H170-HD3 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 1×4, 2×1, 2x PCI Key M 6 SATA (3x SATA Express)
GA-Z170-D3H ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 1×4, 2×1, 2x PCI Key M 6 SATA (2x SATA Express)
GA-Z170-HD3 DDR3 ATX 4x DDR3 64GB max 1×16, 1×4, 2×1, 2x PCI Key M 6 SATA (2x SATA Express)
GA-Z170M-D3H µATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 1×4, 2x PCI Key M 6 SATA (2x SATA Express)

Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel Z170 2-Way SLI ATX DDR4 Motherboards GA-Z170X-Gaming 7

ASUS

MODEL FORM FACTOR DIMM SLOTS SLOTS M.2 SATA
Maximum VIII Gene ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×16+1×4+3×1 Key M 6 SATA (2x SATA Express)
Maximum VIII Hero ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×16+1×4+3×1 Key M 8 SATA (2x SATA Express)
Maximum VIII Ranger ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×16+1×4+3×1 Key M 6 SATA (2x SATA Express)
Sabertooth Z170 Mark I ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×16+1×4+3×1 Key M 8 SATA (2x SATA Express)
Z170 Gaming Pro ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×16+1×4+3×1 Key M 6 SATA (1x SATA Express)
Z170-A ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×16+1×4+3×1 Key M 6 SATA (1x SATA Express)
Z170-AR ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×16+1×4+3×1 Key M 6 SATA (1x SATA Express)
Z170-Deluxe ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×16+1×4+3×1 Key M 6 SATA (1x SATA Express)
Z170-K ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16+1×4+2xPCI Key M 6 SATA (1x SATA Express)
Z170-P ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16+1×4+2xPCI Key M 4 SATA
Z170-P D3 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16+1×4+2xPCI Key M 4 SATA
Z170M-E D3 µATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16+1×4+1×1+1xPCI Key M 4 SATA
Z170M-PLUS µATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16+1×4+1×1+1xPCI Key M 6 SATA (1x SATA Express)

ASUS Z170-A ATX DDR4 Motherboards

EVGA

The EVGA Z170 FTW (140-SS-E177-KR) is a typical enthusiast motherboard with support for 2-way video cards. The EVGA Z170 FTW has 7 fan headers, 2 with fan control and the rest are simple DC connections.

The EVGA Z170 Classified requires 2x EPS12V connectors to support 4 video cards. It also uses the PLX 8747 to increase the available PCI Express lanes.

MODEL PART NUMBER FORM FACTOR DIMM SLOTS SLOTS M.2 SATA
EVGA Z170 Classified 4-Way 151-SS-E179 EATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 2×16, 3×8, 4×8 Key M, Key E 8 (2x SATA Express)
EVGA Z170 FTW 140-SS-E177 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 2×8+1×4+1×1 Key M 6
EVGA Z170 Stinger 111-SS-E172 µITX 2x DDR4 32GB max 1×16 Key E 4

EVGA Z170 FTW Intel Socket LGA-1151 with DDR4 3200mHz+ Motherboard ATX 140-SS-E177-KR

EVGA Z170 Classified 4-Way Intel Socket LGA-1151 with DDR4 3200mHz+ Motherboard EATX 151-SS-E179-KR

Corsair AX1500i 1500 Watts ATX 12V/EPS 12V Power Supply with Titanium Efficiency CP-9020057-NA

MSIZ170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM EDITION

MSI’s motherboard features do not provide very clear information on slot configuration. This is something they need sort out if they want to become a major vendor.

MODEL FORM FACTOR DIMM SLOTS SLOTS M.2 SATA
Z170A GAMING M9 ACK ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 3×8, 3×1 2x Key M 6 SATA (2x SATA Express)
Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM EDITION ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 4×8 2x Key M 8 SATA (2x SATA Express)
Z170A GAMING M7 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×8, 1×4, 4×1 2x Key M 6 SATA (2x SATA Express)
Z170A GAMING M5 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×8, 1×4, 4×1 2x Key M 6 SATA (2x SATA Express)
Z170A-G45 GAMING ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×8, 1×4, 4×1 2x Key M 6 SATA (2x SATA Express)
Z170A GAMING M3 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 1×4, 2×1, 3xPCI Key M 6 SATA
Z170A GAMING PRO ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×8, 1×4, 2×1, 2xPCI Key M 6 SATA
Z170I GAMING PRO AC µITX 4x DDR4 64GB max x16 Key M 6 SATA
Z170 KRAIT GAMING ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×8, 1×4, 2×1 1xPCI Key M 6 SATA
Z170A KRAIT GAMING ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×8, 1×4, 2×1 1xPCI Key M 6 SATA
Z170M MORTAR µATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 1×4, 2x PCI Key M 4 SATA

MSI Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM EDITION DDR4 3000 Motherboard

BIOSTAR

Biostar mostly serves the lower price point market. Their boards offer basic functionality which is all most need.

MODEL FORM FACTOR DIMM SLOTS SLOTS M.2 SATA
GAMING Z170X Ver. 5.x ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×8, 1×4, 3×1 N/A 4 SATA (1x SATA Express)
GAMING Z170W Ver. 5.x ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 1×4, 2×1, 2xPCI Key M 3x SATA Express
GAMING Z170T Ver. 5.x ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 2×8, 2×1, 2xPCI Key M 2 SATA (2x SATA Express)
Hi-Fi Z170Z5 Ver. 6.x ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 1×4, 2×1, 3xPCI N/A 4 SATA (1x SATA Express)

ASROCK

ASRock has been making motherboards for the DIY market for a long time.

MODEL FORM FACTOR DIMM SLOTS SLOTS M.2 SATA
Z170 Extreme7+ ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 2×8+1×4+2×1 2x Key M 4 SATA (3x SATA Express)
Z170 Extreme6+ ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 3×8+3×1 Key M 8 SATA (3x SATA Express)
Z170 Extreme6 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 3×8+3×1 Key M 8 SATA (2x SATA Express)
Z170 Extreme4+ ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 3×8+3×1 Key M 6 SATA (3x SATA Express)
Z170 Extreme4 ATX 4x DDR4 64GB max 1×16, 3×8+3×1 Key M 6 SATA (3x SATA Express)

ASRock Motherboard ATX DDR4 Motherboards Z170 EXTREME7+

ECS

ECS has but a single Z170 motherboard in their catalog so far. The Z170 Claymore is an advanced model that is feature rich. It supports 3-way graphics.

CONCLUSION

Clearly the wide range of motherboard models with the Z170 should provide options for every conceivable situation. Performance between the boards is negligible. Best bet is to select a board with the slot configuration that suits the build.

Stuff an i7-6700K on it with 32GB of DDR4-2133 of memory and this will make a solid workstation for years to come. Faster memory is available however the i7-6700 is designed for DDR4-2133. Intel will likely support faster speeds with future processors.

Intel does not bundle CPU coolers with their processor in a box, instead they are leaving the choices to the end users. There are dozens of quality coolers that are much better than the boxed cooler historically used. Intel is positioning Skylake for the overclocking enthusiast.

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