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GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 3 Motherboard Review

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Author: MAC
Date: April 14, 2016
Product Name: Z170X-Gaming 3
Part Number: Z170X-Gaming 3
Warranty: 3 Years

 

It has been exactly two years since GIGABYTE transitioned their gamer-oriented motherboards from the G1-Killer Series moniker to the G1 Gaming Series. This change was not merely a rebranding, since they also got rid of the lime green accents and gun-related flourishes and replaced them with a more conventional black and red colour scheme. Thanks to a special focus on aesthetics, audio, and networking, the end result has been motherboards that have consistently been well-received by consumers and reviewers alike.

When it comes to current Gaming G1 Series motherboard, GIGABYTE’s LGA1151 lineup ranges from the tinyZ170N-Gaming 5 to the flagship Z170X-Gaming G1, which retails for over $480 USD / $600 CAD. The GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 3 that we are reviewing today retails for about $150 USD / $180 CAD, which makes it the most affordable ATX-sized Z170 model in this product line. This motherboard is positioned directly below the Z170X-Gaming 5 that we reviewed earlier. That higher-end model carries a roughly $15 USD / $40 CAD price premium and features certain extras like a DisplayPort output, a second gigabit LAN port, a nicer matte black PCB, onboard energy-saving and overclocking buttons, and debug LED display.

The Z170X-Gaming 3 features a 7-phase CPU power design, three steel-reinforced PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots with support for 2-way SLI or 3-way CrossFireX, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, six SATA 6Gb/s ports or three SATA Express ports, and an impressive pair of full-speed M.2 connectors that support transfer rates of up to 32Gb/s. There are two high-speed USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports courtesy on an Intel Alpine Ridge controller, up to seven USB 3.0 ports, and up to six USB 2.0 ports. There’s also a gaming-oriented Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201 gigabit LAN controller and its powerful Killer Network Manager utility. Those who plan on making use of Skylake’s integrated graphics will be glad to see a solid assortment of DVI-D, HDMI 1.4, and VGA video outputs.

The onboard Amp-Up audio solution is based on the proven Realtek ALC1150 ten-channel HD audio codec, which is protected by its own EMI cover. There is also a user-replaceable TI Burr Brown op amp, a headphone gain switch, audio-grade Nichicon capacitors, and there’s a backlit PCB isolation line that protects the audio portion of the motherboard from electrical interference. Included in this bundle is the Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite with effects and features for gamers. Those that desire even better audio quality will also be glad to know that there are two DAC-UP USB ports, which are special ports that have been isolated from the rest of the motherboard in order to minimize the signal noise that gets transferred to your external USB DAC.

On paper, this certainly seems like well-balanced motherboard at an attractive price, and based on our past experiences with GIGABYTE’s Gaming G1 Series we have some high hopes for this model. As a result, we are going very thoroughly test it to find out whether it can live up to our lofty expectations.

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