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GIGABYTE Z170-HD3 Review; DDR3 On Skylake

MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Upgrading a system while maintaining a strict budget doesn't come easy these days. By and large, Intel Z170-based systems aren't inexpensive since the motherboards with the features people want come at a significant premium and there's also the additional expense of DDR4 memory which has to be factored into that equation. GIGABYTE has a solution though: their Z170-HD3 supports DDR3 memory modules and also comes with a pretty extensive feature set.

The history behind Skylake processors and their dual compatibility with DDR4 and DDR3 memory is a somewhat convoluted one. When the architecture was first announced, Intel made it apparent that support for low voltage 1.35V DDR3L was included, which meshed perfectly with the reduced current needs of current generation DDR4 modules. On the other hand, they issued a warning that utilizing standard voltage 1.5V+ DDR3 modules could damage the processors' integrated memory controller (IMC) and thus were not officially supported.

So where does this leave GIGABYTE's 170-HD3? It still provides a viable upgrade path since there have been certain checks and balances put in place the insure a certain amount of safety is built into GIGABYTE's ecosystem. However, if you choose to operate outside those "safe zones" then the risk is entirely in your court. When it comes to upgrading in this manner there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Although the fact that it supports DDR3 memory is obviously one of the main factors that first drew our attention, this GIGABYTE Z170-HD3 DDR3 (and its DDR4 variant) is the most affordable full-size Z170 motherboard on the market right now. This is important because at first glance it really doesn't appear that GIGABYTE have left anything noteworthy off of this model.

First and foremost, the Z170-HD3 comes with a 6-phase power design, which is still more than adequate to handle just about any overclock you can achieve with air or all-in-one liquid cooling on current Skylake processors. There are two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, though the second one is indeed limited to PCI-E 3.0 x4, which means that this model is targeted towards those who plan on using a single graphics card. There are also two PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, and you can reuse your legacy PCI expansion cards thanks to the two PCI slots.

Storage wise there are six SATA 6Gb/s ports, three SATA Express ports (built into the regular SATA ports), and a full speed M.2 x4 connector that supports SATA, PCI-E, and PCI-E NVMe SSDs. When it comes to USB connectivity, there are four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports on the rear I/O panel, as well as two internal USB headers supporting up to eight additional ports. This model features a single gigabit LAN interface powered by a Realtek controller, while the audio is supplied by a lower-end ALC887 eight-channel CODEC. As have become the norm, the sound subsystem is isolated from the rest of the system by an audio separation line on the PCB. Those who plan on making use of the CPU's integrated graphics will be glad to see a full assortment of VGA, DVI, and HDMI video outputs. Rounding things out, you will find small extras like three 4-pin PWM fan headers, two physical BIOS chips, and a rich software suite that will be examining thoroughly.

So what did they leave out? Well there are no USB 3.1 ports, no DisplayPort output, onboard power and reset buttons are missing, and there's certainly no wireless connectivity. Having said that, when you consider the fact that you can find this motherboard for under $150 CAD / $110 USD, we can overlook all those elements if this proves to be the well-rounded and budget-friendly Z170 motherboard that it appears to be at first glance.

 
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MAC

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories


Now that we have gone over some of the Z170-HD3's features and specifications, it is time to examine the packaging and then crack open the box to take a look at the bundled accessories. Let's check it out:


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When compared to their Z97 series motherboards, GIGABYTE have lightly revamped their packaging, but you can definitely tell the lineage. We guess the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" axiom applies here. As always, the Ultra Durable branding is very prominent, and you will find quite a bit of information regarding all of the Z170-HD3's specifications and interesting GIGABYTE-specific features on the back.


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Once you remove the outside packaging, you are greeted with an inner box that contains two separate sections, the top half holds the motherboard in an anti-static bag and the bottom half contains the accessories, software and documentation, as you will see below.


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The Z170-HD3 comes with a fairly minimal accessories bundle, which consists of a user manual, installation guide, driver and software DVD, GIGABYTE sticker, front-panel connector, rear I/O shield, and two SATA 6Gb/s cables. We definitely appreciate the addition of the front-panel connector so that users don't have to fiddle with individual wires when first installing the motherboard in their case.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the GIGABYTE Z170-HD3 DDR3

A Closer Look at the GIGABYTE Z170-HD3 DDR3






As you might be able to tell from the above picture, the Z170-HD3 DDR3 is actually a little bit narrower than the ATX standard, measuring 7.8" wide instead of the usual 9.5". As a result, it should be easier to install in smaller cases. As we've come to expect from GIGABYTE, the overall layout is fairly well thought out and there are certainly no critical oversights. All the numerous connectors and ports are easily accessible and free from possible obstruction. Similarly, the fan header distribution is great, since all four headers are evenly spread out across the motherboard.

We definitely like the placement of the M.2 connector, since many motherboards seem to have it placed in between the PCI-E x16 slots. This is a problem because very high performance M.2 solid state drives have been known throttle themselves when running too hot, so it is good idea to not have them placed directly under heat spewing graphics cards.


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As you can see, the general CPU socket area on this motherboard is little bit busy. There are numerous capacitors pretty close to the CPU socket, which we generally are not a fan of. Having said that, we don't really expect anyone to use exotic forms of cooling and need to insulate around the socket area on this low cost motherboard. Furthermore, as you will see in the Installation Section, we did not have any issues whatsoever installing our large CPU cooler.

As mentioned in the intro, this model is built around a 6-phase power design, which features heatsink-cooled MOSFETs, sealed ferrite core chokes, and solid 5K electrolytic capacitors all around. This not a ton of power phases, but as you will see later on in this review, this motherboard had no problems handling a pretty hefty overclock.


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The four DDR3 memory slots are fed by a single phase VRM, and support overclocked memory frequencies up to DDR3-3200. They also support DDR3L modules up to DDR3-1866. As we mentioned in the introduction, GIGABYTE have qualified this motherboard with a wide range of memory kits, many of which feature a high 1.65vDIMM. What long-term effect this will have on the processor's integrated memory controller, we don't yet know. Thankfully, this motherboard does seem to default to 1.35V, even with our enthusiast memory kit, so clearly GIGABYTE are doing their best to prevent any issues. As you will see in the Overclocking Results section, we had no problem pushing our enthusiast memory kit to new heights...and we didn't nuke our processor while doing it.

The 24-pin ATX power connector is in its usual convenient location, and next to it are the two internal USB 3.0 headers that can be used to effectively double the number of USB 3.0 ports from four to eight.



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This motherboard features six SATA 6Gb/s ports, all of which are supplied by the Z170 PCH and as a result support RAID 0/1/5/10 plus Intel Rapid Storage Technology. There are three 10Gb/s SATA Express ports, but obviously they are comprised of the aforementioned six SATA ports. As we have previously discussed, there is a M.2 connector with a full-speed PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface, theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gb/s, and support for SATA, PCI-E, and PCI-E NVMe M.2 solid state drives.

Unlike what we experienced on most X99 motherboards, there are no substantial complications when it comes dividing I/O bandwidth across all the storage connectivity options. The only limitations are that if you install a SATA-based M.2 SSD in the M.2 connector, you lose one SATA port. Also, if you enable RAID, and install a native PCI-E M.2 SSD, then you will lose one SATA Express port. No matter what configuration you choose, you will still have access to all three of the storage interfaces, which is something that we can't say for all motherboards.
 
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MAC

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Joined
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Messages
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Location
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A Closer Look at the GIGABYTE Z170-HD3 DDR3 pt.2

A Closer Look at the GIGABYTE Z170-HD3 DDR3 pt.2




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The lower-right corner and the bottom edge of the motherboard is where you will find the handy colour-coded front panel header, one of the three four-pin PWM system headers, clear CMOS jumper, two USB 2.0 headers, TPM header, LPT header, COM port, and the front panel audio header.



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Much like previous chips, Skylake processors support sixteen PCI-E 3.0 lanes for graphics purposes. On most motherboards, this is divided across two separate PCI-E x16 slots. However, since GIGABYTE needed to manage costs in order to keep this model's price down, they did not include any of the PCI-E switches that usually route this bandwidth. As a result, all sixteen lanes are routed to the first PCI-E x16 slot, while the second slot is limited to PCI-E 3.0 x4 and gets its lanes from the chipset. While this unusual x16/x4 configuration is still theoretically capable of supporting CrossFire, it does not meet the x8/x8 requirements that NVIDIA lays out for SLI certification. In effect, realistically speaking this motherboard is limited to a single graphics card. This is not an issue since we do expect those buying such an entry-level motherboard to ever attempt a multiple graphics card configuration.

Rounding out the assortment of expansions slots are two PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots that are supplied by the ASMedia ASM1083, a PCI-E x1 to 32-bit PCI bridge controller. Given who this motherboard is targeted at, it makes sense to assume that they might be carrying over some older hardware, like a PCI sound card or capture card.

Despite its affordable price tag, GIGABYTE have still outfitted this model with the DualBIOS feature, as evidenced by the presence of two individual BIOS chips This ensures instant recovery in the case of a botched BIOS update, nasty virus, or just overclocking related craziness.


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This motherboard features the first implementation of the entry-level Realtek ALC887 audio CODEC that we have come across. Although it is still an 8-channel high definition audio chip, its technical characteristics are not quite as good as those of the ALC89x and ALC1150 series CODECs that we are more familiar with. Specifically, the ALC887 has a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 97dB, while those higher-end codecs all feature an SNR that is closer to 110dB. What effect will this have on audio quality? We will find out in a later section. Thankfully, the overall implementation is quite decent, with audio-grade Nippon capacitors, and a PCB isolation line surrounds the audio section of the PCB and protects it from the rest of the system in order to preserve the signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio and deliver the highest possible sound quality. Regrettably, there is no electromagnetic interference (EMI) shield covering the Realtek CODEC, but that is to be expected at this price point.


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Despite the fact that this is supposed to be a somewhat barebones motherboards, the rear I/O panel has some pretty decent connectivity. From left to right, there are two USB 2.0 ports, a combo keyboard/mouse PS/2 port, VGA and DVI-D outputs, an HDMI 1.4b output supplied by the NXP PTN3360DBS controller, four USB 3.0 ports, one Realtek 8111HS-powered gigabit LAN port, and six analog audio jacks. Those who need digital S/PDIF output will need to make use of the onboard S/PDIF Out header.



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As we have come to expect, there are no VRM components on the backside of the motherboard. We would have liked to see metal screws used to secure both the MOSFET and chipset heatsinks, but again at this price point we are not surprised to see plastic push-pins.



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Lastly, on the rear of the motherboard we also get a good look at some of the LEDs that illuminate the PCB isolation line that surrounds the audio sub-system, and which are an integral part of the Ambient LED feature. These integrated LEDs are fully programmable via a utility that allows you to set the LEDs to pulse, blink or even react to the music you are listing to. Basically, it can give a pretty cool look to your system. Here is a YouTube video from Gigabyte showing off the effects.
 
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MAC

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Messages
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Location
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Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation


In the Hardware Installation section we examine how major components fit on the motherboard, and whether there are any serious issues that may affect installation and general functionality. Specifically, we are interested in determining whether there is adequate clearance in all critical areas.


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As mentioned in the previous section, this motherboard has a fairly crowded CPU socket area due to the proximity of several capacitors to the socket. Having said that, when installed in the East-West or North-South orientation, our Prolimatech Mega Shadow cooler and its numerous bits of mounting hardware had no issues physically clearing the capacitors or the MOSFET heatsinks. As a result, we believe that most large CPU heatsink and all-in-one liquid coolers should be easily installable. Having said that, gigantic coolers like the Noctua NH-D15 might actually make contact with the back of the graphics.


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As is the case on most motherboards, when our heatsink was installed in the traditional North-South orientation, we did have a clearance issue with the memory modules since the fan clips prevented the installation of our tall memory modules in either of the two memory slots nearest to the CPU socket. The solution to this problem is either to use lower profile memory modules, not to use the fan clips, or to simply install the fan on the other side of the heatsink, thereby blowing hot air to the front of the case instead of the back. Naturally, none of these are ideal solutions.


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Thanks to the expansion slot layout, there is a decent sized gap between memory clips and the back of the graphics card, so there is no need to take out the GPU before installing/removing memory modules. The 24-pin ATX power connector and the 8-pin CPU power connector are both ideally placed, so that makes assembling and disassembling the system just a tad easier.



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Although it is highly unlikely to happen, this motherboard will hold two dual-slot graphics cards without issue. The cards overhang the motherboard substantially due to its narrower than normal width, but the edge-mounted SATA connectors and various headers are still easily accessible. It can even handle two triple-slot graphics if you don't mind losing access to all but one PCI-E x1 slot. Although I can't think of any, if you do install a dual-slot expansion card in the bottommost PCI slot, it will overhang the headers at the very edge of the motherboard.


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If you install a large CPU cooler it will overhang the M.2 connector a bit, which makes screwing down an M.2 solid state drive a little difficult. However, as long as you remove the graphics card from the first PCI-E x16 slot, and work carefully, it is still doable with a small screwdriver.


The six 90-degree SATA ports are obviously accessible no matter how many graphics cards are installed, as are the three SATA Express ports.


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The Prolimatech Mega Shadow heatsink's large mounting bracket installed without issue, but it did come pretty close to pins from the chokes mounted on the top-side of the motherboard.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown


For this generation, GIGABYTE have gotten rid of the more graphic intensive Dashboard Mode that gave more novice users an easy way to visualize and alter some of the most common settings. We are now left with the conventional Classic Mode that we have seen on all GIGABYTE motherboards with UEFI BIOSes, and frankly we are totally happy with that decision since it more appropriately caters to our power user needs.


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In the UEFI BIOS, the MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.) section has been broken down into six main sub-menus. This is where enthusiasts should expect to spend 99% of their BIOS time. First and foremost, we have M.I.T Current Status sub-menu which contains a convenient overview of all the system frequencies, memory sizes and timings.


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When you open the Advanced Frequency Settings sub-menu, you are greeted with all the essential system clock control options that a serious overclocker needs: base clock frequency, IGP frequency, CPU multiplier, and memory multiplier.

The Advanced CPU Core Features sub-menu is where you can enable or disable the various CPU-specific settings like Turbo Boost, C1E, C-STATE, Thermal Monitor, and Enhanced SpeedStep (EIST). This is also where you can set the Turbo Boost ratios for each processor core and the Uncore ratio as well.


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As its name suggests, the Advanced Memory Settings section is where you will find all the memory-related settings. Within this section you can select the memory multiplier, change the performance profile, monitor the memory voltage, and obviously tweak the memory timings. Each memory channel has its own section, within which you can alter the primary and secondary timings. It had just about every memory setting that an enthusiast or overclocker will need to fine-tune their memory modules.



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The Advanced Voltage Settings sub-menu is where you can fine tweak the new digital VRM or simply adjust the primary and secondary system voltages. We wish there were more drop-down menus in this section. As it is you can manually type in whatever you want, but that is not particularly useful when you don't know or don’t remember what the default voltages are.

The Advanced Power Settings section is particularly interesting for those who like to tweak since it allows a great deal of control over all elements of the VRM. We would have really liked to see more granular Load-Line Calibration (LLC) options for the CPU vCore, since On or Off simply doesn’t cut it most of the time. By the way, as you will in the coming pages, with the 3D Power tab in the EasyTune utility you can do a lot of this tweaking from within Windows itself.


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Compared to past BIOSes, this one actually has a pretty good PC Health Status section since it has readouts for most of the critical voltages and temperatures. BIOS-based fan control has also improved, but the Smart Fan tab in EasyTune does have a little bit richer fan PWM functionality.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
BIOS Rundown pt.2

BIOS Rundown pt.2



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The System Information section displays the motherboard model name, BIOS version, allows users to set the BIOS language, and set an administrator password.


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The BIOS Features section is where you can select the boot device priority, enable/disable the full screen logo, select Windows 8 features and Boot Mode as well.


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The Peripherals section is where you can enable or disable some of the onboard devices, like the LAN controller, the PCB LEDs, or even the rear I/O panel LEDs. However, there is surprisingly little here since similar functionality has been integrated in various other sections, like the following Chipset section.


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The Chipset section is where you find all the SATA related options - such as settings devices to IDE, AHCI, or RAID mode - as well as enabling/disabling the onboard audio controller.


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The Power Management section contains the power management settings linked to the power-saving sleep modes. The Save & Exit section is pretty self-evident, however you can also save or load BIOS profiles from within this area.


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This last screenshot is of the Q-Flash Utility which is accessed via the F12 key. Since Q-Flash is built right into the BIOS and it can read files directly from a USB flash drive, BIOS flashing is a simple and quick procedure. Remember that your USB flash drive must be formatted in the FAT16/32 file system in order to be supported by Q-Flash, otherwise the utility won't allow you to update the bios or save the existing bios to a flash drive.
 
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MAC

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Included Software

Included Software



APP Center


The APP Center utility is a new centralized hub for all the in-house utilities that GIGABYTE bundles with their motherboards. It permanently resides in the notification area/icon tray in the right corner of your screen. Not only does it give you one location from which to open or even uninstall all motherboard-related pieces of software, but it also feature a Live Update feature that lets you know if the there's a new version of the software available.


EasyTune

The sleek EasyTune system management utility has been refocused towards its core functions of automatic overclocking and real-time tweaking of system frequencies, timings and voltages. As a result, EasyTune has been stripped of its monitoring and fan control duties, and that functionality has been transferred to the new System Information Viewer tool that can apparently handle these tasks with much lower latency. Having said that, when you launch EasyTune the new Hardware Monitor automatically pops open like a widget on the right side on the screen, and it shows you all the vital system voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds.


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As in previous versions, the Smart QuickBoost section is really the most interesting one. First, it contains the Quick Boost feature, which allows automatic overclocking at the touch of a button. Simply pick which one of the three Smart QuickBoost overclock presets that best suits your needs, reboot the system, and voila! Overclock achieved. If you're more interested in seriously reducing power consumption, the Energy Saving preset with underclock the processor to 1200Mhz and tweak a bunch of settings to maximize efficiency. Of particular interest to us is the smart Auto Tuning functionality that will automatically overclock your system by going through various tweaking and stability testing phases. As you will see in our Overclocking Results section, we preferred the presets over this supposedly intelligent OC'ing feature. Last but not least is the Advanced sub-menu that allows you to manualky set specific frequency, multiplier, voltage, and memory timing settings.


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The Advanced CPU OC section is where you can manually adjust each CPU core individually, as well as tinker with all the important system voltages. For the power energy aficionados, you can also elect to place a hard limit on the CPU power consumption.


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The Advanced DDR OC section of the EasyTune app is where you can set the memory multiplier, enable or disable your memory kit's XMP profile, or just tweak a wide range of primary and secondary memory timings. It is basically everything you could want from an on-the-fly system tweaking tool.


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The 3D Power utility has the same capabilities as the 3D Power section in the BIOS, and there is a lot of functionality here. Having said that, while PWM frequency, Load-Line Calibration (LLC), and phase control are all things that knowledgeable overclockers might tweak, these are all settings that the overwhelming majority of users will never ever have to use.


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The Hotkey tab is where you can elect to save one or two settings profiles. For example, you can save your AutoTuning overclock instead of having to re-run the whole automated process again.


System Information Viewer

In order to make the utility more responsive, all the monitoring and fan control duties were stripped from EasyTune and transferred to a new application, the System Information Viewer. This might seem like a step backwards since usually the aim is to consolidate as many features as possibly into one program, but GIGABYTE claims that by doing this they have managed to greatly reduce the deferred procedure call (DPC) latencies that could interfere with EasyTune's primary functions, i.e. real-time tweaking and overclocking.


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The System Information tab is pretty straightforward, it really just shows some very basic information regarding the system clocks and a few details about the system's CPU, memory, and motherboard.



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In this new implementation, manual and automatic fan control options have been split into two separate tabs. Smart Fan Auto is where you find four standard fan speed presets, while Smart Fan Advanced is where you will find the auto-calibration feature and where you can manually fix fan speed or have it vary based on temperatures.



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The System Alerts tab is where you will find the Hardware Monitor, which display some basic system frequencies, a bunch of system voltages, system temperatures and fan speeds. We would like to see some additional voltage readouts, for the System Agent and Ring Bus for example. System Alerts, is as its name implies, is also where you can set system temperature or fan speed limits, and if those thresholds are crossed you will be alerted.



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The Record tab is fairly self-explanatory, it is where you can enable and adjust settings related to recording the various system voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Montreal
Included Software pt.2

Included Software pt.2



Ambient LED


This is the utility that allows you to control that lighting, as well as the LEDs that are under the audio isolation line. Overall, it is a unique and cool effect that we have never seen implemented quite this well. The Still Mode will keep the LEDs on continuously, the Beat Mode will cause the LEDs to blink in sync with the music played through the audio output. The Pulse Mode causes the LEDs to blink slowly. Once again, here is a YouTube video from Gigabyte showing off the effects.


@BIOS


If you don’t want to bother formatting a USB flash drive to FAT16/32 in order to use the Q-Flash feature in the BIOS, you can simply use the @BIOS utility to download the latest version directly from GIGABYTE's servers and flash from within Windows.


Smart Backup


Smart Recovery 2 is kind of like Windows Restore/Apple Time Capsule function, where you can roll-back system settings to a previous working status. Users can select just about any day, week, or month to roll-back from, without having had to manually tell the program to create a backup flag.


Smart TimeLock


Smart TimeLock is a feature all kids will despise, as it allows parents the ability to schedule time limits for their children to use the PC. Parents can even make different usage time rules for weekdays and weekends.


USB Blocker


If you're building a computer that will be used in a public setting, or you simply don't trust your friends/roommates/family. Once you set up a password, USB Blocker will allow you to prevent certain devices from functioning when plugged into your system's USB ports. All you need to do is set a password in the utility and select which devices to block.


Fast Boot


The Fast Boot utility basically streamlines the bootup process, and starts loading the operating system immediately instead of waiting around to see if you want to access the BIOS. It makes entering the BIOS impossible, but that is easily fixed by just clicking on the "Enter BIOS Setup Now" button.


Cloud Station


The new Cloud Station utility is a function-rich program if you take the time to learn about it...and install the associated GIGABYTE Cloud Station mobile app (available on Android & iOS) on your smartphone or tablet.

The HomeCloud feature allows your mobile devices to access files on Gigabyte-powered system from a Wi-Fi or cellular network. The Remote function turns your mobile device into a remote keyboard and mouse from which you can control and navigate your PC. Remote OC gives you basically all the functionality of the EasyTune and System Information Viewer utilities on your mobile device. As a result, you can remotely overclock, tweak, monitor, or even shutdown your system. Auto Green is actually potentially pretty neat, it automatically suspends the system if you and your Bluetooth-paired smartphone walk more than 10 meters away. Obviously, you will need to bring your own Bluetooth adapter since this motherboard doesn't lacks that particular connectivity option. As its name suggests, the HotSpot utility can turn your internet connected system into a Wi-Fi hotspot, assuming you have a W-Fi adapter or card installed.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology



For this review, we are going to be testing the performance of the Z170-HD3 DDR3 in three configurations: default settings, automatic overclock settings, and manual overclock settings. The components and software are the same across all three, and aside from manually selecting the frequencies, timings, and voltages in the manual overclock configuration, almost every option in the BIOS was at its default setting. The exception to this was the FCLK, which we manually set from its default of 800Mhz to 1000Mhz, which is the Intel recommended value for desktops.

Intel Core i7 LGA1151 DDR3 Test Setup​

For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks are applied to Windows 7 and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • UAC – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Superfetch – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan – High Performance
  • V-Sync – Off

D) All available Windows updates are then installed.

E) All programs are installed and then updated, followed by a defragment.

F) Benchmarks are each run three to eight times, and unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.

Here is a full list of the applications that we utilized in our benchmarking suite:
  • 3DMark Vantage Professional Edition v1.1.3
  • 3DMark11 Professional Edition v1.0.132.0
  • 3DMark 2013 Professional Edition v1.5.915
  • AIDA64 Extreme Edition v5.50.3600
  • Cinebench R15 64-bit
  • SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP
  • Sisoft Sandra 2015.SP3 20.28
  • Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark v1.0.0.0
  • wPRIME version v2.10
  • X3: Terran Conflict Demo v1.0
That is about all you need to know methodology wise, so let's get to the good stuff!
 
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