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GIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 TH Motherboard Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
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Location
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So far this year we have had the privilege of reviewing the entry-level GIGABYTE Z170-HD3, the gaming-oriented Z170X-Gaming 3, and the still gamer-focused but slightly higher-end Z170X-Gaming 5.

All of these proved to be very good motherboards in their respective niches, so it shouldn't come as any surprise that we have been looking forward to reviewing another one of GIGABYTE's offerings. With this in mind, we are happy to present you with the Z170X-UD5 TH, which retails for about $200 USD / $265 CAD. While this model shares a lot of DNA with its Z170X-UD5 sibling, it is the cutting-edge connectivity options that really make it special.

As you may have figured out, the "TH" in this motherboard's model name stands for <b>Thunderbolt</b>. What you may not know is that the Z170X-UD5 TH was actually world's first Intel Thunderbolt 3 certified motherboard, which was accomplished by using the now well-known Intel Alpine Ridge controller. While many motherboards use this chip for its USB 3.1 capabilities, very few use it to add Thunderbolt support since it requires two more PCI-E lanes and some hefty power regulation components. The new Thunderbolt 3.0 standard provides 40Gbps per port, uses the future-proof USB Type-C connector, and has versatile capabilities like video output, external storage, daisy-chaining, and high wattage power delivery. Even if you don't need it now, with this level of flexibility it is a good investment for the future.

The Z170X-UDH 5 TH features an 11-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 a full-speed M.2 x4 connector. Rounding things out are a single Intel-powered gigabit LAN port, a healthy assortment of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, and an onboard audio subsystem that is based on the proven Realtek ALC1150 codec and that features a headphone op-amp and EMI protection. This is all fairly conventional for a motherboard in this price range, but as mentioned above this is one of those rare motherboards that is defined by its next-generation inputs and outputs.

This model has been outfitted with a pricey dual-port Alpine Ridge controller that feeds into two USB Type-C ports with support for not only Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1, but DisplayPort 1.2 as well. What this means is that when using integrated graphics, the Z170X-UD5 TH can handle two 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 5K monitor at 60Hz. GIGABYTE have also included support for the Power Delivery 2.0 standard, so each of the ports can output up to 36W and also daisy-chain up to 6 devices.

The other technological highlight is obviously the inclusion of a HDMI 2.0 output, which is not natively supported by Intel on this platform. An aftermarket controller adds this functionality, and provides those with 4K displays the means to broadcast to them at full resolution and at 60Hz too. This HDMI 2.0 port and the dual DisplayPort 1.2 via USB Type-C are it when it comes to video outputs though, so if you need something a little more old school like DVI-D or VGA you are out of luck with this model.

With the pleasantries out of the way, it is time to take a closer look at what exactly the Z170X-UD5 TH has to offer in terms of hardware and software, and whether the whole is implemented in a way that leaves us impressed with the overall product. If that sounds good to you, keep reading!

 
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MAC

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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging & Accessories


Now that we have gone over the Z170X-UD5 TH features and specifications in the intro, 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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This packaging is essentially identical to that of the Z170-HD3, so it appears to be the default for GIGABYTE's mainstream lineup. As always, the Ultra Durable branding is very prominent, and you will find quite a bit of information regarding all of the Z170-UD5 TH's specifications and interesting GIGABYTE-specific features on the back. There is also three different mentions of Thunderbolt on the front of the box, if it wasn't already clear that it is this model's most distinguishing feature.


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Once you flip open the packaging, you are greeted with 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 Z170X-UD5 TH comes with a decent enough accessories bundle, which consists of a user manual, installation guide, driver and software DVD, rear I/O shield, four SATA 6Gb/s cables, a 2-Way SLI bridge, an assortment of dust covers for a few rear I/O ports, and a 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
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A Closer Look at the Z170X-UD5 TH

A Closer Look at the Z170X-UD5 TH




As we've come to expect from GIGABYTE, the overall layout is very well-thought-out and there are certainly no critical oversights. All the numerous buttons, connectors, and ports are easily accessible and free from possible obstruction. The two CPU fan headers are well positioned, and the four system fan headers are spread evenly across the motherboard.

There is also a huge amount of spacing between two main PCI-E x16 slots, so there won’t be any issues fitting thick dual or even triple-slot graphics cards on this motherboard. We like the placement of the M.2 connector, since many motherboards seem to have it placed far too close to the primary PCI-E x16 or even the CPU. This is a problem because very high performance M.2 solid state drives have been known to throttle themselves when running too hot, so it is good idea to not place them directly near heat spewing components. It should be mentioned that the Z170X-UD5 TH is based on the standard ATX form factor (30.5 cm x 24.4 cm / 12.0-in x 9.6-in), so there are no sizing issues to worry about.

Whether this motherboard is appealing from an aesthetics point-of-view is obviously subjective, but the black and dark gold colour combo that GIGABYTE chose for the heatsinks is not offensive to us at all. However, it is going to make it a bit harder to colour coordinate this motherboard with a graphics card(s) and/or memory kit, if that's your thing.



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Much to our delight, the CPU socket area on this model is downright barren compared to some of other GIGABYTE Z170 models. All the capacitors are a very healthy distance from the socket, so not only should there be zero issues installing any air or liquid CPU coolers, but insulating for sub-zero cooling should be very easy as well.

This motherboard has been outfitted with a robust 11-phase CPU power design that utilizes an Intersil ISL95856 hybrid digital PWM controller and Vishay MOSFETs. There are eight doubled phases for the cores and three simple phases for the integrated graphics portion of the processor. Other rails like VCCSA and VCCIO are handled by simple linear regulators, which is fine because they don't have anywhere near the same power delivery requirements. We appreciate the fact this model uses long-lasting Nippon Chemi-Con 10K Durable Black capacitors, as well as GIGABYTE's custom sealed ferrite core chokes.

Considering the fact that we were able to max out the overclocking potential of our Core i7-6700K on the 6-phase Z170-HD3 and 7-phase Z170X-Gaming 3, we aren't concerned about the power handling capabilities of this model. In fact, the MOSFETs never even got particularly warm. This can be at least partially attributed to the radically finned MOSFET heatsinks, that share a heatpipe between them, and which are well secured to the PCB with metals screws.


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The four DDR4 slots are fed by a single phase VRM and are clipless on one side, which prevents any clearance issues that can arise between conventional memory clips and the back of any nearby expansion card. This motherboard supports up to 64GB of total system memory and it has been certified for overclocked memory speeds of up to DDR4-3800, which is definitely above average. Make sure to check out our Overclocking Results section to see whether we were able to hit that level...or above.

Since this is an upper-end model, it has been blessed with a few cool extras features. There is the onboard power and reset buttons, a clear CMOS button for when overclocking goes awry, a Q-Code debug LED display to quickly diagnose any issues, as well as eight voltage read points, which overclockers always appreciate.


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To the left of the 24-pin ATX power connector are the two internal USB 3.0 headers that can be used to add another four USB 3.0 ports to the front of your case. There is also an ATX4P power connector on which you can plug a SATA power cable in order to provide extra juice to the PCI-E slots. This is only important if you plan to install two or more graphics cards.



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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 as well, but obviously they are part of the aforementioned SATA ports.

This model features one full-speed M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4 connector, with a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gb/s, and support for SATA, PCI-E, and PCI-E NVMe M.2 solid state drives. Obviously, as on most motherboards, there are caveats to installing a PCI-E x4 SSD. On this model, doing so will disable the third PCI-E x16 slot, which actually operates at x4. If you install a SATA-based M.2 SSD, you will only lose a single SATA port, which is pretty reasonable.

There is no U.2 port on this motherboard, but given the fact that there is only one compatible SSD model available - the Intel 750 Series - it's really not a significant issue for most people at this time.
 
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MAC

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Messages
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Location
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A Closer Look at the Z170X-UD5 TH pt.2

A Closer Look at the Z170X-UD5 TH 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 four system fan headers, and the clear CMOS jumper. Along the bottom edge of the board are two USB 2.0 headers, a TPM header, and serial port header, and the front panel audio header.

As we have come to expect on all GIGABYTE motherboards, this model is outfitted with the DualBIOS feature, as evidenced by the presence of two soldered BIOS chips. This ensures instant recovery in the case of a botched BIOS update, nasty virus, or just overclocking-related blunder.


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Much like previous generations, mainstream Skylake processors support sixteen PCI-E 3.0 lanes for graphics purposes. These lanes are divided across two separate PCI-E x16 slots thanks to a handful of ASMedia ASM1480 PCI-E 3.0 switches. The third mechanical PCI-E x16 slot operates at x4, but since it shares bandwidth with the M.2 connector, you have to choose one or the other if you want to install a PCI-E based SSD. On the plus side, it doesn't appear that anything affects the three PCI-E x1 slots, which receive their lanes from the Z170 PCH.

In a regular single graphics card setup, the first PCI-E x16 slot will obviously operate at PCI-E 3.0 x16. In a dual graphics card configuration, the first and second slots will operate at PCI-E 3.0 x8, which will still provide ample bandwidth for even the highest-end GPUs. This 2-Way configuration is the limit for SLI however, as NVIDIA doesn't support SLI on any PCI-E x4 slots, which as mentioned above is the limit for the third PCI-E x16 slot. If you install three Radeon graphics cards, the expansion slots will be running at x8/x8/x4 in PCI-E 3.0 mode. This is obviously not optimal since this last slot doesn't have a direct low latency connection to the processor, but Triple CrossFireX does work in theory.

One of the new features that GIGABYTE are promoting are the fully reinforced full-size PCI-E slots. Not only are the slots covered by stainless steel shielding, but they feature additional anchor points ensuring that even the heaviest graphics cards won't cause any mechanical failures.



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The Amp-Up onboard audio is based on the familiar Realtek ALC1150 ten-channel HD audio codec, which simultaneously supports 7.1-channel playback and 2 channels of independent stereo output from the front-panel header. Regarding front-panel audio, GIGABYTE have selected a Texas Instruments (formerly Burr Brown) OPA1652 operational amplifier (op amp) to help drive headphones. It's a decent enough part, but it is not quite as well-regarded as the OPA2134 found on the cheaper Z170X-Gaming 3. Having said that, in our testing, we found the audio results to be very good indeed. Rounding things out are just short of a dozen audio-grade Nippon capacitors.

We are glad to see that the audio codec has been covered with an electromagnetic interference (EMI) shield, and that there is a clear PCB isolation line - dubbed the audio guard light path - protecting the audio section from the rest of the motherboard. The LEDs on the underside of the motherboard glow through that isolation line and are part of the adjustable multi-color Ambient LED feature.


Although it is not actually needed, the engineers have covered the Intel gigabit LAN controller with an EMI cover. The specs are unusually vague with regard to what chip it actually is, listing only "Intel GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)". Having said that, we know without a shadow of a doubt that it is an Intel I219-V network controller, which is the standard choice for this platform, especially at this price range.


This is one of those rare motherboards that is defined by its rear I/O panel, since next-generation inputs and outputs are what make it unique. From left to right, there are two USB 2.0 ports, a combo keyboard/mouse PS/2 port, four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 Type-C ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, a single gigabit LAN port, two additional USB 2.0 ports, and the six audio jacks which include an S/PDIF output. The only thing missing here is a USB 3.1 Type-A port, so we would have liked to see a USB Type-C to Type-A adapter included.

If you aren't super interested in Thunderbolt 3 or HDMI 2.0, then maybe the less expensive Z170X-UD5 would interest you. It omits the next-gen interfaces, but features one additional gigabit LAN port, a DVI output, a full-size DisplayPort output, a HDMI 1.4b output, and a proper USB 3.1 Type-A port.



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One of this model's key features is obviously the dual Thunderbolt 3 ports. As mentioned in the introduction, this was actually the world's first Thunderbolt 3 certified motherboard. The source of this next-gen connectivity is the onboard Intel DSL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controller, which is the dual-port version of the well-known Alpine Ridge chip. This little baby alone cost almost $10, hence why most motherboards manufacturers include it on very few of their models. This interface support 40Gbps Thunderbolt, USB 3.1, and DisplayPort 1.2, all behind a single USB Type-C port. Thanks to this support for DP 1.2, when using onboard graphics the Z170X-UD5 TH can handle two 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 5K monitor. Also interesting is that by combining Thunderbolt 3 and what GIGABYTE's calls Power Delivery 2.0, each USB Type-C port can output up to 36W and each port can also daisy-chain up to 6 devices. Overall, Thunderbolt 3 gives enthusiasts a ton of flexibility with regard to what they can do over a single future-proof cable.

The other highlight is obviously the inclusion of an HDMI 2.0 output. This is significant because when using Skylake's Gen9 integrated GPU, you will be able to output video at up to a maximum resolution of 4096 x 2160 at 60Hz. The HDMI 1.4b port found on typical LGA1151 motherboards only supports 4K at up to 24Hz. Since HDMI 2.0 is not yet natively supported by Intel on this platform, an aftermarket MegaChips MCDP2800 controller is responsible for this added feature.


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As we have come to expect from GIGABYTE, there are no VRM components or other controllers on the backside of the motherboard. All the heatsinks and the plastic shroud are attached with metal screws, which is what we expect from an upper-end motherboard like this one.


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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 in action.
 
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MAC

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Messages
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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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Since it has such an unobstructed CPU socket area, installing any type of cooling on this motherboard should be a breeze. No matter if we install it 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.


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As is the case on most motherboards, we did have an issue installing tall memory modules since they came into contact wit the fan clips. This was a problem even when the modules were placed in the two memory slots farthest from the CPU socket. The solution to this problem was either to use 'normal' profile memory modules (under 40mm in height), 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.


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Thanks to the expansion slot layout, there is a large gap between the clipless DDR4 memory slots and the back of the graphics card. As a result, 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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The Z170X-UD5 TH will hold one, two, or even three dual-slot graphics cards without difficulty. The cards will obviously extend past the motherboard length-wise, and that last card will overhang all the headers on the bottom edge of the motherboard. Since there is a decent amount of room between the primary graphics card and the heatsink, it was relatively easy to reach the PCI-E slot release clip. One of the welcome layout choices is that no matter how many dual-slot cards are installed, there are always two PCI-E x1 slots usable.


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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Installing an M.2 SSD on this motherboard is a trouble-free affair. Having said that, if you have a dual-slot expansion card installed in the second PCI-E x16 slot, you will need to remove it before installing or removing any M.2 SSD since the connector does get covered.


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We were able to install our Prolimatech Mega Shadow heatsink without running into any issues, but its large rear mounting bracket did come pretty close to pins from the chokes mounted on the front of the motherboard. This is the case on most motherboards, so nothing to worry about there.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
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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 only with the Classic Mode, which is the conventional text-based interface that that we have seen on all GIGABYTE motherboards since they debuted UEFI. Frankly, we are more than okay with that decision since the Classic Mode more appropriately caters to power users 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 has 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 tweak the 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 see 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 some past UEFI generations, 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 the EasyTune utility does have a little bit richer fan PWM functionality.
 
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MAC

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Location
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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 8/10 features, Boot Mode, and more.



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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. It is obviously also where you can select the settings for these integrated controllers, most importantly with regard to SATA and Thunderbolt. Having said that, 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 can enable/disable the VT-d virtualization feature, the internal GPU, the onboard audio controller or even the audio DSP.


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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.




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 contains 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.


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As in previous versions, the Smart QuickBoost section is really the most interesting area. 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 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 will 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 feature. Last but not least is the Advanced sub-menu that allows you to manually set specific frequency, multiplier, voltage, and memory timing settings.


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It should be noted that at the bottom of the utility there is an information strip that can be expanded by the click of a button. It displays information on CPU and DRAM frequency, real-time voltage and temperatures measurements, as well as CPU and case fans speeds. You can also set safe thresholds for voltages, temperatures and fan speeds as well as setting alerts to warn you of any serious fluctuations.


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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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While the Advanced Power tab reveals options for selecting the number of VRM power phases and switching frequency, there aren't actually any settings available to use. Instead, you can only adjust the Load-Line Calibration (LLC) setting for the CPU or the integrated GPU.


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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

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Location
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Included Software pt.2

Included Software pt.2



Ambient LED



This is the utility that allows you to control the LEDs that are under the audio isolation line. Overall, it is a cool effect that has been very well implemented on this model, though obviously it's not quite as thorough as the lighting effects on ASUS' AURA models. 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 or administrators 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 kind of 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.


3D OSD




The 3D OSD utility is a useful in-game overlay that displays real-time hardware information like frame rates, temperatures, CPU and GPU load and frequencies.
 
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Test Setup & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology



For this review, we are going to be testing the performance of the Z170X-UD5 TH in five configurations: default settings @ DDR4-2133, default setting @ DDR4-3600, two automatic overclock settings, and manual overclock settings. The components and software are the same across all five configurations, and aside from manually selecting the frequencies, timings, and voltages in the manual overclock configuration, every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.

Intel Core i7 LGA1151 DDR4 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 ten 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
  • FAHBench 1.2.0
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • HEVC Decode Benchmark (Cobra) v1.61
  • LuxMark v3.0
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • PCMark 8
  • SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP
  • Sisoft Sandra 2015.SP3 20.28
  • Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark v1.0.0.0
  • WinRAR x64 5.30 beta 6
  • 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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