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GIGABYTE Z370N WIFI ITX Motherboard Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,087
Location
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Every time we review a Mini-ITX motherboard we know that we are going to encounter something cool or unusual. The PCB space constraints combined with the obvious desire to outdo the competition means that engineers are always finding clever ways of cramming more and more features into an area that is less than 7" x 7". Most recently, we were very impressed by the ASUS STRIX Z270-I and the derivative STRIX X370-I since those models had been outfitted with two M.2 slots, which is something that we had never seen or even expected on such tiny motherboards. Another standout model was the ASRock Z270 Gaming-ITX/ac, which had triple video outputs and support for multiple 4K 60Hz displays.

The GIGABYTE Z370N WIFI that we are reviewing today has both of those aforementioned features on one motherboard, and a fair bit more than that too. In fact, this $150 USD / $200 CAD model has almost every single capability that we would expect from a full-sized ATX motherboard. So what exactly do you get for you money? Well for starters, this model has a 6-phase CPU VRM, two DDR4 memory slots that can handle speeds of up to DDR4-4400, four SATA 6Gb/s ports, two full-speed M.2 slots, and one reinforced PCI-E x16 slot. The USB connectivity is also quite good with six USB 3.0 Type-A ports, one USB 3.0 Type-C port, one USB 3.0 header, and one USB 3.1 Gen2 header. Alas, USB 3.1 Gen2 is nowhere to be found, which is the only noteworthy connectivity snafu.

When it comes to networking, there is not one but two Intel-powered gigabit LAN ports and onboard Wi-Fi in the form of a dual-band Intel 802.11ac/Bluetooth 4.2 solution mated to a 2x2 external antenna. Those who plan on utilizing their processor's integrated GPU have a trifecta of options since the rear I/O panel has a HDM 1.4 port, a highly sought after HDMI 2.0 port, and a DisplayPort 1.2 video output. These last two both support 4K at up to 60Hz, so this model seems ideal for an HTPC or a serious multi-monitor workstation.

The onboard audio solution is based on the familiar Realtek ALC1220 ten-channel codec, Nippon Chemi-Con audio-grade capacitors, three analog audio jacks, a digital S/PDIF header, and a tiny little PCB-level isolation line that should help keep some noise out of the audio signal. If and when you listen to music, you will able to be able to make the onboard RGB LED lighting dance to the beat. Don't expect a spectacular light show though, since there are only four RGB LEDs mounted on this model, and they are all on the backside of the motherboard. Thankfully, GIGABYTE has included two light strip headers for those who want to create a more eye-catching experience.

At first glance, the GIGABYTE Z370N WIFI has a lot going for it. The capabilities are pretty much class-leading, and it is also a fair bit cheaper than competing models as well. However, obviously it is the implementation that matters most, so we will be checking out the UEFI BIOS, playing with the numerous utilities, testing the numerous overclocking features, and just generally giving this motherboard a thorough peak under the hood. Let's see if we come away impressed.

 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,087
Location
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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging & Accessories


Now that we have gone over the Z370N WIFI 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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As you would expect given its petite size, this motherboard is shipped in a small 8.5" x 7.5" x 3" box. The design language of GIGABYTE's packaging has remained consistent for a number years - AORUS models aside - which is to say heavy emphasis on "Ultra Durable" and the model name in big bold letters. On the back of the box you will find quite a bit of information regarding all of the interesting features that have been packed onto this model, as well as a handy rear I/O panel diagram and an abbreviated specifications table.



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When you open the packaging you are greeted with the motherboard - wrapped in an anti-static bag - rested in a protective foam tray. Under that tray is where you will find all of the accessories, manuals, installation CD, etc. As you will see below, this model ships with light accessories bundle.



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As you can see, GIGABYTE has only given this small motherboard a small number of accessories. There is a manual, a multilingual installation guide, a software DVD, a case sticker, two SATA 6Gb/s cables, some screws and standoffs for the M.2 slots, an all black rear I/O shield, and a 2T2R Wi-Fi antenna which has 2 transmitter (T) and 2 receiver (R) antennas.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,087
Location
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A Closer Look at the Z370N WIFI

A Closer Look at the Z370N WIFI




As you would should expect from any Mini-ITX motherboard, the GIGABYTE Z370N WIFI is a tiny and busy little model. Measuring 6.7" by 6.7" - which is almost half of a standard A4 sheet of paper - these little motherboards are always an impressive feet of engineering given their lack of PCB space. Aside from a few less SATA ports and a lot less PCI-E slots, this model has everything that you would expect from a full-size ATX motherboard, which includes dual M.2 slots. Aside from two or three exceptions, GIGABYTE have managed to place basically every connector and header on the edges of the motherboard. This ideal placement makes the Z370N WIFI easy to work with when it comes time to build your system, as you will see in our installation section.

While this is a good looking motherboard, that doesn't really matter so much with Mini-ITX models since by the time the CPU cooler, RAM, graphics card, and various cables are installed it will be nearly completely hidden. So whether you love or hate the nearly all-black design shouldn't really make a difference in the end.



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While the CPU socket area on this model is occupied, it is really not too bad when compared to most other Mini-ITX motherboards that cross our path. As we demonstrate in the installation section, we had no issues fitting the mounting hardware for our large CPU cooler on this model.

Once we removed the VRM cooler, we were able to get a good look at this motherboard's VRM area. It features a 4+2 phase CPU power design that is based on a Intersil ISL95866 digital PWM controller and a mix of ON Semiconductor 4C10N and 4C06N MOSFETs mounted on the font and the back of the motherboard. Each of the four CPU core phases consists of one 4C10N highside MOSFET and two 4C06N lowside MOSFETs, while each of the two integrated graphics phases gets one 4C10N on the highside and one 4C06N on the lowside. The VCCSA and VCCIO have lower power requirements and are thus handled by a mix of 4C10N MOSFETs and Richtek linear voltage regulators. Rounding things out are long-lasting Nippon Chemi-Con 10K Durable Black capacitors, as well as six standard looking sealed ferrite core chokes.

While the single MOSFET heatsink might seem large at first glance, a side view reveals that it is just a thin piece of metal with relatively little mass to help absorb the heat dissipated by the MOSFETs. This is an issue because the MOSFETs on this motherboard are being worked hard and as a result put out a lot of heat. For starters, at stock settings, we ran Prime95 large FFTs and the MOSFETs averaged 65°C / 149°F and peaked as high as 79°C / 174°F. That is much higher than we would like to see at stock settings, but it's not problematic. However, the situation obviously gets much worse when overclocking. Using the 5Ghz CPU Upgrade option found in the UEFI, we measured full load MOSFET temperatures averaging 97°C / 207°F and peaking as high as 120°C / 248°F, before we wimped out and stopped the test. That peak temperature is absolutely blazing hot.

Surprisingly, we never did experience any VRM-related throttling, suggesting that GIGABYTE has set a very high MOSFET temperature protection level. However, that's not exactly praise. These ON Semiconductor MOSFETs can handle higher operating temperatures than what we measured, but they lose a significant amount of their continuous drain current capabilities above 80°C, so they obviously aren't in their sweet spot in this VRM configuration. This is actually a situation that has affected other GIGABYTE motherboard as well - such as the Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming - which has a similar CPU VRM and much bulkier cooling yet still achieves similar high MOSFET temperatures. Because of this we think a beefier heatsink alone wouldn't be enough to solve this issue on the Z370N WIFI, it simply needs more phases. GIGABYTE apparently agrees since the aforementioned Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming has been replaced by a Ultra Gaming 2.0 model that doubles the CPU VRM phases from 4 to 8. Can we expect the same with this Mini-ITX model? Only time will tell.

Now these tests were done without any active airflow on the heatsink or VRM area, so it does represent a potential worst-case scenario, but then again we are using an open test bench. If this motherboard was placed in a compact case with other heat-spewing components, even with passive airflow the temperatures might be as bad, if not worse assuming a similar highly intensive workload.


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While we are on the topic of cooling, on the top edge of the motherboard is where you will find the CPU fan header and the two system fan headers. All three are 4-pin PWM fan headers and they are fully controllable via both DC and PWM fan control modes from within the UEFI and the Smart Fan tabs in the System Information Viewer (SIV) utility.

To the left of the fan headers is the debug _port header, which is where you can connect a debug card.



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As is the case with most Mini-ITX motherboards, the Z370N WIFI only features two DDR4 memory slots. While that might limit the amount of RAM you can install, it certainly has no effect on performance since GIGABYTE have certified this model for overclocked memory frequencies up to DDR4-4400. We will be testing up DDR4-4000 in our overlocking results section, so definitely check that out.

This model features clips on both sides of the memory slots, which is a daring choice on a compact motherboard, but not a surprising choice since GIGABYTE haven't yet jumped onto the clipless bandwagon.

The 24-pin ATX power connector is in the top-right corner of the motherboard - which frankly is only place for it on a tiny motherboard - and next to it is the front-panel header and the internal speaker header.



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As we have come to expect from Mini-ITX motherboard, this model features an acceptable four SATA 6Gb/s ports, all of which are supplied by the Z370 PCH and as a result support RAID 0/1/5/10 plus Intel Rapid Storage Technology.

Next to the SATA ports is a USB 3.0 header, which can provide two USB 3.0 ports to the front of your case. Above that header is a USB 2.0 header, which likewise supports up to two additional ports. The left of the USB header is the CLR_CMOS jumper and the RGB LED strip header, which can be used to connect a standard 5050 RGB LED strip with maximum power rating of 2A/12V and maximum length of up to 2 meters. Although it's hard to spot, this motherboard also has a second header can be used to connect a 5V or 12V non-RGB 5050 digital LED strip with maximum power rating of 2A and maximum length of up to 5 meters or maximum of 300 individual LEDs.

Clearly, GIGABYTE got a little inspiration from the innovative M.2 Double-Decker Heatsink on the ASUS STRIX Z270I when they designed their very similar two-tiered heatsink design. This tiny heatsink cool the cool-running Z370 PCH, but it also serves as a clever way of adding an M.2 slot to the front of a mini-ITX motherboard. The M.2 SSD is essentially just sandwiched between the part of the heatsink that cools the PCH and the top cover that is used to cool the SSD itself.

The aforementioned M.2 slot features a full-speed PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface, theoretical maximum bandwidth of 4GB/s, and support for SATA, PCI-E, and PCI-E NVMe M.2 solid state drives. This slot supports 2280 form factor M.2 drives, which are 99% of the models on the market. By the way, there is actually a second M.2 slot on the back of this motherboard, but we will take a closer look at it on the next page.
 
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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 Z370N WIFI pt.2

A Closer Look at the Z370N WIFI pt.2




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As should be clear by now, this motherboard has a single PCI-E x16 slot and all of the processor's sixteen PCI-E 3.0 lanes are funneled towards it. The PCI-E x16 slot has been mechanically reinforced with a steel cover, as well as additional anchor points for superior retention and shearing resistance.


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This motherboard has a very compact onboard audio area that is jammed in between the chipset heatsink and the back of audio jack module. Nevertheless, this model combines the modern Realtek ALC1220 ten-channel HD audio codec with three Nippon Chemi-Con audio-grade capacitors. There is no separate op-amp - there's no space really - so GIGABYTE are simply using the amplifier functions that are integrated into the codec itself. In this little area is also crammed the front-panel audio header and a S/PDIF Out header, since there is no digital S/PDIF output on the rear I/O area.

While is is not readily visible, there is a tiny PCB isolation line that surrounds the audio section and protects it from external electromagnetic interference (EMI).


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Here we have the rear I/O panel, which is pretty well appointed. Starting from left to right, there are three USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI 2.0 video output, HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.2 video outputs, two Intel-powered gigabit LAN ports, one USB 3.0 Type-C port, two USB 2.0 ports, WiFi/Bluetooth antenna ports, and three analog audio jacks.

The onboard Wi-Fi module supports both dual-band 802.11ac and Bluetooth v4.2. Although it is not mentioned anywhere in the official literature, the Device Manager clearly reveals that it is based on the modern Intel Wireless-AC 8265 adapter. This 2x2 solution supports wireless transfer speeds up to 867 Mbps and it is very well supported across a wide range of operating systems. We haven't yet made the leap to the 802.11ac standard, but our 802.11n connection was rock-solid courtesy of the clearly capable 2T2R antenna that GIGABYTE included in the accessories bundle.



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So what's powering all these ports? Well there is a MegaChips MCDP2800BC DisplayPort1.2-to-HDMI 2.0 converter, an ITE IT8686E Super I/O monitoring controller, and a combo of Intel I211-AT and I219-V gigabit LAN controllers. The -AT part is a little older model that is highly compatible with a wide range of operating systems.

There is also a ITE 8295FN-56A controller that is responsible for the RGB Fusion with lighting effects.


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As you would expect, there are a bunch of little ICs all over the back of the motherboard. There are some CPU VRM MOSFETs, three Nuvoton 3947S controllers for the three fan headers, and a bunch of other components like the aforementioned Intel I219-V and RGB Fusion controller.

We are pleased to see that all of the heatsinks and modules are held in place by metal screws instead of plastic push-pins. By flipping the motherboard over, you also get a good look at the four RGB LEDs that are placed on the bottom left corner the motherboard. As you will see in our Fusion RGB section, the overall lighting effect won't WOW anyone.

Last, but certainly not least, on the back of the motherboard is where you will find the secondary M.2 slot:


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While this secondary M.2 slot is also a full-speed PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot, with a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gb/s, it does not support SATA-based M.2 solid state drives, only PCI-E ones. This eliminates a lot of the cheapest M.2 options, but it does mean that you can install two high performance PCI-E NVMe drives, or even one PCI-E drive and one Intel Optane Memory module. You can also RAID the two M.2 slots together to achieve insane transfer speeds/latencies (RAID 0) or just increased reliability via mirroring (RAID 1).
 

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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Despite its compact size this motherboard has a fairly spacious CPU socket area, but the mounting hardware for any heatsink/liquid cooler will need to be installed over the capacitors and power chokes on the left side of the socket. As long the cooler manufacturer followed Intel's reference dimensions there should be no clearance issues.


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While we did not encounter any clearance issues between standard height (34-36mm) memory modules and our large CPU cooler, we weren't quite so lucky with taller modules like our 44mm G.Skill Trident Z kit. Because of their height and irregular fin design, we were not able to install the fan clips that are required to hold the fan on the right side. This is an exceedingly common problem even on full-sized motherboards with four memory slots. The solution is obviously to find another way hold the fan in place, or to mount it on the other side of the heatsink.


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There is an acceptable amount of space between the back of the graphics card and the memory slots, so the fact that the memory slots aren't clipless on that side isn't problematic. The 24-pin ATX power connector and the 8-pin CPU power connector are both placed in their usual convenient location, so that makes assembling and disassembling the system just a tad easier.


As you can see, a full-size graphics card will overhang the motherboard by quite a lot on the right side, and a little bit on the bottom edge as well. Investing in a mini variant of a graphics card would be wise if trying to build the smallest possible system.


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Unlike many other Mini-ITX motherboards that split their SATA ports in two separate locations, GIGABYTE have wisely grouped them together in an ideal spot. As a result, plugging in your SATA cables is as easy as can be. Same with the front-panel header, USB 3.0 header, CLR_CMOS header, and everything else on the right side of the motherboard.

Installing an SSD in the top-mounted M.2 slot is a trouble-free affair. You simply need to unscrew the top cover of the heatsink, plug in and screw down the drive, and remount the cover. If you're careful you shouldn’t need to remove your CPU heatsink - and definitely not your water block - but you will have to remove any graphics card installed.


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Installing an SSD into the rear-mounted M.2 slot is also easy, but obviously you will need to remove the motherboard in order to uninstall the drive from a fully built system. While that is not really convenient, especially if you have complex liquid cooling installed or did a bunch of cable management, it is the only way that GIGABYTE could reasonably fit a second M.2 slot on a Mini-ITX motherboard.


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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 a few solder points and even the M.2 connector. However, given that this bracket is as large as they come and there was no contact, there's nothing to worry about.
 

MAC

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Joined
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Messages
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Location
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UEFI Rundown

UEFI Rundown


For this new motherboard generation, GIGABYTE has carries over the same BIOS design as their Intel 200 series models. The big change in those models was the return of the dual mode UEFI. They had revived the more GUI heavy mode - now known as Easy Mode - which gives more novice users an easy way to visualize and alter some of the most common settings using only their mouse. The more feature-rich and text heavy Classic Mode remains unchanged, and while it is also mouse-friendly, it is easy to navigate with a keyboard and it caters to power users very well.



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The Easy Mode makes good use of the graphical user interface (GUI) and was designed to be used with a mouse. It obviously does not have all the functionality of the Classic Mode, but it is not meant to. It simply gives novice users an easy way to visualize and alter some of the most common settings. The CPU temperature, CPU Vcore and system temperature readouts are oviously handu. The EZ OC feature allows users to decide whether they want their system to be optimized for maximum performance, energy efficiency, or just a mix of both. You can also enable your memory kit's XMP profile for this page. The Boot Sequence manager is a welcome addition, just in case the system tries booting off of the wrong storage device. Last, but not least, the Smart Fan 5 feature gives users full manual or preset-based control over all of the systems fans. It allows users to set temperature warnings, and even has it's own temperature monitoring section that highlights the impressive six temperature sensors that have been integrated onto this motherboard.

If you're confused about what the keyboard shortcuts are, just hit the ALT key and a useful pop-up will show you what the options are.


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When compared to the previous generation, the UEFI BIOS has received a fairly significant aesthetic overhaul. It has a more modern looking and less flat design, but we wouldn't necessarily say that it's better...just different.

The first page that you are presented when you enter the Classic Mode is the MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.) section. It has been broken down into five main sub-menus and Smart Fan 5. This is where enthusiasts who enjoy overclocking should expect to spend 99% of their BIOS time.

While the old Current Status sub-menu has disappeared, if you drag the mouse cursor to the left side of the screen, a pop-out will appear that which contains a convenient overview of some useful system information, like CPU frequency, BCLK, CPU temperature, CPU core voltage, memory frequency, memory size, memory voltage, and some additional system voltages.



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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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The PC Health Status section has been stripped down a bit compared to the last version, namely since all the temperature readouts have been relocated, but it is a useful place to check on all of the system voltages.


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The Mischellaneaous Setting sub-menu is one that we have actually never used before. The Max Link Speed is just a way to switch between PCI-E versions - ostensinbly for older PCI-E cards that are having compatibility issues in newer slots - and the 3DMark01 Enhancement setting is just to improve scores in that awesome old benchmark.


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The Smart Fan 5 feature in the Classic Mode is exactly the same as in the Easy Mode, which is to say that it gives users full manual or preset-based control over all of the systems fans. It also allows users to set temperature warnings, and even has its own temperature monitoring section that highlights the impressive six temp sensors that have been integrated onto this motherboard.
 

MAC

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Messages
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Location
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UEFI Rundown pt.2

UEFI 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, the Intel-based gigabit LAN controller, and even the Wake-On-Lane (WOL) feature.


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The Power Management section contains the numerous power management settings linked to the various 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.
 

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.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,087
Location
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Included Software pt.2

Included Software pt.2



RGB Fusion



The RGB Fusion application allows users to control the RGB LEDs that are placed under the little plastic strip that covers the audio section, under the chipset cooler, under the PCI-E x16 slots, near the CPU socket, lighting strip near the memory slots, and even the bunch LEDs that are directly in between each memory slot. The LEDs can be adjusted to any number of different colours and customized to create cool lighting effects, like fading in and out, syncing with your music, cycling through all of the colours, flashing on and off, flashing sections randomly, or even just displaying one static colour. Definitely check out our Fusion RGB feature test page to see what the lighting effect looks like.


@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.


V-TUNER




V-Tuner is a useful utility that GIGABYTE have bundled with their graphics cards for many years. It gives overclockers full access to their graphics card's key voltages and frequencies. It also allows the power energy aficionados a way to place a hard limit on the GPU's power consumption. By the way, yes, 'Tuning' is still misspelled despite the fact that we told them about this error years ago.

Color Temperature




The new-ish Color Temperature app gives users an option to tune down the amount of blue light that their monitor outputs. Blue light can cause eye fatigue, and exposure to it late at night can also interfere with your body's sleep patterns. It is a thoughtful addition.
 

MAC

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Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology



For this review, we are going to be testing the performance of the Z370N WIFI in four configurations: default settings @ DDR4-2666, default settings @ DDR4-3866, with the highest automatic overclock, and lastly with our manual overclock. 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 'Coffee Lake' 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 10 Pro 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 v2.4.3819
  • AIDA64 Engineer Edition v5.92.4350 Beta
  • Cinebench R15 64-bit
  • FAHBench 1.2.0
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • HEVC Decode Benchmark (Cobra) v1.61
  • LuxMark v3.1
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • PCMark 10 v1.0.1275
  • Prime95 v29.2
  • SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP
  • Unigine Superposition Benchmark Download v1.0
  • Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark v1.0.0.0
  • WinRAR x64 5.50
  • 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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