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NZXT N7 Z370 Motherboard Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
Yes, you read the title correctly. In a move that nobody would have predicted, NZXT has launched their very first motherboard. While the company is best known as a manufacturer of budget-friendly computer cases and accessories they obviously want to expand their reach into new markets.

Known as the N7, this new Intel Z370-based LGA1151 motherboard has been designed by NZXT in California, but manufactured by industry veteran Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) in China. While ECS doesn't really come to mind when we think of eye-catching and cutting edge motherboards, perhaps what they've been missing all these years is a different design team.

Speaking of design, that is where the NZXT N7 really shines. This is an extremely clean looking motherboard thanks to the large metal shield that covers nearly every part of the motherboard. The design is extremely minimalistic, everything is straight lines and sharp angles, no curves or soft edges whatsoever. This model is available in both matte black and matte white versions, so that it seamlessly matches or even disappears in the background of your case. For those who prefer a little colour, the MOSFET and chipset heatsink covers are removable and there will be blue, red, and purple covers available at a later date. While the all-metal motherboard shield has a strong aesthetic impact, it is also designed to cover and protect electrical traces and components from damage, while also making the motherboard look less intimating to novice system builders.

While the N7 was originally introduced for $300 USD, NZXT listened to community feedback and not only reduced the price to $250, but also extended the warranty from 3 to 4 years. Regrettably, some RGB LED lighting accessories were lost in this price reduction, which we will get into later on.

When it comes to specs, the NZXT N7 starts off very well, with a 15-phase CPU power design made entirely with Infineon components, two physical PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots with support for 2-way SLI or 2-way CrossFireX, two PCI-E 3.0 x4 slots, one PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, four SATA 6Gb/s ports, and two full-speed PCI-E 3.0 x4 M.2 slots.

When it comes to USB connectivity there are a grand total of up to nineteen USB ports, but alas both USB 3.1 Gen2 and USB Type-C are missing, which is hard to accept on a high-end motherboard. When it comes to networking there is one Intel-powered gigabit LAN Port, but no onboard Wi-Fi. Those who plan on utilizing their processor's integrated GPU will have the option of connecting their display to an HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 video output, only the latter of which supports 4K at 60Hz. Onboard audio is handled by a familiar combo of Realtek ALC1220 codec and a handful of audio-grade Nichicon capacitors.

While all the above is fairly common for a Z370 motherboard, the N7 has two strong selling points, aesthetics notwithstanding. The first is the integrated GRID+ fan management feature that allows for automatic or manual control of an impressive nine independent fan channels. The second is the HUE+ digital RGB lighting control, which provides high level tweaking of attached lightning with numerous presets and custom modes. Both of these features are managed from within NZXT's CAM utility, which is a feature-rich piece of software that is going to make or break this motherboard.

Let's see if (and that's a big IF) NZXT has managed to impress us with their first entry into the motherboard market.

 
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MAC

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

Packaging & Accessories


Now that we have gone over the NZXT N7 features and specifications in the introduction, 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:



Click on image to enlarge

Since this NZXT's first motherboard we weren't entirely sure what to expect when it came to packaging. Thankfully, we are happy to report that the company has done a terrific job. Unlike seemingly every other motherboard manufacturer that is obsessed with throwing 'gaming' and 'RGB' in your face, NZXT has taken a minimalist approach that is arguably even more eye catching.

The front of the box is super clean with a clean white background, a picture of the white/black version of the motherboard, the model name, and just the type of chipset and the motherboard's form factor. Given that the N7's aesthetic is a key selling point, this focus on the motherboard itself was a great choice.

The sides of the packaging highlights a few of this motherboard's most prominent features in Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. On the back of the box is illustration that shows an exploded view of the motherboard and its unique metal cover, a screenshot of the all-encompassing CAM utility, and an extensive specifications list.



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When you do open the packaging you are greeted with two separate inner boxes. The top half holds the motherboard and the bottom half contains the numerous bundled accessories and documentation. The motherboard itself is protected by both a cardboard cover and tray, but also a full plastic clamshell.




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While the NZXT N7's accessories bundle might seem fairly basic at first glance, there are a few surprises. In the non-surprise category is the user guide, the all-black rear I/O shield, two-way SLI bridge, all-black mounting screws, and the four SATA cables. There is no driver/software DVD included, you must download that from NZXT's website.

As you might expect, inside of the thin rectangular box is where the surprises are hidden. Specifically, NZXT has included two 300mm 5050 RGB LED light strips, two 300mm LED extension cables, and two 500mm LED connection cables. These are all great and arguably necessary additions since the motherboard itself doesn't have any onboard RGB LEDs.


Click on image to enlarge

Having said that all of that... unless you buy an NZXT N7 very soon you are unlikely to get this any of this lighting hardware. Why? Well responding to community feedback that the N7's $300 price tag was too high, NZXT have decided to remove these accessories and subsequently lower the motherboard's price to $250. As a result, only the first run of motherboards that have already shipped out to retailers include the two 300mm 5050 RGB LED light strips, two 300mm LED extension cables, and two 500mm LED connection cables.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,087
Location
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A Closer Look at the NZXT N7

A Closer Look at the NZXT N7




As you can see, the NZXT N7 is an extremely clean looking motherboard, especially this matte black version. Monochrome colour aside, this unique aesthetic is due to the all-metal motherboard cover and use of straight lines and 90° angles. While it vaguely resembles some previous ASUS TUF Sabertooth models, the N7's overall design is much more conservative and minimalist. This design choice should come as no surprise since many of NZXT's cases are the same way, for example the S340 Elite or H700i.

While the N7 has been designed to not draw too much attention to itself, those who want to add little more colour to their system build are in luck. The MOSFET and chipset heatsink covers are removable and NZXT will be offering optional covers in blue, red, and purple. For those with more subdued tastes, there is also a matte white version of the N7 motherboard.

This motherboard is based on the conventional ATX form factor - 305mm x 244mm / 12.0 in x 9.6 in - so there are no compatibility issues to worry about with any properly designed case. The overall layout is quite user friendly, all of the buttons, headers, and ports are easily accessible and free from possible obstruction. The exception to this is the 8-pin CPU power connector which is a little too close to the MOSFET heatsink cover, and as a result rubs against the power cable. We appreciate the fact that there is a huge amount of space between two primary PCI-E x16 slots, so there won’t be any issues fitting thick dual or even triple-slot graphics cards on this motherboard. The placement of the two M.2 slots - which you cannot see in the above layout picture since they are hidden behind plastic covers - is directly below the two primary PCI-E x16 slots. Usually, this wouldn't be ideal since the graphics cards can heat up the M.2 SSDs, but on this motherboard the aforementioned covers do actually help shield the drives.



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While the CPU socket area on this motherboard is fully cordoned off on all sides, it is still more adequately large and free from any obstructions. As a result, we were able to install a large tower heatsink and the block/pump unit from a Corsair Hydro H100i liquid cooler without any issues. Feel free to check out our installation section to get a better look at the clearances.

After we removed the VRM cooler, we were able to get a good look at this motherboard's interesting VRM area. It features a 15-phase CPU power design that utilizes a primary 8-phase Infineon IR35201 digital PWM controller, a secondary 3+1 phase Infineon IR35204 digital PWM controller, fifteen Infineon OptiMOS BSG0812ND 50A MOSFETs, eight Infineon IR3598 phase doublers, and sprinkling of APAQ 5K solid capacitors. This all Infineon design is more than capable of handling the power demands of even the most highly overclocked Core i7-8700K.

Next to the 8-pin CPU power connector are an impressive five 4-pin PWM fan headers, which can be fully managed by the NZXT GRID+ advanced fan control functionality that is a key selling point of this motherboard. There's one CPU fan header, one AIO header, and three system fan headers. Having five of the nine total fan headers in one central location will definitely help with cable management.


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Next to the fan headers is one of the two proprietary RGB LED headers, while the second one is to the right of the 24-pin ATX power connector. These headers are proprietary so you can't just plug in any brand of 12V LED lighting strips. NZXT have included four extension cables that will allow users to install any type of 12V 5050 LED lighting strips in our sample, but as mentioned above these extension cables will not be included for long. They are easy to find in the retail channel though, from various vendors.


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The four DDR4 memory slots are attractively surrounded by the metal cover. The N7 can support up to 64GB of total system memory, and it has been certified for overclocked memory speeds of up to DDR4-3866. The slots also clipless on the left side, which prevents any clearance issues that can arise between conventional memory clips and the back of any nearby expansion card.


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The metal chipset heatsink cover is removable, and as we mentioned previously NZXT will be selling blue, purple, and red covers for those who want to add a little extra colour to their build. While the actual heatsink itself isn't particularly beefy, it has absolutely no issues handling the mild 6W TDP heat output of the Z370 PCH.

Surprisingly for a full-size ATX motherboard the N7 only has four SATA 6Gb/s ports, which is a number that we usually only see on Mini-ITX models or the cheapest budget-oriented motherboards. While four SATA ports is sufficient for most people it is still a very unusual choice since it automatically creates a point of criticism, which is something that a new manufacturer should try to keep as short as possible.

The four SATA 6Gb/s ports are supplied by the Z370 PCH - which natively supports up to six - and as a result support RAID 0/1/5/10 plus Intel Rapid Storage Technology. Next to the ports is an angled USB 3.0 header - one of the two - which can add two USB 3.0 ports to the front of your case.




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The two front-mounted M.2 slots are both covered by plastic covers. These are full-speed PCI-E 3.0 x4 slots, with a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gb/s, and support for Intel's Optane Memory technology. However, while the bottom slot supports SATA and PCI-E M.2 solid state drives, the top one is limited to PCI-E drives, which is a platform limitation. These slots can handle up to 2280 form factor M.2 drives - which are 99% of the models on the market - and not the longer 22110 drives.

To the left of the bottom M.2 slot is a Debug LED display, that comes in handy when doing any type of troubleshooting. We do wish that it wasn't placed under the M.2 slot cover, but perhaps temporarily removing the cover whether you need to diagnose a problem is a small price to pay.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,087
Location
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A Closer Look at the NZXT N7 pt.2

A Closer Look at the NZXT N7 pt.2




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In the lower-right hand corner of the motherboard, there is the BIOS ROM backup button that once pressed copies the contents of the primary BIOS onto the secondary BIOS chip. Next to that is a Dual BIOS Switch which allows users to toggle between the primary and secondary BIOS. Moving on we have the front-panel header, three 4-pin PWM system fan headers, and one higher amperage water pump header.

Continuing we have the second USB 3.0 header, an impressive three USB 2.0 headers, onboard power and reset buttons, and the front-panel audio header.


Click on image to enlarge

Much like the previous Skylake and Kaby Lake generations, Coffee Lake 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 four small PCI-E 3.0 switches. 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 PCI-E x16 slots will operate at PCI-E 3.0 x8, which will still provide ample bandwidth for even the highest-end GPUs. Both 2-Way CrossFire and 2-way SLI are supported.

While we have come to expect a third mechanical PCI-E x16 slot on Zx70-class motherboards - electrically limited to PCI-E 3.0 x4 - NZXT have instead elected to go with a mechanical PCI-E x4 slot. While this is less flexible from physical compatibility point-of-view, it is perhaps less confusing for your average layperson. There are in fact two PCI-E 3.0 x4 slots on the N7, along with a PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, all of which receive their lanes from the Z370 PCH.

While steel reinforced PCI-E x16 slots is a feature that has been adopted by all the large motherboard manufacturers, NZXT has foregone those reinforcements on this model.


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While you can remove the whole body armour, the metal fasteners that hold it in place aren't really the type that you to want stress with repeated on/off wear. Nevertheless, we were easily able to spot the familiar Realtek ALC1220 audio codec and eleven audio-grade Nichicon capacitors. There is no separate op-amp so NZXT are simply using the amplifier functions that are integrated into the codec itself.

While there is a clearly visible line circling the audio components on the top of the motherboard, it is not visible on the underside. This makes us question the PCB depth of the isolation line, or whether it is simply a painted line that only serves an aesthetic purpose.


Here we have the rear I/O panel, which is pretty well appointed. Starting from left to right, there are two USB 2.0 ports, the Clear CMOS button, S/PDIF digital audio output, HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.2 video outputs, one USB 2.0 port, four USB 3.0 ports, one Intel-powered gigabit LAN port, two USB 2.0 ports, and six five analog audio jacks.

While a total of nine USB ports on the rear I/O is a very decent number, the lack of any USB 3.1 Gen2 connectivity on a motherboard released in 2018 is disappointing. As is the omission of a USB Type-C port, even if it was just USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen1. Much like with the four SATA ports, this is an area where NZXT has needlessly opened themselves up to criticism.


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There really aren't a ton of secondary controllers on this motherboard. Including the aforementioned Realtek audio controller, there is an ASMedia ASM1442K IC responsible for the HDMI output, a familiar Intel I219-V powers the gigabit LAN port, and an ITE IT8625E Super I/O controller handles system voltage monitoring and fan control.


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When we take a look at the back of the motherboard, there's really nothing there aside from some silkscreening and a bunch of metal screws. We would have liked to see even more screws though, instead of the metal fasteners that NZXT are using to hold the motherboard's metal cover in place.

As mentioned above, the rear of the N7 shows no sign of any PCB-level isolation line, despite their being a white line surrounding the audio subsystem on the top of the motherboard.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
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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This is one of the few motherboard that allowed us to use tall memory modules in any of the slots without any show stopping installation issues. The clearances were extremely tight - and did require us to wiggle the fan upwards a little - but it worked!


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There is a large amount of room between the back of the graphics card and the memory slots, and RAM installation is further aided by the fact that the memory slots are clip-less on one side. While the 24-pin ATX power connector and the 8-pin CPU power connectors are ideally placed in their common locations, the 8-pin connector slightly rubs against the MOSFET heatsink cover.




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This motherboard will hold up to two dual-slot or even triple-slot graphics cards without difficulty. The cards will obviously extend past the motherboard lengthwise, but that happens on every motherboard. As long as you only install dual-slot graphics cards, then both of the PCI-E x4 slots and the PCI-E x1 slot will remain usable.

The buttons, headers, and switches and at the very bottom of the motherboard should be accessible as long as you don't install a rare dual-slot PCI-E x4 expansion card in that last slot.


The four 90-degree SATA ports are obviously accessible no matter how many graphics cards are installed.


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Installing an M.2 SSD in either of the two M.2 slots is a trouble-free affair. You simply remove the M.2 cover, loosen the M.2 screw, slide the drive in place, and then reinstall the screw.


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. This is the case on most motherboards, so nothing to worry about there.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
UEFI Explored

UEFI Explored



Since this is NZXT's very first motherboard we were rightfully concerned about what the state of the UEFI BIOS would be since it is one of the hardest aspects to get right. And getting it right from the start is nearly impossible. Omissions are expected, quirks are unavoidable, frustrations quite likely, and we experienced a little bit of everything. Starting off with the fact that there is no screenshot feature... so enjoy our meticulously and manually taken photographs.

Next up, the N7's BIOS has a basic mode, but it is only accessible when you are using the processor's integrated graphics. More specifically, only when you're using the onboard HDMI video output, but not the DisplayPort. This is just bizarre and something that we have advised NZXT to fix.


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The basic mode lives up to its name, it is pretty basic. Here you will find the time, the date, the type of processor installed, the amount of system memory, the CPU and system temperatures, CPU Vcore/VCCSA/VDIMM voltages, and fan speed readouts. There is also a way to adjust the boot device order using the keyboard and mouse. Lastly, while there is a 'Performance' preset that you can click on to supposedly provide a speed bump, we found that all it did was increase the CPU ratio to 46X, but without adjusting any of the individual core multipliers. As a result, there wasn't actually any performance gains over default clocks.

Now it's time to take a look at the Advanced Mode:


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The first page in the Advanced Mode is the Main tab. There is where you can set the system language among a list of seven options, and view the system date & time, and the BIOS build date and version. For some unusual reason, there is no way to manually change the date and time on this page or anywhere else in the BIOS.





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The Advanced tab is where you can tweak countless settings and enable or disable all of the motherboard's components. The CPU Configuration sub-menu is where you can manipulate all the CPU-specific features like the Thermal Monitor, Hyper-Threading, Virtualization, SpeedShift, C-States, etc.

It is also where you can enable/disable or just find all the various settings and options for all the onboard devices like the LAN, USB 3.0, SATA ports, power management, Intel Rapid Story Technology (RST). There are also a few voltage and temperature readouts, as well as limited fan control settings.



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The Chipset tab is where you can enable/disable the integrated graphics processor (IGP), adjust some of the IGP memory settings, tell the motherboard what to do in case of a sudden power loss, enable/disable the onboard audio, and enable/disable the processor's management engine (ME), which is not an option that we have seen often.
 
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MAC

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

UEFI Explored pt.2






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The CPU & RAM tab is where all the fun happens. This section opens up to reveal all of the essential system clock control options: CPU multiplier with a per-core option, BLCK frequency, cache frequency, TDP and power limits, memory frequency, memory timing options, and you can also tweak the IGP frequency.

There is also a decent amount of voltage options, but they are seriously lacking granularity. For example, the CPU core voltage options go from 1.30V to 1.35V to 1.40V, which is obviously way too imprecise for those who care about proper tweaking.

Another unusual quirk is that when you enable your memory kit's XMP profile, you cannot manually change the memory frequency or the memory timings, they are locked in. This is annoying because the XMP timings are often a base upon which to tweak and achieve ever better performance and/or frequencies.


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The Security tab is where you can set the Supervisor Password, as well as a subordinate User Password, and also enable/disable the Secure Boot option.


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The Boot tab is essentially where you set storage device priority, select the boot drive, enable/disable Fast Boot or the full screen logo, and ton of other boot settings that can help with the installation or troubleshooting of various OS installations.


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You can either hit F4 key or enter the Exit tab in order to save your settings and exit the UEFI. We wish NZXT implemented a pop-up window that lists the changes you made during the session. If and when you want to reset all the settings, the Restore Defaults option will obviously come in handy or you can just hit F3. Tapping the F1 key reveals all of the function key tasks, but it's also just always on the right side of the screen.
 

MAC

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

Included Software



The sole piece of software that comes with this motherboard is the CAM utility, and by 'comes with' we mean that you need to download it from NZXT's website since there is no installation DVD included. CAM is an all-in-one software suite that displays and monitors system frequencies and temperatures, allows for CPU overclocking, contains rich fan and RGB LED control, and enabling/disable of in-game graphical overlays.


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Before we go down the various sections, the top bar of the CAM utility has a few features like the ability to take screenshots, enable/disable night mode, a notifications box, and overall app settings, which is where you can update the app and even download a new BIOS.


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This first section is the main dashboard and it is where you will find information such CPU and GPU fan speed/frequency/load/temperature, RAM usage, and storage device usage. While this information is presented in the form of circle graphs in the basic mode, there is also an advanced mode that reveals line graphs with about 60 seconds worth of readings.


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Next up we the build section, and this is where you will some fundamental CPU and GPU model name and specifications information, the motherboard's model name and BIOS version, the RAM capability/frequency/timings, and some basic C:\ drive details.


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The game section has a login screen so you will need to create an account with NZXT. Why this is necessary we aren't entirely sure, but nevertheless this is where you can configure the GUI overlay feature that is offered in CAM. There are a ton of settings, so you won't only get to keep an eye on your frame rates, but also memory usage, CPU or GPU temperature, CPU or GPU load, fan speeds, hard drive load, etc.


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The overclocking section gives users the option of tweaking the CPU multiplier either all cores at once or per core. There is also a CPU vore voltage offset, through as in the BIOS in is only in large 0.5V increments. Regrettably, there is no BCLK adjustment in this utility.


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This is the fan section and it is as fantastic as you would hope since GRID+ digital fan control is one of the key selling points of this motherboard. You have full independent control over all nine of the onboard fan headers. You can either make use of the three available fan profiles or manually adjust the fan curve in order to custom create fan profiles. Having nine independent fan channels is really impressive. However, there is even more fan management functionality to come down below.


Click on image to enlarge

The next important area is the lighting section. The HUE+ digital RGB lighting control gives users full mastery over the RGB LED light strips attached to the two onboard headers. The lighting can be independently adjusted to any number of different colours and customized to create cool lighting effects. The presets can cause the LEDs to change shades to indicate CPU temperature, pulsate with the beat of your music, cycle through all the colours, fade in and out, flash on and off, or just statically display one colour. You can also sync the lighting to your in-game health, which is pretty ridiculously cool. At the moment only CS:GO is listed, but we have to assume that other games will be added shortly.


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If the three fan profiles aren't appealing to you, and you don't want to fiddle with manually optimizing each of the nine fan headers, there is also an option of letting the CAM software automatically do the work for you. In this section, the utility will run a few smart tests on your system in order to monitor system temperatures at different load levels. Using this information it will custom create fan profiles that best suit your particular system.


Click on image to enlarge

Depending on what NZXT accessories you have installed in your system, this is where you can install the necessary driver(s) and also download updates to those drivers.
 

MAC

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Joined
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Messages
1,087
Location
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Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology



For this review, we are going to be testing the performance of the NZXT N7 Gaming with four different configurations: default settings @ DDR4-2666, default settings @ DDR4-3200, default settings with XMP enabled (DDR4-3866), and with our manual overclock settings. The components and software are the same across all 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 (Creators Update) 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 v2.3.3732
  • 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!
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
Feature Testing: NZXT HUE+ RGB LED

Feature Testing: NZXT HUE+ RGB LED




One of this motherboard's key selling points is its HUE+ digital RGB lighting control, which features numerous presets and custom modes. What this motherboard doesn't include though is actual onboard RGB LED lighting. Instead, NZXT have added two headers on the N7 and given users the freedom to choose the placement of the lighting by including a little accessories box that holds two 300mm 5050 RGB LED light strips, two 300mm LED extension cables, and two 500mm LED connection cables.

Having said all of that, be warned that the little box of accessories listed above will not be available for very long. Responding to community feedback about the N7's high $300 price tag, NZXT have decided to remove these accessories and subsequently lower the motherboard's price to $250. As a result, only the first run of motherboards that have already shipped out to retailers include any RGB LED lighting hardware... onboard headers notwithstanding.


Click on image to enlarge

These headers are each capable of powering up to four NZXT HUE+ RGB LED lights strips or five NZXT Aer RGB LED fans. These headers are proprietary so you can't just plug in any brand of 12V LED lighting strips. NZXT have included four extension cables that will allow users to install any type of 12V 5050 LED lighting strips in our sample, but as mentioned above these extension cables will not be included for long. You will need to buy NZXT's HUE+ Extension Kit (which includes light strips) or something like the Phanteks RGB LED Adapter Cable (PH-CB-RGB4P) in order to attach your light strips to this motherboard.

Controlling this lighting feature is done via NZXT's all-encompassing CAM utility, which also handles fan management and a dozen other monitoring, recording, and tweaking features.


Click on image to enlarge

The HUE+ digital RGB lighting control gives users full mastery over the RGB LED light strips attached to the two onboard headers. The lighting can be independently adjusted to any number of different colours and customized to create cool lighting effects. The presets can cause the LEDs to change shades to indicate CPU temperature, pulsate with the beat of your music, cycle through all the colours, fade in and out, flash on and off, or just statically display one colour. You can also sync the lighting to your in-game health, which is pretty ridiculously cool. At the moment only CS:GO is listed, but we have to assume that other games will be added shortly.
 

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