Review Motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming

Review Motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming

One of Asus motherboards chipset Intel Z170 we have considered, and in this article we will continue to review new products and consider the fee Asus Z170 Pro Gaming, which is also based on the chipset Intel Z170 and only supports the Intel Core 6th generation (Skylake-S). This model although not related to the game series Asus ROG (Republic Of Gamers), but focused, as the name suggests, in the gaming PC.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: Packaging and packing

Since the board Asus Z170 Pro Gaming does not belong to the elite series Asus, set her delivery rather modest.

It comes in a fairly compact box, which is advertised on the game World of Warships. And it’s not just advertising: buying this card and register it, the user receives a premium account for 15 days in the game World of Warships and unique ship.

The package includes a user guide (in English only), DVD-ROM with software and drivers, four SATA-cable (all connectors with latches, two cables have angled connector on one side), SLI bridge on two cards and plug for the rear panel.

In addition, there is a special plastic mounting frame, which is designed for the safe installation of the processor into the socket. Of course, you can install the processor without it, “the classic way”, but with this framework provides a guarantee that the pins in the processor socket will be damaged.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: Configuration and features of the board

Summary table of the characteristics of the board Asus Z170 Pro Gaming is listed below, and hereinafter we will consider all of its features and functionality.

Form Factor

Fee Asus Z170 Pro Gaming is made in the form factor ATX (305 × 244 mm), and for its installation in a standard enclosure features nine holes.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: The chipset and processor socket

Fee Asus Z170 Pro Gaming is based on the new chipset Intel Z170 and only supports the Intel Core 6th generation (codenamed Skylake-S) connector LGA1151.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: Memory

To install the memory modules on the motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming provides four DIMM-slot. The manual states that the board supports unbuffered memory DDR4 (non-ECC), and the maximum memory capacity is 64 GB (using modules with a capacity of 16 GB).

Expansion slots

To install the graphics cards or expansion cards on the motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming has three slots form factor PCI Express x16, three slots PCI Express 3.0 x1 connector and M.2, which allows the storage size 2242/2260/2280/22110.

The first two (from the socket) slot form factor PCI Express x16 implemented using the 16 lines PCIe 3.0 processor Skylake-S, which, with the use of multiplexers / demultiplexers, grouped or single port PCI Express 3.0 x16, or two PCI Express 3.0 x8. That is, if activated, only one slot form factor PCI Express 3.0 x16 (the closest to the processor socket), it will run at a speed of x16, and if both slots at the same time, they will operate at the speed of x8.

Review Motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming

Another slot form factor PCI Express x16 implemented on the basis of four lines PCI Express 3.0 chipset Intel Z170. In fact, a slot PCI Express 3.0 x4, but in a form factor PCI Express x16.

Note that the board Asus Z170 Pro Gaming technology supports Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX and allows the installation of two Nvidia graphics cards and up to three graphics cards AMD.

Three slots PCI Express 3.0 x1 (with closed ends) are implemented through the chipset Intel Z170.

M.2 connector supports PCIe devices and SATA. For its implementation, a four port chipset PCI Express 3.0 and two SATA 6 Gb / s, which provides a bandwidth of 32 GT / s (PCIe-connected devices).

Video Connections

Since the processors Skylake-S has an integrated graphics core for connecting the monitor to the back of the card has a video output DisplayPort 1.2 (maximum resolution of 4096 × 2304 @ 60 Hz), HDMI 1.4 (4096 × 2160 @ 24 Hz), DVI (1920 × 1200 @ 60 Hz) and VGA (1920 × 1200 @ 60 Hz). By the board can simultaneously connect three monitors.

As for the video output VGA (connector D-Sub), we recall that the processor Skylake-S is no more bus FDI to connect to the chipset and VGA video output is realized through the additional conversion of digital to analog video output.

Review Motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming

SATA-port, SATA Express

To connect the drives or optical drives on board has a total of six ports SATA 6 Gb / s. This six individual ports SATA 6Gb / s and two SATA 6 Gb / s as part of the connector SATA Express.

Four separate SATA 6 Gb / s ports and two as part of the connector SATA Express implemented on the basis of the integrated chipset Intel Z170 controller. These ports support the ability to create RAID-arrays levels 0, 1, 5, 10.

Note also that the possibility of creating a RAID-file is also provided for PCIe devices, one of which connects to M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4), and the second is set in the slot PCI Express 3.0 x4.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: USB-connectors

To connect all kinds of peripheral devices on board has six ports USB 3.0, eight USB 2.0 ports and two ports USB 3.1.

Six USB 3.0 ports and eight USB 2.0 ports based on the chipset Intel Z170 (recall that the chipset supports up to 14 ports USB, of which up to 10 ports are USB 3.0). Four USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports brought to the board’s rear panel, and to connect two more USB 3.0 ports and six USB 2.0 ports on the board has one connector USB 3.0 and three connectors USB 2.0.

To implement two USB 3.1 ports on the motherboard uses dual controller ASMedia ASM1142.Moreover, this controller is connected to the chipset two lines PCIe 3.0 – What is the advantage of this method of connection, we have already written an article on board Asus Z170-Deluxe.

Review Motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming

Note that the two USB 3.1 ports on the rear panel of the board. One port has a conventional connector Type A, and the other port has a symmetrical connector Type C.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: Network interface

To connect to the board Asus Z170 Pro Gaming has a Gigabit Ethernet interface on the basis of PHY-controller (PHY) Intel i219-V (used MAC-level controller integrated into the chipset). This controller chipset employ to connect the port PCIe.

How it works

First of all, let us recall that the chipset Intel Z170 has 26 high-speed I / O ports as the ports which can be PCIe 3.0, USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb / s. Part of the high-speed I / O ports are strictly assigned to the ports USB 3.0, still part of the port can serve only as a port PCIe 3.0, but there are ports of dual-use items that can be configured as either a port PCIe 3.0, or as a SATA 6 Gb / s, and there are ports that are configured as either a port PCIe 3.0, either as ports USB 3.0. In view of the dual-purpose ports, a USB 3.0 port chipset have 10 high-speed I / O ports, a SATA 6 Gb / s – 6 ports and ports for PCIe 3.0 – 20 ports. There is another limitation, which is that both can be configured only 16 ports PCIe 3.0.

And now back to the board Asus Z170 Pro Gaming.

As we have noted, it is implemented in the chipset six ports USB 3.0, four separate chipset SATA 6 Gb / s, as well as two SATA 6 Gb / s as part of the connector SATA Express. In addition, another port SATA 6Gb / s is required under the connector M.2, which supports SATA devices. That is based on the chipset Intel Z170 SATA-ports is not enough.

There is also a controller ASMedia ASM1142 under which requires two port PCIe 3.0, connector M.2, at which required four port PCIe 3.0, connector SATA Express – this is two-port PCIe. Add to this a network controller, which is required by another port PCIe, as well as take into account the presence of slot PCI Express 3.0 x4 slot and three PCI Express 3.0 x1. The result is that it takes 16-port PCIe 3.0, that is, as much as provide chipset. But the apparent lack of chipset SATA 6 Gb / s and can be solved in this case is very simple. Connector M.2 and SATA Express made shared by SATA ports, that is, in the aggregate for connectors and SATA Express M.2 requires only two SATA 6 Gb / s.

If the count total number of implemented chipset high input output ports, they will be not more than 26 depending on what devices are connected to the SATA Express and M.2. This six fixed ports USB 3.0, four fixed SATA 6 Gb / s and ten fixed ports PCIe 3.0 (slots, network controller and USB 3.1). Further, if the connectors M.2 and SATA Express PCIe devices are connected, we get six ports PCIe 3.0, but if one of these connectors SATA-connected device, we get two SATA 6 Gb / s and two or four Port PCIe 3.0.

Review Motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming

A block diagram of the board Asus Z170 Pro Gaming is shown in Fig.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: Additional features

No additional “chips” on the board Asus Z170 Pro Gaming is not implemented. There is nothing to separate the power and reset buttons or indicator POST-codes and so forth.

There are only two switches (jumpers): Clear CMOS (to reset the BIOS) and CPU Over Voltage (for overclocking, and allows you to increase the CPU voltage in a wider range).

It is also perhaps worth noting the presence of a special connector ROG Extension, which is intended to connect the panel Asus Front Base, purchased separately.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: Power system

Like most boards, model Asus Z170 Pro Gaming has a 24-pin and 8-pin connectors for the power supply.

CPU voltage regulator on the board is a 10-channel, and is based on a PWM-controller Digi + VRM c marking ASP1400. Cami supply channels are constructed using discrete MOSFET-transistors NTMFS4C09N (maximum current 52 A) on the driver and On Semiconductor International Rectifier IR3598, which are located on the reverse side of the board.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: Cooling system

To cool the various fuel components on the motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming provides a total of three radiator. One of them is installed on the chipset, and two are located on both sides of the socket and close the MOSFET-transistors, voltage regulator of the processor.

In addition, to create an efficient system of heat dissipation board has five four-contact connectors for fans. Traditionally, the speed of any of the body of the fan, the fan and the CPU cooler fan water cooling system can be configured either through the UEFI BIOS, or through the Fan Xpert utility 3.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: Audio Subsystem

On the board Asus Z170 Pro Gaming audio subsystem based on the audio codec Realtek ALC1150.All elements of the sound section isolated at Layer PCB of the motherboard and other components in a separate area.

To test the sound output path, designed for headphones or external speakers, we use an external sound card Creative E-MU 0204 USB in conjunction with the utility Right Mark Audio Analyzer 6.3.0.Testing was conducted to stereo mode, 24-bit / 44.1 kHz. According to the results of testing the audio section on the motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming was rated “very good”.

The full report with the test results in the program RMAA 6.3.0 submitted on a separate page, the following is a brief report.

UEFI BIOS

UEFI BIOS interface and is very similar to the capabilities of UEFI BIOS, which is used on the motherboard Asus Z170-Deluxe. However, using a different color scheme interface (black and red), but it certainly does not matter.

Let’s start with the fact that, like all motherboards Asus, the board Asus Z170 Pro Gaming is possible very simple upgrade UEFI BIOS, using the traditional utility Asus EZ Flash, built-in the BIOS. Now a new version of this utility Asus EZ Flash 3, which allows you to update UEFI BIOS not only with the flash drive, but also through the Internet.

Traditionally, the UEFI BIOS, Asus has two display modes: easy (EZ Mode) and advanced (Advanced Mode). In the new UEFI BIOS interface is no different: the same two display modes and the same tab settings.

Mode EZ Mode for basic configuration and control of the main board parameters and fine tuning and overclocking motherboard is available only in the Advanced Mode.

For overclocking the processor and memory is the traditional tab AI Tweaker, which contains all the possible options for overclocking.

And just like all motherboards Asus, unlocked overclocking processor (K-series) is possible only when the mode is activated Turbo Mode (it is activated by default). Activating this mode is done in the Advanced tab in the menu CPU Power Configuration \ CPU Power Management Configuration.

If the lock mode Turbo Mode, in spite of the ability to change the CPU multiplier, it will operate at a nominal frequency.

Additionally, overclocking the board Asus Z170 Pro Gaming (as, incidentally, and on other boards Asus) tab for Ai Tweaker Ai Overclock Tuner option to install to Manual or XMP.

In this case, it is possible to change the frequency of the clock BCLK and the multiplication factor of processor cores. You can specify a multiplication factor for each case the number of processor cores busy, but you can set the multiplication factor at the same time for all loaded cores.

BCLK frequency can be changed in increments of 1 MHz in the range from 50 to 650 MHz.

In addition multiplication factor of processor cores (CPU Core Ratio) and the frequency of BCLK (BCLK Frequency), in the settings, you can set the AI ​​Tweaker factor BCLK Frequency: DRAM Frequency (100: 100, 100: 133) and set up memory.

When the BCLK frequency of 100 MHz maximum frequency DDR4 memory modules can be 4266 MHz.

Naturally, the possibility of setting memory timings.

Another feature of UEFI BIOS motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming is the possibility of setting speed limits of all the fans that are connected to the board. In addition to selecting one of the three preset speed modes (Standard, Silent, Turbo and Full Speed), the speed limit can be configured manually. When adjusting the fan speed on the processor it is possible to specify a graph of fan speed by CPU temperature by three points. For each point on the graph are given by the coordinates (temperature, speed of rotation). Moreover, the fan speed is changed in the range from 20 to 100% for both the CPU and the fan 60 to 100% for the additional DC fans. The allowable range of changes in temperature is 0 to 75 ° C.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: Proprietary tools

Traditionally, like any board Asus, the model Asus Z170 Pro Gaming large set of proprietary utilities. Some utilities are combined into a single package AI Suite 3, which is of most interest.This package includes utilities such as Dual Intelligent Processors 5, TPU, TurboApp, EPU, FanXpert 3, DIGI + VRM, PC Cleaner, Ai Charger +, USB 3.1 Boost, EZ Update, Mobo Connect, Push Notice and LED Control.

Most of these tools are familiar from previous versions of AI Suite. Thus, the utility TPU and DIGI + VRM designed for overclocking and tuning mode voltage regulator; FanXpert 3 utility allows you to configure a high-speed operation of fans, and the utility USB 3.1 Boost is designed to increase the speed of transmission protocol USB 3.0 / 3.1.

Asus Z170 Pro Gaming: Conclusions

In general, the board Asus Z170 Pro Gaming produces a very good impression. This is not a top product, and there is no unnecessary “bells and whistles”. But the functionality of the chipset fully realized, and from other controllers, there is only really ASMedia ASM1142 date for the implementation of the two ports USB 3.1. The only moot point – the existence of the video connector VGA: recall that it is implemented not by the chipset, and by further converting the digital signal to analog. This, of course, increases the cost of a fee is not much, but it is not very clear why you need this outdated video connector.

Fee Asus Z170 Pro Gaming is quite suitable for the creation of productive computers with broad functionality, and to build powerful gaming PC. In addition, it sells excellent opportunities for overclocking. The cost of the board at the time of the announcement represented a reasonable compromise between the most budget decisions on the new chipset and top models, including the most Asus.

Source: asus

Review Motherboard Asus Z170 Pro Gaming updated: August 20, 2015 author: Jonathan Davis