Mini ITX just like Micro ATX has become a dream for system builders. GIGABYTE offers all the same high-end components of their top motherboard’s in a smaller form factor. This Z170 chipset supports Intel’s latest generation skylake CPU’S for socket 1151. Hardware enthusiasts will enjoy the same features the Durable series has to offer in the Z170N-WIFI. I really enjoy the compact dimensions of this board. This board measures just 6.7″ x 6.7″. Ideally this board offer’s more flexibility, reliability, and portability when it comes to building a strong system. The system specs are as follows.
Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/ Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1151 package
L3 cache varies with CPU
(Please refer “CPU Support List” for more information.)
Intel® Z170 Express Chipset
2 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
Dual channel memory architecture
Support for DDR4 3200(O.C.) /3000(O.C.) /2800(O.C.) /2666(O.C.) /2400(O.C.) /2133 MHz memory modules
Support for ECC UDIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8 memory modules (operate in non-ECC mode)
Support for non-ECC UDIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16 memory modules
Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
(Please refer “Memory Support List” for more information.)
Integrated Graphics Processor-Intel® HD Graphics support
1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920×1200@60 Hz
* The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
2 x HDMI ports, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096×2160@24 Hz
* Support for HDMI 1.4 version.
Support for up to 3 displays at the same time
Maximum shared memory of 512 MB
Realtek® ALC1150 codec
High Definition Audio
Support for S/PDIF Out
2 x Intel® GbE LAN chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Wireless Communication module
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, supporting 2.4/5 GHz Dual-Band
BLUETOOTH 4.2, 4.1, BLE, 4.0, 3.0, 2.1+EDR
Support for 11ac wireless standard and up to 867 Mbps data rate
* Actual data rate may vary depending on environment and equipment.
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16
(The PCIEX16 slot conforms to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
1 x M.2 Socket 1 connector for the wireless communication module (M2_WIFI)
1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector on the back of the motherboard (Socket 3, M key, type 2260/2280 SATA & PCIe x4/x2/x1 SSD support)
2 x SATA Express connectors
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
* Refer to “1-7 Internal Connectors,” for the supported configurations with the M.2, SATA Express, and SATA connectors.
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports available through the internal USB header
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
1 x USB Type-C™ port on the back panel, with USB 3.0 support
Internal I/O Connectors
1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
2 x SATA Express connectors
1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector
1 x CPU fan header
1 x system fan header
1 x front panel header
1 x front panel audio header
1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
1 x USB 2.0/1.1 header
1 x S/PDIF Out header
1 x speaker header
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
1 x chassis intrusion header
Back Panel Connectors
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
2 x HDMI ports
2 x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R)
1 x DVI-D port
4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.0 support
2 x RJ-45 ports
1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)
iTE® I/O Controller Chip
System voltage detection
CPU/System temperature detection
CPU/System fan speed detection
CPU/System overheating warning
CPU/System fan fail warning
CPU/System fan speed control
* Whether the fan speed control function is supported will depend on the cooler you install.
2 x 64 Mbit flash
Use of licensed AMI UEFI BIOS
Support for DualBIOS™
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0
Mini-ITX Form Factor; 17.0cm x 17.0cm
Unpacking the system you will find a number of assorted items. The Z170 motherboard feel’s rather sturdy and came in a nice compact box. The following accessories are included:
- GA-Z170N-WIFI motherboard
- I/O shield
- 2 driver discs
- 2x SATA 6Gb/s cables
- WIFI antenna desk adapter
The physical properties of the board offer alot of features for a ITX standard. The board has PWM fan functionality. The white 4 pin fan header for CPU, and a black 4 pin system fan header.
The rear connections offer a PS/2 jack, 4x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, USB 3.0 Type C, DVI, 2x WIFI antenna adapters, 2x 1Gbit RJ-45 ports, and sports 7.1 Audio with S/PDIF. The audio is amplified by Gold Series electrolytic audio capacitors.
On the back of the board you will find a M.2 slot which is very welcomed. M.2 gives this board the opportunity to add more storage in a nice clean concealed format.
The power delivery for this board has a 4-pin ATX 12V connector for the CPU, and 24-pin ATX main power connector.
The circuit of this chipset uses a digital 3+2 phase regulator, and GIGABYTE uses their high-end custom capacitors for system reliability.
The Z170 chipset offers SATA ports at 6Gb/s. This board offers 6 SATA ports which have the ability to use the upcoming SATA express standard. This can offer up to 16 Gb/s.
4 of the SATA ports are located on the right side.
The other 2 are located to the right of the PCH towards the bottom of the motherboard.
Remember that the new chipset offers DMI 3.0 and provides 3.0 PCI Express lanes. This is really important for storage devices and memory.
The two memory slots provided support up to 32 GB of memory, and DDR4 2133 Mhz modules. You can check GIGABYTES website for the latest supported memory speeds.
The wireless card AC/BT 4.2 is standing vertically and slotted in the motherboard with a support shield.
There is one PCI Express 3.0 slot running at x16.
The PCH is covered with a small black heatsink giving the board a more cohesive black color scheme.
The bios of the Z170N-WIFI has all the function you would expect out of a high-end GIGABYTE board. The UEFI has a nice clean interface. I really enjoy the basic color scheme as it matches the style of the board.
GIGABYTE offers advance series motherboards with overclocking profiles, and advanced bios section for better tweaking. This board has all the same features and despite GIGABYTE claiming the board isn’t built for overclocking, I was able to get a healthy boost in performance.
I was able to get my CPU overclocked to 4.5 GHz.This board does need sufficient cooling because LLC and power need to ensure the VRM does not overheat. One thing I do not like about this board is the overclocking profiles. Using the prebuilt profiles doesn’t ensure stability, especially since the board isn’t design for overclocking. As stated above the VRM can easily overheat due to the small nature of this board and power delivery.
Fan control in the bios Consists of the typical features such as PWM slopes, full speeds, and manual which lets GIGABYTES software control fan speeds. You will also find system information, peripheral options, chipset features, and power management all under the bios. You can create custom profiles for saving your settings or load optimized defaults if need be.
To test the software GIGABYTE provided, and benchmark the system I used the following hardware:
- Motherboard- GIGABYTE Z170N-WIFI
- CPU: Intel Core I7 6700K
- Cooler- H100i GTX V2
- Memory- Corsair Vengeance 16 GB 1866
- Video Card: EVGA NVidia Geforce GTX 970
- Storage- OCZ vertex 4 256 GB
- Power Supply- Corsair TX750m
- OS: Windows 10 x64 Pro
- Bios: F6
Having reached 4.5 GHz I wanted to run CINEBENCH and analyse the results to really showcase the Z170N-WIFI. CINEBENCH is a real-world cross-platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. I am not disappointed, but did notice other benchmarks got the same score as I did. The score It’s self is good indicator of the performance of this board. This makes me think that ITX is a more compelling option now than ever.
I tested the memory performance of the board to really show its write and read capabilities. This is important as higher frequency memory today allows more bandwidth and performance. I used AIDA 64 Pro to test these results.
The software included with GIGABYTES Z170 board is a full feature set of programs using their APP Center. GIGABYTE APP Center gives you easy access to a wealth of GIGABYTE APPs that help you get the most from your GIGABYTE motherboard. Using a simple, unified user interface, GIGABYTE APP Center allows you to launch all GIGABYTE APPs installed on your system.This program suit includes @BIOS, Easy tune, Home cloud, System information viewer ( Which is used to control the fan profiles and curves), This also provides all your voltage and system bios information, and many other solution’s. GIGABYTES entire suit give you total control over pretty much anything in the bios from within windows.
A negative aspect of this board was the potential of overclocking. The profiles are harder to work with than intended because of stability. I was able to overclock and get decent results, but the board was not designed for this and you can not push the board to its limit due to the restrictions with the power connector and the VRM design.
This motherboard has so much to offer a person for so many reasons. The thought that comes to mind is a portable gaming computer. You want a very powerful box to bring to LAN parties, I would highly suggest this motherboard. Whats really great about this motherboard is its network connectivity. It offers Bluetooth, Wireless AC, and dual network jacks that can be linked up for better reliability. The extra connection for a M.2 slot is perfect for extra storage as well as its location on the back keeps it hidden. The performance of this board and what you pay for it is really compelling. You can find it right now on Amazon for $134.99.