Gigabyte impressed us with their previous Z97N Gaming 5 ITX board and we were very keen to check out the Z170 version because there wasn’t much room for improvement. Did their Z170N Gaming 5 hit the mark? Read on to find out.
When I think of mini ITX gaming boards of the previous generation, the gigabyte Z97N Gaming 5 stands out. It had all the features a gamer would need, PERFECT socket placement, 5 SATA ports, solid software and the price made it affordable to the masses – Basically Gigabyte absolutely nailed that product. I still use the review sample whenever I can because it is so easy to work with. “Ahh, Phil… Isn’t this review meant to be about the new 1151 socket and Z170?” I hear my proof reader ask. Indeed it is. I just wanted to set the context of my expectations because it’s important for this review. The expectation of the Gigabyte Z170N Gaming 5 was basically perfection.
It’s hard to know where to start here. The Z170N Gaming 5 is the premium ITX gaming board from Gigabyte and it’s stacked with so much tech that the designers needed to put the m.2 SATA on the underside. The Z170 chipset involves a number of changes to the motherboard, notably the new LGA 1151 socket and DDR4 RAM which make this a full platform upgrade for anyone on LGA1150 or earlier.
Gigabyte managed to embrace the new technology whilst still holding onto the features that we really liked in the previous ITX offering. The highlights are:
- PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Connector with up to 32Gb/s Data Transfer (PCIe NVMe & SATA SSD support)
- 2 SATA Express Connectors for up to 16Gb/s Data Transfer
- Intel® USB 3.1 with USB Type-C™
- 11ac 867 Mbps dual band wireless connection + BLUETOOTH 4.2
- Killer™ E2200 Gaming Networks
- High Quality Audio Capacitors and Audio Noise Guard with LED Trace Path Lighting
- 115dB SNR HD Audio with Built-in Rear Audio Amplifier
- GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™
In addition to the above, there’s also some nice design elements as well:
- Central CPU placement
- Stronger PCIE with Ultra Durable metal shielding (an aluminium one piece brace) and better anchor points to protect against damage from heavier cards
- Sexy heat sink with new G1 branding