Z170 motherboards: A sampling platter
Of course, the aforementioned technicalities don’t do a lot for visualization. We’ve rounded up a few boards from major manufacturers to show you what’s really on offer.
ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6
The ASRock Z170 Gaming K6 sports a matte black PCB and striking accents of red along the heat sinks, PCIe, and RAM slots. The PCH heat sink has also been emblazoned with the silver praying mantis emblem of the Fatal1ty series.
Networking is handled by the Killer E2400 Ethernet controller that also features on boards from Gigabyte and MSI. Storage options include up to eight SATA 6Gbps ports and a single M.2 slot that supports both SATA and PCIe-based drives. The M.2 slot also supports a U.2 adapter kit for installation of NVMe 2.5-inch drives like the Intel 750 series SSDs, and similar adapters are also available for boards from the likes of ASUS and MSI.
In addition, USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports again make an appearance on the rear I/O panel, courtesy of the familiar ASMedia 1142 controller. Other standout features include a macro program called Key Master to help you program hotkeys and macros on both keyboard and mouse, and an external base clock generator for finer control over overclocking.
This board sits at the top of ASUS’ lineup of mainstream Z170 boards, adorned with a striking white rear I/O cover and heat sinks. The Deluxe comes with premium features like 3x3 802.11ac Wi-Fi, five USB 3.1 Type-A ports, and one USB 3.1 Type-C port. Z170 does not yet support USB 3.1 on the chipset, so USB 3.1 functionality is provided by the ASMedia 1142 controller, which is the go-to controller for select boards from other brands as well.
There are eight SATA 6Gbps (including two SATA Express ports), two more than the six supported by the chipset. As with USB 3.1 functionality, ASUS has turned to the third-party ASM1061 controller to provide the additional SATA 6Gbps ports.
Networking is handled by dual Intel I219-V and I211-AT controllers, yet another example of the third-party controllers needed to provide additional functionality like Gigabit Ethernet. The first two fulllength PCIe 3.0 slots will run in x8/x8 mode (16 lanes from the CPU) with dual-graphics cards, but the last slot actually only runs in x4 mode off the chipset itself.
An integrated 5-way Optimization feature automatically takes into account various use cases and optimizes your system for either performance or energy savings.