GIGABYTE Z170X Gaming 7 Motherboard Review

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In our continuing series of reviews on Z170 based motherboards (got to love when new CPUs are released!), GIGABYTE has kindly sent us a board for the masses in their Z170X Gaming 7. The Gaming 7 motherboard falls second in line of their G1 Gaming lineup with the G1 being the flagship, and the Gaming 5 and Gaming 3 below it. The G1 Gaming series (it’s a popular trend now to group motherboards for their intended use) uses a unique theme of black, red and white to set it apart from their overclocking SOC series (typically orange and black), and their regular line. The Gaming 7 appears to have some good features to offer the gamer, so let’s take a look at what it has to offer and see how its performance shakes out against the other Z170 motherboard I reviewed.

Specifications and Features

Below is a list of specifications from the GIGABYTE website for the Z170X Gaming 7 motherboard. Some highlights are that it accepts up to 64GB of DDR4 dual channel system memory while supporting speeds up to 3666 MHz (the highest I have seen listed so far). The board supports using the integrated GPU on the CPU with HDMI and DisplayPort options. For the audio, the Gaming 7 uses the Creative Sound Core 3D chip for its processing as well as using as high end TI Burr-Brown OPA2134 operational amplifier to drive your headphones/speakers. The networking is handled by dual NICs, one the venerable Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2400, and the other, the tried and true Intel GBe LAN.

As far as available slots and ports, the board offers three PCIe slots, which also include steel shielding for added support and cooling. This setup is good for 3-way CFx and 2-way SLI. There are two M.2 ports, three SATA Express connectors, six native SATA 6Gbps ports, and two more SATA 6Gbps ports from the ASMedia controller. For USB ports, there are a slew of those as well. There are two USB3.1 ports (one Type-C and one Type-A) on the back panel. Five native USB 3.0 ports are also on the back panel, and four USB2.0 ports can be had via internal headers. There are a total of five fan headers – one for the CPU, one for water cooling pumps (runs at 100% by default), and three other system fan headers.

There are many more specifications listed below Please take a look at the table for more details.

GIGABYTE Z170X Gaming 7
  1. Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/ Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1151 package
  2. L3 cache varies with CPU

(Please refer “CPU Support List” for more information.)

ChipsetIntel® Z170A Chipset
  1. 4 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 64 GB of system memory
    * Due to a Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than the size of the physical memory installed.
  2. Dual channel memory architecture
  3. Support for DDR4 3666(O.C) /3600(O.C.) /3466(O.C.) /3400(O.C.) /3333(O.C.) /3300(O.C.) /3200(O.C.) /3000(O.C.) /2800(O.C.) /2666(O.C.) /2400(O.C.) /2133 MHz memory modules
  4. Support for ECC UDIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8 memory modules (operate in non-ECC mode)
  5. Support for non-ECC UDIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16 memory modules
  6. Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

(Please refer “Memory Support List” for more information.)

Onboard Graphics
Integrated Graphics Processor-Intel® HD Graphics support:

  1. 1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096×[email protected] Hz or 3840×[email protected] Hz
    * Support for DisplayPort 1.2 version.

ŠŠ Integrated Graphics Processor+MegaChips MCDP2800 chip:

  1. 1 x HDMI port
    * HDMI feature is currently limited. Visit GIGABYTE website for future updates.ŠŠ

Maximum shared memory of 512 MB

  1. Creative® Sound Core 3D chip
  2. Support for Sound Blaster Recon3Di
  3. TI Burr Brown® OPA2134 operational amplifier
  4. High Definition Audio
  5. 2/5.1-channel
  6. Support for S/PDIF Out
  1. 1 x Intel® GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)(LAN1)
  2. 1 x Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2400 chip (10/100/1000 Mbit) (LAN2)
    * Teaming is not supported.
Expansion Slots
  1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
    * For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
  2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
    * The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.
  3. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
    * The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with the M2H_32G connector. The PCIEX4 slot will become unavailable when an SSD is installed in the M2H_32G connector.
  4. 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
    (All of the PCI Express slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
Multi-Graphics TechnologySupport for 3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFire™ and 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
Storage InterfaceChipset:

  1. 2 x M.2 Socket 3 connectors
  2. 3 x SATA Express connectors
  3. 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0~5)
  4. Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
    * Refer to “1-10 Internal Connectors,” for the supported configurations with the M.2, SATA Express, and SATA connectors.

ASMedia® ASM1061 chip:

  1. 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 6~7), supporting AHCI mode only

  1. 5 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports on the back panel
  2. 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (available through the internal USB headers)

Chipset+Renesas® USB 3.0 Hub:

  1. 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (available through the internal USB headers)

Chipset+Intel® USB 3.1 Controller:

  1. 1 x USB Type-C™ port on the back panel, with USB 3.1 support
  2. 1 x USB 3.1 port on the back panel
Internal I/O Connectors
  1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  3. 2 x M.2 Socket 3 connectors
  4. 3 x SATA Express connectors
  5. 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  6. 1 x I/O shield audio LED power connector
  7. 1 x CPU fan header
  8. 1 x water cooling fan header (CPU_OPT)
  9. 3 x system fan headers
  10. 1 x front panel header
  11. 1 x front panel audio header
  12. 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 headers
  13. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  14. 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
  15. 1 x serial port header
  16. 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  17. 1 x power button
  18. 1 x reset button
  19. 1 x Clear CMOS button
  20. 1 x ECO button
  21. 1 x OC button
  22. 1 x audio gain control switch
  23. Voltage Measurement Points
  24. 1 x BIOS switch
Back Panel Connectors
  1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
  2. 1 x DisplayPort
  3. 1 x HDMI port
  4. 1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 support
  5. 1 x USB 3.1 port
  6. 5 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  7. 2 x RJ-45 ports
  8. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  9. 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In/Mic In, Line Out, Headphone)
I/O Controller
iTE® I/O Controller Chip
H/W Monitoring
  1. System voltage detection
  2. CPU/System/Chipset temperature detection
  3. CPU/CPU OPT/System fan speed detection
  4. CPU/System/Chipset overheating warning
  5. CPU/CPU OPT/System fan fail warning
  6. CPU/CPU OPT/System fan speed control
    * Whether the fan speed control function is supported will depend on the cooler you install.
  1. 2 x 128 Mbit flash
  2. Use of licensed AMI UEFI BIOS
  3. Support for DualBIOS™
  4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0
Unique Features
  1. Support for APP Center
    * Available applications in APP Center may vary by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also vary depending on motherboard specifications.
    3D OSD
    Ambient LED
    Cloud Station
    Easy RAID
    Fast Boot
    Smart TimeLock
    Smart Keyboard
    Smart Backup
    System Information Viewer
    USB Blocker
  2. Support for Q-Flash
  3. Support for Smart Switch
  4. Support for Xpress Install
Form FactorATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm (12″ x 9.6″)

There are a few specific features I wanted to show and they are listed below. First is the Intel USB3.1 controller that offers 32 Gb/s of total bandwidth. It supports the the new reversible Type-C connector as well as the traditional Type-A we are all used to, which helps with compatibility.

The audio used is Creative’s Sound Core3D audio processor, which helps offload the workload from the CPU. The audio processor is also covered for EMI protection. Couple that with the Creative SBX ProStudio Audio Suite, and you have a total solution from Creative – hardware and software. A GIGABYTE exclusive is the use of upgradeable OP-AMPS so you can choose the type you want for your listening needs if the included OPA2134 OP-AMP doesn’t tickle your fancy. It also uses high-end Nichion capacitors, and like most boards these days, separates the audio section from the rest of the board to further reduce EMI interference. Along this separation line are programmable LED’s.

The GIGABYTE Z170X Gaming 7 comes with dual NICs, the Killer E2400 Gaming NIC (Qualcomm Atheros), and an Intel GBe NIC. Both are intended to be used by the gaming crowd and include the ability to prioritize traffic to make sure you have the lowest ping for the best online gaming experience.

A new feature to motherboards with the release of the Z170 chipset are the use of metal shielding on the PCIe slots. This metal shield is said to offer additional support to the PCIe slots for those heavy graphics cards. I’m not going to lie, I like the looks of these as opposed to the plain old PCIe slots we are used to. I’ve never had a slot break on me, but more support and better looks aren’t something I will refuse.

Another unique feature in this chipset is its ability to adjust BCLK without straps. That is right folks, you have complete 1 MHz at a time control over the BCLK again just like in the socket 775 days because Skylake cuts the cord between other clock realms (think PCIe and DMI to name two). This will allow for much more granular control over CPU and system ram clock speeds. For the competitive overclocker, this can yield some gains in specific situations.

Also included are SATA Express ports, which use PCIe lanes to bypass the SATA 6Gbps limit on your regular SATA ports for speeds up to 16GB/s. Here is to hoping we see more of those type drives released soon to make use of them.

Last, but not least, is a cool feature named USB DAC UP. What this does is use discrete power for the USB ports to help get a cleaner signal for attaching/using a DAC as they are fairly sensitive to such power fluctuations.

More Features can be found on the GIGABYTE website.

Extreme Intel® USB 3.1 Controller
The Intel® USB 3.1 controller utilizes 4 PCIe Gen3 lanes, offering 32 Gb/s of total bandwidth, for uncompromised transfer speeds of up to 10 Gb/s per USB 3.1. With twice the bandwidth compared to its previous generation, and backwards compatibility with USB 2.0 and 3.0, the much improved USB 3.1 protocol is available over the new reversible USB Type-C™ and the traditional USB Standard-A connector for better compatibility over a wider range of devices.
Creative® Sound Core3D™ Quad-Core Audio Processor

Combining world’s first Quad-Core Creative Sound Core3D Audio Processor Plus Advanced Creative SBX PROSTUDIO Audio Suite.
+ Harnessing the power of a Dedicated Audio Processor to offload workload from CPU
+ Total solution from Creative (Hardware +Software)
+ Richer overall audio experience

Creative SBX Pro Studio™ Audio Suite

SBX Pro Studio™ suite of audio playback technologies deliver a new level of audio immersion. Realistic surround sound, the ability to clearly hear specific sounds in a gaming environment are just a few elements of SBX Pro Studio that enhances the overall experience, be it movies, games or music.

GIGABYTE Exclusive : Upgradable OP-AMP

+ Users can choose audio quality based on individual listening preferences.
+ Wide availability of additional OP-AMPs.

High End Audio Capacitors

GIGABYTE G1™ Gaming motherboards use high end, Japanese branded Nichicon audio capacitors. These professional audio capacitors deliver the highest quality sound resolution and sound expansion to create the most realistic sound effects for professional gamers.

Killer™ E2400 Gaming Network / Intel® Gigabit LAN

Killer™ E2400 is a high-performance, adaptive gigabit Ethernet controller that offers better online gaming and media performance compared to standard solutions.
Intel® Gigabit LAN networking, a popular choice with gamers, delivers several performance-enhancing features such as advanced interrupt handling to help reduce CPU overhead and Jumbo Frame support for extra large data packets.

Industry Leading Ultra Durable™ PCIe Metal Shielding

The innovative one piece stainless steel shielding design from GIGABYTE reinforces the PCIe connectors to provide the extra strength required to support heavy graphics cards.

1.7x Stronger in shear tests, 3.2x stronger retention force.

Dual PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2

With two PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 connectors onboard, GIGABYTE brings to the user PCI-Express connectivity for SSD devices. Delivering up to 32 Gb/s data transfer speed per connector, the dual M.2 provides an ideal storage solution as it also supports RAID modes.

Turbo B-Clock:

Built-in Advanced Performance Tuning IC

Thanks to the onboard TURBO B-Clock Tuning IC, GIGABYTE Motherboards enable Overclockers to have the ability to change their BCLK Frequency to a desired value of their choice. With the new linear range adjustment option of the Tuning IC, ranges from 90MHz to 200MHz are now possible, so that overclockers are not limited to the 5% ranges of traditional straps.
Next Generation SATA Express

SATA Express combines the benefits of PCI Express and SATA to provide much higher bandwidth, featuring data transfer rates of up to 16Gb/s.

Clean, low-noise power for your Digital-to-Analog Audio converter

GIGABYTE USB DAC-UP provides clean, noise-free power delivery to your Digital-to-Analog Converter. DACs can be sensitive to fluctuations in power from the other USB ports, which is why GIGABYTE USB DAC-UP takes advantage of an isolated power source that minimizes potential fluctuations and ensures the best audio experience possible.

Below are some slides from the GIGABYTE Press Deck showing many familiar and additional features the motherboard has to offer.

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Retail Packaging and Accessories

The next set of slides looks at the retail packaging and accessories. With the new chipset comes some new design and partnerships for GIGABYTE’s G1 Gaming series boxes. On the front we see a wicked looking character from the new Blizzard game, Heros of the Storm. Your typical fare is on the front outside of that with the name of the motherboard, CPU support, and some high-level features. The back of the box goes into a bit more detail on the features such as the USB3.1 use/connectors, the dual Intel and Killer E2400 NIC, as well as the Creative Sound Core 3D, and others. I assume I still don’t need to describe the sides or the top, so we will leave it at that.

When you open up the box, you are greeted with the motherboard sitting on top of a thin cardboard partition in an anti-static bag. Below the board is where you will find the included accessories. The accessories are also your typical fare of a couple SATA3 6Gbps cables, driver disk, manual, rear I/O panel, and a convenient consolidation type connector for the front panel headers.

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Meet the GIGABYTE Z170X Gaming 7

Our first glimpse of the board shows the black PCB with a white I/O cover, red and white MOSFET coolers, and red trim on the DIMM slots and PCIe slots. The relatively new trend to cover the rear I/O ports with a shroud is also used on the Gaming 7. It is made out of plastic and is mostly white with some red trim/highlights and the G1 Gaming moniker written on it. This shroud extends down over the audio section of the board. The VRM heatsink is partially covered by this shroud and continues the same white/red theme – same with the PCH heatsink as well. Overall, the board has a pretty good aesthetic. I like how the I/O shroud reaches to the VRM heatsink so you don’t see the ICs between it and the VRMs. A good feature of this shield is that you do not need to remove the screws and I/O cover in order to mount it to the motherboard. The shroud is secured from a different location allowing the native motherboard holes to be used without removing it and then mounting it with the motherboard.

Other notable items from this high-level view are four color coded DIMM slots, the three PCIe x16 physical slots with the metal shielding, the two M.2 slots (one just above PCIe 1, and below PCIe 1). The back of the board shows us the PCIe electrical setup as x16/x8/x4, which will be quite typical with this chipset, unless you run into a rare board with a PLX chip that offers more lanes.

Gigabyte Z170X Gaming 7 - Front
GIGABYTE Z170X Gaming 7 – Front


Alternate Angle
Alternate Angle

Alternate Angle 2
Alternate Angle 2

A Closer Look

As we zoom in on the lower left hand portion of the board, we get a better look at the cover for the Creative Sound Core 3D and its Nichion caps. If you look at the bottom of the board, just below and to the left of the last PCIe slot, you will see the upgradeable OP-AMP socket, which is a pretty unique feature. If for some reason you don’t like the output of the current one, just drop a compatible model right in to upgrade!

The three PCIe slots breaks down to x8/x8 with two GPUs, with the 3rd slot at x4 (no 3 card SLI as it requires 8x). The x4 slot comes from the PCH and shares its bandwidth with the M.2 slots. The M.2 slots are located just above the first PCIe slot, and just below it.

The upper right hand portion of the board around the DIMM area sports two USB3.0 headers to the left of the 24-pin power. To the right of that, we see the OC and ECO buttons, the debug LED, CMOS reset and reset buttons, voltage read points. Three fan headers are also in this area and include the CPU, OPT, and System fan headers. We know from the specifications that the DIMM slots will support up to 64GB of DDR4 ram.

The socket area is pretty clean, and we can see the VRM/MOSFET area hiding underneath the more than capable heatsinks. Delivering power to the CPU and those VRMs is your single 8-pin CPU power connection.

PCIe and Audio area
PCIe and Audio area

DIMM area
DIMM area

Socket area
Socket area

8 Pin
8 Pin

The rear I/O (from L to R) has a PS/2 mouse/keyboard port on top of two USB3 headers. These USB ports, in yellow, are the ones to use if you have a DAC as it has much more stable power going to them. To the right of those is the DisplayPort and HDMI for use with the iGPU. Next to it are two USB3 ports, then your Killer E2400 NIC, which is above a USB3.1 Type-C connector. Then comes the Intel NIC above another USB3 port and USB3.1 Type-A. Last is the audio stack including the optical S/PDIF out.

For SATA ports, we are looking at a total of three SATA Express and a total of eight SATA 6Gbps ports handled by two controllers (ASMedia ports 6/7 are on the top right).

Back I/O
Back I/O

SATA Ports
SATA Ports

Across the bottom of the board are a slew of outputs. From left to right again is the front panel audio, the removable OPA-AMP chip, CAP switch (controls gain for rear headphone/speaker jack to adjust amplification), COM port, TPM (Trusted Platform Module), two USB 2.0 headers, BIOS switch, system fan header, and finally the front panel header.

Bottom I/O
Bottom I/O

Below is a slideshow of just a few of the IC’s used on the GIGABYTE Z170X Gaming 7. It shows the Super I/O, Killer E2400 NIC, DP to HDMI converter for the iGPU, and finally an ASMedia PCIe to SATA converter.

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UEFI BIOS and Overclocking Software

Below are some screenshots of the UEFI BIOS. It looks like they made a couple of changes on the classic view, but everything remains where you would expect it to be. The simplified front end worked well (first slide), but I found myself in classic mode just because I was more comfortable. About the only complaint I had is the M.I.T/Overclocking section was too sectioned off. You have to back out of one area, say memory, to go change voltage. I suppose I prefer one large page that can change a lot of the high-level overclocking items like voltages, multiplier, BCLK, and memory, but add sections to dive deeper into those things.

Overall it looks good, and maneuvering around it was fine. It felt a bit like I was in the mud in that movements felt a bit slow through there, but it was not bad at all. It was just a bit different from my windows environment and other BIOS I have used.

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The many slides below are from the M.I.T section and cover everything from the memory timings/sub-timings, voltages, CPU options, internal voltage regulation control, and even shows the PC health status. There are plenty of options needed to get the most out of any CPU you drop in the socket.

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GIGABYTE has recently moved towards a software application umbrella as I like to call it, named APP Center (AC). AC is the framework to install their other applications such as the familiar monitoring and overclocking tool, EasyTune, USB Blocker, System Information Viewer, ON/OFF Charge, Cloud Station, Ambient LED, and more. Most of our readership would be most interested in EasyTune, which is GIGABYTE’s desktop overclocking and system optimization utility. EZ Tune provides the following features.

• The Smart Boost tab provides you with different levels of CPU frequency to choose to achieve desired system performance. After making changes, be sure to restart your system for these changes to take effect.

• The Advanced CPU OC tab allows you to set CPU base clock, frequency, and voltages, and integrated graphics frequency. You can save the current settings to a profile. You can create up to 2 profiles.

• The Advanced DDR OC tab allows you to set the memory clock.

• The Advanced Power tab allows you to adjust voltages.

• The HotKey tab allows you to set hotkeys for your profiles.

EasyTune - Generic Image
EasyTune – Generic Image

Test Setup, Benchmarks, and Overclocking

Listed below is the test system used for benchmarking:

Test Setup
CPUIntel 6700K @ Stock (4.2 GHz) and 4.7 GHz Overclocked
MotherboardGIGABYTE Z170X Gaming 7
RAM2×4 GB DDR4 GSkill Ripjaws 4 @ 3000 15-15-15-35 1.35v
Graphics CardMSI GTX 980 Ti Gaming 6G
Solid State DriveOCZ Vertex 3
Power SupplySeaSonic SS-1000XP (80+ Platinum)
Operating SystemWindows 7 x64 SP1
Graphics Drivers353.30
Digital Multimeter

AIDA64 and MaxxMEM – Memory Bandwidth and Throughput

AIDA64 - Stock
AIDA64 – Stock

4.7 GHz


MaxxMEM - Stock
MaxxMEM – Stock

4.7 GHz
4.7 GHz

Cinebench R11.5 and R15 – CPU Rendering Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Stock
Cinebench R11.5 – Stock

4.7 GHz R11.5
4.7 GHz – 11.43


Cinebench 15 - Stock
Cinebench 15 – Stock

4.7 GHz - 1,032
4.7 GHz – 1,032

Super Pi 1M and 32M / Pifast – Single Threaded CPU Benchmark

SuperPi 1M - Stock
SuperPi 1M – Stock

4.7 GHz - 7.761s
4.7 GHz – 7.761s


SuperPi 32M - Stock
SuperPi 32M – Stock

4.7 GHz - 6:47.362
4.7 GHz – 6:47.362


PiFast - Stock
PiFast – Stock

4.7 GHz 13.70
4.7 GHz 13.70

WPrime 32M/1024M, x624, PoV Ray R3.73, 7Zip, and Intel XTU – Multi-Threaded CPU benchmarks

WPrime 32M/1024M - Stock
WPrime 32M/1024M – Stock

4.7 GHz - 4.478s and 137.676s
4.7 GHz – 4.478s and 137.676s

x264 Pass 1 and 2

x264 - Stock
x264 – Stock

4.7 GHz - 235.55 and 64.72 FPS
4.7 GHz – 235.55 and 64.72 FPS

PoV Ray R3.73

POVRay - Stock
PoV Ray – Stock

4.7 GHz - 2,216.62
4.7 GHz – 2,216.62


7Zip - Stock
7Zip – Stock

4.7 GHz - 29,567 MIPS
4.7 GHz – 29,567 MIPS

Intel XTU

Intel XTU - Stock
Intel XTU – Stock

4.7 GHz - 1,423
4.7 GHz – 1,423

Motherboard Comparison

Below I have put together a comparison between the MSI Z170 Gaming M7 and the GIGABYTE Z170X Gaming 7. As we saw in past comparisons, there is usually very little difference between boards for most of the tests, and this still holds true here. Just about every result is within a percentage point/margin of error.

As a side note here, I had to retest the MSI board at DDR4 3K speeds because the sticks I originally used on that board couldn’t hit their XMP profile and were run at 2666 MHz (CL14-14-14-36). I wish there was time to add the 2666 MHz results to the graphs to illustrate the minute difference between the two memory speeds. Needless to say, there wasn’t much of a difference to speak of, but I have seen quite a bit of forum goers at OCF and others making mention of the difference in speeds that may effect the outcome of the results. That wasn’t so here.

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Overclocking on this board was just as easy as the rest, outside of having to change options in the different sections of the BIOS. Plenty of options, and I managed to reach the same clocks as I did with the previous board at similar voltages, so everything looks in order.

The one concern I had was with the vdrop and vdroop being way too high for my liking. For example, I set 1.4v in the BIOS to be greeted by 1.36v in Windows at idle. Once I loaded up the CPU, that dropped to 1.30v. So, there was .04v drop, and .06v droop. That’s a .1v in total, which is quite a bit. Enabling LLC in the BIOS to the ‘High’ setting put things back in order, but that was a lot of drop and droop, so be aware of this when overclocking until its fixed, presumably with a BIOS update down the line.

Below are some screenshots of a 4.9GHz Hyper Pi run with the memory at its XMP rating of 3000 MHz. The CPUz screenshot is to show the 175 BCLK. The board didn’t like booting at 200 MHz or over, but I didn’t take a long time to try and dial it in. The MSI board managed 200+ BCLK with the same amount of, or lack thereof, tinkering.

4.99 GHz Hyper Pi
4.9 GHz Hyper Pi



The GIGABYTE G1 Gaming series has joined the likes of others in the market with boards targeted at the ever growing and loyal gaming crowd. With a ‘nothing less than the best’ attitude in the Z170X G1, or mid-range models like the Gaming 7 or Gaming 5, and down to the more budget oriented Gaming 3 model, there is something for everyone in the lineup. The Gaming 7 we reviewed brings with it all the technologies we would expect with the latest platform. USB3.1 Type-A and Type-C connectors, the new Metal Shielding around PCIe slots, separate audio section with EMI shielding, dual M.2 32Gbps slots, and even SATA Express ports. The Gaming 7 kicks things up a notch by using Dual NICs from the Killer E2400 and the Intel port, Sound Core 3D audio, and a pretty robust power delivery area for overclocking. Couple that with an appearance that fits with many system themes, particularly with the programmable RGB LEDs on the back helping that, on the surface we have a pretty good board.

Digging in a little deeper, the performance landed close to the MSI I reviewed earlier witch is expected between motherboards, so all is well there. I was able to overclock to 4.9GHz just as before, and still have trouble reaching 5GHz using voltages I would be comfortable with. I’m comfortable at this point to believe its a CPU/voltage limit for the one I have. Hopefully, the retail version I pick up when these CPUs finally become available, I will get a solid chip and reach 5GHz.

I ran into two problems with the board, the first being a high amount of vdrop and vdroop when overclocking/setting the voltage manually, nearly .1v in total difference between load and what I set in the BIOS. Now, this is easily resolved by using the high LLC setting in BIOS, but that is a lot of sag without. We are hoping this is resolved with a new BIOS in the future. The other issue was that EasyTune wasn’t working. I could install App Center and EasyTune, but when trying to load EasyTune I would get an error. All other applications I tried worked fine. I have been working with GIGABYTE on the issue, but it seems like its just my setup as it is working fine for them and did in another reviews as well.

As usual, I save the price for last. The GIGABYTE Z170X Gaming 7 can be found at for $219.99. This puts it $10 cheaper than the MSI Gaming M7, the same price as the EVGA Z170 FTW, or $10 more than the always formidable mid-range ASrock boards (Gaming K6+ in this case). Without a doubt it has some competition, but warrants strong consideration among those in the crowded ~$220 price segment.

What does this mean? Click to find out!
What does this mean? Click to find out!

Joe Shields (Earthdog)

About Joe Shields 308 Articles
Joe started writing around 2010 for covering the latest news and reviews that include video cards, motherboards, storage and processors. In 2018, he went ‘pro’ writing for covering news and motherboards. Eventually, he landed at Tom’s Hardware where he wrote news, covered graphic card reviews, and currently writes motherboard reviews. If you can’t find him benchmarking and gathering data, Joe can be found working on his website (, supporting his two kids in athletics, hanging out with his wife catching up on Game of Thrones, watching sports (Go Browns/Guardians/Cavs/Buckeyes!), or playing PUBG on PC.

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Sim Racing Aficionado Co-Owner

23,841 messages 320 likes

Nice review Joe!

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2,427 messages 0 likes

Great review. I'm starting to think that the best thing about Skylake is the motherboards.

Anyone have something "midrange" in the works? Extreme 6 level?

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Benching Team Leader

12,347 messages 982 likes

Nice review - *ppsst* ... fix links under the OC results :) ( see , I actually checked the review instead of writing that's good whatever is inside ;) )

@dudleycpa ... I'm not sure what is so great about these new motherboards. Not much better than last gen but cost more ? They're better in theory than in real. If anyone is considering Z170 with 6700K then maybe better idea is X99+5820K what cost not so much more.

Regarding CPU OC, most boards will make the same CPU clock as I said some time earlier. I've seen results like 5.2GHz on LN2 too on the best boards so 4.9GHz is already good result in HyperPi 32M on ambient cooling.
The main difference between motherboards will be higher memory clock support. Memory performance in this case is little tricky as best performance is mix of higher cache and memory clock but also balanced timings. Cache and memory clocks are not scalling good above some point.

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2,427 messages 0 likes

Nice review - *ppsst* ... fix links under the OC results :) ( see , I actually checked the review instead of writing that's good whatever is inside ;) )

Regarding CPU OC, most boards will make the same CPU clock as I said some time earlier. I've seen results like 5.2GHz on LN2 too on the best boards so 4.9GHz is already good result in HyperPi 32M on ambient cooling.
The main difference between motherboards will be higher memory clock support. Memory performance in this case is little tricky as best performance is mix of higher cache and memory clock but also balanced timings. Cache and memory clocks are not scalling good above some point.

I don't recall any Haswell hitting 4.9 on ambient cooling. I'm starting to wonder if 8G vs 16G matters or not. Shouldn't be about the same (on the overclock)?

Totally agree that X99+5820K may be a better choice than Skylake at this point in time. I can't find a Skylake at the local computer store (Microcenter). They usually have a good bundle on motherboards and CPUs.

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Gulper Nozzle Co-Owner

74,625 messages 1,561 likes

That is one thing I really haven't played with on this platform is the cache. I need to really put some deeper dives in.. ;)

Ive been waiting to purchase one myself and haven;t seen it available immediately at a decent price. Im hoping at the end of the month or beginning we will see it.

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Sim Racing Aficionado Co-Owner

23,841 messages 320 likes

I don't recall any Haswell hitting 4.9 on ambient cooling. I'm starting to wonder if 8G vs 16G matters or not. Shouldn't be about the same (on the overclock)?

Totally agree that X99+5820K may be a better choice than Skylake at this point in time. I can't find a Skylake at the local computer store (Microcenter). They usually have a good bundle on motherboards and CPUs.

My 4790K will do [email protected], I could easily do 4.9 (maybe 5.0) on ambient.

Global shortage of 6700K, that's why you can't find them.

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2,427 messages 0 likes

My 4790K will do [email protected], I could easily do 4.9 (maybe 5.0) on ambient.

Global shortage of 6700K, that's why you can't find them.

You must have a golden ticket. I remember the Haswell results thread and it was about 4.5 on 1.3V. I'm trying to figure out that on Skylake. Where will the mean average (arithmetic mean) for the O/C and the voltage.

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Sim Racing Aficionado Co-Owner

23,841 messages 320 likes

You must have a golden ticket. I remember the Haswell results thread and it was about 4.5 on 1.3V. I'm trying to figure out that on Skylake. Where will the mean average (arithmetic mean) for the O/C and the voltage.

I'm sure 4.9 on ambient (if it's Prime stable) is a golden chip on Skylake too.

That said, yes my chip is well above average. I've benched it over 5.2 on ambient.

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Benching Team Leader

12,347 messages 982 likes

All my 4790K could make 4.8GHz 1.25-1.3V ( 3 of them ). 2 of my G3258 could make 4.8GHz 1.4V. None of my 4670K/4770K could make 4.8GHz+ stable. All depends from luck but many chips can make 4.9GHz stable.

Regarding Skylake, most chips in reviews make 4.5-4.8GHz 1.35-1.40V. Only some will make 4.8GHz+ on ambient cooling. That's why I mentioned that there are results about 5.2GHz on LN2. My 6600K on ss cooling made 5.4GHz max and 5.2GHz for XTU. 2 of my 5820K made 5.3GHz in XTU and max 5.8GHz in other tests on similar cooling ... and that's on 6 cores, not 4.

Regarding memory overclocking, I already said a lot but big part was in benching section.
2x4GB is overclocking much better = up to 3600-4200 depends from used slot and memory IC.
2x8GB won't make much more than 3400 and most boards won't support more than 3200.

For higher clocks you need good overclocking motherboard as standard boards are not supporting much more above 3200.

Simply these magical 4000+ results are available on 1-2 memory sticks and only on 4GB modules. Motherboard manufacturers were not testing their boards with higher kits than 2x8GB 3400 or tests failed. Usually 2x8GB 3200+ kits on the approved memory list are based on single rank modules - single sided ( which are probably overclocking better ).

I also tested that double sided kits are slightly faster than single sided but since single sided can OC higher then at the end will be faster.

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New Member

8,237 messages 0 likes

I just discovered we have a review of this board. I'm glad to see it should be a solid gamer. And it will look good in my new case. :) Nice review, too. ED covered a lot of info. I'm looking forward to unboxing it soon.

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