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ASUS Z170-A Review (i7-6700k Skylake)

ASUS Z170-A Review (i7-6700k Skylake)

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ASUS Z170-A Review (i7-6700k Skylake) – Packaging and Bundle

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ASUS Z170-A Review (i7-6700k Skylake) – The Board

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ASUS Z170-A Review (i7-6700k Skylake) – Software and BIOS

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ASUS provide a mouse and keyboard compatible BIOS interface on the Z170A and it allows us to tweak all of the key aspects of the board/components. ASUS add functionality such as enhanced fan control, easy overclocking/RAID setup, USB BIOS updates and even the ability to secure erase our SSDs.

ASUS Z170-A Review (i7-6700k Skylake) – Performance

Test systems:
i7-6700K, Z170-A/Z170A GM7, 2x8GB DDR4-2666 (Corsair)
i7-4790K, Z97, 2x8GB DDR3-2666 (Corsair)
i7-5960X, X99, 4x8GB DDR4-2800 (Corsair)
FX-9590, 990FX, 4x8Gb DDR3-2133 (Corsair)

All with:
Windows 10
GTX 980 Ti OC
Corsair H100 Series Cooler
Corsair AX1500i PSU
Samsung 850 Pro SSD (SATA Testing)
Plextor M6e (M.2 Testing)
OCZ Revodrive 350 (PCIe Testing)
And Samsung T1 SSD (USB Testing)

On a Dimastech EasyXL Test Bench with the BenQ BL3201 4k Display

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ASUS Z170-A Review (i7-6700k Skylake) – Conclusion

When creating the Z170-A ASUS were clearly looking to find a good balance of price, performance and features for enthusiasts on a budget. Overall they have succeeded. Starting with the build quality and design of the board we have a great looking product which looks that bit different to the usual Black/Red models which are common nowadays. The lighter metal should look great in a LED lit case, though it is a shame that (no doubt to keep costs down) there are no significant onboard LEDs.

The overall layout of the board is good, plenty room for the largest M.2 drives for example. 3 slot GPUs are supported too, due to intelligent placement of the PCI slot which few people will use and high quality components are used across the board, including those in the audio  area.

As far as value goes, with an RRP of £115 the Z170-A is a very competitively priced product with all the key features we need for this platform. These being DDR4 support, PCIe Gen.3, USB 3.1, M.2, Skylake CPUs and decent audio/LAN controllers.

That brings us to performance where the Z170-A can often compete with a high end X99 board. It looses out in some obvious areas (CPU based performance, memory bandwidth) but elsewhere in areas such as PCIe speed, USB speed and the like the experience is the same. The board tends to outperform Z97 (while having more advanced features too) and easily passes the AMD equivalent. In comparisons with another Z170 based product, and a more expensive one at that, the Z170-A offered near identical results with our CPU topping out at 5.0Ghz (liquid cooled) on this board when manually overclocking.

Performance Award

 

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Stuart Davidson