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Wednesday | May 5, 2021
ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming Review

ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming Review

A few weeks ago Intel launched their latest CPU, Skylake with processors such as the i7-6700k. This new CPU brought their mainstream parts into line with the high end, adding support for the likes of DDR4 and in the process Intel updated their motherboard chipsets (and sockets) launching boards based on Z170. We reviewed a few of those and one was the impressive ASUS Z170-A. Today we take a look at a second board from them, one targeted more at gamers, in our ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming Review.

ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming Review – Packaging and Bundle

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The Z170 Pro Gaming arrives in a fairly compact box which gives some info on a few key features however the main image focuses on a warship, identifying the tie-in with World of Warships…the latest game from the studio who created World of Tanks. Inside the board is protected by cardboard and an anti-static bag with the bundled items kept separate. These include product documentation, software disc, stickers, IO shield, SLI cable and a tool to make CPU installation as easy as possible.

In terms of key features, ASUS are keen to promote the Intel I219-V GB LAN controller which is used on this board. It has high end TCP and UDP throughput and ASUS have built in electrostatic and surge protection. They note 1.9x higher static electricity tolerance and 2.5x greater surge tolerance than standard LAN ports. Added to that is ASUS GameFirst 3 software which allows us to prioritise network traffic and ensure that (for example) our games get optimal performance.

Also present are key ASUS aspects such as Digi+ VRM (smooth/clean power delivery), DRAM overcurrent protection, ESD guards, high quality capacitors/chokes and enhanced I/O panel with chromium plated, corrosion resistant stainless steel.

ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming Review – The Board

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The Z170 Pro Gaming uses a red and black colour scheme which always looks great. As expected we get socket 1151 on this board and there is support for all the new 6th Generation Intel Core Desktop CPUs including the fastest i7-6700K model.

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Looking around the board we start down at the PCIe area where our slots start with 1x before running through 16x, 1x, 8x, 1x and ending at a 4x. SLI and Crossfire are both supported and beside these are our audio components. The controller is ASUS SupremeFX (115dB SNR) and that works with the Japanese made Nichicon audio capacitors and 300 Ohm headphone amp to provide high quality sound (up to 7.1). The controller is also shielded by an EMI cover, the audio PCB separated from the other areas by LED lighting which can breathe/flow and ASUS provide audio software (Sonic Radar 2) as an in-game overlay to give advanced feedback on our team/opponents.

Over at the opposite side of the board we find a M.2 slot, SIX SATA 3.0 ports and a SATA-Express connector.

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Moving up the board we find a USB 3.0 connector along with the standard 24pin power connector. The board also has a standard 8pin connector next to the CPU socket. Four DDR4 slots are present and these are split over 2 channels with the 64GB supported as are speeds up to 3400MHz.

Finally on the hardware front we have our connectivity. This starts with PS/2 and USB 2.0 before DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA and DVI make an appearance. Next is a stack of four USB 3.0, that GB LAN we mentioned earlier and USB 3.1 (both A and C type). Finally there are the 3.5mm audio connectors which sit beside and optical audio port.

ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming Review – Bios and Software

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As expected, ASUS provide a mouse and keyboard compatible BIOS interface on the Z170 Pro Gaming. It allows us to tweak all of the key aspects of the board/components and ASUS add functionality such as enhanced fan control, easy RAID setup, USB BIOS updates and even the ability to secure erase our SSDs.

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Also present in the BIOS is an EZ Tuning Wizard which walks us through options for the components we have installed, allowing us to easily get the maximum performance available. As far as software goes, we have a couple of applications we mentioned earlier such as Sonic Radar 2 and GameFirst 3 for audio/network tasks. ASUS also include RAMCache which intelligently caches our games and apps to ensure minimal load times. Added to that we have AI Suite 3 which allows us to monitor and tweak our board from within Windows.

ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming Review – Performance

Test systems:
i7-6700K, Z170 Pro Gaming /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 Pro Gaming Review – Conclusion

Starting with the build quality of the Z170 pro Gaming we have a board which, as expected, offers a high level. We get durable, quality components such as capacitors, plenty of protection items such as ESD guards on the IO area. ASUS go with good quality parts for key components such as their audio controller and that Intel GB LAN port. In terms of design we love the black and red colour scheme, the matt PCB looks great and the LED lighting enhances the overall design. The port and slot layout is good, for example ASUS leaving a gap underneath the main 16x PCIe 3.0 slot to allow for dual slot coolers and it is nice to see the M.2 slot placed away from the PCIe’s so that the majority of users will have easy access to it after the system is built.

The software solution provided by ASUS is very thorough and all free which is great. The BIOS too impresses with all the functionality we expect set out in intuitive screens. Nice extras like easy secure erase, raid setup and overclocking all help the end user maintain and get the best from their components over time.

That brings us to performance where the Z170A Pro Gaming manages to outperform the fastest  board we have tested (so far) from the competition. Looking back it also regularly edges ahead of the ASUS Z170-A board we previously reviewed. As far as overclocking goes, the board offered complete stability with our i7-6700k at 5.0GHz on liquid cooling.

Performance Award

About Author

Stuart Davidson


  1. Kerry Neighbour

    I recently bought this board, and it is the worst one I have ever had. The specs might be ok but the BIOS is something awful. I spent problably 15+ hours trying to get the board to work. Usually it take me no time at all. It is still a bit weird (in that I don’t trust it), but after talking to ASUS Support (pretty helpful) and updating the firmware at least 3 times, I now have a working system.

    Multi monitor support is flakey. OC is pretty lame. My 6700K only OCs to 4.2 gigs. In my opinion, a waste of a lot of money – and I will be looking to MSI or Gigabyte (or others) next time.

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