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Supermicro C7H170-M Review

Supermicro C7H170-M Review

When it comes to server motherboards Supermicro are one of the industry leaders, offering high quality products with various feature options and rock solid stability. Now they are looking to take on the big players in the gaming marketplace and today on our test bench we have one of their latest motherboards with that goal in mind. Welcome to our Supermicro C7H170-M Review.

Supermicro C7H170-M Review – Packaging and Bundle

supermicro-c7h170-m-review-box supermicro-c7h170-m-review-pcie-mem-bundle

The C7H170-M arrives in a box which initially offers little information on the product. Once we slide off the branded sleeve it reveals some key product information on the back of the box and then inside, under the motherboard tray we find the bundled items. These are four very long SATA cables, I/O shield, screw for M.2 devices, software disc and a quick start guide.

Supermicro C7H170-M Review – The Motherboard

supermicro-c7h170-m-review-motherboard supermicro-c7h170-m-review-pcie-mem-cpu

The C7H170-M is a micro-ATX board using a black PCB and combines that with black and red hardware for some gaming styling. It is a Socket 1151 based board which supports core i3, i5 and i7 processors from Intel’s latest Skylake family. Our chipset as the name suggests is the H170 and we can install up to 64GB of DDR-4 with speeds up to 2133Mhz.

What makes this board stand out from the crowd? We’ll there is the “normal” stuff like enterprise grade components (optimised signal strength, minimal heat, increased stability) and a server quality PCB (Eglass Resin PCB with multi-layer design and minimal signal resistance and durability). Also present are a high quality VRM (SuperO X7Z170-SQ for enhanced accuracy, low temp/power and enhanced lifespan), ceramic capacitors (X5R/X7R) and Nippon NPCAP capacitors. Supermicro, amongst other tests, stress the board for 150+ hours at 100% load to ensure stability.

Added to this though is some engineering magic from Supermicro which allows us to enable enhanced overclocking on CPUs which are normally more locked down. Essentially opening up the BCLK setting for use. 

supermicro-c7h170-m-review-pcie-slots supermicro-c7h170-m-review-pcie-sata

Down at the PCIe area of the board we have three slots. The first is a full speed PCIe 3.0 16x, the second is 4x and the third is a 1x slot. Above the red top slot we can also see a full length M.2 connector which allows us to add storage to the board on the PCIe bus. Also present are six SATA 3.0 ports.

supermicro-c7h170-m-review-pcie-mem-slots supermicro-c7h170-m-review-pcie-mem-io

Moving further up the board we find a front panel USB 3.0 header, the 24pin power connector (4pin and 8pin also present on the board) and then in the top corner are three buttons. Once for power, one for BIOS restore and another for clear CMOS. Four memory slots are also present with the DDR4 split over two channels.

turning round to the I/O area we have PS/2, two USB 2.0, DVI, DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4, optical audio, GB LAN (Intel i219 V), four USB 3.0 ports and our 3.5mm audio connectors (Realtek 7.1)

supermicro-c7h170-m-review-bios supermicro-c7h170-m-review-bios-2

As far as BIOS goes, we get a GUI with support for mouse and keyboard. There is a tool to flash updates, the option for a couple of profiles. All the usual options are present too from monitoring to drive and boot configurations. Key to this board though is the Extra Performance screen which allows us to change our BCLK and upgrade memory performance beyond the H170 spec.

Supermicro C7H170-M Review – Performance

Test systems:
i7-6700K, Z170, 2x8GB DDR4-2666 (Corsair)
i7-6700K/i3-6100, H170, 2x8GB DDR4-2666 @ 2133 (Corsair)
i7-4790K, Z97, 2x8GB DDR3-2666 (Corsair)

All with:
Windows 10
GTX 980 Ti OC
Corsair H100 Series Cooler
Corsair AX1500i PSU
Samsung 850 Pro SSD (SATA Testing)
And Samsung T1 SSD (USB Testing)

On a Dimastech EasyXL Test Bench


supermicro-c7h170-m-review-3dmark-igp supermicro-c7h170-m-review-3dmark supermicro-c7h170-m-review-dota2r-igpu supermicro-c7h170-m-review-sata supermicro-c7h170-m-review-m2 supermicro-c7h170-m-review-memory supermicro-c7h170-m-review-usb

A little about the Supermicro overclocking magic…


Supermicro C7H170-M Review – Conclusion

Starting with the build quality and design of the C7H170-M we have a board which offers a solid experience. That should come as no surprise given Supermicro’s experience in the server market. High quality components, decent layout, all the features we would expect from a H170 product and some nice additions such as onboard power/reset, plenty of fan headers and the like.

In comparison with other gaming boards, Supermicro have a little bit to go as far as matching them though. For example the inclusion of enhanced audio components, debug LED and more user friendly BIOS would be the next steps. The BIOS is solid, no doubt about it, but it isnt as intuitive as other manufacturers and requires a certain level of experience to get the full potential from the board and components. A few quick profiles would be a great start for example… oh and some decent Windows monitoring/tweaking software would be ideal too. We can use third party options but the Supermicro tool is, at best, frustrating to use.

For performance, the board offers good results across all tasks. Whether it be CPU, PCIe, SATA, USB… all in line with similar Z170 based products. Of course boards based around Z170 can have some enhanced features such as more lanes available for multi-GPU use, official support for higher spec memory and so on.

Of course, the extra value (and performance) on this product comes from Supermicro’s unlocking of CPU overclocks on low cost Intel CPUs. Initially we needed to buy a K series CPU to overclock and do that on Z170 based boards. Now with the C7H170-M we can buy something like the i3-6100 (previously locked at 3.7GHz) and run it at 4.4GHz by simply changing the BCLK in BIOS and upping the voltage a touch…and as an added bonus take advantage of some higher Mhz memory at the same time.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

1 Comment

  1. Wish they had this out last summer. Finally 64GB capacity in a micro board.

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