Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 Review (Page 12 of 12)

Page 12 - Overclocking and Conclusion

Before Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge, overclocking your CPU involved changing half a dozen settings to try to obtain the highest clock speed. This was because there were so many different ways to obtain your maximum frequency, things were a bit complicated, even if you are an experienced computer enthusiast. With the latest Skylake processors, you can play around with the base clock like Haswell, but since I got an Intel Core i5-6600K, I simply tuned with the unlocked multiplier. Using a CPU purchased anonymously at a local retail store, I was able to attain 4.5GHz at reasonable voltages on the GA-Z170N-Gaming 5; which was pretty good. To achieve this, I changed the CPU Loadline Calibration to High, and set every other voltage setting to "Standard". I gave the Vcore an offset of +0.035V to target 1.30V under load. This 1GHz change from stock translates to a 28.6% overclock. While the overclock was stable at this frequency, there were some times I noticed some slight throttling, especially after long Prime95 stress tests. It could be possible the heatspreader on the VRMs is not fully adequate in dispersing heat. As we are using an all-in-one liquid cooler on this board with no case, there is only passive cooling, which works to the disadvantage of the motherboard.

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When I started looking more into detail about the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 motherboard, I realized it bore many similarities to the other recently reviewed mITX board, the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI. With many similar features, layout, and BIOS, you would think this review would end in the same result. However, there are several reason why the Gaming 5 is listed as a gaming motherboard. Despite its toddler size footprint, it is capable of swinging alongside the big boys. Gigabyte has done a fantastic job with their layout on the mITX board, especially when considering the limitations they were faced on such a small area. The fact it includes a PCI Express x16 slot, M.2 PCIe slot for an SSD, and the option for SATA Express or SATA 6Gb/s shows Gigabyte tried to put in as much as they could. The selection of inputs and outputs is great to see here too. We have three USB 3.0 ports and two USB 3.1 ports; one being Type-C, while the other being Type-A, or full sized. It is great to see full USB 3.1 support here, something the Z170N-WIFI lacked. With the inclusion of Killer NIC, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, HDMI, DVI, and all the digital and analog audio jacks, the back connection options are quite plenty. Its audio even has an amplified two-channel output. The Killer E2200 may be seen as a questionable feature, and the performance differences on a day-to day basis are not very noticeable. When it comes to overclocking, the Z170N-Gaming 5 separates itself from the non-gaming version even more, with an 8-pin ATX 12V connector and an actual heatspreader over the VRMs. While our tests may not be an apples-to-apples comparison between the two motherboards, the Gaming 5 definitely has more potential in holding overclocks steadily. Otherwise, the included BIOS with the GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 is standard, with plenty of just-in-time knowledge when needed. At the end of the day, the only thing I would want to see is a DisplayPort connection, even if it means removing the DVI port. In addition, Gigabyte can remove the PS/2 port, which most people do not even use nowadays. At a retail price of $150, the GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 motherboard is of good value. The non-gaming version can now be found for $135, making this motherboard is well worth the extra change. If you have the money for the Z170N-WIFI, skip the three Starbucks coffee trips, and get the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 motherboard instead -- it is a much better product.

Gigabyte provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.

APH:Renewal Award
Since April 30, 2007, Number Ratings have been dropped for all CPUs, motherboards, RAM, SSD/HDDs, and graphics cards. This is to ensure the most appropriate ratings reflected without the inherent limits of using numbers. Everything else will continue using the Number Rating System.
More information in our Review Focus.

The Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 may be a baby-board in its size, but it definitely is capable of punching above its weight class.

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Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Bundle, Chipset, BIOS
3. A Closer Look, Board Layout, Test System
4. Benchmark: AIDA64 CPU
5. Benchmark: AIDA64 FPU
6. Benchmark: AIDA64 Memory
7. Benchmark: PCMark 8
8. Benchmark: 3DMark
9. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 8.0
10. Benchmark: SuperPI 1M, Cinebench R15
11. Onboard Sound Frequency Analysis
12. Overclocking and Conclusion