Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI Review (Page 1 of 12)

By: Jonathan Kwan
December 18, 2015

Many years ago, I helped run a soccer camp for elementary school students. On the last day, everyone went outside and competed against each other -- albeit in a friendly way, since the score was not officially kept -- to see who can individually get the most goals into the net guarded by other leaders. Since there was a wide variance of skills between players, obviously the bigger and more skilled kids did the best, while the little ones who were there just to have fun only managed to crack a few by sparingly. For the most part of the day, everyone enjoyed themselves, since those who were competitive got to be competitive, while those who just wanted to kick the ball around got to do so as well. However, at some point, some of the leaders decided to "even out" things out a bit, and deliberately tilted the table in favor of the little kids to the point they were essentially gifting goals to them, at the same time intentionally discounting goals scored by the better players via clearly unfair practices. This frustrated almost everybody, including me who was watching nearby. For the skilled players, they were frustrated, because they were not fairly rewarded for their work. For the unskilled players, they also felt frustrated, because they felt insulted, knowing their achievement was not a result of the merits of their own ability. In the end, the leaders who decided to "even out" things achieved absolutely nothing; in fact, I think they did more harm than good. As you can see here, while cheering for the little guy sometimes make us feel warm and fuzzy inside, changing the rules of the game to favor one party over another is seriously uncool. People gain a sense of achievement and success when they earn something by the merits of their own ability. A few years ago, we have reviewed the ASUS P8H67-I Deluxe, a little guy that performs like the big boys by the merits of its own ability. Today, we will take a look at another little guy that promises the performance of the big boys. Featuring an enthusiast Z170 chipset with an Intel LGA1151 socket for the latest Skylake CPUs, and a PCI Express x16 slot to accommodate the latest graphics card of your choice, will the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI win the game fair and square? Read on to find out!

Our review unit of the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI arrived in a medium sized, brown corrugated cardboard box from the company's American headquarters in City of Industry, California, USA. It arrived on the same day as the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless and Scythe Ninja 4, both of which was reviewed last week. I will admit, as exciting as a motherboard may be, I was a little bit distracted by the headphones for more than a few hours. Of course, it is not like the two are competing products; the GA-Z170N-WIFI's built in Bluetooth support goes with the Crossfade Wireless like butter on bread. Anyway, using FedEx International Priority, everything arrived in pristine condition to us here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for our review today.

Since the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI is an mITX motherboard, the retail box it arrived in was sized for the purpose. Although it uses Intel's Z170 chipset, this is not exactly a hardcore gaming or enthusiast product, so the box art was designed accordingly. It carries a standard fare of standard Gigabyte colors, which is black and yellow, with a fairly conservative design. Shown prominently in the middle is the Ultra Durable shield. At the top, we can find Gigabyte's logo and Ultra Durable badge. At the bottom, we can find the model name, Z170N-WIFI, and a couple of Intel badges, as you can see in our photo above. Meanwhile, a brief specifications list in many different languages can be found on one of the sides, plus a full page of feature highlights with fancy photos at the back.

Speaking of specifications, before we move on, let us take a look at the detailed specifications of the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:

- Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/ Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1151 package
- L3 cache varies with CPU
(Please refer "CPU Support List" for more information.)

- Intel® Z170 Express Chipset

- 2 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 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.
- Dual channel memory architecture
- Support for DDR4 3200(O.C.) /3000(O.C.) /2800(O.C.) /2666(O.C.) /2400(O.C.) /2133 MHz memory modules
- Support for ECC UDIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8 memory modules (operate in non-ECC mode)
- Support for non-ECC UDIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16 memory modules
- 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 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200@60 Hz
* The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
- 2 x HDMI ports, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2160@24 Hz
* Support for HDMI 1.4 version.
- Support for up to 3 displays at the same time
- Maximum shared memory of 512 MB

- Realtek® ALC1150 codec
- High Definition Audio
- 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
- Support for S/PDIF Out

- 2 x Intel® GbE LAN chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)

Wireless Communication module
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, supporting 2.4/5 GHz Dual-Band
- BLUETOOTH 4.2, 4.1, BLE, 4.0, 3.0, 2.1+EDR
- Support for 11ac wireless standard and up to 867 Mbps data rate
* Actual data rate may vary depending on environment and equipment.

Expansion Slots
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16
- (The PCIEX16 slot conforms to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
- 1 x M.2 Socket 1 connector for the wireless communication module (M2_WIFI)

Storage Interface
- 1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector on the back of the motherboard (Socket 3, M key, type 2260/2280 SATA & PCIe x4/x2/x1 SSD support)
- 2 x SATA Express connectors
- 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
* Refer to "1-7 Internal Connectors," for the supported configurations with the M.2, SATA Express, and SATA connectors.

- 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports available through the internal USB header
- 6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
- 1 x USB Type-C™ port on the back panel, with USB 3.0 support

Internal I/O Connectors
- 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- 2 x SATA Express connectors
- 1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector
- 1 x CPU fan header
- 1 x system fan header
- 1 x front panel header
- 1 x front panel audio header
- 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
- 1 x USB 2.0/1.1 header
- 1 x S/PDIF Out header
- 1 x speaker header
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 1 x chassis intrusion header

Back Panel Connectors
- 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
- 2 x HDMI ports
- 2 x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R)
- 1 x DVI-D port
- 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
- 1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.0 support
- 2 x RJ-45 ports
- 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
- 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)

I/O Controller
- iTE® I/O Controller Chip

H/W Monitoring
- System voltage detection
- CPU/System temperature detection
- CPU/System fan speed detection
- CPU/System overheating warning
- CPU/System fan fail warning
- CPU/System fan speed control
* Whether the fan speed control function is supported will depend on the cooler you install.

- 2 x 64 Mbit flash
- Use of licensed AMI UEFI BIOS
- Support for DualBIOS™
- PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0

Unique Features
- 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
- AutoGreen
- Cloud Station
- EasyTune
- Easy RAID
- Fast Boot
- Smart TimeLock
- Smart Keyboard
- Smart Backup
- System Information Viewer
- USB Blocker
- Support for Q-Flash
- Support for Smart Switch
- Support for Xpress Install

Bundle Software
- Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
- Intel® Smart Response Technology
- Intel® Wireless Display
- cFosSpeed

Operating System
- Support for Windows 10/8.1/7*
* Please download “Windows® USB Installation Tool” to install Windows® 7.

Form Factor
- Mini-ITX Form Factor; 17.0cm x 17.0cm

Box Contents
- GA-Z170N-WIFI motherboard
- Motherboard driver disk
- Two SATA cables
- User's Manual
- Quick Installation Guide
- One antenna
- I/O Shield
- Wireless module driver disk

CPU-Z screenshot of the motherboard tab running Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI in Windows 10. At press time, we were using Gigabyte's F6 BIOS revision. This is the latest BIOS revision at the time of writing this review.

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