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Intel Core i7-6700K Skylake-K CPU Review With ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming

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ASUS Z170 Gaming Pro Motherboard

ASUS sent us their latest Z170 Pro Gaming motherboard to test the Core i7-6700K processor. The motherboard features the latest LGA 1151 socket that supports Intel's 6th generation Skylake processors and comes with the Z170 chipset that offers new features and enhancements over previous generation motherboards. The product comes with a range of new utilities and design updates that allow better stability, overclocking support which has been detailed below.

Intel LGA 1151 Socket

The Intel LGA 1151 is the latest socket that features support for 6th generation Skylake processors. As denoted by its name, the LGA 1151 has a total of 1151 contact pins compared to 1150 on the LGA 1150 socket indicating that the new socket cannot support older generation processors.

The LGA 1151 socket is featured on the 100-Series chipset motherboards and will extend support to new CPUs which include Kaby Lake, which is the codename for Intel’s next generation 14nm processor that is planned for launch in 2016 for desktop PCs. Currently there are only two processors available on the 1151 socket, the Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K but a total of 18 mainstream Skylake-S processors are headed their way for launch in October 2015.

Price$169.99
CPUIntel Socket 1151 for 6th Generation Core i7/Core i5/Core i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors
Supports Intel® 14 nm CPU
Supports IntelTurbo Boost Technology 2.0
ChipsetIntel Z170
Memory4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 3400(O.C.)/3333(O.C.)/3200(O.C.)/3100(O.C.)/3000(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Multi-GPU SupportSupports NVIDIA Quad-GPU SLI Technology
Supports NVIDIA® 2-Way SLI Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX Technology
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX Technology
Expansion Slots2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (Single at x16, dual at x8/x8, )
1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode, )
3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x1
Storage1 x SATA Express port, Compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M Key design, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (Supports both SATA & PCIE SSD)*1
4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s)
LANIntel I219V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s), GameFirst technology
AudioSupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel MIC Jack-retasking
- High quality 115 dB SNR stereo playback output
USB PortsASMedia® USB 3.1 controller :
1 x USB 3.1 port(s) (Type-A)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller :
1 x USB 3.1 port(s) (Type-C, Reversible)
Intel® Z170 chipset :
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z170 chipset :
8 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, black, 6 at mid-board)
Back I/O Ports1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DVI
1 x D-Sub
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
1 x USB 3.1 (red)Type-A
1 x USB 3.1 Type-C
4 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
5 x Audio jack(s)
AccessoriesUser's manual
I/O Shield
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x M.2 Screw Package
1 x CPU installation tool
1 x Supporting DVD
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x 12 in 1 Cable Label (s)
Form FactorDrivers
ASUS Utilities
ASUS EZ Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)

Intel did one thing right with the new socket and that’s the socket positioning which allows older coolers and mounting brackets to remain compatible with the newer socket. So if you have a old LGA 1150 socket cooler that you wish to use with the new LGA 1151 socket, It could be done so, but do note that while the socket looks the same as LGA 1150 socket, the processors are incompatible due to different pin layout so you don’t want to try putting an Haswell processor into the LGA 1151 socket otherwise it would damage the pins permanently.

Cooler Compatibility With LGA 1151 Socket

While Haswell processors ship with their own boxed coolers and cooler makers providing retention brackets for LGA 1150 compatibility, it should be noted that Intel has stopped offering boxed coolers with Skylake processor generation and users have to look forward to retail coolers. Intel does offer a separate boxed cooler but it will be a much better choice to get an AIB cooling solution since those offer better cooling performance. Older CPU coolers will remain compatible with the new socket and some manufacturers are provided updated retention brackets for the 1151 socket boards.

Intel 100-Series Z170 Platform Control Hub

Intel’s Skylake processors are compatible with the 100-Series “Lynx Point” chipset fused on the LGA 1150 socketed motherboards. There are different tiers of the chips on the Skylake platform which include Z170, H170 and B150. The Z170 chipset has been officially launched since over a month now while the H170 and B150 are marking their rounds in the market. The motherboard we would be testing today is based on the Z170 PCH. The following chart mentions key differences between both platform control hubs:

Item 9-Series “Lynx Point” 100-Series “Sunrise Point”
I/O Port flexibility Yes Yes
Total USB 3.0/2.0 Ports 14 USB Ports 24 USB Ports
USB 3.0 Capable Ports Upto 6 Upto 10
xHCI Ports All USB Ports by xCHI All USB Ports by xCHI
PCI Express Upto 8 PCI-e 3.0 (8GT/s)
PCIe M.2 Storage Support
Upto 20 PCI-e 3.0 (8GT/s)
PCIe M.2 Storage Support
Total SATA Ports 6 SATA 6 SATA (e-SATA)
SATA 6 GB/s Capable Ports Upto 6 Upto 6
Legacy PCI Legacy PCI on certain SKUs Legacy PCI on certain SKUs
Digital Display I/F Display moved to processor Display moved to processor
Analog Display I/F VGA/HDMI/DVI VGA/HDMI/DVI
SPI SFDP, Quad Read SFDP, Quad Read

The Z170 Pro Gaming, as the name suggests, is a gaming motherboard that’s part of the legacy lineup. The motherboard comes in the standard packaging that includes a code for World of Warships inside the package. The motherboard has all sorts of labels on the front and back to highlight some of the features.

Inside the packaging are a few accessories that include a User's Manual, I/O Shield, 4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s), 1 x M.2 Screw Package, 1 x CPU installation tool, 1 x Supporting DVD, 1 x SLI bridge(s), 1 x 12 in 1 Cable Label (s).

Out of the box, we can see that the ASUS Z170 PRO Gaming is one of the several Gaming motherboards that adopts a black and red color scheme. The motherboard comes with a full black PCB which is a good thing and has the normal ATX form factor which can be equipped with ease in almost any mid to full tower chassis.

The motherboard comes with ASUS's DIGI+ design with DIGI+ VRM featuring high-quality components that include superior chokes and black durable capacitors featured across a 10 Phase PWM.

There's a single 8-Pin connector that is used to power the CPU socket. The board is a gaming oriented board that focuses on offering more I/O tools rather than overclocking features but there's still a good overclocking design implanted on the board to push Skylake CPUs beyond their reference specifications (clock speeds).

 

 

The motherboard comes with the latest DDR4 memory standard for Intel's mainstream platform. After Haswell-E, Skylake is the second platform from Intel to support the DDR4 memory standard and the Z170 Pro Gaming features support for Dual-Channel DDR4 DIMMs with speeds of up to 3400 MHz. The total capacity support by the motherboard is 64 GB.

There are two heatsinks featured on the PWM to keep the area cool when under loads. These heatsinks have an aluminum surface which helps dissipate heat into the heatsink block that are kept cool by cross-ventilation of airflow from the chassis fans.

The board comes with three PCI-e 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x8;x8/x4 electrical) and three PCI-e 3.0 x1 slots. Since the CPU packs 20 PCI-E lanes, its possible for graphics card to operate with full 8.0 GT/s speed of the PCI-Express slot if it supports x16 lane.

Storage options on the motherboard include six SATA 6 GB/s ports and a single SATA Express port that operates at 10 GB/s. The motherboard supports Raid 0,1,5,10 options and is fully compliant with Intel's RST. There's also a single M.2 Socket 3 slot that can support both SATA and PCI-E based SSDs including NGFF drives.

ASUS has integrated their SupremeFX audio solution on the Z170 Pro gaming motherboard that offers near-lossless audio quality with a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 115dB. The SupremeFX audio is featured on an isolated PCB that is indicated by an illuminated red line shielding and the SupremeFX chip is covered by an EMI protection cover. The PCB uses premium Nichicon audio capacitors which offer fine-quality with natural sound.

I/O on the motherboard includes a PS/2 port, DVI/HDMI/Display Port for display connectivity, LAN (RJ45), 4 USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a single USB 3.1 Type-A port, SPDIF, 7.1 Channel Audio Jack and also a single USB 3.1 Type-C port.

ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming Motherboard Gallery:

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