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Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra ATX Motherboard Review – Tom’s Hardware

Introducing Gigabyte’s Z170X-Ultra Gaming

Life is filled with compromises, and we are often left to seek the ones that get us closest to our goals. For instance, Gigabyte’s Z170X-Ultra Gaming gets Intel’s premium Thunderbolt 3 controller to a mid-market price point by leaving out a few features that hardware enthusiasts often expect. We’ve seen many mainstream motherboards perform and overclock well, and we’re sure that many buyers will find Thunderbolt 3 more valuable than a compilation of lesser parts.

So what’s in the Z170X-Ultra Gaming, and what isn’t?

Buyers who want SLI capability still get the set of four two-lane switches that allow the second PCIe x16-length slot to serve up eight lanes that would otherwise go to the top slot, so that the board automatically switches from x16-x0 to x8-x8 modes. As tradition dictates, the third x16 slot gets four lanes from the Z170 PCH. Nvidia precludes using this interface with a third card in SLI, but stubborn AMD users can still set three cards up in CrossFireX if they’re not afraid of its added latency and reduced bandwidth. That third slot is also configurable to PCIe x2 mode, and using it in x4 mode forces the motherboard to disable two of the SATA ports.

The I/O panel is where things get most interesting, since this is a Thunderbolt 3 board. That interface uses a USB 3.1 Type-C port, can be used as a 10Gb/s USB 3.1 port or a 40Gb/s Thunderbolt port, supports video and data simultaneously as Thunderbolt 3 should, and can also pass through external video sourced from a graphics card via the motherboard’s mini DisplayPort input connector. The CPU’s on-board graphics explains why there’s also a mini DisplayPort output, as well as HDMI. And the red USB port? It’s 10Gb/s and uses the same Thunderbolt 3 controller without offering all the controller’s additional protocols.

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