ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming Skylake Motherboard Review

Skylake is upon us and ASUS with their £117.99 Z170 Pro Gaming might have the bargain of the platform; or will they?

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Conclusion

This review has been as much an ode to Skylake as it has been the Z170 Pro Gaming with not only dual channel DDR4 memory granted “mainstream” status, but affordable and feature packed efficient processors to boot. I would ask what the big deal with Skylake is, but it’s pretty obvious. It’s the first major jump in manufacturing process since Sandybridge (32nm), so that means not only an increase in performance, but with DDR4 now being supported it opens up the regular consumer up to an enthusiast only option; I am of course talking about X99 (Haswell-E).

It’s hard to judge new hardware since directly comparing to a previous generation is not only unfair, but it’s just not at all worthwhile, as we all know there is going to be a jump in performance and that will be apparent in our review of the Skylake CPU’s.

So what about the general performance of the budget – but more than capable – ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming? Well it’s very good and for the price, I doubt there is going to be a board at launch which offers as much bang for buck. There was no inconsistencies which were apparent, and compared to previous versions of the board on Z97 there is certainly an improvement in the quality of the components used; ASUS are the industry leader in VRM/phase design and the solid 8 phase combination certainly works well here. Dual channel DDR4 performance is obviously going to be a little limiting in terms of bandwidth compared to quad channel, but it doesn’t pose any performance drops in real world scenarios such as gaming, or general tasks and shouldn’t even be questioned in my opinion.

Do you like bling bling? Well the Pro Gaming like many other “gaming” themed motherboard boards featuring a red and black theme, incorporate red LED lighting to give an ambient glow of attitude. It should be noted that ASUS ROG started the trend for the colour scheme, although every brand now seems to have infused their own red and black design into their products. Other features include ASUS Sonic Radar III designed to give superior multi positional audio via the on-board sound array, an included ASUS RamCache software which allows you to use DDR4 to act as a temporary cache and the big plus, ASUS have included a 1 year XSplit Gamecaster license. Can’t say fairer than that right?

Coming in at a launch price of £117.99, there isn’t too much I can say that is wrong with the Z170 Pro Gaming, other than the lack of top tier dual M.2 slot support which to me is a very big feature with LGA 1151. The ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming ATX motherboard punches above its weight and certainly reaches greater heights than the price tag would suggest; it will be interesting to see what the other manufacturers can do to keep up with the number 1 motherboard manufacturer in the world today! £117.99 is a bargain for a board of this calibre and I doubt many (if any) will have anything bad to say about the pricing.

If you are looking for a solid gaming themed board, but don’t want to drop the money on a ROG (Republic of Gamers) motherboard, the Pro Gaming is the next best thing and all the ASUS quality DNA can be found right here, at a fraction of the price; welcome to Skylake folks!

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  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value
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Summary

Pros:

– Represents good value for money
– Offers ASUS ROG features and design for a “friendlier” price tag
– Performs well
– Has a very nice aesthetic and should fit well with most red themed systems

Cons:

– Only 1 x M.2 slot, but given the price, not really much of a con
– There will be a lot of competition at this price point!

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