Is the all new range of GIGABYTE motherboards that are based on the Z170 platform on to a winner, or not so much? Based on what I’ve observed whilst I had this motherboard on the testbed and while I was playing around with it, I have come to my conclusion. We always grade the motherboards on three key aspects here at Play3r, and those are by design, value and performance, for those whom aren’t yet familiar with our grading process. The design is superb, the performance at stock (and overclocked) is some of the very best that we’ve seen thus far, and the value is pretty much where I’d expect the board to be. Should it be your board of choice when considering a Skylake system? Let’s delve a little deeper into the facts to determine what my final thoughts are on the GAMING 7, which will hopefully give you a clear cut view on the product at hand.
The GAMING 7 is a stunning bit of kit to look at. When I first opened the box and saw the motherboard sitting there, it really was something to behold. I’ve taken a real liking to the aesthetics of the board, in case it wasn’t obvious to any of you from any of my previous statements. The black, white and red combination that the motherboard has to offer is something that system builders are apparently craving at the moment. The black and red theme has sailed, as even the ASUS ROG series has changed its colours. It’s about time for a change, embrace the change and roll with the times. It will be quite easy to get the rest of your system to match this colour scheme, but finding a graphics card with these colours may prove to be a little troublesome. I know that some brands provide interchangeable back plates for example, and one brand produces graphics cards on white PCBs (which look badass!) that could tie in quite nicely.
Pricing a motherboard is pretty difficult at the best of times, but I think that GIGABYTE has hit the nail on the head with this one. They have priced it to go up against what they feel would be the competitor alternative – the Maximus VIII Hero or GAMING M7 from ASUS and MSI respectively. What the GIGABYTE board offers over both the MSI and the ASUS variants is not all that different, but it does offer more value for money in my opinion. It may have a few kinks here and there that need to get ironed out, such as the memory overclocking for example, but those are all BIOS related problems and they will hopefully get fixed very soon. Unfortunately, I am unable to base my opinions on what might have been. I have to base my final statement on the product that I have in front of me. The GIGABYTE has the interchangeable amplifier system and it also has an additional Ethernet port that is powered by the Killer E2400 chipset. Both of these cost extra money to develop and incorporate onto the motherboard, so in my mind it is the better value board out of the three.
This brings us on to the final category of our rating structure – the performance. It really doesn’t take all that long to realise where this motherboard is placing on a variety of tests. The GAMING 7 is one of the fastest, most efficient motherboards that I’ve had the pleasure of using thus far on the Z170 platform from Intel. It knocks spots off of most of its competition in most cases, but it does also fall short in some others. However, for the majority of the tests that we run, the GAMING 7 is at the top end of the graphs and it really is setting an example of what motherboards of this price range should perform like. As I always say, numbers are meaningless in most daily scenarios, but in the benchmarks, the numbers tell us the entire story.
Where does this ultimate leave us, then? Overall, the GIGABYTE Z170X-GAMING 7 is a phenomenal motherboard, and I am going to award it with an Editor’s Choice award. I cannot hold the RAM overclocking issue against the motherboard as it functions perfectly at XMP settings, which is all you can ask for. It will overclock, but not to the levels that I was expecting. It’s a little disappointing, but it isn’t the end of the world as 99.9% of us will never use our RAM at such high frequencies when combined with ultra-tight timings. Therefore, the Performance award is getting pulled out of my pocket, along with a Design award. I’ve praised the aesthetics of this motherboard, perhaps a little too much, throughout the review. As for the pricing of the board, it offers more than the competitors, so I am feeling that it is only right to award it with a Value award too. So, that’s four out of four thus far, which means I think it qualifies as a big fat success.
Finally, I’d like to thank GIGABYTE for sending this sample to us for today’s review.
– Stunning aesthetics
– Great performance all-round, mostly in the upper 50% of the results
– Custom audio amplifiers for that individual touch
– Comprehensive list of features
– RAM overclocking isn’t as good as some other boards, but XMP works perfectly
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