Looking for lower price motherboard with enthusiast grade performance? The Asus Z170-A is a good choice. The Asus Z170-A is the cost effective version of the Asus Z170-Deluxe. Though, the board is trim down a bit you can still expect decent feature that makes the Skylake processor perform at its best.
We take a look at the Asus Z170-A Review to find out its key features and performance if it satisfies your needs. How far it can overclock the Intel’s Skylake Core i7 6700K. Shall we?
>>Click Here to check the price and discover what people are saying about this amazing motherboard.
The Looks And Connectivity
The Asus Z170-A is presented in black and white color scheme. You can notice the white color on the plastic I/O cover and the PCH heatsink. The motherboard itself is black and dark gray appearance while the PCB is having a dark brown color which is commonly found in any motherboard.
Looking at the CPU socket, you can highly notice that there’s a lot of room to breathe for the air with its generous space allotted. An excellent distance from the VRM heatsinks and the PCI-E slot in the first row greatly gives its way.
If you decide to use the older heatsink from your socket LGA1150 board you can do so due to its full compatibility. This is also great if you’re using a liquid cooler because there are six fan headers standing nearby including the specially made for it.
The Asus Z170-A provides four DIMM slots in black and gray color for proper memory pairing. The Asus Z170-A board is made for Skylake processor in which its key feature is to support the DDR4 memory. The boardsupports only the 288-pin DDR4 while the older 240-pin DDR3 is not applicable here. If only two memory sticks you’re going to use it is recommended by ASUS to use the gray slots that gives way for the CPU heatsink.
The Asus Z170-A supports up to 64GB of RAM that can be installed in all four slot. For simple memory installation and removing, ASUS features a single locking mechanism only in one end of the DIMM slot.
Looking at the expansion slots, you can notice the three PCI-E x16, three PCI-E x1 slots and a single PCI. If you wish to use only a single graphics card the gray PCI-E slot on the first lane can be use. If a dual GPU is desired the first and the middle x16 slot are needed to be populated.
The third slot is intended to run to x4. However, two of SATA 6Gbps are causing it to disabled since they share the same I/O lanes. Multi GPU supports the two way SLI configuration can be use while, for three way the CrossFire supports is more flexible.
The storage connectors are located at the right side of the Asus Z170-A motherboard. You can notice the board layout with a total of six SATA 6Bbps ports. Two of them are SATAe ports located in the right portion. However, as we discuss above running the third PCIe x16 will cause the disability of the two SATA port on the left most part. The M.2 port is also available that can be seen on the south part of the Z170 chip. It support the mini SSD that provides a fast connection up to 32Gb/s that impressively improve its bandwidth compare to the previous generations of motherboards.
Connecting the front panel wiring is a painful task right? The Asus Z170-A feature the Q-Connector that totally gives you the simplest way to do it. Just below that you can see the CMOS clear and the DirectKey firmware shortcut. It offers more convenient way to enter the UEFI BIOS without the pain of continuously hitting the Del key.
Finally, looking at the back I/O panel. Starting with the first USB 2.0 port in black on the left and another two Super Speed USB 3.0 in blue color. Above it is the older PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port which is useable if you still prefer the vintage connector. On the right side of it is the latest Super speed+ USB 3.1 available in Type-A in teal blue and the reversible Type-C connector. On top of that is the RJ45 LAN port which is powered by Intel’s I219V controller with traffic prioritization software called Turbo LAN.
For those who want to maximize the utilization of the latest Skylake’s integrated GPU, the Asus Z170-A provides every possible port for you to benefit from it. You got the VGA connector, DVI-D port, HDMI port and a full size Display port.
More Features From Asus Z170-A
Asus carry on their 5-way Optimization software offering using the Al Suite III package. Though, some prefer it to overclock using the UEFI BIOS the 5-way Optimization works perfectly for those who don’t want the tedious procedure.
Part of the 5-Way Optimization are the Turbo Processing Unit (TPU), Energy Processing Unit (EPU), Fan Expert 3, DIGI+ Power Control and the Turbo Apps. The TPU features an onboard chip that works perfectly for overclocking purposes by using the 2-phase switch on the board or using the AI Suite III software.
The EPU is focused on the energy saving part. By adjusting the power consumption to supply the adequate system requirements thus maximizing the energy efficiency. The Fan Xpert 3 utility is dedicated to calibrate the PWM of all fan headers for cool and quiet operations.
To maximize the overclocking potential of the Skylake processor the DIGI+ power control purpose is to regulate the voltage digitally for stable power delivery thus increasing the system stability when overclocked and increase power efficiency.
The Turbo App lets you customize overclocks, audio features, network data and fan control to specific software applications. If these applications start running your own customized settings are set in motion automatically.
The latest addition to the Asus Z170-A motherboard is the Pro Clock IC. You can now set the BCLK speed into higher frequency surpassing the 170MHz.
The Asus Z170-A now supports the Skylakes processor’s platform to a blazing memory speed up to 3600 MHz with all four DIMM slots populated. The Second Generation Asus T-Topology not only improved its overclocking capability it also ensure the time aligned signal transfer to improve memory stability and compatibility.
The Asus Z170-A provides state of the art audio solution that Asus called it Crystal Sound 3. It uses the ALC892 chip from Realtek not the ALC1150 found in high priced motherboard. Though, it was improved a lot compare to its previous version.
It is backed with a TI R4580 Audio amp and high end Nichicon audio capacitor for exceptional sound clarity. The TI Amp can be routed at your own preference to either front or rear outputs. It is also equipped with DTS Connect for multi channel digital output in real time. For DTS component and Studio Sound that lets the surround sound virtualization for stereo speaker.
The Asus Z170-A audio has more feature to offer for your total ear satisfaction. There’s a pre regulator placed in front of the audio codec to minimized power supply noise. The left and right audio channels are separated in two different PCB layers. To minimized the popping noise during start up a special circuit is added called “de-pop”.
The board supports the USB BIOS Flashback feature. Updating Firmware makes it simple for you using only the USB thumb drive.
The Asus Z170-A is also packed with protection feature called the 5X Protection II. This includes the Surge Protection for LAN port called the LANGuard, Over Voltage Protection, Over Current Protection, Stable Power Delivery for the DIGI+ VRM and lastly, the Stainless Steel back I/O.
One of the best features you’ll surely love in this board is the ASUS Easy PC DIY that makes your PC building and maintaining simple and fun. Some of them is in the form of “Q” series.
CPU insertion could be damaging if you made even a simple mistake, right? With the ASUS CPU installation kit you’ll be amazed how simple, fast and safe it will be done. Simply put the processor into this special tool afterward insert it to the CPU socket then close the latch and you’re done.
The PC Cleaner makes your computer work faster, starts faster and runs smoother. It eliminates the unused, unwanted files and programs that encumber your disk space that accelerate the startup process.
As I mention earlier the “Q-DIMM” makes it easier to remove the DIMM using a one sided clip. This makes it easier for you to work on tight space computer cases. This also includes the “Q-Slot” for PCIe component removal. The “Q-Connector” totally eliminates the confusion in rewiring the front panel connector. Simply plug in the wires into the Q-Connector then connects it directly to the front panel connector and you’re done.
Diagnosing the PC could be frustrating if you have no idea what went wrong. With the “Q-LED” Easy PC diagnostic you can identify the problems in no time. The “Q-LED” indicates the problems right away weather the CPU, memory, graphics card or boot devices has the problem.
Overclocking The Asus Z170-A
In order to find out how far the ASUS Z170-A can push the Skylake Core i7 6700K to its limit the board is set to overclock. The board is tested using the G.Skil Ripjaws V 8GB DDR4-3600MHz 2 X 4GB, Premier SP610 512GB SSD, EKWB Supremacy EVO Water Radiator Pump, EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified Graphics card, Corsair HX1050 Professional Series power supply and running in windows 7 Pro 64-bit Operating System.
Initially the Asus Z170-A was set to its Turbo speed at 4.2GHz having a memory setting at 3600MHz with its XMP profile speed. The result is very much admirable as it perform the same as its pricier rival ASUS Z170-Deluxe.
Overclocking the ASUS Z170-A is simple. It easily reaches the Intel’s Skylake Core i7 6700K to 4.8GHz with exactly the same overclock speed attained by the Asus Z170-Deluxe. The voltage is tweak a bit higher at 1.43v having a slight difference with the Asus Z170-Deluxe at 1.42v. The official memory support resulting in 3466MHz as the highest.
The system runs at full stability without having any problems. It shows tremendous speed improvement in any benchmark results compare to its initial 4.2GHz Turbo boost speed.
ASUS Z170-A Review
The ASUS Z170-A Review receives an excellent appraisal at Amazon.com with 4.5/5 stars that shows how great the board performs. The following reviews below are taken from customers who actually bought and use it in real world applications.
“Overclock was extremely easy and BIOS was most user friendly i have ever experienced. LED lights did help with debugging hardware problems a little bit, not always accurate though. Overall good, just started using it so can’t say much for certain, hopefully it stays functional. It is a good value with all those functions and supports at this price.” By wenbo zhang.
“The overclocking system is really simple. There is a switch on the motherboard which shows different a different bios layout depending on switch position. (Off, Air cooled, Water cooled) There is a jumper for unlocking the ability to raise the voltage of the processor. Once those are set and you boot the bios you can use preset overclocks, set your own, or have it try to figure out the best. I ended up taking one of the presets and tweaking a few small things.” By Kavall >>Click Here to read more customers reviews.
Performance wise the ASUS Z170-A shows excellent results from overclocking to benchmark performance with rock solid stability. It can really match any motherboard having more than twice of its price. Though, some minor features are trim down to cut down the price such as dual LAN, WiFi, Dual M.2 slot and extra SATA ports from a third party controller.
With the latest technology geared with the ASUS Z170-A like the M.2 X4 support, SATA Express, Intel LAN, Crystal Sound 3, 5X Protection II and Easy PC DIY which is truly an enthusiast level feature. The new UEFI BIOS and the Al Suite III provides a very handy usage.
ASUS firmly shows it that you don’t need to throw in huge chunk of cash to get a high end performance. If you refuse those extra frills just a pure enthusiast level performance the Asus Z170-A perfectly fits you. >>Click Here to get it at its Lowest Price!