Anyone bought an Intel Z97 motherboard recently? We think it is one of the best Chipsets out there but Intel think it’s time for an upgrade. They recently launched their Skylake range of CPU’s and a supporting Chipset, the Z170. We have a couple of motherboard and CPU samples kicking around the office and we must admit we are already very interested in their capabilities and performance.
We love mITX motherboards these days, and though still a compromise on what you can populate them with, there has been a step change from a couple of years ago, making a mini gaming rig possible and a performer too.
You will not get SLi or Crossfire, you will not get more than two DIMM slots for memory and fan headers will be at a premium, but everything else will stop you from feeling left out of the snobby PC gaming world.
The EVGA Z170 Stinger sports four native SATA 6G ports, eight native USB 3.0 provide good storage and I/O options, mITX form factor and DDR4 support allows for an extremely compact performance system.
The Z170 Chipset replaces the Z97 Chipset launched in Q2 2014. Just over a year between them, it seems forced due to the inevitable rise of DDR4 memory and the need to move everything along for this and a couple of other new features.
A little bit hotter, some refinements and increased connectivity and of course, DDR4, making this the new mainstream Chipset from Intel, say goodbye to DDR3, it was a very fruitful reign.
|Intel Z170 Chipset||Intel Z97 Chipset|
|Intel GL82Z170 PCH||Intel DH82Z97 PCH|
|TDP||6 W||4.1 W|
|System Bus||8 GT/s||5 GT/s|
|# of Displays Supported||3||3|
|PCI Express Revision||3.0||2.0|
|PCI Express Configurations||x1, x2, x4||x1, x2, x4|
|Max # of PCI Express Lanes||20||8|
|# of USB Ports||14||14|
|USB 3.0||Up to 10||6|
|USB 2.0||Up to 14||8|
|Max # of SATA 6.0 Gb/s Ports||6||6|
|Integrated LAN||Integrated MAC||MAC|
|Processor PCI Express Configurations||1x16, 2x8, 1x8+2x4||1x16, 2x8, 1x8 and 2x4|
|Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d)||Yes||No|
|Intel® ME Firmware Version||11.0||9.1|
|Intel® Rapid Storage Technology||Yes||Yes|
There are a few essential modifications Intel have made in the inner workings of the chipset that will help speed your requests to completion, discrete PCH, Direct Media Interface (DMI) 2.0 is replaced by DMI 3.0, which allows speeds of up to 8 GT/s for example.
The Skylake instruction set include Intel MPX (Memory Protection Extensions), support for Thunderbolt 3.0 and SATA Express.
Love Intel or not, this is the right time to be moving it along. Everybody was holding their collective breaths for this, and the Z170 chipset has arrived with a bit of a bang, with all the motherboard manufacturers releasing versions for the launch day parade.
So what about the EVGA Z170 Stinger Motherboard and where does it fit? EVGA state this is an extremely compact performance system, with robust storage and I/O options. Which in our opinion, really just means gamer!