Asus has released its Sabertooth Z170 S motherboard, which we first saw during CES. This motherboard is somewhat similar to the Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1 released last year in terms of specs, but it loses some of the more advanced cooling features, and it gains a unique winter camo theme.
Although it falls short of the Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1 in terms of features, the Sabertooth Z170 S is still a fairly high-end motherboard. It should still perform well when overclocking processors thanks to its well-developed digital power design that uses numerous power phases.
The motherboard is clearly targeted at gamers, and it supports multi-GPU configurations up to quad-SLI and quad-Crossfire. The first two PCI-E x16 slots are configured to connect to the CPUs, but oddly enough Asus opted to connect PCI-E x16_3 to the chipset's PCI-E controller instead, which may result in lower overall performance because of increased latency and a potential bottleneck issue. PCI-E x16_3 also shares one of the system’s HSIO lanes with one of the SATA ports, and if that SATA port is in use, the PCI-E x16_3 slot will be limited to an x2 connection instead of an x4, further hampering performance.
For storage connectivity, the board also has a single M.2 Key M slot that can run in both PCI-E x4 or SATA mode, in addition to the typical six SATA-III (6 Gbps) ports found on most Z170 motherboards and two SATA Express headers. The ability to switch the M.2 between PCI-E and SATA is helpful if you have an M.2 drive that is compatible only with SATA transfer protocols, but most users will want to leave it set to PCI-E x4, as this enables faster data transfer rates. The M.2 also shares the SATA connection with one of the SATA ports, but it does not share the PCI-E lanes with any other devices.
The motherboard also has a high-end audio Realtek ALC1150 audio codec with a claimed 112 dB SNR. Like many modern motherboards, the audio sub-system is segregated from the rest of the system components and sits on a segmented piece of the board. This helps to reduce the EMI interference and maintain a higher SNR. Asus opted to use traditional electrolytic capacitors as opposed to higher-grade audio capacitors, but overall the sound system should be decent for an on-board implementation.
Many of these specs are similar to the higher-end Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1, but that board does have a few other advantages over the Sabertooth Z170 S beyond its special cooling features. It features dual NICs, whereas the Sabertooth Z170 S has only a single Intel i219V gigabit LAN. It also has an ASMedia SATA-III controller to support two additional SATA ports. Other than that and the different color scheme, the boards are fairly similar.
The board is available now for $219.
|CPU/Chipset||Intel LGA 1151 6th Generation Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors, Intel Z170 Chipset|
|Memory Capacity||4x DIMMs, Up to 64 GB Dual-Channel DDR4-2400/2133 Non-ECC Memory|
|Storage Interfaces||-2x SATA Express Ports-1x M.2 Socket 3 (PCI-e 3.0 x4)-6x SATA 6 Gb/s with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10|
|Video Outputs||-1x DisplayPort-1x HDMI Port|
|GPU Support||-Nvidia Quad-GPU SLI, Nvidia 2-Way SLI-AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX|
|Expansion Slots||-2x PCI-e 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)-1x PCI-e 3.0/2.0 x16 (at x4 mode)-3x PCI-e 3.0/2.0 x1|
|Internal USB And I/O Connectors||-2x USB 3.0 connectors-2x USB 2.0 Connectors-1x S/PDIF, 1x Thunderbolt header|
|Fan and Cooling Options||-1x CPU Fan-1x CPU OPT Fan-6x Chassis Fan-2x Assistant Fan-1x Water Pump Headers|
|Networking||Intel i219V Gigabit LAN Controller|
|USB Ports||-6x USB 3.0-8x USB 2.0 ports (Z170 Chipset)-2x USB 3.1 ports (One Type-A, One Type-C [Asmedia USB 3.1 Controller])|