Intel's 6th Generation Core Processors (Skylake) launched this summer, and the new processors bring DDR4 into the mainstream PC market, which means higher up front cost when upgrading from a previous platform. Although DDR4 is faster, there's nothing really wrong with DDR3 at this point, and having the option to switch platforms one step at a time will be an enticing option for many people looking to upgrade.
Biostar recognized this market and took it one step further with the creation of the Hi-Fi H170Z3. This board not only supports both DDR3 and DDR4, it manages to do so in a compact Micro ATX form factor. The company has split the four available DIMM slots into pairs of DDR3 and DDR4 slots. This will limit the maximum memory capacity, but you can still install a healthy 16 GB of DDR3 or 32 GB of DDR4.
In addition to supporting two types of memory, Biostar has included a Gen3x4 M.2 socket with room for 30 mm, 42 mm, 60 mm and 80 mm M.2 cards. The Gen3x4 socket can operate at up to 32 Gb/s, which is over three times faster than Gen2x2 sockets. The Hi-Fi H170Z3 also includes one SATA Express port for multiple fast storage options.
Intel's H170 chipset is designed to be used with locked Core processors, and as such they have the ability to enable the iGPU found in many of Intel's processors. Biostar has opted to enable it with this board, and has included a DVI, HDMI, Display Port and even a legacy VGA port. The company said the board supports 4k displays, as well as triple display setups without a discrete GPU.
The mATX motherboard features Biostar's shielded audio solution, which it calls "Hi-Fi." Hi-Fi is a combination of amplifier hardware, independent power, segregated circuitry and a software solution with multi-channel calibration. Biostar said these features help reduce electronic noise.
Biostar has included a number of features that should aid in the longevity of the H170Z3. The company installed Super Durable solid state capacitors rated for 10k hours, and low resistance MOSFET with eight pins instead of the tradition three. Biostar claimed this helps reduce the operational temperature, which should increase its lifespan.
The board also features Super LAN Surge Protection, which is a chip that is designed to strengthen electrical stability, and help prevent damage caused from an electrical surge through the network cable. All of these features are installed onto a moisture-proof PCB, making it ideal for harsh environments, or coastal locations.
Biostar's Hi-Fi H170Z3 mATX motherboard is available now for a suggested price of $104.99.