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Intel's Other Skylake Chipsets: H170, H110 And More

The enthusiast Intel Z170 chipset has been out for a few weeks now, but the rest of the 100 series chipsets have been missing in action so far. Although there have been dozens of Z170 motherboards on the market, the lack of budget-friendly and business-oriented chipsets have limited the options of anyone wanting to buy into the Skylake platform. Although businesses will continue to wait, the consumer-oriented chipsets are now available to help expand the LGA 1151 motherboard market.

The 100 series chipsets primarily aimed to increase bandwidth across the system. The platform now supports the DDR4 memory standard, offering significantly increased bandwidth over the older DDR3 RAM. The chipsets' DMI bandwidth was effectively doubled over the previous generation, and finally the High-Speed I/O (HSIO) connections have increased in number and in bandwidth by 40 percent. These improved features paired with Intel's Skylake processors help drive performance higher than Broadwell or Haswell.

Of the six 100 series chipsets, three are developed and targeted at consumers. These are the Z170, H170 and H110 chipsets, all of which have now been released. The H170 and H110 chipset motherboards will show up over the next few days.

Intel 100 Series Consumer Chipsets
CPU PCI-E 3.0 Config Support1 x 16 or 2 x 8 or 1 x 8 + 2 x 41 x 161 x 16
Independent Display Support332
Memory Channels/ DIMMs per Channel2/22/22/1
CPU Overclocking SupportYesNoNo
Intel Smart Sound TechnologyYesYesNo
Intel Small Business Advantage 4.0NoYesNo
Intel Small Business BasicsNoYesYes
Intel RAID Support 0/1/5/10YesYesNo
Intel Smart Response TechnologyYesYesNo
Max Intel RST for PCI-E320
I/O Port FlexibilityYesYesNo
Maximum HSIO Lanes262214
Chipset PCI-E Support20 PCI-E 3.0 Lanes16 PCI-E 3.0 Lanes6 PCI-E 2.0 Lanes
USB Support (USB 3.0)14 (10)14 (8)10 (4)
SATA 3.0 Ports664

The H170 and H110 chipsets serve two main purposes. First, although they are consumer-oriented, they also support some business features not found on the Z170 motherboard. They lack some of the more advanced features that the business-oriented chipsets have though, like vPro and SIPP. Second, they are used as budget friendly alternatives to the more expensive enthusiast Z170 chipset.

The H170 chipset lacks features that the enthusiast Z170 chipset offers, such as overclocking support and the ability to divide the CPU's PCI-E 3.0 lanes between multiple GPUs. It also loses a few USB 3.0 ports and HSIO lanes, but is otherwise feature complete. RAID, memory and SATA support is identical between the Z170 and H170 chipsets. The H170 is a more budget friendly solution, and it's expected to fill the middle of the LGA 1151 market.

At the low-end of the 100 series spectrum is the other H series chipset, the H110, which is further stripped down from the Z170. It lacks support for RST, Smart Response Technology, Smart Sound Technology, Small Business Advantage 4.0, RAID, overclocking, and multi-GPU configurations. It also loses more than half the USB 3.0 support of the Z170 chipset. The number of HSIO lanes available falls sharply, and their use is limited. Memory support is reduced as well, as only a single DIMM is permitted in each channel. Finally, the H110 is also the only chipset to lack PCI-E 3.0 support; instead it uses eight lanes of the older PCI-E 2.0 standard.

The H110 chipset doesn't offer much, but it still supports the Skylake CPU, DDR4 and a PCI-E 3.0 connection for a GPU. The H110 chipset will likely be used on the cheapest LGA 1151 motherboards, however, which will make it easier for consumers to upgrade to Skylake without needing to pay out quite as much.

Intel 100 Series Business Chipsets
CPU PCI-E 3.0 Config Support1 x 16 or 2 x 8 or 1 x 8 + 2 x 41 x 161 x 16
Independent Display Support333
Memory Channels/ DIMMs per Channel2/22/22/2
Intel SIPP EligibleYesYesNo
Intel vPro Technology EligibleYesNoNo
Intel Active Management TechnologyYesNoNo
Intel RAID Support 0/1/5/10YesNoNo
Intel Smart Response TechnologyYesNoNo
Max Intel RST for PCI-E300
Maximum HSIO Lanes262018
USB Support (USB 3.0)14 (10)14 (8)12 (6)
SATA 3.0 Ports666
Chipset PCI-E Lanes20 PCI-E 3.010 PCI-E 3.08 PCI-E 3.0

Although motherboards with the business chipsets -- the Q170, Q150 and B150 -- aren't being released yet, Intel has announced the specifications. Many features such as Small Business Advantage 3.0, Small Business Basics, Intel Platform Trust Technology, and Intel Smart Sound Technology are implemented across this entire line.

The Q170 chipset is the closest to the Z170 chipset than any other, supporting all of the features the Z170 has, with the exception of overclocking. It also supports several additional business features, and is the only chipset with the vPro and Active Management technologies. As it supports a wide array of PCI-E 3.0 configurations, this makes the system ideally suited for a compute-heavy business computer or a low-end server.

The Q150 is similar to the Q170, but sheds many of the more advanced business technologies, maintaining only SIPP support. It also loses support for PCI-E storage RAID solutions, and has a reduced number of HSIO lanes and USB 3.0 ports. The last business chipset, the B150, further reduces these aspects of the system, losing all but the basic business technologies and nearly half of the USB 3.0 ports.

Although the business motherboards aren't available yet, Intel's announcement suggests that they are not far off, so we will likely see motherboards using these chipsets appear in the near future. Until then, all of the consumer chipsets are now available and should offer a wide range of options to consumers.

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Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.