Test Results & Conclusion
How We Test
We’re using our standardized test system, minus its LGA 2011 motherboard, CPU and DDR4-2400, to measure the performance of every LGA 1151 test board. Replacements for those parts include today’s Gaming Z170X motherboard, Intel’s Core i7-6700K, and G.Skill’s overclockable Ripjaws V DDR4-3600.
|Chipset||Intel INF 10.0.27|
Synthetic tests are a great way to find problems, such as misconfiguration or auto-overclocking “review cheats.” Fortunately, the Gaming Z170X’s results are consistent with most previously tested LGA 1150 samples.
In game tests, we again find the Gaming Z170X producing spectacularly ordinary performance — if you want better FPS, try using a better graphics card!
Performance in office and professional applications is also consistent for the Core i7-6700K when using the Gaming Z170X. Anyone who wants better performance here might try their hand at overclocking.
Power, Heat & Efficiency
The Gaming Z170X uses a few more watts than the average Z170 motherboard, but is far from the worst offender. Its energy efficiency is only 1.1% behind the average of all six boards.
|Biostar Gaming Z170X BIOS Frequency and Voltage settings|
|Base Clock||90-300 MHz (10 kHz)|
|CPU Multiplier||8x-83x (1x)|
|DRAM Data Rates||1066-4000 (200/266.6 MHz)|
|CPU Vcore||1.00-1.80 V (1 mV)|
|System Agent||0.93-1.80 V (20 mV)|
|CPU I/O||0.80-1.50 V (12.5 mV)|
|PCH Voltage||0.80-1.40 V (12.5 mV)|
|DRAM Voltage||1.00-1.60 V (12.5 mV)|
|CAS Latency||4-31 Cycles|
Familiar to most enthusiasts as a budget brand that overclocks, Biostar has a tall order to fill if it wants to carry that reputation into high-end markets. This begins to look feasible when O/C testing begins with a record-setting BCLK of 212MHz.
Unfortunately, VCore sag under load, aka “droop,” puts the Gaming Z170X second from the bottom in ultimate sustained CPU frequency. Even the Z170-HD3 did better, and it’s roughly half the price. The Gaming Z170X was at least able to push a record-setting 4-DIMM overclock, but at some really odd timings.
In spite of the odd appearance for its automatic timings, the Gaming Z170X broke the memory bandwidth record for this test system at a mere DDR4-2933. Without any further optimization, it was able to push all the way up to 36GB/s when retested at DDR4-3200.
These attributes put the Gaming Z170X in a peculiar situation for our final analysis. It overclocks like a Biostar motherboard should, but not like a high-end board should.
Some users don’t overclock at all, and those who don’t will certainly want additional consideration for all of the Gaming Z170X’s high-end features. Dual Gigabit Ethernet is nothing to sneeze at, especially when high-end controllers are onboard, and the unit even comes with the Gaming Commander front-panel device. But wait, isn’t that an overclocking feature?
By including audio ports but no USB 3.1 ports, and an O/C controller with a board that really doesn’t O/C very well, Gaming Commander becomes a panel looking for a use. The accessory’s build quality is fairly high, which also leads us to expect a little more from it, as does the Gaming Z170X’s complete package price.
Color us confused, as the Gaming Z170X’s combination of high-end networking, low-end overclocking, mainstream audio codec and lack of SLI support force us to continuously second guess which specific market this product is designed to satisfy. We’ll leave those recommendations to readers while we look forward to Biostar’s next, more complete upscale product.