Overclocking, Value And Conclusion
Just when some users thought ECS was going to pull out of the enthusiast motherboard market, the firm drops a Claymore in the mix. Those fortunately don’t explode when dropped, but could potentially blow away the competition in value.
Unfortunately, the Z170-Claymore’s power protection scheme prevented it from reaching the expected 4.6 GHz, as the voltage required to keep the CPU stable forced the frequency to go down. The chart might say 1.30V (MAX), but the board throttled the CPU when asked to provide more than 1.26V to its core (at high clocks and full load).
A firmware issue prevented memory overclocking, but that appears specific to “unfamiliar” modules. We anticipate a patch for that.
Without the ability to manually configure our memory using this version of Z170-Claymore firmware, the overclocked bandwidth chart shows a hole. Similar firmware issues kept Supermicro’s CZ170-SQ operating at the memory’s default CAS 15 in this test, and fans looking for a horn to blow should probably consider one of the two properly functioning samples as their instrument.
ECS might not have gotten its firmware right yet, but fairly solid hardware puts its Z170-Claymore in a value race against the second board in the above chart, ASRock’s Z170 Extreme6. The above chart doesn’t, however, show how much more a product with more features is actually worth.
The Z170-Claymore is certainly cheaper than the Z170 Extreme6, but is the price low enough to offset its lesser feature set? The Extreme6 does have a four-lane M.2 slot for example, but the Z170-Claymore offsets that advantage by having a second four-lane PCIe slot. And the Extreme6 has a couple extra SATA ports, but those are shared with M.2 where the Claymore’s SATA to M.2 interface is dedicated to its purpose. Both motherboards have exactly one added ASM1061 SATA controller and one added ASM1142 PCIe controller onboard.
The Extreme6 has a slightly more-popular network controller (Intel vs Realtek), an onboard optical S/PDIF output, and a DTS Connect to make that output truly useful. It also includes a dual-port USB 3.1 drive bay adapter with its own ASM1142 controller, and the latter part is probably worth the $20 price difference to those who need it. In the best case for ECS, this is probably a value tie. Buyers who can’t afford or justify the extra expense will probably want to consider the Z170-Claymore anyway.