Intel hasn’t exactly made it easy for budget-restricted performance enthusiast to get “up to speed” with the latest technology, previously making buyers pay for the highest CPU models simply to get a CPU that wasn’t explicitly locked-out of overclocking. That changed a little with the “Anniversary Edition” Pentium G3258, but even this concession to the bottom-rung left buyers in the lower-middle-range looking for more cores and cache. And more recently, the promise of overclockable “non-K” Skylake processors vanished when Intel decided to delay all but the top two models.
Saving money in other places is always an option, but not always a good one. The price of DDR4 has nearly dropped to per-gigabyte parity with DDR3, but not quite, and even then there isn’t much to be saved by picking the cheapest vs next-rung parts. Other cut-rate parts are even more cringe-worthy, as low-end power supplies make us think of the word “Poof” followed by a cloud of smoke. However, most builder can use an old case at little to no cost, and then there’s the motherboard. Before you start thinking once again about that cloud of smoke, let us assure you that the days of “Capacitor Plague” are far behind us, and at least one manufacturer is willing to produce a fully overclockable Z170 motherboard with a full three year warranty that’s priced below $115.
Gigabyte is even bold enough to put its Ultra Durable brand on the low-cost Z170-HD3, which begs the question what was left out to get this board down to its target price? You’ll notice that it has a full range of slots including M.2, quad DIMMs and dual PCIe x16. Digging deeper into the specs reveals this model has a dual BIOS, with a recovery feature in case the user renders main firmware unbootable. It even has a pair of front-panel USB 3.0 headers, just in case you’d like to use this low-cost board with an expensive chassis. What it visibly lacks are any 10Gbps USB 3.1 ports or a DisplayPort connector.
The reason there aren’t any “USB 3.1 Gen 2” ports is that the board doesn’t have that extra controller. In fact, it doesn’t have any extra controllers. A single network controller and audio codec are basic necessities, not extras.