In order to pull off what seems like an impossible feat, ASUS has aimed high and cut very few corners with this board. The Z170-A has a robust all-digital 8+2 phase CPU power design, improved overclocking abilities, a high-speed x4 M.2 slot and SATA Express port, USB 3.1 abilities, Crossfire and SLI, a high-quality Intel i219v NIC, 3×3 802.11AC wireless abilities, and all the new BIOS and software suite found on their higher-priced models.
The only obvious area ASUS has made any concessions to price is in the use of the aging Realtek ALC892 8-channel HD audio CODEC but the abilities of this audio controller have been upgraded to support DTS audio, and comes with a new pre-filter for higher audio performance. All of this on a $165 motherboard is nothing short of astonishing.
|CPU||LGA1151 socket for 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors|
Supports 14nm CPU
Supports Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
|Chipset||Intel z 170 express chipset|
|Memory||4 x DIMM max 64GB, DDR4 3466(OC) / 3400(OC) / 3333(OC) / 3300(OC) / 3200(OC) / 3000(OC) / 2800 (OC) / 2666(OC) / 2400(OC) / 2133 MHz, non-ECC, un-buffered|
Dual channel memory architecture
Supports Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
|Expansion slots||2 x PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots (single at x16 / dual at x8/x8 mode)|
1 x PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slot (max at x4 mode)
3 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots
1 x PCI
|Graphics||Integrated Graphics Processor- Intel® HD Graphics support|
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DVI-D/RGB/DisplayPort ports
– Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
– Supports DVI-D with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
– Supports RGB with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
– Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2304 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 512 MB
Supports Intel® InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
Supports up to 3 displays simultaneously
DP 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport compliant, supports DP 1.2 monitor daisy chain up to 3 displays
|Multi-GPU Support||supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology|
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
|Storage||Intel® Z170 chipset :|
1 x SATA Express port, compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 x4 Socket 3, with M Key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode)
6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports, gray
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology
|LAN||Intel I219V Gigabit LAN Controller’|
|Audio||Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC featuring Crystal Sound 3|
|USB||Intel® Z170 chipset :|
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 at back panel, blue, 4 at mid-board)
Intel® Z170 chipset :
6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 at back panel, , 4 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller :
1 x USB 3.1/3.0/2.0 port (1 at back panel, , Type-C)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller :
1 x USB 3.1/3.0/2.0 port (1 at back panel, teal blue, Type-A)
|Back panel I/O ports||1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port|
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port
1 x USB 3.1 Type-C
1 x USB 3.1 (teal blue)Type-A
2 x USB 3.0 (blue) Type-A
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
5 x Audio jacks
|Internal I/O connectors||2 x USB 3.0 connectors supports additional 4 USB 3.0 ports (19-pin)|
2 x USB 2.0 connectors supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports
1 x SATA Express connector: , compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3
1 x TPM header
1 x COM port(s) connector
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector (1 x 4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector (1 x 4 -pin)
4 x Chassis Fan connectors (4 x 4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header
1 x Thunderbolt header
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x EZ XMP switch
1 x Front panel audio connector (AAFP)
1 x System panel (Q-Connector)
1 x DRCT header
1 x MemOK! button
1 x TPU switch
1 x Power-on button
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
1 x 5-pin EXT_FAN (Extension Fan) connector
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Card header
1 x Water Pump header (4-pin)
1 x 14-1 pin TPM connector
|OS Support||Windows 10|
|Form Factor||ATX Form Factor 12″ x 9.6″ (30.6 cm x 24.4 cm)|
The ASUS Z170-A comes in a nice retail package. On the front there is a photo of the motherboard and ASUS highlights their 5-way optimization and USB 3.1 support. This packaging is what you are going to see for ASUS’s Z170 mainstream line of motherboards.
The PCB is skinny and cheap-looking. A bit of white plastic surrounding the panel of rear ports doesn’t change that. Actually, it probably wouldn’t hurt airflow to get rid of it.
It’s not exactly bursting with features, either, though the price point makes that inevitable. Frills like LED debug displays, power and reset buttons, switches to toggle auto-overclocking – none of that appears. On the other hand, the Z170-A delivers pretty well on the stuff you actually need.
The Asus Z170-A supports onboard graphics. This allows for integrated graphics when paired with a compatible CPU that supports them. Integrated graphics are a cheap alternative to using a graphics card, but should be avoided when frequently using modern applications or games that require intense graphical processing.
There are 6 PCIe x16 slots on this motherboard. This means it is perfectly capable of accommodating the latest graphics cards, although it is important to try and use a graphics card with the same graphics card interface of PCIe v3.0, as anything below will not reach the motherboard’s potential, and anything above will have its performance slashed to the bandwidth maximum of the Asus Z170-A’s PCIe v3.0.
The Asus Z170-A supports up to 3 Nvidia SLI connected graphics cards or up to 4 AMD Crossfire connected graphics cards for improved overall graphical performance at the cost of multiplied graphics-based power consumption as well as the price of the cards themselves.
The Z170-A motherboard comes standard with ASUS latest iteration of their sound technology, dubbed Crystal Sound 3. Like its predecessors, Crystal Sound 3 integrates the audio components on a isolated PCB from the other main board components minimizing noise generation caused by those other integrated devices. ASUS designed the audio subsystem with high-quality Japanese-sourced audio and power circuitry for a top-notch audio experience.
When it comes to testing motherboard performance, we’ve usually gathered benchmark results using the CPU’s peak stock memory multipliers. Since DDR4 is so new, however, and Skylake’s 2133MHz maximum stock DDR4 speed is so conservative, we’ve continued the test of Z170 boards with the memory clocked at the highest speed we can attain while keeping the CPU at its stock clocks.
The DDR4 DIMMs in our Z170-A were running at 3000 MT/s. This hardly makes for an apples-to-apples comparison, but the results are interesting nonetheless.
It’s clear that Asus knows exactly how to get everything power users want onto a motherboard, without going overboard on flashy extra or unnecessary features that would discourage anyone working to a budget. The Z170-A is the cheapest Sky lake motherboard we’ve seen so far but it has almost all the connectivity of its more expensive rivals and overclocks almost as well as long as you’re prepared to adjust settings manually, rather than rely on the play-it-safe automatic pre-sets.