Event Coverage

HWM+HardwareZone.com Tech Awards 2016: Editor's Choice - Part 2

By Team HardwareZone - 27 Feb 2016

Best Motherboard for Intel

Best Motherboard for Intel

Intel’s Z170 chipset is a major milestone in many ways. At long last, DDR4 support has arrived on a mainstream chipset. PCIe 3.0 lanes are also finally available through the chipset itself, because the processor is now connected to the chipset’s Platform Controller Hub (PCH) by the upgraded DMI 3.0 protocol. A total of 20 PCIe 3.0 lanes are now exposed through the chipset, compared to just eight PCIe 2.0 lanes on Z97. Furthermore, while M.2 was a new addition on Z97 boards, that feature has now become commonplace on Z170 motherboards from various manufacturers. Thanks to PCIe 3.0 now being supported on the chipset, Z170 boards can now have more M.2 sockets than before. Other features like USB 3.1 Type-C sockets are also found on the majority of the boards, and manufacturers have worked to distinguish their offerings with value-added features like improved onboard audio and metal-reinforced PCIe slots.

Another standout feature of Intel’s Z170 chipset is the flexibility of its HSIO layout, which gives motherboard manufacturers considerable freedom in implementing the desired selection of expansion card slots, ports and storage connectivity options. While the Z97 chipset had 18 such ports that could switch between the PCIe lanes, USB 3.0 ports and SATA 6Gbps ports, Z170 now has 26 ports than can be implemented in a variety of ways. This flexibility means that board manufacturers are able to implement a wide range of connectivity options to appeal to their target audience. 

For this year's Tech Awards, we've rounded up the flagship boards from various brands to see which one comes out on top.

Nominees: 

 

  • ASRock Z170 OC Formula
  • ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme
  • ECS Z170 Claymore
  • Gigabyte Z170X Gaming G1
  • MSI Z170A Gaming M9 ACK

 

And the winner is...

ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme

At the end of the day, it was the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme that impressed us the most. It topped the majority of our test benchmarks, and was always among the top two performers for the tests it didn’t win. Furthermore, its blend of gaming- and enthusiast-oriented features is quite compelling as it manages to appeal quite successfully to both crowds, setting it apart from the other boards that often look like they are sacrificing one for the other. In addition to being the best board for overclocking, it also offers a range of hardware buttons – the ReTry button for instance – that speak to ASUS’ efforts to make the overclocking process as smooth as possible. It is this attention to detail and user experience, combined with its stellar performance and attractive design, that lead us to unreservedly declare it the winner. It will also cost you a pretty penny, but what you get is an exceedingly feature-rich board that performs great and looks the part as well. Here's a small snapshot of the performance results from our detailed shootout:-

Scoring Breakdown
Criteria/Model ASRock Z170 OC Formula ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme ECS Z170 Claymore Gigabyte Z170X Gaming G1 MSI Z170A Gaming M9 ACK
Features 8.0 9.0 6.5 9.5 8.5
Performance 8.5 9.5 6.5 8.0 8.5
Value 8.5 8.0 8.5 7.0 8.0
Overall 8.5 9.0 7.0 8.0 8.5
Price (at launch) S$540 S$809 ~S$221 S$939 S$669

For more details on how we selected our winners, check out the full reviews and articles listed at the References section at the end.

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