Gigabyte Z170N-Gaming 5 Review

Manufacturer: Gigabyte
UK price (as reviewed): £129.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $159.99 (ex Tax)

Gigabyte Z170N-Gaming 5 Review Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 ReviewWith all the fanfare surrounding the Broadwell-E launch and refreshed X99 boards, it's easy to forget that a smattering of Z170 boards have landed too.

Some are refreshing their features to include the latest storage standards such as USB 3.1 or U.2 - absent at the launch of the Z170 chipset last summer for most examples, but the board we're looking at today is simply a late arrival to the party.

Equally late is our review - Broadwell-E's sudden launch a couple of months ago had us dealing with a stack of new X99 boards, but the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 has been waiting patiently in the wings and being mini-ITX, it wasn't taking up too much space either.

So where does the GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 fit in? Well, it's not an Asus Maximus VIII Impact killer, and nor is it the cheapest mini-ITX board out there - Gigabyte has it's own budget model in the GA-Z170N-WiFi, which costs around £115. With a price tag of £130, though, the new board isn't that much more expensive and is cheaper than the MSI Z170I Gaming Pro AC and will also leave you with a little change compared to the Asus Z170i Pro Gaming, which like many of Asus's boards, has seen a price hike since launch.

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That said, our current price is based on the cheapest when we wrote this, and on several other websites it was noticeably more at around the £140 mark. In short, there's very little between the Asus, MSI and Gigabyte mini-ITX boards in terms of price if you're looking above £125 but not as far as the Impact.

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Compared to its cheaper sibling, the Gaming 5 is in a different league when it comes to aesthetics. You get a steel-plated PCI-E slot, better cooling thanks to a nickel-plated heat pipe connecting the PCH and power circuitry heatsinks - the latter being absent on the cheaper board and along with a 4-pin compared to an 8-pin CPU power connector, it's possible the cheaper board won't be as good an overclocker either despite the two boards sporting the same 5-phase power circuitry.

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Each board has six SATA 6Gbps ports mixed in with two SATA Express connectors and identical-looking audio circuitry too. The only other differences as far as we can see are on the rear I/O panel, where the Gaming 5 has a USB 3.1 Type-A port and gold-plated audio ports, while the Z170N-WiFi has two Gigabit LAN ports and two HDMI ports, presumably gearing it more towards discrete GPU-less systems.

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The layout is generally good, and we have no complaints with the power connectors, which can often be a bone of contention with mini-ITX boards. The two SATA 6Gbps ports that sit away from the SATA Express connectors aren't ideally placed, though, as your cables will undoubtedly trail over the motherboard to get to them, resting behind the DIMM slots.

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Additional space has been provided on the PCB thanks to the lack of an M.2 port - at least for SSDs. Don't worry, though - Gigabyte has merely situated one on the underside like most mini-ITX boards do these days. It might not be great for accessing it, but you're not going to be needing to do that very often so the positives far outweigh the negatives here. There is a second M.2 slot in the form of a vertical Socket 1 connector, which is occupied by an 802.11ac Wi-Fi module, and not compatible with SSDs, with a desktop antenna included in the box too.

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Specifications

  • Chipset Intel Z170
  • Form factor Mini-ITX
  • CPU support LGA1151 compatible (Skylake)
  • Memory support Dual-channel, 2 slots, max 32GB
  • Sound 8-channel Realtek ALC1150 Codec
  • Networking Killer E2201 Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Ports 1 x M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4 32Gbps/SATA 6Gbps (up to 2280), 6 x SATA 6Gbps via Intel Z170, 2 x SATA Express, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 5 x USB 3.0 (2 via header), 2 x USB 2.0 (2 via header), 1 x LAN, audio out, line in, mic, Optical S/PDIF out, HDMI 1.4, DVI-D
  • Dimensions (mm) 170 x 170
  • Extras Isolated audio circuitry, steel-plated PCI-E slots, magnetic desktop Wi-Fi antenna, silver-braided SATA cables

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