Since many chipset functions now reside on the CPU die, and since there's only a handful of third-party peripheral controllers out there these days, we rarely see meaningful performance differences between motherboards anymore. That said, we still test system performance when we review motherboards to ensure everything is functioning correctly.
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 a practice we began with our X99 reviews. We test our Z170 boards with the memory clocked at the highest speed we can attain while keeping the CPU at its stock clocks.
We tested the Z170X-Gaming G1 against Gigabyte's own Z170X-Gaming 7, Asus' Z170-A, and MSI's Z170A Gaming M5. All the boards were able to clock our DDR4 DIMMs up to 3000MHz while maintaining stock CPU clocks, so the results below were gathered with these settings.
Gigabyte's Z170X-Gaming G1 ends up at the back of the pack for a handful of tests. Most notably, this board runs 3-4% behind the leader in our gaming tests. Considering the run-to-run variance of these tests and the small percentage difference, we wouldn't worry too much. Boot times are similarly close, but the Gaming G1 takes home the trophy here.
Unlike our performance results, one's choice of motherboard can have a notable impact on power consumption. We measured total system power draw (sans monitor and speakers) at the wall socket for five minutes of idle time at the Windows desktop. We then repeated the test under a full load of Cinebench rendering with the Unigine Valley demo running at the same time.
The Z170X-Gaming G1 has the highest power consumption at idle and under load. This outcome isn't exactly surprising, given all of the extra controllers and other hardware it has onboard. A decked-out board like this one pays the price at the wall outlet. Its idle and load power draws come in at 19W and 26W higher than the power-efficiency leader in each test.
The following page is loaded with detailed motherboard specifications, system configurations, and test procedures. If you're worried that you won't be able to fully appreciate all the tables of data to come with the excitement of the conclusion lingering in the back of your mind, feel free to jump straight to the last page.
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