Gigabyte has put together quite the solid offering in the Z170X-UD3. The company takes all the goodness that the Z170 chipset has to offer and adds useful features like Intel's Alpine Ridge USB 3.1 controller and a USB 3.1 Type-C port with Gen2 speeds to the mix. We also get welcome niceties like a padded I/O shield and a front-panel connector pin block in the box.
If there's one thing that takes some of the shine off this board, though, it's the firmware. It's a little lacking in both functionality and aesthetics. We've long complained that Gigabyte's firmware for its 100-series boards seems to have taken a step backwards compared to the company's 9-series offerings. We're still waiting for Gigabyte to deliver on its promises to spiff up its firmware for these boards, a point of contention we've had since last September.
We're also not big fans of this board's non-standard ATX layout. The UD3 is narrower than the average ATX board, so most cases will only be able to secure it at six points rather than the nine we'd prefer. That lack of structural support makes plugging in the 24-pin ATX power connector feel more precarious than we'd like, and frankly, it feels a little cut-rate.
That said, if you don't mind the extremely limited fan speed controls in the firmware and you can live with—or you even prefer—Gigabyte's "Classic Mode" firmware interface, the Z170X-UD3 seems like a great mid-range motherboard choice. Gigabyte makes up for the board's rather Spartan firmware with a fully-featured and capable set of Windows utilities that offer the kinds of fan control fine-tuning we want, among other things.
While we didn't have a lot of success with base-clock overclocking on the UD3, our multiplier overclocking results on this board with the Core i7-6700K were within 100MHz of the best results we've ever gotten from any board. The overclocking menus in the board's firmware offer more than enough options to keep seasoned tuners busy. The software-based auto-overclocking functionality built into Easy Tune also makes the UD3 easy to tweak, and it delivered results that were only 100MHz off the best results we got with manual tuning.
Overall, our experience with the Z170X-UD3 has made us feel good about choosing it as a midrange Z170 pick for our past few System Guides, some minor flaws aside. This board's $120 price tag makes it an appealing value right now, too: it's about $25 less than the UD3 has commanded in the past. If you can pick up a UD3 for a similar price when it's time to build a system, and you're OK with its slight drawbacks, we think you'll be rewarded with a rock-solid foundation for your Skylake PC.
59 comments — Last by ronch at 11:39 PM on 06/13/16
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