ASRock's Z170 lineup has something for everybody

ASRock has pulled back the curtain on its family of Z170 motherboards, and it's betting on USB 3.1 ports, M.2 connectivity and quality audio in the higher-end models as key features. As an added touch, nearly all of ASRock's Z170 models have USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports in their rear I/O clusters. The "+" models also include 5.25" front-panel bays with another set of ports.

Let's start with the big boys. The Z170 Extreme7+ has three (yes, count'em) M.2 slots, alongside four PCIe x16 slots and a half-size mini PCIe connector. You also get dual Intel LAN ports and three SATA Express connectors. As with most of ASRock's Z170 lineup, this model comes with the company's "Purity 3" onboard audio suite, which pairs a Realtek ALC1150 codec with a 115 dB SNR DAC, as well as a TI NE5532 headphone amp good for cans with up to 600 Ω of impedance. The audio path runs through Nichicon capacitors and isolated shielding, and these boards can also perform digital multichannel audio encoding via DTS Connect.

Nobody can forget (or remember?) good ol' Fatal1ty, whose branding is featured on the Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6+. This variant features a dedicated mouse port with polling rate adjustments, a Killer E2400 LAN port, and macro software including "sniper" functionality, which drops the mouse sensitivity on demand for easier precision aiming.

The Z170 Extreme 6+ model carries three PCIe x16 slots and a single M.2 connector, as well as one Intel LAN port.  Going further down the range, the Z170 Extreme 4+ has slightly smaller smaller heatsinks, but it's otherwise similar to its larger-numbered cousin.

The more affordable end of the spectrum is handled by the "Pro" lineup. The Z170 Pro4 has most of the goodies of the Extreme range, but it comes with fewer PCIe slots. Purity Sound is absent here. Onboard audio is instead handled by a Realtek ALC892 chip and ELNA capacitors. A microATX version, dubbed the Z170M Pro4, is also available. Last but not least, the presumably most affordable Z170 Pro4S and Z170M Pro4S are a little more barebones, without the fancy heatsinks or USB 3.1 ports of their more expensive brethren. These boards also ship with regular solid-state capacitors instead of premium Nichicon parts. Both still include M.2 slots.

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