Biostar’s Hi-Fi H170Z3 mobo allows piecemeal Skylake upgrades

Are you looking to upgrade to a Skylake CPU while holding on to your DDR3 memory? Biostar's Hi-Fi H170Z3 has slots for a pair of DDR3L DIMMs for today's memory, along with two more DDR4 slots for tomorrow's upgrades.

While the Hi-Fi H170Z3 supports both DDR3L and DDR4 memory, the board's manual warns against running both types at once. Caution aside, this H170-based motherboard supports either 16GB of DDR3L-1866 or 32GB of DDR4-2133 at a time. Keeping in the character of supporting both present and future tech,  the Hi-Fi H170Z3 has support for both SATA and PCI-Express storage. Biostar's micro-ATX board has four SATA ports, two of which are used in a SATA Express connector, and a single M.2 slot that can accept both AHCI and NVMe drives running at speeds up to 32Gbps. 

The Hi-Fi H170Z3 is caught between eras in other ways, too. A pair of legacy PCI slots stand alongside PCI-Express x16 and x1 slots.The back panel has VGA, DVI-D, HDMI, and DisplayPort connectors, allowing Intel's integrated graphics to connect to anything from an old CRT monitor to a 4K 60Hz display. 

Biostar touts its high-quality onboard audio solution, as well, from which the Hi-Fi H170Z3 takes its name. Thanks to a combination of EMI shielding, isolated audio traces, and metal-oxide resistors, the company claims this motherboard's analog audio output has a 100-dB signal-to-noise ratio. The special audio treatment seems to stand at odds against the pedestrian Realtek ALC892 audio codec, though.

Biostar expects the Hi-Fi H170Z3 to cost $105 when it hits store shelves.

Ben Funk

Sega nerd and guitar lover

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 6 years ago

    Heh, it’s like all those store-brand “Hi-Fi” stereos from the 90’s.

    Writing the word Hi-Fi lots of times all over the box and the product apparently makes it sound better, in exactly the same way that red flame decals make your car run the quarter-mile faster.

    • jaset
    • 6 years ago

    I really wish there were Z170 boards that support DDR3L but have *NO* PCI slots. For some reason, all the available Z170 DDR3L boards have one or even two (!!) PCI slots. 🙁

    Edit: I even come across one last night with 3 PCI slots /smh

      • Anovoca
      • 6 years ago

      that has nothing to do with the socket, that is just the expected minimum for the form factor.

        • jaset
        • 6 years ago

        I’m not sure where you get the impression that I’m stating that it’s related to the socket. It’s purely a design decision by the manufacturers. There are a number of Z170 boards that have no PCI slots (irrespective of form factor), sadly none of which that also offer DDR3L support.

          • Anovoca
          • 6 years ago

          assumed you were generalizing pci/pcie, as in: [url<]https://techreport.com/news/28894/intel-chops-down-mini-itx-to-make-5x5-motherboards.[/url<] In which case there aren't any (that I have seen)m-ITX that are completely without pcie/pci regardless of socket or dimm. So I guess to answer your earlier question now that I am reading it in the correct context is that manufacturers don't want to limit themselves. (More people not buying because they dont have pci than people not buying because they do). Making something like a Mobo to fit a niche market isn't profitable and most people using M-ITX want slots for wireless nic, tv tuners, sound cards ect.....

            • jaset
            • 6 years ago

            PCIe is fine – I just find it disappointing that PCI is being included at the expense of additional PCIe slots on the DDR3L boards, as I dumped all my PCI cards long ago and replaced them with their PCIe equivalents. Also not forgetting that I’m opining about all form factors , not just m-ITX or m-ATX specifically.

          • insulin_junkie72
          • 6 years ago

          They do exist.

          The ASRock Z170 Pro4/D3, for instance:
          [url<]http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Z170%20Pro4D3/[/url<]

            • jaset
            • 6 years ago

            Thanks! The last time I checked Asrock’s site, I don’t think that particular board had been added.

            Bookmarked for when the urge to upgrade becomes irresistible.

      • Nevermind
      • 6 years ago

      PCI slots are cheap to include.

        • yuhong
        • 6 years ago

        Not so cheap when an extra bridge chip is needed.

          • Nevermind
          • 6 years ago

          Still cheap. And expected to be there.

            • jaset
            • 6 years ago

            I was hoping with the release of this latest generation that PCI would finally be a done deal. Fat chance of that, it would appear 🙂

    • chuckula
    • 6 years ago

    Skylake officially supports DDR3[b<][i<]L[/i<][/b<] is there any confirmation that plain old DDR3 actually works in these boards?

      • Jeff Kampman
      • 6 years ago

      It is DDR3L. Apologies for the error.

        • chuckula
        • 6 years ago

        That’s fine. It’s more an issue of people expecting to take DDR3 out of an older mobo and slap it into these newer boards. The DIMMS will fit into the slots, but then you have to figure out if they will work properly.

          • Freon
          • 6 years ago

          I’m not sure I quite understand the use case for this board for that reason. Does anyone actually have DDR3L kicking around they want and can to reuse? Where did you get it, and what system was it used in?

            • jaset
            • 6 years ago

            I have 32GB of [url=http://uk.crucial.com/gbr/en/bls2c8g3d1609es2lx0ceu<]Crucial Ballistix VLP[/url<] DDR3 in both of my Z77 boxes. It runs at 1.35V in its default profile (but jumps up to 1.5V for the XMP overclocking profiles).

            • DPete27
            • 6 years ago

            [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231461<]Here are the 1.25V DIMMs I'm using.[/url<] AFAIK, they have the lowest voltage of ANY DIMMs out there.

      • brucethemoose
      • 6 years ago

      From Intel regarding DDR4 voltages:

      [quote<] 1.5v is the absolute max we allow for XMP certifications. However, good DDR4 memory will run at 1.35v up to 3200. Technically, no “safe” (guaranteed) OC over-voltage but 1.35v or lower is best.” ( [url<]http://www.legitreviews.com/what-is-the-safe-voltage-range-for-ddr4-memory-overclocking_150115#B0v3oROQf7rJXxJ4.99[/url<] ) [/quote<] That suggests the Skylake IMC can handle 1.5V memory. Standard 1.35V or 1.5V DDR3 should work, but older 1.65V kits probably won't.

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