ASUS Z170-A Skylake Motherboard Review

Author: AkG
Date: August 9, 2015
Product Name: Z170-A
Part Number: Z170-A
Warranty: 3 Years
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Closer Look at the ASUS Z170-A pg.3

As mentioned previously ASUS does include a third x16 slot for triple video card configurations (8+8+4) but actually installing third card will cause it to overhang the bottom of the board and block a lot of the connectors found here. This should be avoided if at all possible as the bottom of the motherboard is covered with a rather impressive list of headers, switches, and connectors.

Here you will find the front panel Q-header, TPU switch, two USB 2.0 headers, the second USB 3.0 header, one of the four 4-pin chassis fan headers, TPM header, COM port, front-panel audio header, and a handy onboard power button. The only thing missing from such a bountiful list of features is an onboard Q-Code LED debug panel, which is only available on higher end models.

On the positive side the TPU switch - controlled by the onboard TurboV Processing Unit microprocessor - gives you manual access to the TPU auto-overclocking feature. The switch has an off position and two selectable overclock presets.

Te onboard sound solution ASUS chose is the aging ALC892 8-channel audio CODEC rather than more modern Realtek ALC1150. On the positive side the audio processing area has once again been electronically separated from the rest of the motherboard, and there is an EMI shield covering the ALC892. In addition, this integrated solution uses premium Japanese capacitors, a Texas Instruments RC45801P op-amp, and now comes with a low dropout pre-regulator noise filter to help boost audio fidelity.

The rear I/O panel belies the budget-focused price of this board. The star of the show is the addition of one USB 3.1 Type-A port and one USB 3.1 Type-C port. While the Type-C only supports 3 amps, the use of both a Type A and Type C ensures future proofing as nearly all future USB3.1 devices will work the Z170-A.

Since the Z170 does not natively support USB 3.1, ASUS has included an ASMedia ASM1142 controller. This is ASMedia's first USB 3.1 controller and is compliant with Intel's eXtensible Hot Controller Interface specification revision 1.1. This cutting edge controller is connected to the motherboard via two PCIe 2.0 lanes which is also the same layout as ASUS uses on their upgraded 2011-v3 motherboards.

The Ethernet networking controller has also been thoroughly upgraded. The last generation Z97-A used the very capable Intel i218v Gigabit NIC for wired Ethernet; whereas the Z170-A uses the all new i219v and is fully protected from ESD via the LANguard technogly that was first seen on ASUS' TUF series. Unfortunately ASUS has once again forgone the inclusion of any wireless Ethernet capabilities.

Rounding out the list of features is two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports (both powered by the Z170 PCH), a PS/2 port, six audio analog ports, a S/PDIF optical out port, a single HDMI port, one full sized DisplayPort, one DVI port, one D-Sub port, and a HDMI port.

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