What Gigabyte is trying to accomplish with their Z170X-Gaming 5 is quite laudable. Today’s Z170 market is book-ended with two types of Skylake-supporting motherboards: those which are absolutely packed full of features with prices ranging above the $200 mark and those under $125 tend to make some serious sacrifices to achieve their relative affordability. Among the more expensive options, some are marketed as premium “gamer” products while others just throw everything but the kitchen sink into their feature list. Gigabyte’s Gaming 5 on the other hand strides into the under-served middle ground at $150 while still endeavoring to appeal to demanding buyers. They ask a pretty straightforward question: what does a gamer actually need in their motherboard? The answer is a straightforward “exactly what’s included on this particular product”.
From a features perspective, the Z170X-Gaming 5 hits all the high points and then some. It has an intuitive no-nonsense BIOS, a very functional layout, plenty of well-planned storage options, one of the best onboard sound solutions around and Intel’s excellent new USB 3.1 controller. Rounding things out is a surprisingly robust networking combination featuring a Killer NPU and an Intel i219 NIC alongside a well-appointed PWM. Honestly, if there’s something else a gamer or even home user could possibly need, we’re all ears.
There have of course been some sacrifices like onboard Power / Reset buttons, a clear CMOS button, native NVMe U.2 device support, WiFi and Thunderbolt connectivity. Those are all understandable omissions but it would have been great to see a few of those added in the place of two of the three SATA Express connectors and one of the two M.2 ports.
On the overclocking side, the only thing that holds this board back is its lack of higher-end XMP profile support. While the performance differences between 3466MHz and 3600MHz+ memory are negligible, it would be nice to have some additional options, though manual overclocking will easily bring higher frequencies within reach. Meanwhile, the addition of Gigabyte’s Turbo B-Clock and a very functional DualBIOS for an overclocking failsafe are both extremely welcome additions on a lower priced board.
Even if you aren’t someone who is comfortable with manual overclocking, the Gaming 5 also offers a whole host of novice-friendly automatic overclocking tools. There’s a PCB-mounted OC button and one-touch software Auto Tuning, both of which work extremely well and represent a huge step forward for Gigabyte.
Comparisons between MSI's Gaming M5 and Gigabyte's Gaming 5 series are inevitable. They cost within a few dollars of each other, offer similar hardware features, have dual NICs and dual M.2 ports and boast a similar layout. Honestly, either is a great choice for anyone on a tight budget that doesn’t want to sacrifice performance, features, overclocking or long-term durability on the altar of lower prices.
With such similar building blocks used for these two models it comes down to more specific scenarios when deciding on one or the other. For example, the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5 is more novice friendly for manual overclocking. Both are in the same final frequency range but the when spending a significant amount of time digging deep into the BIOS, Gigabyte’s layout is more user-friendly. It also offers more auto-overclocking options and a superior onboard sound solution.
Another valid comparison is between the various ASUS Z170 offerings and the Gaming 5. Here Gigabyte surges ahead. Compared to the slightly cheaper ASUS Z170-A, the Gaming 5 is a much better value regardless of how you look at such things. Even compared to the more expensive ASUS RoG Hero, this board can easily hold its own and makes a very good argument for why the average consumer should save their money for other things.
After looking at quite a few Z170 motherboards to date, the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5 is arguably one of the most well-rounded we’ve encountered thus far. It may not be perfect but its combination of features and abilities at a highly affordable price point makes it a perfect fit for a huge portion of the DIY market.
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