GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 Motherboard
by Rob Williams on December 31, 2015 in Motherboards

GIGABYTE’s vast Z170 motherboard lineup can make it difficult to choose one to go with, which is actually a great problem to have. But, we can tell you that if you are a gamer who wants a lot of functionality for a fair price, one board to be on the lookout for is GIGABYTE’s GA-Z170X-Gaming 7. It’s ~$225 USD, and put simply, it’s stacked.

Performance & Final Thoughts

In the past, I felt that motherboard benchmarking was almost useless, due to the fact that a motherboard should “just work”, and the overall differences between models are so minor. As I’ve said before, a $100 option shouldn’t be that much slower than a $300 one; the price differences instead would have everything to do with features.

This review changed my opinion a little bit, because the two boards I benchmarked – both from GIGABYTE – did in fact exhibit a notable performance difference. I was supposed to have a third board here for testing from another vendor, but customs complicated that. The fact remains, though, that between these two boards, I witnessed notable performance differences, and both were configured the exact same way (default settings.)

In addition to this ~$225 Gaming 7 model, the other board I benchmarked is the ~$140 GA-Z170XP-SLI. Based on these results, performance can increase with higher-quality boards, so let’s get right to the results.

Intel LGA1151 Z170 Test System
ProcessorIntel Core i7-6700K – Quad-Core, 4GHz
MotherboardGIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7 (BIOS: ‘F6f’ 11/11/2015)
GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI (BIOS: ‘F5’ 10/12/2015)
Memory8GB x 2 Kingston HyperX Fury @ DDR4-2666 15-17-17-35
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 (GeForce 359.06 Driver)
StorageKingston HyperX 240GB SSD
Power SupplyCorsair AX1200
ChassisCorsair Obsidian 800D Full-Tower
CoolingNoctua NH-U14S Air Cooler
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro 64-bit

Increasing the BCLK value is one way that vendors could sneak in some higher-than-stock performance numbers, so after letting the test bench sit idle for a couple of minutes, we look at the current BCLK value as according to CPU-Z.

BCLK ValuesMemory SpeedMemory Timings
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 799.95 MHzDDR4-266615-17-17-35
GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI99.95 MHzDDR4-266615-17-17-35

100% identical. Which makes some of the performance differences we’ll see quite interesting.

General System Performance

To take a look at the “overall” performance of our PC configuration, we rely on dual Futuremark suites: PCMark 8 and 3DMark (2013), as well as dual SPEC suites: SPECwpc and SPECviewperf.

SPECwpc 2.0MediaFinancialDevelopmentEnergySciencesGeneral
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 72.271.471.781.812.301.15
GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI2.181.401.581.602.121.11
Higher results are better.
SPECviewperf 12CATIACreoEnergyMayaMedicalShowcaseSNXSW
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 734.6327.210.9154.8321.9036.684.7143.03
GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI34.4526.710.9155.1321.8936.614.6542.37
Higher results are better.
PCMark 8 Suite ScoresHomeWorkCreative
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7502968815598
GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI498768405519
Higher results are better.
3DMark (2013)3DMarkGraphicsPhysics
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 77053796513643
GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI7005794012924
Fire Strike test. 3DMark results in points; higher is better.

These results highlight what I was talking about above: The lesser-expensive “SLI” board consistently performs worse than the more expensive Gaming 7 board. I should note that all tests are completed twice, and in every case here, each run was nearly identical.

I/O Performance

To properly give the internal SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 ports a good workout, we turn to CrystalDiskMark.

CrystalDiskMarkRead Seq.Read 4KWrite Seq.Write 4K
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7544.727.36314.4128.1
GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI549.829.85314.2111.9
All results in MB/s.
CrystalDiskMark USB 3.0Read Seq.Read 4KWrite Seq.Write 4K
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7284.922.08245.527.29
GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI304.920.52255.026.76
All results in MB/s.

Given the performance we saw in the pervious section, it’s quite interesting to see that the I/O performance actually came out better for the SLI board. Where throughput is concerned, very few people are going to notice the difference between 200MB/s and 300MB/s (unless they’re constantly transferring mammoth files to a similar drive), but the differences are still worth noting.

Rendering & Image Manipulation

Writing files to disk or reading a website doesn’t do much to exercise our CPU, so for that, we turn to a few common scenarios – image editing, video rendering, music conversion, and 3D rendering.

Adobe Lightroom CC (6)Result
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7395 s
Results in seconds; lower is better.
Adobe Premiere Pro CCResult
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 793 s
Results in seconds; lower is better.
Autodesk 3ds Max 2016Result
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7585 s
Results in seconds; lower is better.
Cinebench R15OpenGLCPU
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7159.86924
GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI151.96888
Higher results are better.
LuxMarkLuxBall Render
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 76318
Higher results are better.
dBpoweramp R15FLAC to MP3
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7748 s
500 FLAC to 320Kbps MP3.

Here’s where the differing performance is really highlighted. While the SLI board kept up in most tests here, the difference seen in our Lightroom run is nothing short of massive.

Sub-system Performance

For memory and CPU testing, we utilize SiSoftware’s Sandra 2015.

Sandra 2015 (Memory)BandwidthLatency
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 732.39 GB/s21.2 ns
GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI20.65 GB/s21.2 ns
Int/Float/Cache results in GB/s; higher is better.
Sandra 2015 (Arithmetic)DhrystoneWhetstone
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 7166.13 GIPS114.12 GFLOPS
Higher is better.
Sandra 2015 (Multi-core)BandwidthLatency
GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming 737.63 GB/s41.4 ns
GIGABYTE Z170XP-SLI32.4 GB/s41.7 ns
Bandwidth results; higher is better. Latency results; lower is better.

Wrapping up our performance results, there’s another strange anomaly to note: the memory bandwidth seen on the SLI board is ~66% that of the beefier Gaming 7. That’s massive. Again, this was consistent between two runs, and the memory settings were verified after-the-fact to have been the same.

Final Thoughts

Let’s get the odd performance differences seen above out-of-the-way first. I am not sure why GIGABYTE’s GA-Z170X-SLI performs slower than the Gaming 7 in many cases, and nor have I reached out to the company about it yet. This is due to the fact that I’ve not been able to test out competitor boards yet, and for all I know, I could have a bad copy.

At first, I believed it might have been because the Gaming 7 board auto-overclocks itself when stressed, but that logic is squashed thanks to our memory bandwidth test, where the SLI board saw 20GB/s bandwidth, versus the Gaming 7’s 30GB/s. Even with a massive clock boost, we wouldn’t see anywhere near a 10GB/s boost like that.

This all detracts a bit from the subject at hand, though, and that’s that the Gaming 7 board is a great performer. It also has a fantastic featureset, with the only unique feature possibly missing being Wi-Fi. The board includes more than what most people will even need, including a second M.2 slot, and the ability to take advantage of three SATA Xpress configurations.

The board even features a USB 3.1 normal-sized port at the back, as well as a Thunderbolt/USB-C 3.1 port. I’d have to imagine that’d be hard to plug in blindly given its super-small size – but at least it doesn’t matter which way you plug it in!

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 - Overview

If I were in the market to build a new Z170 gaming rig, this one would be on my shortlist, without question. It looks great, offers a fantastic featureset, and has a great EFI / software solution to boot. If I had one minor complaint, it might be that I wish the board had one extra fan header to make it 6, but that’s a minor complaint.

For $225 USD, I’d say for what this board offers, it’s priced well, and ultimately, I think it’s deserving of an Editor’s Choice award.


  • Not too expensive, and offers a huge featureset.
  • Offers great performance.
  • Great overall layout and design.
  • Dual M.2 slots is a nice touch.
  • Features two NICs – it’s good to have a backup.
  • Nice audio solution, including the replaceable OPAMP.
  • Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C port is included.
  • Both the EFI and “App Center” solution are solid; well-designed and easy-to-use.
  • LEDs offer a nice bling factor (and can be disabled if you don’t want it).


  • EFI could use a good fan-tuning utility to cater to Linux users or those who don’t want to deal with it in their OS.

GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 Motherboard - Techgage Editor's Choice
GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 Motherboard