GIGABYTE Z170X Gaming G1 Motherboard Review

The GIGABYTE Z170X Gaming G1 represents the flagship of GIGABYTE’s Z170 family and the G1 line itself. Simply put, it is the most advanced and feature packed Z170 motherboard GIGABYTE builds. The Z170X Gaming G1 is overbuilt, feature-rich, and is possibly the ultimate Z170 motherboard so long as price isn’t a factor.

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Motherboard Overclocking Software

GIGABYTE includes its EasyTune software with the Z170X Gaming G1. This software has been redesigned for the Z170 motherboards. GIGABYTE has actually simplified the EasyTune part of the package. One important thing to note is that GIGABYTE is using a very modular approach to its software design. There is the common App Center launcher and utilities like Ambient LED and SIV all integrate into it. There are probably some pros and cons to this methodology. You can install only what you want and leave out the rest. I like that aspect of it. Other brands sometimes lump more together than I’d like them to. The applications that are part of App Center are responsive and feel very light weight. We won’t talk about the bulk of the applications in App Center because most of them aren’t terribly interesting. The two we’ll cover are EasyTune and SIV. The former is for tuning within the Windows operating system and the latter is for hardware monitoring and fan control.

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The EasyTune application is largely unchanged from the previous generation aside from the cosmetic face lift it now enjoys. The color scheme changed and the default window size got a lot smaller which changes the look of it immensely. Still the layout and functionality remain virtually identical to the previous incarnation of the program. You can still choose from performance profiles or auto-tune the system. Basic information is displayed at the bottom of the menu outlining the configuration of the system. The advanced CPU OC menus gives you control over voltages, the base clock frequency and the turbo frequency multiplier. The advanced DRAM OC menu allows you to set the memory frequency, enable or disable XMP profiles and adjust the memory timings for each individual channel. The advanced power menu allows you to set the CPU phase options, frequency response and voltage protection. The Hotkey menu is new for this generation. It allows the user to enable hot keys so that macros can be used with any keyboard rather than using proprietary hardware and brand specific software to do the same job.

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SIV or System Information Viewer is rather different from the previous methods GIGABYTE has used for handling fan control and monitoring in the past. The name "System Information Viewer" doesn’t quite provide the right context for the application. Initially I forgot to install it because I didn’t think about it being the application that controlled fan speeds and monitored voltages. The basic system information menu shows the type of information one would expect. Clock frequencies, motherboard mode and BIOS revision, and lastly processor and memory stats.

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For fan control, the application will annoy you on startup forcing you into fan calibration whether or not the system even has fans capable of being tuned in this way. The smart fan menu does offer some preset profiles for setting fan behavior. The smart fan advanced menu gives you more traditional PWM and RPM fixed mode controls similar to what we’ve seen in generations past from MSI and GIGABYTE. You have your standard line graph with plot points to be spread out at various temperature and duty cycle points to produce the desired effects under specific conditions. The system alert part of the package allows the user to set alarms for specific hardware conditions such as voltage ranges, temperatures and fan speeds. The voltages have high and low limits while temperatures and fan speeds only have a low limit. There is a record function allows you to monitor system health and review it at a later time. Lastly there is the hardware monitor which unfortunately converts the SIV application window into the hardware monitor. You can hit the back button on the monitor to go back to the SIV application window. There is no way to use both at the same time which seems like an odd choice. I will talk more about this in the overclocking section, but the hardware monitor is usually wrong when it comes to reading CPU voltages. It is capable of reading voltages correctly in offset mode, but not manual or adaptive modes.

Lighting Control

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GIGABYTE’s Ambient LED software allows you to set the motherboard’s PCB mounted LEDs to specific colors. There are also some visual effects that can be applied to change colors or patterns in certain conditions or all the time. The software is certainly simplistic in nature but that’s why it works well in my opinion. You can intuitively configure this feature and there is zero learning curve to it. The biggest downside of this control is that there are only 7 colors to choose from. That’s all GIGABYTE built into the hardware. Comparatively MSI offers something like 1.5 million colors and ASUS "only" does 256. I think ASUS probably has the right balance of choice and ease of use there. You want more than 7 options, but 1.5 million is a bit over the top, even for this motherboard, but it is what it is and we are sure somebody will put all those to use.