We’ve had a very new and quite premium motherboard on our test bench for the past few weeks. In the wake of developing and releasing new products for the coming of Broadwell-E, GIGABYTE has also updated their Z170 motherboard line with a whole new look and ensuring that the feature list is no less populated as well. Intel’s Z170 already naturally has quite the large list of connectivity options that it’s compatible with, but a good motherboard adds on to that and gives you choices and advanced features that enthusiasts everywhere are thankful for.
Enter the GIGABYTE Z170 Designare
With the Designare, they’ve taken a premium design philosophy that makes it suitable for those enthusiasts that are looking for more than the basic features inherent in nearly any Z170 example. The Designare is part of the famed Ultra Durable family, with a similar overall style but a blue and black color-scheme throughout. It almost harkens back to the more old-school color-schemes, when a black PCB was a mostly new thing. This isn’t technically from their gaming line, but that doesn’t mean it lacks for the features that we gamers tend to like when looking at our next motherboard. This is rife with some very useful features and bevy of excellent quality components to round off what could potentially be quite the good buy. The Z170X Designare costs $217.89 on Newegg and $236.32 on Amazon.
Let’s take a look around the outside. The black and blue motif is actually quite good, and should be a very attractive combination in a variety of different builds. As they say, black goes with anything.
The RAM and PCIe slots are actually “armored” in that they’re encased in aluminum so that they resist bending a bit better and can withstand a little more abuse while you build. Sometimes it might take a bit more pressure, and the slots on the Z170X Designare are not the weak point. This also has the added benefit of further protecting against ESD emissions as well. At first it might seem a bit silly, but there’s actually quite the benefit, and the cost to do so isn’t prohibitive. They could expand this armoring scheme to their entire line, at very little cost even. They reckon that it’s around 1.7x stronger than not having such armor. Take a look.
Around the front we have a very well endowed selection of storage options. There’s six SATA 6 connectors, two SATA Express, one U.2 and 1 M.2 connector on the board itself. While this isn’t exactly designed to be the basis for a storage server, you’re still able to connect quite a few drives. One of the selling points is the ability to have three Intel 750 SSDs in various configurations in a RAID for exceptional speed.
Moving in the opposite direction, the rear panel is fairly capable, though it looks barren if compared to others. There are four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports on the back, but the capability to expand by two and four respectively through on-board headers. In honesty, it seems a bit sparse. For those that are external device heavy, this may not meet your requirements. With several different devices connected at any one time, I fill it up easily and certainly wish for more.
Even better, though, is the fact that it does indeed support Thunderbolt 3 through an Intel controller, and it does happen to be quite fast. It has two USB 3.1 Type C that can do both. It’s rather nice to have two of those, and also quite rare. I supposed in the future it’s even possible to attach external graphics, though it’ll have to be supported in the BIOS as well.
Alright, the board is ATX, sturdy and has all the connectivity you’ll ever likely need, or want. This is being marketed towards those that like to modify and play with their systems. And especially at those that want a custom water-cooling setup. As a result they have two headers that are specifically designed to work with water pumps, either from an AIO or from your custom loop. It also has the ability to hook up LED strips to be controlled from your PC. For it’s own LED, the motherboard has an Ambient Surround LED system that’s far more subdued and subtle. It adds up to quite the experience, and isn’t gaudy in the least bit.
Being from the Ultra Durable family of motherboards, the individual components are rated for quite a bit of continuous activity and are made to be, well, durable. The resistors are of an anti-sulfur design with an extra bit of protective alloy that prevents them from going bad and dying as quickly as without. Of course the capacitors are high-end, solid state affairs designed with endurance and being tough. It’s the little things that count that really add up to making a motherboard differ from its competitors, and GIGABYTE is doing just that. The design might be plain, but it’s the inside that really counts, and the base components are all of a higher quality here.