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On Board Peripherals

The Intel Z170 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip has six SATA-600 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). One of those ports is shared with the M.2 slot. The SATA ports are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards will not block them.

Notice that the SATA-600 ports are grouped in pairs and each pair can be used as two independent SATA ports or as a SATA Express port.

Gigabyte Z170MX-Gaming 5Figure 4: the six SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset

The Intel Z170 chipset supports four USB 2.0 ports and ten USB 3.0 ports. The Gigabyte Z170MX-Gaming 5 offers six USB 2.0 ports, two on the rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. There are seven USB 3.0 ports, all of them controlled by the chipset, being three of them at the rear panel, and four available through two headers. There are also two USB 3.1 ports, one Type A and one Type C, controlled by an Intel “Alpine Ridge” DSL6540 chip.

Gigabyte claims that the two USB3.0 ports (yellow ones) on the rear panel provide a low-noise power, for use with audio and other DAC interfaces.

The Gigabyte Z170MX-Gaming 5 does not support FireWire or Thunderbolt ports.

This motherboard supports 7.1 audio format, or eight channels. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using the Realtek ALC1150 codec, which is an excellent audio codec, providing 115 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 104 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs with 24-bit resolution. These specifications are good even for the user who wants to work professionally by capturing and editing analog audio.

The analog audio connections are independent if you use up to 5.1 analog speakers and there is an optical SPDIF output on the rear panel. There is a connector where you can install an SPDIF coaxial output.

The analog audio section of the motherboard also uses a replaceable Burr-Brown OPA2134PA operational amplifier (op-amp) from Texas Instruments and a set of switches that control the gain of the headset output.

Figure 5 shows the audio section of the motherboard.

Gigabyte Z170MX-Gaming 5Figure 5: audio section

The motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by an Atheros Killer 2201 chip, which is a high-performance Gigabit Ethernet controller.

In Figure 8, you can see the motherboard rear panel with a shared PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, two USB 3.0 ports low-noise ports, VGA output, DVI-D output, one USB 3.1 Type C port, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 3.1 Type A port (red), HDMI output, two USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.

Gigabyte Z170MX-Gaming 5Figure 6: motherboard rear panel

In Figure 7, you can see the accessories that come with the Gigabyte Z170MX-Gaming 5.

Gigabyte Z170MX-Gaming 5Figure 7: accessories

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Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master’s degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.