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). The motherboard comes with the six ports, four of them installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards will not block them.

Notice that four SATA-600 ports are grouped in pairs, and each pair can be used as a SATA Express port.

There is also a U.2 connector (formerly known as SFF-8639), for installing high-performance SSDs that use this connector.

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra GamingFigure 4: the six SATA-600 ports and the U.2 connector

The Intel Z170 chipset supports four USB 2.0 ports and ten USB 3.0 ports. The Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming offers six USB 2.0 ports, two on the rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. There are six USB 3.0 ports, four on the rear panel and two available through a header. There are also two USB 3.1 ports, one Type A and one Type C, controlled by an Intel “Alpine Ridge” DSL6540 chip.

The Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra Gaming does not support FireWire or Thunderbolt ports.

This motherboard supports 7.1+2 audio format, i.e., eight channels plus two independent channels for audio streaming. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using a Realtek ALC892 codec, which has a 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, a 90 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs. These specs are good for the mainstream user, but if you are looking into working professionally with audio editing, you should look for a motherboard that provides an SNR of at least 97 dB for the analog input.

The portrayed motherboard comes with independent analog audio outputs, meaning that you won’t need to use the line in or mic in jacks when connecting an six-channel analog speaker set, and an optical and coaxial SPDIF output. You also can route digital audio to your video card to have digital audio in its HDMI connector using the available “SPDIF_O” header, in the case your video card do not have the HDMI audio functionality.

Figure 5 shows the audio section of the motherboard.

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra GamingFigure 5: audio section

The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by an Intel I219V chip.

In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel with two USB 2.0 ports, a shared PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, one USB 3.1 Type C port, one USB 3.1 Type A port (red), Mini DisplayPort input, Mini DisplayPort output, HDMI output, four USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.

Gigabyte Z170X-Ultra GamingFigure 6: motherboard rear panel