Z170 mATX mobos

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LostHighway
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Z170 mATX mobos

Post by LostHighway » Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:59 am

This is primarily a question about mobo fan controls and BIOS but as a novice builder I welcome all the advice I can get.
As the subject line suggests I'm looking at Z170 mATX mobos for a non-gaming, quiet build. I'm familiar with ASUS reputation as arguably having the best software and UI but that seems to come at a steep price. The ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Gene is simply crazy money to my sensibilities but the Z170M-Plus seems to not have quite enough there there (to steal Gertrude Stein's phrase) at least from the perspective of hardware per dollar. The Gigabyte GA-170MX Gaming 5 and the ASRock Z170M Extreme 4 both appear to offer better value than the ASUS Z170M-Plus for ballpark the same money but I'm far from a sophisticated consumer in this regard.
For someone looking for finesse fan control and detailed /accurate temperature sensor data with an idiot-friendly UI, robust and stable performance, and good audio (although I'll probably mostly be just using a digital out and an outboard DAC) where would you lean and why?

edh
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Re: Z170 mATX mobos

Post by edh » Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:24 am

Gigabyte's fan control remains not great. Doesn't mean that you need to use it necessarily if you are happy running fans at 5V for example.

I was going to suggest one of the Asus Pro Gaming series which sit a long way below the Maximus price wise but then realised that for someone reason they don't make a uATX version, only ATX and mITX.

What system are you going to use it for though? What do you need from the motherboard?

~El~Jefe~
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Re: Z170 mATX mobos

Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:23 pm

for me, the quality of the power and durability claims are most important as well as the ability to have full speed pci 3.0 slots. New pci-e SSD drives, all sorts of things one can put there for future.

The other thing I demand on them is the new 3.1 USB slots. I am not sure the lower Asus models have them. I was reading and did not see that.

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LostHighway
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Re: Z170 mATX mobos

Post by LostHighway » Tue Dec 15, 2015 3:00 am

~El~Jefe~ wrote:for me, the quality of the power and durability claims are most important as well as the ability to have full speed pci 3.0 slots. New pci-e SSD drives, all sorts of things one can put there for future.

The other thing I demand on them is the new 3.1 USB slots. I am not sure the lower Asus models have them. I was reading and did not see that.

I LIKE DRINKING BAILEYS ON ICE
I think all the boards I've looked at do meet at least my minimum requirements for M.2, USB 3.1 etc. I haven't looked too closely at the H170 ASUS mobos but I'm fairly certain they at least support 32 Gb/s M.2. As much as I'd love to future proof this build I just don't feel that I have a very clear sense on where the technology is likely to go beyond the next nine months or so or even what my own needs might be a couple years out.

I've now sort of narrowed the field to to the ASUS Z170M-Plus ($125/£83 but remember no VAT here), ASRock Z170M Extreme 4 ($115/£77) or the crazy expensive and doubtless way more than I need ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Gene ($229/£153). For me the strongest argument for the ASUS boards is their UEFI BIOS which seems to be SOTA. From what I gather ASRock is second best in this regard with respect to fan controls etc. with MSI and Gigabyte trailing. The ASRock board offers a few more or better features, e.g. Realtek ALC1150 as opposed to ALC887 on the more-or-less equivalently priced ASUS Z170M-Plus. I suspect I'd probably be fine with either but I'm very conscious of how little I know so I'm probably belaboring the decision more than necessary.

lodestar
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Re: Z170 mATX mobos

Post by lodestar » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:36 am

The main issue is how quiet you want your new build to be. For example, if you use one of the hybrid PSUs in Passive or Eco mode the PSU fan would not run at all in a non-gaming build and there would be no PSU fan noise to concern you. The Z170M-PLUS like most recent boards from Asus supports Fan Xpert 3. Fan Xpert 3 features Fan Stop which means that any case fans you have can be set not to turn on until the CPU hits a set temperature, typically 50C. So with a CPU only build and reasonable ambient temperatures the use of Fan Stop would mean that the case fans would not be running either.

That leaves only the CPU fan running. Fan Xpert 3 for this board provides something which Asus call Extreme Quiet Mode. This is Fan Stop for the CPU fan. So like the case fans the CPU fan can also be set off until a specified temperature is reached. What you then have is effectively a complete Passive PC. So no fans run and there is no noise, absolutely none. In the event that a combination of CPU stress and/or ambient temperature pushes the CPU temp over 50C then fans would turn on as a fall back to protect the system. If this is what you want go for the Z170M-PLUS but if you prefer to have fans running at all times then consider the other boards. The issue of having fans running is probably less of a factor if you either have or intend to use fans like the Noctua PWM models which can run at very low speeds with this board. These low speeds, if Fan Xpert 3, is deployed could be in the 200 to 300 rpm range which might be effectively silent if background noise levels are low enough.

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Re: Z170 mATX mobos

Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Tue Dec 15, 2015 6:22 pm

I personally always use a physical bay fan controller and a good SNR rated audio card. I transport it from build to build. It gives me more options to be more technical in specs on the board, such as the latest revision of 3.1 (i see there are a few unfortunately already), that m2 slot, more full pcie 3.0 lanes (less of the 8x sharing and 1x after). Things like that. It also gets me cheaper boards in long run at times. I get to buy the 75 dollar "gaming" boards because of the fan bay controller and the audio card (asus xonar d1 pci)

To get the fancy dancey audio on board, it seems the maximus asus level would be way to go.

I am learning about the 3.1 standard. I have 3.0 on my board now, it is almost 5 1/2 years old. It has lots of features (main comp) that I can use now that were not 100% standard then. that m2 port is key i feel. Those drives in 1 TB will be 200 dollars not very long from now.

I would guess an external backup and 3.1 latest revision would be kinda awesome.

hhhh81
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Re: Z170 mATX mobos

Post by hhhh81 » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:28 am

Sorry to dig up this topic but I would like to know what did you buy in the end. I got a Z170M-Plus and realized it has no spdif and only 4 usb ports. I was confused because my old motherboard was cheaper, has both optical and coaxial spdif and 8 usb ports.

Now I'm considering the asrock extreme4 or the msi mortar. If the only thing I'm losing is the ability to run everything passive I can live with that. I have 2 slipstream PWM, and as long as they can run at low speed this wouldn't make much of a difference.

Abula
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Re: Z170 mATX mobos

Post by Abula » Mon Feb 22, 2016 6:24 am

MSI bios fan control is pretty good, at least the PWM fan headers, the lowest it can provide 12.5 (13% displayed on the newer bios) with increments of 12.5%, meaning you will be able to control on the CPU_FAN1 (and the good MSI boards come with CPU_FAN2), 12.5%, 25%, 37.5%, 50%, 62.5%, 75%, 87.5% and 100%, from what i recall, the lowest the slipstream can reach was around 40%, it really depends on the fan itself if it can run at 37.5% or 50%, thats the way MSI bios works. It also has now 4 breakpoints, so you can change the way it response to certain temps.

On AsRock, previous to skylake (havent seen the most recent mobos), the CPU_FAN was able to be controlled in 1% increments, from what i recall there was no restriction on the minimum, so in essence you could achieve whatever PWM the can run since it has 1% increments. Also had 4 breakpoints to what i recall, now take my comments with a grain of salt as i have not tested new motherboards, so they could have changed in skylake, maybe someone that own asrock skylake could chip in.

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