Board Layout and Feature Continued
Dual channel memory comes standard on the Skylake processor and the Z170 supports standard speed DDR4 modules up to 2133Mhz with overclocking support beyond 3866Mhz. A maximum of 64GB is addressable with the proper module density.
Internal SATA connections number six and follow the new SATA6 connection standard. Three of the standard SATA6 ports are dedicated to SATA Express. You will notice two USB headers near the SATA connections, this is a unique feature found on the OC board and is designed to complement benchtop overclockers.
The majority of us who use LN2 will position the motherboard such that the I/O panel is facing away from us to keep the cables clear. Unfortunately in doing so the available USB ports are no longer easily accessible. Well, at the suggestion of their in-house overclocker Gigabyte added two USB ports along this edge so you can easily boot from a USB drive and/or save scores without digging behind your system.
The Z170 chipset comes with 20 PCI Express 3.0 lanes which is more than you get with the Skylake processor. Unlike the CPU bandwidth the chipset PCIe is intended for connectivity and storage. You will find a total of three M.2 slots on the motherboard with an interesting formula to determine bandwidth and which are disabled during use. A handy chart can be found in the user’s manual.
Despite the overclocking nature of the Z170X SOC Force there is still a full featured I/O panel available. Here you will find a single combined PS/2 keyboard and mouse plug, one USB Type C, one USB 3.1 (red), five USB 3.0 ports (blue), two USB 2.0 ports (black) a single gigabit Ethernet connection, and 8 channel analog audio with digital connections over optical. Onboard video is handled by 1x DVI-D, 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort.
The single orange button is the OCPSW which enables you to monitor and overclock the motherboard from your mobile device using the Gigabyte HW OC App.
The Gigabyte Z170X SOC Force comes equipped with the exclusive AMP-UP Audio Technology powered by a Realtek ALC1150. With Gigabyte AMP-UP Audio, gamers and audiophiles are able to experience crisp, ultra realistic sound effects while gaming, and the richest possible sound experience.
Like on previous motherboards the onboard audio is constructed on an electrically separated section of the motherboard to reduce EMI and offer the best chance at good audio reproduction. The entire section is also shielded with a metal cover to further guard against EMI and helps to clean up the motherboard design.