So Skylake is here is this is ASUS’s entry-level offering. We are quite impressed with all that ASUS has included in this motherboard. Designing an entry-level motherboard is hard, remember this board is to get you on the Skylake platform for the lowest cost possible. So ASUS had to decided what to add and what not to add so they would not jeopardize the rest of their mainstream line of Z170 motherboards. I think they did a great job here.
You are not going to get everything with this board, but definitely get what you want out of a Skylake motherboard. First you have both USB 3.1 and M.2 support. You have USB Type-A and Type-C ports on this board so that gives you a lot of options for devices. The M.2 slot is a 32 Gb/s PCI-Express 3.0 x4 slot so it has all the speed you want as well. ASUS gives you auto-tuning with this board, which is something you didn’t always get with an entry-level board. This way you can easily overclock and get a system boost without knowing anything about overclocking.
ASUS also bring some new things with their Z170 motherboards, one of my favorites is the dedicated water pump header on the motherboard. This gives you the ability to fine-tune your pumps settings without software and through the BIOS. Awesome to see ASUS do this for everyone that has an AiO watercooling unit. This board and all of ASUS’s Z170 boards come with the new CPU installation tool. This makes it easier to install your processor and helps prevent bent pins, which is a major cause of RMA’s for motherboards.
When it comes to the BIOS ASUS has kept things pretty much the same as they did with their Z97 motherboards, which is not a bad thing as this BIOS design is one of the best out there. The EZ Mode has everything for a new users to set when they build their first PC. For the advanced user this BIOS has every possible setting you could think of really. Not a fan of going into the BIOS? The Ai Suite III software gives you a lot of great tuning options as well. Ai Suite III still remains to be our favorite motherboard companion software. ASUS has also added new applications to it with Z170 like Mobo Connect and PC Cleaner.
If I were to nitpick, and as a reviewer that is my job there are a couple of things I would have liked that have seen on this board. There is not CMOS reset switch on this board, you have to do it via a jumper and while this is not the biggest deal to me, it might be for some people. The I/O shield is a little flimsy and is just silver like we have seen for years, no styling at all. A post code LED is also not found on the board, which might make it a little hard to troubleshoot if something goes wrong.
This board will only set you back $165, which is not a bad price at all to get into the Skylake platform, especially with all of the features that ASUS was able to pack in. Overall ThinkComputers gives the ASUS Z170-A Motherboard a 9 out of 10 score and our Recommended Award!
– Lots of features for an entry-level board
– Dedicated water pump header
– Great BIOS
– USB 3.1 and 32 Gb/s M.2
– CPU installation tool
– Ai Suite III software
– No post code display
– No CMOS reset button