ASUS Z170-A Motherboard Overview
ASUS has gone with a white and black color design on their mainstream line of Z170 motherboards. This is a change from their mainstream Z97 motherboards, but we did see the black and white on their mainstream X99 motherboards. So you have an all-black PCB and with a white and silver PCB heatsink, white plastic cover over the I/O ports and silver VRM heatsinks. For those wondering the Z170-A is your typical ATX motherboard.
Starting at the CPU socket we have the Intel LGA1151 socket, which of course supports Intel’s latest 6th generation Skylake processors. ASUS also includes their CPU Installation tool with this motherboard which makes it extremely easy to install your processor without bending any pins. The motherboard is powered by a 10 phase DIGI+VRM design from ASUS. The power delivery components are covered by two separate silver heatsinks. Power to the CPU comes by way of an 8-pin EPS connector. The 4-pin CPU fan header is color-coded white and there is another 4-pin optional CPU fan header.
Moving over to edge of the motherboard we have four DDR4 DIMM slots that are color-coded for dual-channel operation. This motherboard supports DDR4 memory up to 3400 MHz (OC). Also on this side of the board is a 4-pin fan header, 24-pin ATX power connection, and a USB 3.0 header.
Moving down the board to our storage connection we have a single SATA Express port and four SATA 6GB/s ports. Remember if you don’t plan on using the SATA Express port that opens up two more SATA 6GB/s ports.
Along the bottom of the board is where you are going to find the rest of your connections and headers. From right to left we have the front-panel headers, EZ XMP switch, a 4-pin fan header, USB 3.0 header, two USB 2.0 headers, Thunderbolt header, TPM header, power button, COM port header, and HD audio headers.
Also towards the bottom of the board is a M-Key M.2 slot that supports M.2 solid state drives up to 110mm in length. This is a 32 Gb/s PCI-Express 3.0 x4 slot. We can also see a TPU switch and a clear CMOS header. I would have really liked to have seen a clear CMOS button rather than a header.
Moving over to the far side of the board we have ASUS’s Crystal Sound 3 audio solution for on-board audio. This audio solution features an audio amplifier, premium Japanese audio capacitors, and a de-pop circuit design. The audio components are on their own separate PCB layer and there is EMI and audio shielding.
As far as expansion slots go you have three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x8x8/x8x8x4), three PCI-Express 3.0 x1 slots, and a single legacy PCI slot. There is full support for 3-way SLI and CrossFireX configurations.
Right above the top PCI-Express 3.0 x1 slot there are three 4-pin fan headers. The first two (dark grey) are your typical fan headers and the third (white) is a dedicated header for your pump if you are using an AiO watercooling device. Having this dedicated header allows you to fine-tune the speed, power, and much more of your pump.
Finally moving over to the rear I/O of the board from left to right we have two USB 2.0 ports, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, DVI, combination PS/2, two USB 3.0, Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.1 (one type-a one type-c) and HD audio.