Professional gaming sounds quite lucrative. However, what people tend to forget is that to make a name in this industry, you need to invest thousands of dollars on a proper setup.
We can say with confidence that the single most important item is a motherboard. It is the key to fast performance as well as smooth game loads. With this in mind, we will do our best to guide you through the five best Z170 gaming motherboards, explaining the crucial points that you should take into consideration.
Best Z170 Gaming Motherboards Reviews
ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Formula DDR4 ATX
The Z170 gaming motherboard does stand as the most optimal solution when it comes to extreme requirements. This ROG VIII Formula motherboard offers splendid performance and reliability, including several innovative features that will ensure a stress-free gaming experience.
First of all, let’s discuss the superb design that highlights this ASUS ROG motherboard. We are happy to notice that not only can you customize this unit according to your liking, but it is also incredibly sturdy given the featured ROG armor.
This motherboard comes with 3-zone illumination, which will allow you to choose between different RGB colors across a 1.6 million spectrum. Not only that, but you can customize the setup further considering the RGB dedicated header strip that this product comes with. The 50/50 LED strips seem to work the best, especially if you don’t want to include a bulky RGB controller.
When it comes to motherboards, there is one feature that most gamers are concerned about – overheating. Luckily, ASUS and EK Water Blocks worked together to design an energy-efficient Cross Chill cooling system. The most innovative trait of it is that it uses both air and liquid in order to keep the ROG MAXIMUS cool.
It is quite good to know that the Cross Chill EK can help you decrease your motherboard’s temperature by up to 20 degrees Celsius. Probably the coolest thing is that this system won’t sacrifice your CPU fan, because the Cross Chill EK features a header that you can directly connect for the required power.
So far, so good, as not only does the ROG MAXIMUS VIII look great but it also seems to work incredibly smooth, with just the slightest amount of coil whine. As we have mentioned above, the ROG armor provides a sturdy structure that protects the motherboard from external heat sources (such as video cards). Most importantly, bending a ROG of this structure is close to impossible.
The manufacturer also did a great job when it comes to making this motherboard space-sensitive. With a couple of innovative slots, including 2242, 2260, 2280, and 22110, you won’t have to sacrifice additional PCIe space. On the other hand, the aforementioned slot supports allow even smoother performance and greater capacity.
It does use a dedicated clock technology that is compatible with i6 processors. Overclocking up to 400 MHz should be much easier with this technology taking place, highlighting the 10K black metallic capacitors, as well as MOSFETs that this motherboard uses.
Furthermore, this ROG FORMULA VIII is compatible with USB 3.1, which offers a more efficient transfer than most other Z170 models. This motherboard also offers superb audio performance, using the SupremeFX 2015 to ensure optimal clarity and 0-distortion.
Lastly, this product comes with an innovative KeyBot II feature that should help you define complex macros by connecting it straight to the motherboard.
However, this motherboard does come with a couple of cons – while it does offer 5-way optimization, the software is a bit glitchy, especially when it comes to clearing CMOS.
Still, we think that for the money you pay and this motherboard’s overall structure and performance, it is a worthy choice!
- Liquid/air cooling system
- Great overclocking
- Sturdy and attractive design
- Trouble clearing CMOS
- Coil whine
ASRock Z170 OC Formula LGA1151
While not manufactured by ASUS, we do think that this ASRock motherboard is worth your time and money. It is highlighted by a DDR4 RAM, a Z170 Intel chip, and the innovative OC formula that should help you with optimal game loads!
The first thing that we noticed about this motherboard is the superb build that can easily stand up to par with the aforementioned ROG armor. The OC formula ensures that the components are completely protected from heat. Also, you would have a really tough time trying to bend this one. Thus, it doesn’t come as a surprise that it got Tom’s Hardware Editor Approval back in 2015.
There are a couple of innovative motherboard features that make this product a choice to consider. The Intel Z170 chipset, as well as LGA1551, offer generous memory module support. Not only that, but there are also a couple of additional slots such as 4 PCIe 3.0×16, PCIe 3.0×1, as well as min half-size PCIe.
The offered slot supports seem to work great when it comes to transferring speed and overall performance. That is not all as the ASRock motherboard works with SATA Express as well as U.2 Kit and thus ensures SSD compatibility.
When it comes to the featured ports, this Z170 motherboard does include 2 USB 3.1 and 8 3.0 both at the front and rear. Frankly, this motherboard produces almost no sound, which can be crucial for a stress-free gaming experience.
On the other hand, its 7.1 CH Audio technology is an industry-standard and offers great audio purity.
However, we have to say that it is nowhere as fancy as the ROG FORMULA VIII. It doesn’t feature RGB lights and has no header strips to which you can apply LED lights, either. Also, you might have certain issues with power regulation after hours of continuous gaming.
Taking everything into consideration, we do think that if you are not a fan of Asus and ROG, then this ASRock motherboard is a great alternative.
- Sturdy design
- Easy overclocking
- Great compatibility
- Low noise
- Doesn’t feature RGB lights
- Power regulation issues
MSI Z170 Motherboard ATX
Moving on with our list of the top Z170 gaming motherboard models out there, this MSI seems like a fine budget-friendly choice! Compatible with 6th Gen Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium, it offers a powerful memory boost and simple overclocking.
Starting with the design, it is safe to say that this MSI ATX Motherboard has one of the fanciest looks out there. No, it doesn’t feature RGB or LED lights that the ASUS ROG does, but the Dragon cover makes it quite attractive.
Not only that, but the manufacturer did a great job designing a sturdy and reliable motherboard that can withstand tremendous heat as well as the external effects of mega-tasking. Frankly, for anyone who is a true gamer, the featured DNA design will be something that might make or break the deal.
As mentioned above, this motherboard works with Intel Core i6 as well as Pentium and Celeron. It has a couple of DDR4 socket supports that should offer a much higher memory boost than your average Z170. Much like the two products mentioned earlier, this one comes with USB 3.1 and USB 3.0 ports that allow for even faster performance.
What a lot of professional gamers consider to be the deciding factor is the audio quality that the specific motherboard provides. Luckily, the manufacturer did a great job with this ATX as you will get to enjoy a Nahmic Enhancer offering pure and real-time audio.
Last but not least, the overclocking is incredibly simple and can be done within a couple of seconds. However, while this budget-friendly motherboard does satisfy most average requirements, there is room for a couple of upgrades.
First, it would be much better if there were more than 5 fan plugs in order to ensure a better cooling system. Second, the metal shield doesn’t seem to be threaded throughout the slots plate.
Finally, although this motherboard may not be up to par with ASUS ROG, it is a great investment for anyone who is just starting out and has a tight budget!
- Simple overclocking
- Great compatibility
- USB 3.0 and 3.1 ports
- DDR4 Memory boost
- Could use more fan plugs
- Unthreaded metal shield
ASUS Z170-AR Motherboard
If you are looking for a user-friendly, smooth, and powerful motherboard, then you are in the right place. Once again, ASUS did a great job manufacturing a universal product that can work with most platforms, including Windows 7 and 8. Splendid design and flawless optimization are the two main reasons why you should take a look at this product!
The first thing that we want to talk about is the Type-A and Type-C ports that allow for even greater speed. This, along with the M.2 x 4, Turbo, and Intel Lan, make this motherboard perfect when it comes to users with average setting up knowledge and experience.
The most innovative feature of this product has to be the 5-way optimization. What this means is that you can optimize the motherboard according to your requirements (with i6 Intel Core processors, DDR4 memory) with just a single click. Not only that but as this motherboard uses a Pro Clock, the overclocking process should be relatively simple as well.
In most cases, what a motherboard lacks is a fine cooling system. Well, that is not the case here – with a water pump header onboard, there is not much to worry about in terms of heating issues.
We are also happy to see that this motherboard offers the Crystal Sound 3 system, which should allow for pure real-time audio and low-latency networking. Lastly, we have to say that ASUS did a great job with sturdy designing as well, given the 5X Protection II. The featured safeguards protect this motherboard from bending and any kind of external damage and impact.
The main issue that we have with this motherboard is that the Lithium Metal Batteries simply aren’t reliable enough. While ASUS claims that these should offer performance for 5-10 years, from our experience, we can suggest that you will be lucky with 2 years before you need to change these.
However, for the price point that this product comes at as well as the memory boost, it is a fine motherboard that one shouldn’t overlook!
- Great cooling system
- Easy overclocking
- One-click optimization
- LED lights don’t turn off
- Low-life batteries
MSI Computer 7968-001R Gaming Intel Motherboard
We already did a review of one OC Engine motherboard, and it is safe to say that this formula is a strong one. Last on our list of the best Z170 gaming motherboards is this 7968-001R that allows splendid overclocking and great overall stability!
The main feature of this motherboard is the external clock generator that goes a long way when it comes to memory boost. The best thing about it? It keeps overall power consumption in check and allows you to enjoy high settings for numerous hours.
When it comes to the design, it is highlighted by an innovative Titanium heavy plate that ensures this motherboard can’t be bent and also contributes to cooling the system. There are also a couple of PCB and Titanium chokes that work together to offer additional sturdiness.
Talking about optimal memory performance, we are happy to say that MSI did a great job when it comes to providing better signal strength and EMI-shielding. Also important is the fact that it features the Nahmic Sound Enhancer; this motherboard provides great audio clarity through 8-channel HD.
There are a number of PCI-E 3.0×16 slots and a couple of USB 3.1, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 ports. Lastly, there is a set of 3-way Crossfire and 2-way SLI for added compatibility.
There are two main issues: the first one being related to the flimsy slow mode switch and the second to coil whine. Apart from that, this is a great mid-end motherboard that will be a superb addition to your professional gaming setup!
- External overclock
- Great memory boost
- Efficient cooling system
- Sturdy design
- Clear audio
- Flimsy switch mode
- Coil whine
In the end, it all comes down to your personal preference as well as the budget you are working with. For those that are willing to invest somewhat more, we suggest the ASUS Z170-AR as an optimal motherboard. Quiet, fast, and stable, it is sure to provide you with a great gaming experience.
Our budget-friendly choice would be the MSI 7968-001R that offers fantastic overclocking and excellent compatibility for several platforms/processors.