Intel’s Z170 platform is designed for enthusiasts utilizing incredibly fast DDR4 memory and large frequency boosts on K-series CPUs. In contrast to this, the H170 chipset caters more towards the budget-conscience consumer running a CPU at stock settings and modest DDR4 speeds. So what are the key differences between Z170 and H170? Firstly, H170 motherboards cannot support memory speeds in excess of 2133MHz and limited to a maximum of 16 PCIe lanes 3.0 lanes compared to 20 on Z170. Additionally, the HSIO Lanes have been reduced from 26 to 22 and theoretically, motherboards are restricted to a single X16 graphics slot. However, motherboard vendors can offer dual card setups via Crossfire. The only other notable change is a reduction in USB 3.0 ports from 10 to 8 which should be more than enough for the average user.
The first H170-based motherboard to arrive for review is the Gigabyte H170-HD3. This particular model incorporates a wealth of connectors including HDMI 1.4, DVI-D and D-Sub. On another note, the motherboard supports 2 way Crossfire, SATA Express an M.2 expansion port and ALC887 audio codec. Overall, the H170-HD3 is a great value package and I expect it to compare surprisingly well against the higher priced Z170 competition.
Packing and Accessories
Gigabyte adopts a fairly clean and understated box design which outlines the motherboard’s Ultra Durable qualities.
On the opposite side, there are a number of detailed pictures illustrating the motherboard’s connectivity options and 2-way Crossfire support. Furthermore, Gigabyte also provides a brief synopsis of the integrated Realtek ALC887 audio.
In terms of accessories, the product comes with an I/O shield, user’s manual, G Connector, case badge and two SATA cables. It’s always great to see the G Connector’s inclusion on budget models which makes the install process much more user-friendly.