SuperMicro C7Z170-OCE (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

by - 4 years ago

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Introduction


SuperMicro C7Z170-OCE
SuperMicro is one of the most respected names in the server industry and synonymous with unparalleled reliability. Whether you’re after a rackmount, blade server system or workstation motherboard, there’s nothing on the market which manages to enthuse such a sense of rock solid stability. Recently, the company has taken their server roots and impeccable reputation into enthusiast consumer motherboards. This allows them to retain the server framework while offering more ostentatious motherboard designs. Additionally, SuperMicro’s highly refined production line results in a low RMA rate and each product evokes such a premium feel. While their previous attempts have been a little rough around the edges, it’s clear to see the rapid progress in terms of motherboard layout and visual exuberance. Typically, motherboard manufacturers opt for the gaming themed red and black colour scheme because it caters towards the core demographic and maximize sales.

However, they have adopted a very different approach and launched the SuperMicro C7Z170-OCE, which utilizes a very striking green colour scheme. Not only that, the motherboard incorporates an impressive array of overclocking buttons to make manual tweaks without entering the BIOS. There’s also a high-quality speaker, and LED post readout to help with system diagnostics. The C7Z170-OCE’s electrical circuitry is designed with extreme overclocking in mind and able to push any Skylake CPU to its absolute limit. Yes, that means BCLK overclocking is possible even on a locked multiplier CPU. Although, given the Z170 chipset, this wouldn’t be a sensible choice.

Another key selling point is the embedded PLX PEX8747 chip capable of supporting 3-way SLI in a x16/x8/x8 configuration. If you require a 2-way setup, then the motherboard can easily accommodate this via a x16/x0/x16. Other notable features include a Realtek ALC1150 audio solution with dedicated PCB isolation, USB 3.1 Type-C connectivity, ample supply of fan headers and much more! As you can see, the motherboard sports an incredible specification and I expect it to perform superbly across CPU intensive tasks. In the past, I’ve experienced a few issues with our DDR4-2666MHz bench memory kit on SuperMicro products, so it will be interesting to see if compatibility has improved on this latest model.

Specifications

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Packaging and Accessories

The motherboard comes in SuperMicro’s iconic box design which looks fantastic and creates a sense of luxury.

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On the rear, there’s a detailed description of SuperMicro’s philosophy to bring server quality to the gaming market. Furthermore, this section outlines the key specification in an easy-to-understand manner.

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In terms of accessories, the motherboard is packaged with a driver disk, I/O shield, M.2 screws and a quick reference guide. Unlike the majority of other vendors, the SuperMicro guide is fairly brief and provides a technical rundown of the motherboard layout. While I find the included diagram quite useful, some users might prefer a more comprehensive set of instructions to help with troubleshooting. For example, the user’s guide directs you to URL to find the meaning of each BIOS debug code instead of printing them. This is important because when the system fails to post, you cannot access the online documentation. Although, I guess it’s easy enough to check on a phone or tablet for the meaning of each error code.

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There’s also six SATA connectors in a red finish. Ideally, I’d like to see three of these with a right-angled end, and the red colour doesn’t really match the motherboard’s theme. Perhaps, swapping the red for green, or a jet black tone would enhance the overall level of synergy.

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A Closer Look


SuperMicro has gone for a stunning green and black colour scheme which looks so unique and the best aesthetic design I’ve seen from the company so far. I really like the lighter green colour as it compliments the black I/O cover and PLX heatsink superbly. It’s a very sophisticated visual design and bound to please the core gaming audience looking for something different. Perhaps adding a small hint of green on plastic I/O plate would help but this is a personal choice. While there are some green motherboards on the market, they tend to be uncommon and opt for a darker shade of green. This makes the motherboard very special and there’s loads of component combinations to suit the gorgeous theme.

I have to commend SuperMicro because they have created a stylish motherboard which is a major departure from their traditional, serious server roots. The balance is spot on as the motherboard doesn’t feel gimmicky, or rely too heavily on illumination. It comes across as a fine piece of technology which any overclocking enthusiast or system builder would love to use.

SuperMicro C7Z170-OCE Motherboard

The motherboard’s VRM is powered by two IR 35203 digital PWMs offering 6+2 phases and uses Vitec 45A PR72-171 inductors. Even though this is technically 12 phases, in reality, six are assigned to the CPU core, while three work on the iGPU and the remaining phase is for the VCCSA. There’s also extremely high-grade 10K capacitors and other server-grade electronics which makes the power delivery incredibly reliable. As a result, it’s possible to reach new heights with a Skylake CPU providing the cooling hardware is capable of taming the thermal loads.

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Next up we can see four DIMM slots supporting up to 64GB DDR4 memory at a maximum rated speed of 3300MHz. There’s also a fantastic selection of fan headers in an optimal position for custom water cooling hardware or closed-looped liquid coolers. This means you can connect a fairly hefty cooling setup without having to perform complicated cable management around the CPU socket. Other key aspects of the motherboard layout include a right-angled USB 3.0 header, which makes for a neater finish and 24-pin power. Clearly the most interesting section revolves around overclocking buttons.

SuperMicro embedded a Clear_CMOS, BIOS Restore, and power button to easily navigate to the BIOS during the overclocking procedure and quickly recover from any failed attempts. This is so useful when you’re overclocking in an open test bench environment and attempting to set benchmarking records. Not only that, the motherboard contains a number of buttons with a set profile. More specifically, there’s a memory OC button, user defined profile (jet icon), 20-25% OC (race car icon), 15% (motorcycle icon), and a home button to restore default settings. Honestly, I didn’t find these very useful and the icons do a poor job of explaining the functionality of each button. I can see the memory OC feature being useful in certain situations, but the other buttons just felt like an unnecessary addition.

Furthermore, I’d much prefer to see dip switches on a motherboard sporting a PLX chip. When you have three GPUs installed and the system fails to boot, it’s a massive chore to remove each graphics card individually. A better solution would be to use a dip switch and disable the each PCIe slot during testing. I honestly believe this is a must when you’re selling a motherboard with overclocking in mind and targeting multi-GPU customers.

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In a similar vein to other Z170 motherboards, SuperMicro has decided to use the Realtek ALC1150 audio codec. This is a sensible choice due to the good quality audio reproduction and provides enough clarity to please anyone who isn’t an audio aficionado. As you might expect, the audio chipset is separated onto a dedicated section of the PCB to eliminate electromagnetic interference. The audio path is quite compact which means there isn’t a large amount of LED illumination. You can probably see from the picture how short the LED trail is. For my own personal taste, I enjoy the understand design so I’m not overly concerned by the subtle LED path. However, your opinion may vary slightly.

Rather bizarrely, the LED is red and looks quite out-of-place alongside the green PCI-E slots. During CES 2016, I discussed the reasoning behind this, and it’s still quite baffling. Honestly, I can see a future revision being made which transforms the LED colour to green. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a massive problem, but I’d like to see a green LED trail implemented to perfect the motherboard’s stylish finish.

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In terms of connectivity, the motherboard adopts a really simple design and contains 6 SATA3 connectors and a 32 Gb/s M.2 slot. There’s no SATA Express but this shouldn’t be an issue given the majority of storage devices either use SATA or M.2. It’s also great to see the M.2 connector support the full 32 Gb/s bandwidth which allows for ultra fast read/writes on high-end drives.

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The rear I/O incorporates a PS/2 port, two USB 2.0, S/PDIF, HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort, DVI-D, two USB 3.0, two RJ45, USB 3.1 Type-C and 6-channel audio.

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Testing & Methodology


Before we delve into any testing we would like to take this opportunity to review our test system. All tests are conducted three times and the average taken to use in our charts.

Hardware

  • Motherboard varies by review
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 6700k
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 980Ti
  • RAM: Crucial Elite 16GB (2x8GB) 2666MHz
  • Cooling: Thermaltake Water 3.0 AIO with Gelid GC-Extreme
  • Case: Lian Li T80 Test Bench
  • Storage Drives: Main storage: Crucial MX200 250GB, Test Devices: SanDisk Extreme Pro 240GB SSD, Plextor 256GB M6e M.2 SSD and Patriot SuperSonic Magnum 256GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive
  • PSU: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 850W
  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 64-bit
  • Networking: ASUS RT-AC68U router

Software

  • SiSoft Sandra Engineer – available here
  • WPrime – available here
  • Cinebench – available here
  • 3DMark – available here
  • Bioshock Infinite – available here
  • Tomb Raider – available here
  • AIDA 64 Engineer – available here
  • Latencymon – available here
  • Rightmark Audio Analyser – available here
  • LAN Speed Test Lite – available here
  • Passmark – available here

Memory

For our memory tests, we use the built-in memory benchmarks in AIDA64 Engineer and SiSoft Sandra. For more details on each of the benchmarks please see here and here respectively.

Storage

To test the storage performance in our motherboard reviews we use AIDA’s Disk Benchmark utility built into their AIDA64 Engineer Edition software package and run linear read and write tests. We run each of the benchmark tests on a SATA III, USB 3.0 and M.2 device. For SATA III testing we use a SanDisk Extreme Pro 240GB, for USB 3.0 testing we use the Supersonic Magnum 256 GB USB 3.0 flash drive and for M.2 testing we use Plextor’s 256GB M.2 M6e SSD. The drives are always formatted before use.

Networking

For our networking tests, we connect the test system up to our Intel Gigabit-enabled ASUS Rampage IV Extreme X79 motherboard test system through the ASUS RT-AC68U router and run our tests. We opted for this over a direct point-to-point connection because we wanted to simulate real-world performance. For our WiFi tests we do the same except we connect the test system to the ASUS RT-AC68U router via WiFi at a distance of 2 metres from the router. The testing software we use for these are LAN Speed Test Lite and Passmark, available here and here respectively.

Lan Speed Test

LAN Speed Test was designed from the ground up to be a simple but powerful tool for measuring file transfer, hard drive, USB Drive, and Local Area Network (LAN) speeds (wired & wireless).  It does this by building a file in memory, then transfers it both ways (without effects of windows file caching) while keeping track of the time. Download the free Lan Speed Test Lite utility from here.

PassMark

The PassMark Advanced Network Test (which is part of PerformanceTest) is designed to test the data transfer rate between two computers both of which must be running PerformanceTest. One of the computers must act as the server and will sit waiting for a connection. The other computer acts as a client. It connects to the server machine and sends data to it for the duration of the test. You can download a trial version of PerformanceTest from here.

Power Usage

To measure power consumption we, use a “killawatt” meter and measure the total system power draw at the wall. We run three different use-case scenarios for 5 minutes and take the average reading.

RightMark Audio Analyser (RMAA)

RMAA suite is designed for testing quality of analog and digital paths of any audio device. The results are obtained by playing and recording test signals passed through the tested audio path by means of frequency analysis algorithms. A more common mark is also provided for those unfamiliar with measured technical parameters. Available here. We run the RMAA test using a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable connecting the line out to the line in to test the quality of the motherboard audio codec not any external audio devices. We run the complete playback and recording test at default settings and then get RMAA to interpret the results giving the below outputs. We sync the playback and recording audio devices to the same setting as the test for accurate results.

DPC

DPC is a Windows tool that analyses the capabilities of a computer system to handle real-time data streams properly. It may help to find the cause for interruptions in real-time audio and video streams, also known as drop-outs. This software is available for download free here.

wPrime

wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton’s method for estimating functions. wPrime is a free utility that is available for download here.

Cinebench R15

Cinebench is a widely respected benchmark for testing the performance of x86 CPUs. The program allows you to test single and multi-threaded performance as well as GPU performance by rendering with Open GL. Download here.

3D Mark

The new 3DMark includes everything you need to benchmark your hardware. With three all new tests you can bench everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. Download here.

Tomb Raider

In Tomb Raider, the player is confronted with a much younger Lara Croft who is shipwrecked and finds herself stranded on a mysterious island rife with danger, both natural and human. Tomb Raider is a demanding game offering up ultra quality textures, full DirectX 11 support, SSAA, FXAA, MSAA and AMD TressFX technology.

Bioshock

BioShock Infinite is the third and last game in the BioShock series. It is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K Games. BioShock Infinite supports dynamic shadows, post-processing, light shafts, ambient occlusion, object level of detail, Diffusion Depth of Detail, FOV adjustment controls and other advanced DirectX 11 features.

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BIOS and Overclocking


Unfortunately, it’s extremely challenging to show the motherboard’s BIOS in a clear manner due to the lack of a screen capture button. Additionally, the UI’s bright blue theme, which highlights the section currently being read, creates a great deal of camera glare. Nevertheless, the images outline the BIOS’ range of options and provide an indication of the overall layout.

On the first page, there are three tabs describing key system statistics including motherboard model, BIOS version, CPU ID and SPD details.

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If you require a more comprehensive specification of the CPU, the next section has an unbelievable array of facts. This ranges from the CPU’s maximum multiplier to a number of embedded power saving techniques.

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The Performance tab allows you to adjust the CPU Flex Ratio, enable/disable Hyper-Threading, and manually tweak other integral settings. This is quite demanding if you’re not overly versed with the technical side of CPUs and might be daunting to novice users. Please note, if you’re struggling to understand the impact of these variables, leave them on their default settings. To be fair, some of these might even confuse many seasoned PC builders, so there’s no shame in feeling a little bit overwhelmed. On the other hand, any advanced users will love the flexibility the BIOS provides.

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Speaking of complex functionality, the CPU overclocking section is absolutely packed full of features. Here, you can adjust the BCLK frequency, and even set the multiplier for each core. The Reliability Stress Restrictor is deployed to prolong the CPU’s lifespan by monitoring power consumption and CPU utilization. Clearly, you want to keep this off to maintain stability on a hefty overclock.

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Slightly further down the menu, it’s possible to tweak the CPU’s core voltage via Adaptive or a manual mode and make a whole host of other refinements. For a basic overclock, there’s no real need to stray from the default setup too much. However, professional overclockers and extreme tweakers will love the freedom to eke out every last bit of frequency from the CPU.

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This is the final section when it comes to CPU overclocking and includes the ability to set a Uncore Voltage Offset, adjust PCH 1.0V, VCPU_IO voltages and make a raft of changes to find the perfect overclock. You can also perform memory overclocking by clicking on the appropriate tab. While there is a graphics overclocking menu, I wouldn’t really spend too long on it as it’s not going to be useful when applying manual boosts on a discrete GPU.

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The booting tab is an essential addition which allows you change the current boot order and prioritize the operating system drive. You can even change the boot mode from LEGACY to UEFI, but this really isn’t necessary.

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Next up is the Input/Output tab which lists a number of key features including SATA mode per drive. As you can see from the image, this section also covers the PCIe configuration, PCH-FW, Super IO and USB settings. There’s more than enough here to customize your system’s behaviour and ensure every aspect is completely stable.

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The hardware monitor displays vital information regarding CPU temperature, fan speed values and the current core voltage. I was surprised to see the CPU’s temperature ramp up to 42C in the BIOS and initially became concerned about the closed-looped cooler’s pump. Thankfully, the root cause was down to the BIOS using 1.288 volts. This is more than I expected although it shouldn’t cause any problems barring an increased core temperature or louder fan profile. Thankfully once you boot into Windows, the core voltage is significantly reduced during idle states, and manages to report a respectable temperature between 23-25 degrees.

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On the management tab, you can tweak your system’s ACPI settings view the current BIOS version. Also, the SuperFlash utility makes BIOS updates a straightforward procedure.

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For the more technically minded users, it’s possible to make changes to the System Agent, integrated graphics configuration and PCH-IO. Once again, I wouldn’t recommend changing these variables unless you have very specific requirements and familiar with SuperMicro’s BIOS.

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The final page is useful to set an administrator password and prevent other computer users from making changes. This is essential when you consider the amount of options contained within the BIOS which in the wrong hands has the potential to cause hardware failure. Overall, the BIOS is absolutely astonishing if you have the expertise and patience to understand the effect of each setting. Granted, there are a lot of options here, and I honestly believe with the spare screen space on the right side, it would be so advantageous to add some tips.

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Overclocking 

The overclocking process is undoubtedly more difficult than competing mainstream motherboards due to staggering array of options at your disposal. Instead of simply increasing the multiplier, and core voltage, you have to spend a great deal of time navigating through each section to determine which aspects are required to maintain a stable frequency boost. The counter argument is, the BIOS provides unrivalled flexibility for experts trying to set benchmarking records. While it can be extremely overwhelming, the motherboard’s BIOS is incredible for anyone who loves to learn how technology works, and the impact of very minute changes. Furthermore, once you’ve learnt which settings contribute to a basic multiplier increase, it’s fairly quick to apply any alternations due to environmental thermal variation or evolution of the CPU’s core.

During the stress testing, I managed to attain 4.8GHz via a core voltage reading of 1.504v. Please note this is the maximum frequency the CPU is capable of across a wide range of motherboards. However, the C7Z170-OCE was tantalizingly close to 4.9GHz and managed to remain stable during the first phase of heavy CPU utilization. This is the only time I’ve managed to get 4.9GHz to post which demonstrates the motherboard’s superb electronics and overclocking prowess.

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Software Overview


SuperMicro adopts quite a minimalistic approach when it comes to the bundled software and expects the end-user to download their favourite applications. This might detract from the motherboard’s value slightly but in all honesty, I rarely feel the need to install many of the included programs. Readily available programs like HWMonitor and CoreTemp have become an industry standard for a reason and fare much better than alternatives from motherboard companies. On the other hand, certain applications such as ASUS ROG RAMDisk can be incredibly useful. As a result, I’d like to see SuperMicro develop a more polished software suite for the future to evoke a greater sense of value.

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CPU & GPU Performance


Cinebench

The motherboard’s stock CPU performance is relatively good and remains within an acceptable range of the top-tier results.

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Once overclocked, the performance numbers do improve by a significant margin and compare quite favourably against the competition.

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WPrime

The C7Z170-OCE’s compute time while using the CPU’s stock frequency is pretty decent although it falls behind the SuperMicro C7Z170-SQ. Despite this, the difference is minimal and shouldn’t affect the CPU workload performance on a consistent basis.

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After the overclock was applied, there was a slight decrease in the motherboard’s positioning. However, the results bunch up considerably and performing 5-10 runs could easily yield a slightly different order.

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SiSoft Sandra

In a similar vein to the other CPU benchmarks, the motherboard attained fairly average scores when compared to its rivals. I expected to see better figures here but at least C7Z170-OCE wasn’t too far off the mid-table results.

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Here we can see the overclock really helps matters and drastically improves the motherboard’s performance. Furthermore, it’s only a few points off attaining a top 3 position.

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3DMark

In terms of 3D benchmarking, the C7Z170-OCE almost managed to record the best Firestrike Extreme score thus far. While improvements in 3D performance generally stem from driver enhancements, it’s great to see the motherboard showcasing its suitability during gaming tasks.

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Tomb Raider

Here we can see the C7Z170-OCE’s excellent performance in Tomb Raider at both 1080P and 1440P resolutions.

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Bioshock Infinite

In a rather bizarre contrast, the motherboard struggled to maintain a similar level of performance during the Bioshock Infinite bench run. Honestly, this is probably down to some sort of deviation withb the benchmark and newer drivers. It’s happened on quite a few motherboards of late so I would personally focus on the Tomb Raider results as a more accurate indication of gaming performance.

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Memory Performance


AIDA64 Engineer

On a more positive note, the C7Z170-OCE’s stock memory bandwidth is superb and features high write speeds. Unlike the previous SuperMicro consumer boards, I didn’t encounter any problem with the 2666MHz XMP profile and found memory benchmarking to be incredibly simple.

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The overclocked statistics demonstrate extremely strong memory performance across read and writes, although there is some room for improvement when it comes to the write rates.

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SiSoft Sandra

Stock memory bandwidth is pretty solid barring the slightly disappointing Integer result. It’s still a respectable number though and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

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The overclock allows the memory to fare much better in Sandra’s memory testing process especially when you look at the Integer score. This is a marked improvement and showcases the benefits of memory overclocking on this particular motherboard.

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Combined Latency Test

In terms of memory latency, the C7Z170-OCE at stock settings achieves moderate figures and stays within 2-3 nanoseconds off a mid-table position.

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Overclocked latency isn’t ideal when compared to the top results. However, it’s not going to exhibit a marked difference in real-world scenarios. Additionally, a few more benchmark runs could reduce the latency by an average 1-2% and score much better.

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Storage Performance


Linear Read

The motherboard’s M.2 linear read performance is phenomenal and within touching distance of a staggering 700MB/s rate. Similarly, the SATA drive reported impressive numbers and remained within a very consistent range.

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Linear Write

A similar pattern occurs with linear write results as the C7Z170-OCE maintains its top three position. Admittedly, the SATA rate could be better, but it’s not far off the majority of alternatives in the same price bracket.

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Networking Performance


LAN Speed Test Lite

The motherboard’s Intel I219V is quite a common network interface and incorporated into a number of LGA1151 products. In this case, the C7Z170-OCE upheld a reliable connection in both read and write throughput.

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Passmark Performance Test 8 – Ethernet

Here we can see the primary network interface managing to report good TCP and UDP figures. While there is some room for improvement, it shouldn’t have a negative impact on day-to-day networking tasks.

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Passmark Performance Test 8 – CPU Work Load

The motherboard’s CPU utilization remains very steady at 2% in both TCP and UDP testing. This is very low and worthy of recognition.

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Audio Performance


The motherboard’s Realtek ALC1150 audio chipset reported a very good rating across various bit rates. This ensured the audio reproduction was dependable and produced a balanced, warm sound. It’s not the best option on the market as 16 Bit 44KHz audio clarity wasn’t the best I’ve seen but this shouldn’t be a major problem for typical usage scenarios.

16 Bit, 44KHz (DVD Quality)

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16 Bit, 96KHz (Studio Quality)

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24 Bit, 96KHz (Studio Quality)

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DPC Audio Latency Analyser

In terms of latency, the audio chipset achieved a very low maximum figure and retained SuperMicro’s very strong showing.

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Power Consumption


At stock settings, the system consumes 359 watts under full load and illustrates how efficient a Skylake build can be with a top-tier GPU.

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Once overclocked, the total system consumption rises to 403 watts under stress which is a fairly minor increase considering the large CPU frequency boost.

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Final Thoughts


Pricing 

Despite my best efforts looking through various online stores including Overclockers UK, Newegg, and Amazon, I couldn’t find the motherboard in stock or even listed anywhere! To be fair, it’s still a fairly new addition to SuperMicro’s range, and I expect worldwide availability to improve by the end of February. I’ve been informed that the recommended price point is $299.99 in the US market, and it will be fascinating to see how this converts throughout Europe. While $299.99 is a considered purchase, you have to take into account the server-grade reliability and integrated PEX8747 chip. This makes it an excellent proposition for high-end multi-GPU builds and provides that added functionality at a surprisingly good price point.

Overview

The SuperMicro C7Z170-OCE is a visual masterpiece due to the beautiful green theme and very attractive heatsink design. SuperMicro has managed to manufacturer a professional looking motherboard which contains enough visual flair to please hardware enthusiasts. It’s certainly one of the most unusual products in recent memory and differs from mainstream motherboards by a significant margin. Some of you might remember the incredibly popular Gigabyte Z87 G.1 Sniper which focused on a green colour scheme and proved to be the perfect accompaniment to an NVIDIA build. Despite this, it’s still extremely rare to see any motherboards with a green tone which limits the options of many consumers. SuperMicro didn’t opt for an identical hue to the G1.Sniper and decided to use a brighter shade of green. This proves to be a magical combination and there are so many possibilities when it comes truly unusual custom PC builds.

In addition to the superb aesthetic, the motherboard incorporates SuperMicro’s incredible server heritage and expertise in making unbelievably reliable hardware. As expected, the motherboard is ram packed with premium capacitors, power phases, and other essential electronics. This really is a server-grade product that is worthy of recognition and not simply a form of marketing. On another note, the motherboard is absolutely fantastic for professional overclocking because of the exceptional VRM and large array of onboard switches. The Clear_CMOS, BIOS Reset and power buttons are extremely useful when tweaking a manual overclock and attempting to achieve incremental frequency boosts. Sadly, I don’t really see a purpose for the pre-defined percentage buttons but then again other users might find them handy once in a while.

Another integral component is the integrated PLX chip which allows for 3-way SLI in a x16/x8/x8 configuration and 2-way via a x16/x0/x16 setup. It is quite uncommon to see a PLX chip with only 3 PCI-E x16 compliment slots. However, the law of diminishing returns come into play when using 4 GPUs, so the PCI-E layout isn’t going be overly restricting. I do think the motherboard is tailored towards benchmarking though given the overclocking focus. As a result, extreme users might miss that final PCI-E slot when trying to set groundbreaking scores.

Navigating around the BIOS isn’t for the faint-hearted and bound to be an eye-opener if you’re used to slick, visually diverse interfaces. Furthermore, the SuperMicro BIOS has so many advanced variables, that it’s going to alienate anyone who hasn’t got a server background or experience in advanced overclocking. Ideally, the BIOS should be divided into sections, one really simple mode for novices, and the full gamut of options to cater towards advanced users. If you’re well versed in technical terminology and want to maximize performance, then the BIOS is phenomenal. I will admit though that I’m not overly keen on the graphical design. Please Supermicro, implement a screenshot feature into the BIOS because it’s a nightmare for anyone to display their overclock settings, or discuss the BIOS clearly with other people. Of course, this is mostly going to apply to reviewers, and professional overclockers, but it’s such a simple feature to implement.

When it comes to the performance, the motherboard posted good results but consistently finished in a mid-table position. While this seems disappointing at first, it’s not too worrying because the results remained within a margin of error. This means other factors could be contributing to the CPU scores and performing similar runs on a different day could yield a very different order. One area the motherboard did excel in is M.2 performance. During the testing procedure, the M.2 drive reached very impressive numbers in both read/writes. As an overclocking motherboard, it’s important to fixate on the CPU frequency boosts instead of results with such a fine margin of error. In this particular case, the motherboard actually posted at 4.9GHz, which is the first product on record to achieve this feat with our CPU sample. While it didn’t remain stable enough to complete 3 stress tests, it’s a testament to the overclocking prowess of the motherboard.

Pros

  • Breathtaking green colour scheme
  • Clear_CMOS button, LED post and speaker help with diagnostics
  • Excellent M.2 performance
  • Fantastic motherboard layout with perfect fan header arrangement
  • First Z170 motherboard to post at 4.9GHz
  • Good audio reproduction
  • Huge array of extreme overclocking features
  • PEX8747 chip
  • Right angled USB 3.0 header improves cable management
  • Server-grade reliability
  • Support for BCLK locked multiplier overclocking
  • Unparalleled selection of high-end components

Cons

  • BIOS can be very overwhelming to novices, and even seasoned PC builders
  • Poor availability at the time of review

Neutral 

  • Average benchmark results but motherboard remains within an acceptable margin of error
  • Needs a more in-depth software package to appease some users

“The SuperMicro C7Z170-OCE is an overclocking marvel and manages to push CPUs to their absolute limit. This is possible through the combination of premium electronics, a very flexible BIOS for experts, and magnificent reliability. Not only that, there’s an embedded PLX chip to help extreme users maximize performance and properly utilize multi-GPU configurations.” 

Overclockers-Dream

SuperMicro C7Z170-OCE (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Thank you SuperMicro for providing us with this sample.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. A Closer Look & Layout Analysis
  3. The Test System and Test Software
  4. BIOS and Overclocking
  5. Software Overview
  6. CPU Performance
  7. Memory Performance
  8. Storage Performance
  9. Networking Performance
  10. Audio Performance
  11. Power Consumption
  12. Final Thoughts
  13. View All

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