BIOSTAR RACING H170GT3 (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Final Thoughts


Pricing 

The BIOSTAR RACING H170GT3 is available from eBuyer.com in the UK for £74.99. USA customers can purchase the motherboard for the very low asking price of $74.99. Around the £90 mark, there’s a huge array of options including the Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 which retails for £92.99 and lower-end Gigabyte H170-HD3 with a price of £83.99. If you have a very limited budget and zero interest in overclocking, then it’s hard to find alternatives which offer a similar value proposition. This is especially the case for US residents.

Overview

From a visual standpoint, the motherboard’s chequered flag design and racing theme is going to be extremely polarizing. For example, some users prefer a cleaner PCB based on a solid colour and have zero interest in motorsport. In contrast to this, other consumers might feel the aesthetic caters to their passion and enjoy the novelty factor. Personally, I wasn’t overly excited by the theme and much preferred to see a greater contrast using traditional black and white colours.

Saying that, the motherboard’s appearance has rapidly grown on me and I prefer it to BIOSTAR’s previous concoctions. Of course, beauty greatly depends on subjective taste which makes it difficult to gauge a product’s widespread appeal. In my experience, I honestly believe the on-board LED illumination and chequered flag decal will bring out emotional extremes.  Speaking of LEDs, it’s a shame the 5050 strip isn’t included which limits the product’s striking on-board lighting.

In terms of build quality, the RACING H170GT3 utilizes a 7-phase power delivery, 10K rated capacitors, premium chokes with a high operating temperature range and much more! This creates confidence in the product and reassures the end-user that it should last for a considerable amount of time. I’m not overly convinced by the GT Touch pad which feels fairly flimsy and pales in comparison to normal buttons. Perhaps, I’m used to mechanical switches, or spring-loaded buttons which makes this criticism seem a little unfair. On a more positive note, the motherboard incorporates two BIOS ROMs with a manual switch to cycle between them in case any problems arise. This is unexpected for a $75 product and emphasizes the superb price to feature ratio.

The audio contains an integrated amplifier, EMI shielding, and isolated PCB design. This combines to create an excellent listening experience without any latency issues or distortion on higher volumes. BIOSTAR have also modernized the BIOS with a completely brand new user-interface. This is a monumental step forward and makes their older BIOS layout look like a relic from history. It’s far from perfect though and feels a little bit simplistic. Furthermore, it’s lacking a certain level of polish you come to expect from the likes of MSI, Gigabyte and ASUS. There are some really good additions though like the speedometer which displays the current CPU frequency and clear tabs to make navigation easier.

The H170 chipset means it’s impossible to overclock or set the memory speed beyond 2133MHz. I spent some time looking for a hidden option to increase the BCLK but this wasn’t possible. Clearly, Intel has clamped down on overclocking using H170 or B150 motherboards and you shouldn’t expect to achieve manual boosts on any new motherboard. Either these will probably have the latest BIOS installed, or be released after the BCLK furore has subsided. The motherboard fares really well using stock values and showcases the capabilities of the i7-6700K at 4.2GHz. It doesn’t impact on performance during games and might make you reconsider purchasing a H170 motherboard with the i7-6700 providing there are large enough savings.

Pros

  • Attractive LED illumination
  • Dual BIOS
  • Exceptional value-for-money
  • Fantastic storage read speeds
  • Great power delivery
  • Good audio solution
  • Rear I/O offers superb flexibility
  • Reliable networking
  • Unusual PCB design
  • Wonderful choice for a budget gaming build

Cons

  • BIOS has a few quirks and lacks finesse
  • Overly simplistic software package

“The BIOSTAR RACING H170GT3 is an exemplary choice for consumers with a limited budget and features numerous improvements over the company’s older offerings. While the BIOS and software package still have room for improvement, it’s not enough to detract from the user-experience in a significant way.” 

BIOSTAR RACING H170GT3 (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Thank you BIOSTAR for providing us with this sample.