SuperMicro C7Z170-OCE (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction



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

Packaging and Accessories

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

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.

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.

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.

Scan Computers Unveils Awesome Skylake Bundle!

Many enthusiasts on older CPUs like the i7-2600K patiently waited for Skylake’s launch to upgrade their hardware. Unfortunately, Intel’s latest platform experienced supply problems in certain territories which led to eye watering prices on the flagship i7-6700K. In the UK, retailers were charging £100 extra compared to the i7-4790K which prevented many users from upgrading. Not only that, the i7-6700K actually costs more than a 6-core 5820K on the professional X99 architecture. Thankfully, Scan Computers has launched a superb bundle which might just be the package you’ve been waiting for. It includes an Intel i7-6700K, ASUS Maximus VIII Hero, Corsair H110i GT 280mm liquid cooling solution, 16GB Dual Channel Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3000MHz CL15 memory and ASUS Strix Glide mouse mat.

This makes it remarkably easy to overclock the CPU and you should manage within the 4.6-4.8GHz range. Please remember this does vary on the silicon lottery, but the H110i GT is an extreme grade cooler and backed by a 5 year warranty. Other important aspects to take into consideration is the motherboard’s superb SupremeFX audio, ROG software, gorgeous design and high-end components. As you can see, the package is designed for the extreme user who wants the ultimate in performance without moving to an X99 system.

In terms of pricing, the complete package costs £647.00 including next day delivery which is pretty good given the high-end hardware on offer. The only thing to be wary of is the 280mm radiator size, as older cases will struggle to support it. If you’re interested in purchasing the bundle, please navigate to this page. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the latest Skylake pricing and improvements compared to the previous generation. Do you feel the i7-6700K is still wildly overpriced? On my own personal rig, I decided to go down the X99 route instead based entirely on the poor value proposition of Intel’s top-end consumer chip.

Intel Skylake i7 6700K and i5 6600K Boxart Pictured

While the Windows 10 box art from Microsoft was pretty bland, Intel sure is spicing things up with their new Skylake packaging. In a series of leaked images, we are treated to the new box art of the i7 6700K and i5 6600K and boy do they hearken back to the old days. The last time I recall seeing a similar design was back with the original Pentium series up until Pentium IV.

Intel looks to have taken a liking to the old blur of the Pentiums, with the blurred lines likely trying to invoke a sense of speed. the i7 takes on a warmer red/purple/orange hue while the i5 sticks with plain old green/blue. At that point though, the similarities end, with Skylake coming with the now standard stickers for LGA 1151 and the one showing all the specifications. The manufacturing location is listed as Malaysia, which reminds us of the fact that Intel has closed down their Costa Rica packaging facility.

From the box window, we can see that the steppings are SR2BR and SR2BV for the 6700K and 6600K respectively. The product code is BX80662I76700K for the i7  and batch # is L519B744. Clock speeds are also what previous reports and images have shown, at 4.0Ghz nad 3.5Ghz respectively. Both ship with support for DDR4 and DDR3L as well as integrating intel’s HD 530 graphics. With actual retail chips and boxes being leaked, there is little doubt that Skylake should launch within the week.

Images courtesy of reddit

Intel Skylake i7-6700K Benchmarks Leaked

Another batch of Skylake benchmarks have leaked out a little under a month before the expected launch. This time we have the Intel i7-6700K on an ECS Z170-Claymore paired with 16GB of 2133Mhz DRR4, 128GB SSD and a GTX970. For comparison an i7-4790K on an MSI Z97A Gaming 6 with 8GB of 1600Mhz DDR3 with the same GPU and SSD. Both systems used the stock Intel heatsink with the copper core.

PCMark 8, 3DMark, Cinebench R15, and Sandra 2015 were tested with the 6700K coming first in the images with the 4790K following. As you can see Skylake trades blows with Haswell in PCMark 8, only managing to pull ahead significantly in the Home test. In the two Firestrike tests, Haswell manages to pull ahead but Skylake manages wins in Cloud Gate and Sky Diver.

Cinebench R15 shows a win for Skylake with a notable improvement in multicore efficiency. OpenGL shows a big jump due to the improved iGPU on Skylake. For Sandra 2015, the red line is Haswell and blue for Skylake. The two trade blows in the arithmetic test, but Skylake pulls ahead in multimedia, cryptography and memory bandwidth. The final two are expected given additional instruction support for cryptography and DDR4 with Skylake.

As we pretty much expected, Skylake is a minor bump in terms of IPC gains, being able to pull ahead of Haswell despite being clocked lower. One can’t forget that the extra bandwidth offered by DDR4 might be giving a boost to Skylake so those with 2133Mhz DDR3  Haswell might see fewer gains. Drivers for the motherboard are still in beta, but not too much is likely to change in that field. These benchmarks serve to confirm the general trend shown by previous leaks and the hardware looks set for a much leaked August launch.

Thank you TechBang for providing us this information

Intel Skylake Will be Limited to just Three SKU Variants at Launch

With the launch of Intel’s next iteration of CPU’s just around the corner, rumours have been circulating media outlets for a short while. This can be in the form of pricing or unreleased specifications or even pictures of the naked PCB.

Information is now coming around that the release of the Skylake processors will be staggered, much like how AMD are currently doing with the R9 Fury range or NVIDIA has done with the GTX 900 series. What we have deduced is that in the first wave of releases, we will only be able to purchase the more desirable CPU’s, the i7-6700k, i5-6600k and a currently unknown, but what can be assumed as the i5-6500k; however, that is purely my assumption.

We already know the pricing of the i7-6700k to be somewhere in the region of $400 and the i5-6600k around $280, so the possibility of a higher range i5 or lower range i7 could be quite high to fill in the $300 region.

What we have also seen through these sources is that even though these are the HOT chips, stock will be extremely limited. Could this be due to poor manufacturing processes of the new 14nm silicon or maybe prices could be raised due to high demand; who knows.

What are your thoughts on this? Will you be jumping on the LGA 1151 bandwagon at launch? I know I will be; if I can get a chip that is.

Pre-Orders and First Pricing for Skylake CPUs Now Available

Those who are waiting for the next generation Intel processors don’t have to wait that much longer as it looks like they will officially be launched sometime between August 6th and 9th. Although that date isn’t official, it seems to be a very reasonable one as the first shops have started to list the CPUs and allow you to pre-order them.

There aren’t any CPU specification on the site, instead there is the name, a price, and an order button. The i5-6600K (BX80662I56600K) is currently listed for €279.05 while the i7-6700K (BX80662I76700K) will set you back $401.59.

Those aren’t cheap prices, but we all know what to expect when shopping for Intel CPUs; you pay a premium to get a great CPU.

These Skylake chips are Intel’s first 14nm chips based ones and they will move the VRM off the CPU package and back on to the motherboard, likely reducing the heat given off the CPU package and improve the overclock-ability. DDR4 will also be standard but DDR3L may also be supported, but that will dependents on the new LGA 1151 motherboards and Z170 chipset for unlocked chips. Other notable additions are the new AVX512 instructions, Thunderbolt 3, 20 PCIE 3.0 lanes and L4 eDRAM cache. The CPUs run at 3.5/3.9Ghz and 4.0/4.2Ghz for the i5 and i7 respectively.

More Intel Skylake i7 6700K Benchmarks Leaked

More performance figure for Intel’s i7-6700K have been leaked ahead of its launch. Published by cpu-monkey, these benchmarks offer some insight into Intel’s upcoming 14nm Skylake microarchitecture. The i7-6700K is set to be Intel’s top mainstream chip for Skylake and is set to replace the i7-4770K and i7-4790K based on Haswell 22nm. From cpu-monkey’s data, the 6700K is set to clock between 4-4.2Ghz, which is slightly lower than the 4790K (4-4.4Ghz). Surprisingly, TDP has gone up a tad back to the old 95W standard. As expected DDR4 is supported and a new LGA 1151 Socket is required.

Benchmarks tested include Cinebench R11.5 64bit and R15, Passmark CPU and Geekbench 3 64bit. Overall the i7 6900K pretty much follows the same trajectory Intel has been on in terms of IPC over the last few generations. Throughout all of the tests, the i7-6700K posted a strong 9% gain over the i7-4790K, which is actually pretty good considering the jumps between Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and Haswell never really reached those levels. This means there will be quite a sizable IPC gain Sandy Bridge and older systems and even Ivy Bridge users might be tempted.

An interesting note is that Skylake is rumored to support both DDR3 and DDR4 so there is no way to know which memory system these tests were run on. Using faster DDR4 could have skewed the results for the 6700K, meaning the real IPC gains might be lower if the DDR3 used by the 4790K was also used as well. Higher memory bandwidth kits for Haswell can boost performance by as much as 9% in some cases, so it may be premature to attribute all of the performance gains to IPC improvements just yet. It will also be interesting to see how much overclocking headroom there will be on Intel’s new 14nm platform. If Skylake does not OC well, there will be less incentive for those running on golden chips to upgrade. Hopefully, we’ll have more information to bring you as Skylake nears launch.

Intel Skylake i7 6700K Performance Figures Leaked

Intel Skylake is finally on the horizon and hardware is slowly starting to trickle into the hands of hardware developers around the world, which means one thing; leaked information is coming!

The first leak about Intel’s upcoming CPU architecture focuses on one thing we really care about, the performance and initial impressions are certainly positive. The first listed CPU, the 6700K appears to have the same frequency ratio as the 4790K, but with 15% higher gaming performance. The performance increase may not look huge, but keep in mind that these benchmarks skip over some big innovations in the hardware and software market, such as DirectX12.

It seems that 6-cores will become the norm for the next-generation of CPUs and we expect that’ll be a similar vibe for the upcoming AMD Zen architecture also. With the new DirectX API being able to address all cores more efficiently, as well as software developers updating their software to better utilize the newer Skylake hardware, we expect the performance gap to increase quite quickly.

Of course, Skylake will also bring a lot of other benefits, such as supporting both DDR3 and DDR4 memory formats, a new chipset from Intel, the 100-series and the usual reduction in power consumption, so it’s certainly something we’re looking forward to.