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.
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.
- 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
- BIOS can be very overwhelming to novices, and even seasoned PC builders
- Poor availability at the time of review
- 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.”
SuperMicro C7Z170-OCE (LGA1151) Motherboard Review
Thank you SuperMicro for providing us with this sample.