Thunderbolt 3 is capable of 40Gbps via a USB Type-C connector and able to power dual 4K displays or a single 5K monitor at 60Hz. This astonishing amount of bandwidth is integrated into Intel’s Alpine Ridge USB 3.1 controller on the H170 and Z170 chipset. As a result, any motherboard passing Intel’s certification can theoretically access the enhanced speed. Although, it is in the hands of manufacturers to offer a software update to utilize this added functionality.
Gigabyte is providing a firmware update for the GA-Z170X-Gaming G1, GA-Z170X-Gaming GT, and GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 to offer the enhanced speeds. As a result, Gigabyte’s supported range is becoming quite comprehensive. It’s impressive to see such a quick reaction to the potential of Thunderbolt 3.0 and giving early adopters improved functionality. Whether any affordable consumer displays support Thunderbolt 3 is another topic for discussion. However, the interface could become essential in the future when displays surpass the 4K resolution.
Thunderbolt 3 contains 100w of charging power which might prove to be more useful for the average consumer. Whatever the case, I’m pleased to see motherboard partners offering firmware updates and adding more value to each z170 motherboard. Sadly, the 1151 CPUs are quite expensive at the moment which is limiting the amount of people upgrading from older sockets.