BIOSTAR H170GT3 Review. Recently we reviewed the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170Z3 a unique DDR3 and DDR4 combo board, utilizing the Micro-ATX format. That product which, is also based around the H170 chipset, performed exceptionally well and had only a few issues. Such as the basic but confusing UEFI and perhaps limited appeal, due to the actual colors (black and gold).
Today we focus, on what could be seen as, the successor and it seems on paper, all of my concerns have been addressed. Furthermore, BIOSTAR has taken the design into much more appealing direction, with a racing theme and even RGB support. Feature-wise, the two are similar, pricing is just
Feature-wise, the two are similar, but pricing better at just $94.40. Let’s tackle the all important question…
Let’s tackle the all important question… is it any good?
[BIOSTAR H170GT3 Review – Main Features]
- Support for 6th Gen Intel Core Processors
- Intel H170 single chip architecture
- Support 4-DIMM DDR4-2133/ 1866 up to 64G maximum capacity
- BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Technology inside
- Support USB 3.0
- Support PCIe M.2(32Gb/s)
- Support SATA Express
Courtesy of BIOSTAR, see FULL specifications here
[Packaging & Accessories]
Exterior packing has had a rethink too, with a sleek carbon background and crisp text on the front side. Something that’s worth mentioned is the switch to Intel’s own NIC Solution. The last offering was decent but fell behind the competition, this chnage is welcome
The backside of the box, is cleaner and easier on the eye too, with key features listed and explained well. The new features are Dual BIOS, the GT Touch strip, and LED support, in the form a fixed LED and connector for 5050 strips ( header) addiotnal software is bundled to enhance these further ( customization)
The main bundle consists of a “Smart Ear” guide for the Hi-FI 3D features, and additional setup guide for the RGB features
Also included is a detailed user manual, I/O shield, and 4 SATA cables. ( up from 2)
We will start our main tour with a look at the new board in its entirety, visually is a much better board. Sporting a Racking style theme, with a checkered flag printed directly onto the PCB and complimenting heatsinks with carbon effects
1.- Checkered Flag Silk-screen Print
2 – Carbon Fiber like Heatsink
3 – GT TOUCH
4 – Dual BIOS
5 – SATA Express Connector
6 – 4-DIMM DDR4-2133 Slots
7 – PCIe M.2(32Gb/s)
8 – Hi-Fi 7.1ch Blu-ray Audio
The MOSFET heatsinks is the first of two RGB points ( second via 5050 header) Becuase BIOSTAR has built the board with a monochrome design, RGB will work very well here. Unlike some other boards, we’ve seen lately with RED accents on the DIMM slots and such. I must applaud the design teams effort here, the board is much cleaner and appealing.
The only limitation we must explore, is inherited from the H170 chipset. DDR4 modules are limited to DDR2133/1866Mhz. Making this board more suitable for the none K series CPU’s, you’ll need a Z series board for overclocking and running faster frequency (DDR4)
The board support 4X SATA devices, and a single SATA Express. 2 ports are located near the 24 pin power connector and stand vertical, the other two are angled.
A single M.2 PCI Express port for Gen3 4 (32Gb/s), is located above the PCI-e port
A total of 3 headers for system or CPU fans
1. Above the DIMM slots
2 & 3 Bottom of the board.
[Other ports/ Features]
At the base of the motherboard, we have many connections for Front panel audio, dual USB 3.1 header, 1 USB 2.0 and the Dual BIOS switch.
Along the right edge, we find the GT TOUCH Which features exclusive Sport and ECO Mode. Under Sports mode, the system boosts the performance automatically. Under ECO mode, the system optimizes energy consumption.
Finishing up our tour of the board, looking at the I/O which consists of:
- 1 PS/2 Keyboard
- 1 PS/2 Mouse
- 1 DVI-D Connector, resolution up to 1920 1200 @60Hz
- 1 HDMI Connector, resolution up to 4096 2160 @24Hz, compliant with HDMI 1.4a
- 4X USB 3.0
- Intel I219V – Gigabit Ethernet
- 2 USB 2.0
- Audio Connectors
[BIOS & Software Overview]
The UEFI BIOS have a massive overhaul, I found the past version to be a letdown. Now it’s cleaner, more logical and well…better. The Racing theme has been implemented neatly. Providing a great experience
Under the “Advanced tab” you will find functions and readouts for PC Health Status, SATA and USB Configuration
Self-explanatory, offering access to setting for the likes of PCIe, LAN and iGPU
Again, no explanation required.
This is where you will spend your time, tweaking and overclocking your CPU. The amount of control and layout is very good. Some welcome additions are present, such as memory insight which provides a read out of RAM timings. A little feature I really liked and appreciated is the choice to set what page of the bios will display first. So when you enter the BIOS you will be taken straight to the O.N.E tab for example
In past reviews, I’ve shared my thoughts on the BIOSTAR software, which at the core are good…but they were outdated and looked too basic. They’ve now bundled together the small apps, into one interface. This is a smart move, and from inside it, we can tweak the lighting effects. For the fixed RGB and anything you connect to the 5050 header.
In terms of usability and features, it’s not as robust as it could be but its more than adequate. Perhspas a few additional effects would be welcome.
[Test Setup and Overclocking]
Proudly Powered by our Dimastech Mini V1.0 Test Bench
[TECHICIZE TEST SYSTEM]
|Intel® i5 6600K (SKYLAKE)|
|Memory:||16GB Kingston Kingston Predator 16GB (44GB) DDR4 PC4-24000C15 3000MHz Quad Channel Kit|
|Video Card:||Intel iGPU/ Nvidia 98oTi|
|PSU:||Bitfeni Fury 750G|
|Hard Drives:||SSD – Kingston HyperX 3k240GB|
M.2 -Kingston M.2
[The i5 6600K]
As much I want to keep this article about the board only, it’s impossible not to mention the actual CPU’s launching aside them. Now with a 14nm architecture (Skylake) upon launch we have two “K” series CPU available. The i5 6600K and i7 6700k. The naming scheme across the last few generations have changed often, we now return to a more clear and concise naming scheme like what we had with Sandy-bridge.
Eample – 2500k (i5) & 2600K (i7) rather than say more recently 4960K (i5) & 4790K (i7)
In a nutshell we have 4 physical cores, DDR4 and DDR3L support, a new IGPU in the form of Intel® HD Graphics 530, the 14nm architecture, and a base clock of 3.5 GHz, which can boost to 3.9 GHz
No overclocking on this platform, so we delve straight on with real world testing.
Our test method uses a large variety of software to determine the results and product award. For your viewing, these are broken down into the following categories
- General System
- CPU & Memory
- Storage & USB
- AS SSD
- Cinebench R15
- Passmark Performance Test 8.0
- PCMark 8
- Super PI
We start with a broader view of general system performance and then break it down, as we delve deeper with sub testing, where we can examine key areas..
-[PC Mark 8]
PCMark 8 from Futuremark. PCMark 8 is designed to test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. It’s the complete PC benchmark for home and business.
The first test we run is PCMark 8, as we’re also able to gauge an all-around score. This test is heavily affected by all internal components rather than focusing on just one.
All other Z170 motherboards have been tested with DDR4 @3000Mhz, we can’t run any faster than 2133Mhz here.
Performance was solid, and for 2133Mhz RAM ( H170 Limit) it was the best to date!
We will look at the new Intel 530 IGPU 3D Mark performance first before running actual games with our dedicated test GPU.
Though we have not reviewed it, and can’t show it in the comparison, the major breakthrough in iGPU performance lies with Broadwell, the Intel 530 here on Skylake, does not share the same strengths as its 5th gen predecessor.
[-Discrete GPU AMD 390]
The results show the product is the best H170 we’ve tested
[Storage & USB]
SATA III 6GBps, as I’ve said in the past has been pushed as far as it can go, and I don’t epect to see anything major here anything over previous gens.
We’ve seen some variation lately, write results tend to be consistent but some boards offer lower read speeds, the BIOSTAR H170GT3 is on the lower side.
– [USB 3.0]
We don’t have any USB 3.1 (Gen2 ) devices at the time of testing, so will be focusing on 3.0 only. Be sure to understand the actual difference between USB 3.0/3.1 Gen 1 & Gen 2. As it’s something that not all brands have eplained clearly…
To measure speeds we use AS-SSD, with an SSD inside a USB 3.0 Caddy from Startech
The Kingston SSD has a theoretical limit of 499MB/s Write, when hooked up internally to a SATA 6GB/s port. Overheads and such we epect some degradation when used over USB 3.0
As epected the controllers have matured over time but differences in terms of speed, are minimal.
Using the in built network test for Performance test 8. The method is to install the software on two machines, that are on the same network. One acts as a client and the other as a server, a designated amount of data is sent across and then the min, avg, and ma transfer speeds are outputted.
The Intel NIC solution proves much more able than past incarnations
We examined a similarly specced model some months back, now we have this with many improvements, and a lower MSRP…well done BIOSTAR. It’s always refreshing to see a brand keeping up with current trends such as RGB, some have rushed their offerings to market. One or two excelling whiles others have really missed the mark. This product ticks all the boxes for me
The performance was as I expected from an H170 chipset, solid and consistent. The H170GT3 is ideal for any consumer that wants the best balance between price and features, but would prefer some nice visually too. This H170GT3 offers just that
We’ve seen quite a few BIOSTAR products over the last year and I’ve always had least one suggestion for improvements. The H170GT3 is the exception, though… its perfect.
- Aggressive price point
- Stylish design
- Improved UEFI
- Blistering fast M.2 speeds
- 5050 header
- The software is much better!
Based on everything we’ve seen today I’m awarding GOLD
We would like to thank BIOSTAR for providing the sample, and eagerly await more from them soon!