The Gigabyte H170N-WIFI is a Mini-ITX form factor socket LGA1151 motherboard based on the new Intel H170 chipset, supporting the sixth generation Core i processors. It brings high-end audio interface, one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, four SATA-600 ports (allowing two SATA Express connections), six USB 3.0 ports, one of them Type C, and a Wi-Fi interface. Let’s take a good look at it!
The new Intel H170 chipset is a simpler version of the Z170, which is the most high-end model for the LGA1151 socket, targeted to the sixth generation Core i “Skylake” CPUs. The main differences between H170 and Z170 chipsets are the smaller number of USB 3.0 ports (eight on the H170, against ten on Z170) and PCI Express 3.0 lanes (16 on the H170 vs. 20 on the Z170), besides the lack of support to overclocking and CPU controlled PCI 3.0 lane splitting in two or more slots.
Like the Z170, the H170 supports six SATA-600 ports, Smart Response (installing an SSD as a cache for the main hard drive), Smart Connect (allowing the computer to receive emails and refresh webpages while in sleep mode), and Rapid Start (faster boot times) technologies.
You can see the Gigabyte H170N-WIFI motherboard in Figure 1. It uses the Mini-ITX form factor, measuring 6.7” x 6.7” (170 x 170 mm).
The Gigabyte H170N-WIFI comes with one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot. Obviously, the board does not support SLI or CrossFire.
There are also two M.2 slots, one on the solder side of the board, supporting both PCI Express 3.0 x4 and SATA-600 (shown in Figure 3), and another one that comes with a Wi-Fi card installed (see page 5).
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Intel socket LGA1151 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
These CPUs are compatible with both DDR3L (up to 1,600 MHz) and DDR4 (up to 2,133 MHz) memory. So, it is the motherboard that defines which memory type (DDR3 or DDR4) can be installed, since DDR4 slots are physically different from the DDR3 slots.
According to Gigabyte, the H170N-WIFI supports DDR4 memories up to 2,133 MHz. It has two memory sockets. You can install up to 32 GiB with this motherboard if you use two 16 GiB modules.
In order to enable the dual-channel mode, you must install two memory modules.
[nextpage title=”On Board Peripherals”]
The Intel H170 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip has six SATA-600 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). One of those ports is available on the M.2 slot, and four are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards will not block them.
Notice that the SATA-600 ports are grouped in pairs, and each pair can be used as a SATA Express port.
The Intel H170 chipset supports six USB 2.0 ports and eight USB 3.0 ports. The Gigabyte H170N-WIFI offers two USB 2.0 ports, available through a header located on the motherboard. There are seven USB 3.0 ports, all of them controlled by the chipset, being five of them at the rear panel (one of them being Type C), and two available through one header.
The Gigabyte H170N-WIFI does not support FireWire or Thunderbolt ports.
This motherboard supports 7.1 audio format, i.e., eight channels. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using the Realtek ALC1150 codec, which is an excellent audio codec, providing 115 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 104 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. These specifications are good even for the user who wants to work professionally by capturing and editing analog audio.
The analog audio connections are independent if you use up to 5.1 analog speakers, and there is an optical SPDIF output on the rear panel. There is a connector where you can install an SPDIF coaxial output.
The portrayed motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel I219V chip and the other one controlled by an Intel I211AT chip.
In Figure 8, you can see the motherboard rear panel with a shared PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, two USB 3.0 Type A ports ports, the connectors for the Wi-Fi antennas, DVI-D output, two HDMI outputs, one USB 3.0 Type C ports, two more USB 3.0 Type A ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.
[nextpage title=”Other Features”]
Figure 7 shows the Intel 8260NGW wireless communication card that comes with the H170N-WIFI. It supports 802.11ac dual band (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) standard and Bluetooth 4.2. This card uses an M.2 slot, but the manufacturer does not inform which buses are available at this slot.
In Figure 8, you can see the accessories that come with the Gigabyte H170N-WIFI.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the Gigabyte H170N-WIFI has five phases for the CPU. The voltage regulator uses an Intersil ISL95858 controller chip (digital design). Each phase uses two MOSFETs, but we were not able to identify the models.
The Gigabyte H170N-WIFI uses high-end “black” solid capacitors and all coils on this motherboard are ferrite ones.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Gigabyte H170N-WIFI include:
- Socket: LGA1151
- Chipset: Intel H170
- Super I/O: ITE IT8628E
- Parallel ATA: none
- Serial ATA: four SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5) supporting two SATA Express connectors
- External SATA: none
- USB 2.0: two USB 2.0 ports, available through one header on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: seven USB 3.0 ports, five on the motherboard rear panel (one Type C) and two available through one header, controlled by the chipset
- USB 3.1: none
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): none
- Thunderbolt: none
- On-board video: controlled by the CPU; one DVI-I and two HDMI connectors
- On-board audio: produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC1150 codec (7.1+2 channels, 24-bit resolution, 192 kHz sampling rate, 115 dB SNR for the outputs, and 104 dB SNR for the inputs), on-board optical SPDIF output
- On-board LAN: two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel I219V chip, and one controlled by an Intel I211AT chip
- Buzzer: no
- Infrared interface: no
- Power supply required: ATX12V
- Slots: one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, one M.2 slot compatible with PCI Express 3.0 x4 and SATA-600, and one M.2 slot with a Wi-Fi card installed
- Memory: two DDR4-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-2133, 32 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: one four-pin connector for the CPU cooler and one four-pin connector for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: two BIOS chips, Intel 8260 Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2 card
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: one
- Programs included: motherboard utilities and drivers
- More Information: https://www.gigabyte.com
- Average Price in the U.S.*: USD 120.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.
The Gigabyte H170N-WIFI is a very complete Mini-ITX motherboard, great for the user who is building an SFF (small form factor) computer or workstation, using a sixth generation (“Skylake”) Core i3, Core i5, or Core i7 CPU.
Offering a high-end audio interface, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, seven USB 3.0 ports (being one of them Type C), four SATA-600 ports (supporting to two SATA Express connectors), and two M.2 slots (one of them accepting SATA-600 and PCI Express 3.0 x4 SSDs), this tiny motherboard offers all you should expect from a Mini-ITX model. However, it is not aimed on overclocking, which is clear by the use of the H170 chipset, that does not support overclocking (at least officially).
So, if you are building a computer based on a sixth generation Intel Core i CPU, using a Mini-ITX case, and want a high-end sound and M.2 SSD support, the Gigabyte H170N-WIFI is an excellent motherboard.