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Supermicro C7Z170-SQ Motherboard Review
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Review

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ Motherboard Review

by April 27, 2016
Positives

Quality server grade components and new UEFI BIOS make the C7Z170-SQ a strong performing motherboard for a workstation build.

Negatives

Lack of Nvidia SLI support has you looking at AMD solutions for multi GPU CrossFire setups. Low number of USB ports may leave you looking for USB expansion options.

Rating
Our Rating
Design & Aesthetics
9.8
Performance
9.6
Feature Set
9.2
Value For The Application
9.6
Bottom Line

The C7Z170-SQ is a strong performer and many have been able to hit 5.0GHz on their 6700K processors. The new motherboard design looks very good and we really like the new UEFI BIOS. If you want to run Windows 7 simply flip an option in the BIOS and you are good to go, no need to nLite your Win 7 ISO to include USB 3.0 support. AT this point in time we think this is the only motherboard that offers this option for Windows 7 users.

9.6
Our Rating
You have rated this

Not long ago we had a look at Supermicro’s C7X99-OCE motherboard and it impressed us with features we would not normally find on a Supermicro board that includes new UEFI BIOS and robust overclocking features. Learning from the progress made on this board now leads us to a another new milestone from Supermicro, the C7170-SQ which enters into the enthusiast/workstation class board with its Single Socket H4 (LGA 1151) and Intel Z170 chipset.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Display

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Display

With new retail box art and sporting a classic enthusiast motherboard design the C7170-SQ breaks the mold for what we would consider a normal motherboard from Supermicro.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ motherboard Key Features

  1. Single socket H4 (LGA 1151) supports Intel 6th Gen. Core i7/i5/i3 series, Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium
  2. Intel Z170 Express Chipset
  3. Up to 64GB Non-ECC UDIMM, DDR4-3200MHz (OC), in 4 DIMM slots
  4. Single Gigabit Ethernet LAN port (Intel i219V)
  5. 6x SATA III (6Gbps); RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
  6. 2x PCIe 3.0 x16 (1 x16 or dual x8), 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x4), 1x PCIe 3.0 x4, 2x PCIe 3.0 x1 (in x4) slots
  7. 1x PCIe M.2 (support PCIe x4 only, 2260/2280/22110
  8. 6x USB 3.0 (2 rear + 4 via header), 6x USB 2.0 (2 rear + 4 via headers), 1x USB 3.1 (10Gbps) Type C (rear)
  9. 1x DVI-D, 1x DP (Display Port), 1 HDMI
  10. HD Audio 7.1 channel connector by Realtek ALC1150
  11. UEFI BIOS support

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ motherboard overview

The new box art design offers good retail shelf appeal with beveled edges and metallic gray slip cover. Front and center is the motherboard model that has red highlights that show through the text cutouts.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Retail Box Front

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Retail Box Front

The retail box has a quality feel to it that also supports the quality of the motherboard that uses server grade components.

The back of the box shows key features and specifications in an easy to read format.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Retail Box Back

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Retail Box Back

Sliding off the gray slip cover and removing the outer box lid we can now see the package accessory loadout.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Open Box

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Open Box

Included accessories:

  • I/O-Shield
  • 6x SATA III 6Gb/s cable(s)
  • 2x M.2 Screw Package
  • 1x Supporting DVD
  • Fold out motherboard guide

The first item we would see if the motherboard wrapped in anti-static bag which we removed and opened the box lid.

Breaking away from typical Supermicro color schemes we find a flat black board with red highlights on key accessories like RAM and PCIe Slots. At the back of the board just under the sound circuits and Supermicro logo are two tan bands that light up red when the motherboard is powered on. These look very good the odds are at least one will be covered up with GPU’s providing lighting effects between the motherboard and GPU(s).

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Top View

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Top View

Supermicro includes some industry standard features on his motherboard like physical power and reset switches on the motherboard as well as a POST status LED.

Now we are looking at the back storage ports which are 6x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), black. These support RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 via the Intel PCH.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Storage Ports

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Storage Ports

Here we see the PCIe slots, which are 3x PCIe 3.0/2.0 (Red, double-width), 3x PCIe 3.0 x4 slots (Black)

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - PCIe Slots

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – PCIe Slots

The PCI-E 3.0/2.0 (Red) slots run at 16x/0x/0x, 8x/8x/0x, or 8x/4x/4x for 2-way or 3-way CrossFireX, SLI is not supported. Between the CPU and top red PCIe slot we find the PCIe M.2 for installing popular m.2 form factor SSDs.

Let’s move on to take a look at the back I/O ports.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Back IO

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Back IO

Looking at the back IO area of the C7Z170-SQ we find PS/2 keyboard/ mouse, 2x USB 2.0, HDMI, VESA Display Port, DVI-D, 2x USB 3.0, 1Gb LAN, USB 3.1 Port 8, Type-C and audio inputs/ outputs. There are six mini jacks for onboard audio in/ out as well as an optical S/PDIF output. We can also see that the HDMI and Display Port ports appear to be gold plated which is a nice touch.

BIOS

Supermicro has taken huge steps at improving the BIOS user interface and we think this version is the best we have seen from SM thus far.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - BIOS#1

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – BIOS#1

Navigating the BIOS is simple and easy to find your way around, this version is a big improvement over the GUI we saw on the C7X99-OCE.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - BIOS#3

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – BIOS#3

The C7Z170-SQ has all the knobs needed for overclocking, we simply selected 4.0GHz from the drop down and ran our tests with that. It proved to be very stable and did not need any extra voltage adjustments.

Installing Windows 7 on Z170 motherboards can be an issue, these problems are related to a lack USB 3.0 support on the Win 7 install disk, you will get as far as the install options and you will lose mouse/keyboard controls.

To get around this other boards require you to play a few games such as creating a new Win 7 ISO that includes USB 3.0 support by nLiting drivers for support. However, the C7Z170-SQ has the needed fix built right into the motherboard BIOS.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Install Win 7 USB Drivers

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Install Win 7 USB Drivers

You can select these features and continue on with the Win 7 install and when that is finished simply disable these features and you will be good to go.

Driver DVD

The driver support DVD that comes with the C7Z170-SQ is typical of Supermicro disks and includes everything you need to get your system up and running.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Driver DVD

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Driver DVD

The driver support DVD that comes with the C7Z170-SQ is typical of Supermicro disks and includes everything you need to get your system up and running.

Our test setup

We used our standard test components and built a workstation around the C7Z170-SQ.

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K Skylake-S with 4 cores/8 threads
  • Motherboard: C7Z170-SQ
  • Memory: Crucial 4x 4GB DDR4 2133MHz (16GB Total)
  • Cooling: Noctua NH-U9DX-i4 heat sink
  • Storage: Micron P400e 200GB SSD
  • GPU: Nvidia K5200
  • OS: Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu 14

We ran our tests with both Default BIOS settings and then again with an overclock set to 4.0 GHz, our Noctua NH-U9DX-i4 heat sink handles these settings very well.

AIDA64 Memory Test

AIDA64 memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, and Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - AIDA64 Memory

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – AIDA64 Memory

Memory Latency ranged at about 62ns and we saw no real change with overclock settings, we did not adjust the BCLK which would have boosted memory performance.

Linux-Bench Test

We ran the motherboard through our standard Linux-Bench suite using Ubuntu as our Linux distribution. Linux-Bench is our standard Linux benchmarking suite. It is highly scripted and very simple to run. It is available to anyone to compare them with their systems and reviews from other sites. See Linux-Bench.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Linux-Bench

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Linux-Bench

Example test results for our Linux-Bench runs can be found here: C7Z170-SQ and C7170-SQ Overclocked

SPECwpc

SPECwpc_v1.0.2 is a workstation benchmark that measures key aspects of workstation applications.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - SPECwpc

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – SPECwpc

We do not see a huge difference between default and overclocked results but with these scores even small changes take a big performance boost which result in times saved on complex jobs.

SPEC CPU2006

SPEC CPU2006v1.2 measures compute intensive performance across the system using realistic benchmarks to rate real performance.

In our testing with SPEC CPU2006 we use the basic commands to run these tests.

” Runspec –tune=base –config=servethehome.cfg ,” then ” int ,” or ” fp .”

To do multi-threaded, we add in ” –rate=8.”

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - CPU2006

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – CPU2006

Our CPU2006 test results are close to other Z170 boards we have tested.

Power Tests

For our power testing needs we use a Yokogawa WT310 power meter which can feed its data through a USB cable to another machine where we can capture the test results. We then use AIDA64 Stress test to load the system and measure max power loads.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Boot Power Test

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Boot Power Test

We ran our power tests with both default settings and overclocked. We see very little difference between these settings when booting up and general desktop use, perhaps 5-10 watts at best.

Fully Loaded Stress Tests Power Use

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ - Power Test

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ – Power Test

For our tests we use AIDA64 Stress test which allows us to stress all aspects of the system. At default BIOS settings we run just above 138 watts for a max load and then peak out at close to 150 watts with overclocked settings.

Conclusion

We really like the improvements Supermicro has incorporated into the C7Z170-SQ and hope they continue with these in other consumer and workstation motherboards. The C7Z170-SQ can keep up with performance of other motherboards in this class, it overclocks well, and has good performance. The C7Z170-SQ looks good enough to install in a gaming case with windows and perhaps even water cool it.

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ

Supermicro C7Z170-SQ

 

It does have some short comings, lack of official SLI support limits us to a single NVIDIA graphics card but it can support AMD 2 and 3-way CrossFire. It also has a limited number of USB ports in the back with only 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0 and 1x USB 3.1 port. If you use a USB keyboard/mouse combo which is the norm these days, you are left with only 2x USB 3.0 + USB 3.1 ports for expansion devices such as printers. There are USB expansion headers on the motherboard that can boost that total to eight more. Using those would require either front mounted or rear mounted USB expansion adapters that are not included with the retail kit.

What you do get with the C7Z170-SQ is performance that matches other boards at an affordable price.

About The Author
William Harmon
2 Comments
  • Eddie
    April 27, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Looks interesting. I’d probably go with the mATX little brother since I’m looking to go smaller, plus in a brief price check is about $50 cheaper.

  • Marc Gutt
    August 17, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    I bought it. It takes 12 seconds to load the bios logo and 28 seconds in total to show the windows 10 login. Performance?!

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