Gigabyte Z170N-Gaming 5 & Z170N-WIFI

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SOFTWARE

Gigabyte's utilities are effectively applets living inside a depository called "App Center" though each application opens up in its own window. This makes it a bit messier than more consolidated solutions like Asus' AI Suite, though it should be noted that Asus does provide some software that lives outside AI Suite as well, most notably the ROG utilities on their high-end boards. This version of App Center feels more lightweight and responsive than previous versions.

Being SPCR, fan control is of high importance and System Information Viewer does an adequate job, offering fan calibration and both dynamic and fixed control for both fan headers. Smart fan allows users to adjust the fan curve with six different points but in response to CPU temperature only. Fixed RPM control has a high degree of granularity with very small (less than 10 RPM) selectable increments but the resulting speed is often off by 100~150 RPM. With earlier versions of SIV, I noted a substantial delay when changing speed but with these two boards, the speed changes almost instantly so this problem seems to have been addressed.

The latest beta version of SpeedFan does not pick up either board's controllers, so we're stuck with what Gigabyte gives us for now.

Like previous versions of SIV, clicking a button on the top right corner transforms the interface into a hardware monitor that docks itself to the edge of the screen. This means you can't monitor frequencies, temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds while you're making adjustments. Another peeve is the warning system which works perfectly the first time, popping an unobtrusive notification above the system tray when a sensor reader exceeds its designated limit. However, if change the parameters afterwards so the warning should no longer apply, the notification persists. A restart is required to make the change take effect.

On-the-fly frequency and voltage tuning can be performed from the EasyTune utility but Gigabyte's branded version of the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility is far more comprehensive, making EasyTune redundant.

As the Gaming 5 features a Killer NIC, it can use the Killer Network Manager, a traffic shaping application that is easier to use and more pleasant to look at than the cFosSpeed utility that ships with the WIFI model. These kinds of programs are useful for setting bandwidth/traffic priority to certain applications and services such as games, streaming, and VOIP.

3D OSD provides an overlay in games, displaying the framerate, clock speed, and other information in real time.

While most of the provided software functions as intended, some simply didn't work at all. I was particularly interested in trying out AutoGreen, which can put your PC to sleep or lock it when a paired smartphone goes out of range. For example, you could walk away from your desk with your phone in your pocket without having to remember to lock down your PC for privacy concerns. This sounds great on paper but numerous attempts to pair resulted in an error message. After playing around with the HomeCloud mobile app, I eventually I did manage to pair successfully but then it began going to sleep repeatedly on its own even with my phone right next to it.

Also, the Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 audio application, which is touted as a feature on the Gaming 5, doesn't function. During setup, an error message popped up but the application installed regardless. However, all the options inside the app were grayed out.

Overall, I would say Gigabyte's software is slowly improving but not quickly enough for my liking. Testing out the various utilities, I found a couple of apps that didn't work properly, a few bugs, some spelling errors, and the occasional annoying UI choice carried over from earlier versions. These aspects are obviously not a deal-breakers but the lack of polish on the software doesn't help inspire confidence in their hardware or brand.



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