When we reviewed the GIGABYTE MW31-SP0, I stated at the time that due to the design of many of the Xeon focused motherboards, only two or three were actually geared up for SLI certification. It comes down to the motherboard implementing the C236 chipset (over the C232) and the manufacturer providing an x8/x8 PCIe lane allocation and actually going for certification. The reality seems to be that not that many Xeon users want/need SLI for gaming, hence the low number of products available. But GIGABYTE aims for the X170-EXTREME ECC to be the best motherboard on the market for just such an occasion, while bundling Thunderbolt 3 support as well.

Other AnandTech Reviews for Intel’s 6th Generation CPUs and 100-Series Motherboards

Skylake-K Review: Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K - CPU Review
Comparison between the i7-6700K and i7-2600K in Bench - CPU Comparison
Overclocking Performance Mini-Test to 4.8 GHz - Overclocking
Skylake Architecture Analysis - Microarchitecture
Z170 Chipset Analysis and 55+ Motherboards - Motherboard Overview
Discrete Graphics: An Update for Z170 Motherboards - PCIe Firmware Update
Price Check: Intel Skylake i7-6700K and i5-6600KLatest Skylake Price Check (3/29)

100-Series and C232/C236 Motherboard Reviews:
Prices Correct at time of each review

($500) The GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming G1 Review
($500) The ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme Review
($370) The GIGABYTE Server MW31-SP0 Review (C236)
($310) The GIGABYTE X170-Extreme ECC Review (C236, this review)
($250) The ASUS Maximus VIII Impact Review
($240) The ASRock Z170 Extreme7+ Review
($230) The MSI Z170 Gaming M7 Review
($208) The GIGABYTE Z170-UD5 TH Review
($165) The ASUS Z170-A Review
($143) The ASRock E3V5 Gaming Review (C232)
($130) The MSI Z170A SLI PLUS Review
($125) The Supermicro C7H170-M Review

To read specifically about the Z170 chip/platform and the specifications therein, our deep dive into what it is can be found at this link.

GIGABYTE X170-Extreme ECC Overview

Sitting at $310, the X170-Extreme ECC is near the top of the cost pile for Skylake based systems whether the user is specifically looking at a Xeon/prosumer build or otherwise. For the money, GIGABYTE offers plausibly the consumer board with the highest specifications cable of supporting E3-1200 v5 Xeons as well as SLI, USB 3.1, dual PCIe 3.0 x4 SSDs in RAID and Thunderbolt 3 all in one package without the need for add-on peripherals.

Due to the fact that Intel removed Xeon support from motherboards using consumer grade chipsets, users who preferred Xeon functionality (either for ECC or support packages) now have to migrate towards motherboards with C232 or C236 chipsets instead. C232, as we explained in the review of the MW31-SP0, is an analogue to the Q150 chipset whereas C236 is more of a Z/H170 hybrid, with up to 20 PCIe lanes from the chipset but a lack of overclocking support. The motherboards with these server grade chipsets are typically, generally speaking, engineered to work at peak rates for several years (and server grade cooling), and should be built as such. This is perhaps why a user would look at a server-class chipset while only looking at standard consumer-grade processors (C232 and C236 accept Core 6000 series CPUs as well as Xeon E3-1200 v5 CPUs).

Back specifically to the GIGABYTE X170-Extreme ECC, and this element of 'over-engineering' comes through in design, aesthetics, the functionality and the price. The top GBT boards use the more expensive International Rectifier ICs for power delivery for example, as well as Alpine Ridge for Thunderbolt connectivity, and this is no exception. GIGABYTE was Intel's primary motherboard partner when the Alpine Ridge controller was launched, so it makes sense to see it on GIGABYTE's top line prosumer Xeon motherboard.

For BIOS, GIGABYTE has removed the '3D' mode and reverted back to a classic (but HD) menu implementation that makes it easier to navigate. The software in the OS moves through a singular interface, unifying a design ID between various GBT features on fan profiles and monitoring, however external vendor packages such as the Killer networking interface and the Sound Blaster audio get their own implementations. GIGABYTE lacks a RAMDisk utility, which might be worth while for a prosumer system loaded up to the gills.

Performance is middle of the road in our benchmarks, given the priority here is stability over tweaking every iota out of the stock performance. The X170-Extreme ECC doesn't enable any form of multi-core turbo due to the aforementioned stability focus of the market, but there still needs to be some fine-tuning, given for example the high DPC Latency. Despite that, the POST time is particularly good for a dual NIC system (Intel and Killer) with Alpine Ridge and other chipset controllers, as in fact the best POST time we’ve seen on any Skylake 100-series or C23x motherboard so far. While we had issues with testing the audio due to the Sound Blaster implementation and USB 3.1 testing due to the Alpine Ridge controller, we were able to source a Thunderbolt 3 device from Akitio with a 1.2 TB Intel SSD 750 and performance was identical to the 1.2 TB drive we tested on a native U.2 port back at launch. Nothing extraordinary came from the rest of the testing.

Quick Links to Other Pages

In The Box and Visual Inspection
Test Bed and Setup
Benchmark Overview
System Performance (Audio, USB, Power, POST Times on Windows 7, Latency)
CPU Performance, Short Form (Office Tests and Transcoding)
Gaming Performance 2015 (R7 240, GTX 770, GTX 980)

Quick Board Feature Comparison

Motherboard Comparison
  GIGABYTE X170-Extreme ECC
Socket LGA1151 LGA1151
MSRP at Review $310 $143
DRAM 4 x DDR4 4 x DDR4
PCIe Layout x8/x4/x4 x16
BIOS Version Tested F2c 1.11
MCT Enabled Automatically? No No
USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) Intel Alpine Ridge None
M.2 Slots 2 x PCIe 3.0 x4 None
U.2 Ports No No
Network Controller 1 x Intel I219-V
1 x Killer E2400
1 x Intel I219-V
Audio Controller Realtek ALC1150 Realtek ALC1150
HDMI 2.0 Yes No


Board Features, Visual Inspection
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  • Ej24 - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    This is LGA1151
  • Ej24 - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    Typically Xeons are cheaper than their i7 relatives at the same specs. But when the motherboard costs double you effectively negate any savings on the CPU, and don't gain much over the i7's in terms of chipset features. I miss the Haswell days when you could slap an lga1150 Xeon in a Z87/97 for less than an i7 and get all the consumer goodies too.

    Also, can someone explain why SATA Express is given PCH lanes but the regular SATA3 ports are on a ASMEDIA controller?!?! Why is SATA Express included at all anymore??? Wasn't it DOA? Has anyone ever brought a SATA Express drive to market? Has anyone ever used one? Why not free up those PCIe lanes for something useful like more PCIe expansion slots, or support for more simultaneous M.2 NVME drives?
  • Dahak - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    The sata express slots works as either Sata Express (taking up 2 Sata ports per 1 Sata Express connection) or as 6 sata ports. In addition to the 2 from the asmedia controller
  • cbm80 - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    Either they are targeting a niche demo (professional 10-year olds?) or else Gigabyte's marketing is sending a mixed message.
  • Jacerie - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    "For the money, GIGABYTE offers plausibly the consumer board with the highest specifications cable of supporting E3-1200 v5 Xeons..."

    Shouldn't that read... highest specifications capapble?
  • Gigaplex - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Not unless you want to include typos.
  • sor - Sunday, October 23, 2016 - link

    Kind of lame that the article says ECC about 100 times, it's a major selling point of the platform, and I can't seem to find anywhere in the article where they actually benchmark with ECC memory. This is sort of like the time when they reviewed the quad SLI motherboard without actually trying quad SLI on it, although there was a much bigger uproar.
  • Zan Lynx - Saturday, October 29, 2016 - link

    The last time I ran some casual tests, ECC RAM of the same speed rating produced the same GB/s as non-ECC. Within the margin of error. The issue might be that you can't really find ECC RAM rated for higher speeds with XMP profiles.
  • sor - Monday, October 31, 2016 - link

    Yeah, that's part of the point. It would highlight that you're probably going to get a bit lower performance from this board if you're caring about its primary feature enough to equip the namesake RAM. Instead they stuck to components that make it swappable with a much cheaper board.
  • imisdjsd - Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - link

    This sudoddit is one of the main centers of speculation and theorization on Game of Thrones and Song of Ice and Fire, from here came several reputed leaks.) Another Reddit user, who claims to have a close relationship with one of the " / Actresses of the show "
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