Overall and Final Verdict
So the Gigabyte Z170N Gaming 5 isn’t the first Mini-ITX Z170 board to come through the office. The first was the MSI Wireless AC Pro that I covered. So going into this review I had a good idea of what a Z170 ITX board should have for features, so most of the time I spent comparing them. Really for the most part both boards have the same features. You have the same chipset, audio, and wireless. The Gigabyte board pulled ahead when really digging into the features though. For one it actually has a new USB 3.1 Type C connection. You also get a DVI-D port where the MSI just had HDMI. There are also a few more SATA ports, in fact this board has more SATA ports than I’ve ever seen on any other ITX motherboard, perfect for a small server or NAS. But what really set things apart for me was the difference in network cards. It might be a small difference but the performance difference between the Intel I219-V and the Killer E2201 on our network was night and day and its really the only feature that will effect performance.
Gigabyte did a great job with the Gaming 5. I love the M.2 slot on the back panel, it is going to save me a lot of room if I use the board in a small form factor build. Like I mentioned above they really packed the board full of features given the ITX form factor. I’m also really happy with the software, specifically the App Center and the apps I was able to download using it. While I would actually prefer that Gigabyte not go with the black and red theme like every other “gaming” motherboard, I was happy that they didn’t make the Gaming 5 as flashy as the MSI. It wasn’t all perfect though, I did find the mouse movement in the UEFI to be a little weird and hard to control. I would also love to see them include a DisplayPort connection on the rear I/O as well given they had the room. Even so those are small complaints in comparison to the Gaming 5’s positives.
My other concern was just how much the Gaming 5 would cost. With the MSI I found that it wasn’t a bad deal given its features but it was still close to the top of the price range for an ITX motherboard. A quick look on Newegg shows that the Gigabyte Z170N Gaming 5 is $25 less than the MSI and is also cheaper than almost every other Z170 ITX board with the exception of two. Typically gaming focused boards end up having a bit of a price premium for added features that you might not need and for the “gaming” look but Gigabyte did a good job keeping this board in still in range of a decent value. You can pick up a budget CPU for as low as $65 to get you rolling or you can pair it with a nice i5 for about $350 for the pair.
Live Pricing: HERE
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