In this article we will look at motherboard Asus H170I-Pro on the Intel Z170 chipset, which is made in the form factor Mini-ITX and is a versatile solution for compact PC for various purposes.
Recall that the Intel Z170 chipset for its functionality, occupies an intermediate position between the Intel Z170 chipset and Intel ® B150. It has less than the Intel Z170 chipset, USB 3.0 ports, fewer PCIe 3.0 and it is not possible to group the 16 lanes PCIe 3.0 CPU Skylake-S dual port PCI Express 3.0 x8 or two PCI Express 3.0 x4 and one PCI Express 3.0 x8. But in comparison with Intel B150 Intel H170, on the contrary, more USB 3.0 ports and more PCIe 3.0. In addition, as the B150 Intel, Intel H170 does not allow you to overclock the CPU and memory.
Asus H170I-Pro delivers in a very compact box, which, however, the manufacturer has managed to place and specification of the Board and to talk about all her virtues.
In addition to the Board in a box embedded in the user’s manual (only in English), DVD with software and drivers, two SATA cable (all connectors with snaps, two cables have right-angle connector on one side), plug for the back of the PCB and the external antenna from the Wi-Fi module.
Summary table of characteristics: Asus H170I-Pro below, and hereafter we will consider all of its features and functionality.
Asus H170I-Pro is made in the form factor Mini-ITX (170×170 mm) and mounting the housing has four holes.
Asus H170I-Pro based on the Intel Z170 chipset and only supports Intel Core processors 6th generation with socket LGA1151 (code name Skylake-S)
To install the memory modules on the motherboard Asus H170I-Pro has two DIMM-slots. The user guide notes that the Board supports unbuffered DDR4 memory (non-ECC). Supported memory with XMP profiles.
To install a video card or expansion Board the Board has a single slot PCI Express 3.0 x16, which is implemented using 16 lines PCI Express 3.0 Skylake processor. Of course, this slot works at PCIe 3.0 x16.
In addition, for SSD on Board Asus H170I-Pro and a connector M. 2, which allows you to set the size 2242/2260/2280 storage devices. Sam M. 2 connector is located on the back side of the Board, which is typical for this form factor. Note that the total number only two holes for the mounting screws, and the drive size 2242 can only be installed using the special mounting of the extension tube, included in kit, using the hole under the drive frame 2260.
The M. 2 socket supports devices PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA 6 GB/s, and its implementation uses four chipset PCIe 3.0 port and one SATA 6 GB/s.
Because the processors Skylake-S have the integrated graphics core, to connect the monitor to the back of the PCB there are four video output. This DisplayPort (4096×2304 @ 60Hz) HDMI (4096×2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560×1600 @ 60Hz), DVI-D (1920×1200 @ 60 Hz) and VGA (1920×1200 @ 60 Hz). To the Board can simultaneously connect three monitors.
About video output VGA (D-Sub connector) recall that in the processor Skylake-S is no longer the FDI bus for the connection with the chipset and the VGA output is implemented by converting the digital output into analog. Work for HDMI and DVI video ports is provided by controller ASMedia ASM1442K.
For storage drives or optical drives on the motherboard Asus H170I-Pro are provided in the aggregate four ports SATA 6 GB/s. two separate SATA 6GB/s and two ports in the composition of the SATA Express connector.
All SATA ports are 6 GB/s is implemented on an integrated in Intel Z170 chipset controller. These ports support the ability to create RAID-arrays levels 0, 1, 5, 10.
For the implementation of the SATA Express connectors in addition to these two ports SATA 6 GB/s, and still want the dual port PCIe 3.0.
To connect all sorts of peripheral devices, the Board provides eight USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports.
All USB 3.0 ports and USB 2.0 are Intel H170 (recall that the Intel Z170 chipset supports up to 14 USB ports, of which up to 8 ports can be USB 3.0.
Six USB 3.0 ports located on the rear panel of the Board. To connect two more USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports the Board provides related connectors.
For a network connection on the motherboard Asus H170I-Pro includes two Gigabit interface. Implemented on the basis of the first PHY-controller (controller physical layer) Intel i219-V (controller MAC-level, integrated into the chipset). The second interface is implemented on the basis of a network controller Realtek RTL8111H. Both controllers are connected to the chipset’s PCIe lanes.
In addition, the Board has and a built-in module, Asus WiFi Go!. This dual-band (2.4 and 5 GHz) module with support for 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1. The basis of the wireless module — controller Qualcomm Atheros QCNFA364A.
Recall that the chipset Intel H170 there are only 26 high-speed ports (lines) I/o, which serve ports PCIe 3.0, USB 3.0 and SATA 6 GB/s. thus there are up to 16 ports (lines) PCIe 3.0, up to 8 ports USB 3.0 and 6 SATA 6 GB/s.
Now let’s see how the capabilities of the Intel Z170 chipset on the motherboard Asus H170I-Pro. In fact, everything is very simple.
Indeed, let’s count the number of controllers, connectors, and slots that connect to chipsety PCIe ports. The M. 2 socket, SATA Express connector, and three network controllers require together 7 PCIe ports, i.e., requires less that can provide the chipset.
Number of USB 3.0 ports also corresponds to the specifications of the chipset and number of implemented SATA ports less than what the chipset supports.
However, one port SATA 6 GB/c has shared with M. 2 socket. That is, if the M. 2 socket is used in SATA mode, associated with the connector port SATA 6 Gbps will be available. Conversely, if the involved is shared with the onboard M. 2 port SATA 6 Gbps, M. 2 socket is only available in PCIe.
It remains to deal only with the total number of ports high-speed I/o, which should be no more than 26. In this case we consider that M. 2 port is only required four high-speed ports (or a SATA port or Quad-port PCIe 3.0, depending on the connected device). Similarly, for connector the SATA Express requires only two high-speed ports (either two SATA or two port PCIe 3.0).In the end, we find that for the implementation of the connectors, M. 2 and SATA Express controllers ASMedia ASM1142, Intel i219-V and Wi-Fi, as well as two separate ports, SATA 6 Gbps and six USB 3.0 ports only need 18 high-speed ports of input/output. As you can see, it’s very simple and nothing is what is not shared.
If we talk about additional features of the Asus H170I-Pro Gaming, given the size of the Board, they are almost there. This is typical for circuit boards form factor Mini-ITX. There is only the Clear CMOS jumper to reset the BIOS.
To connect power supply to motherboard Asus H170I-Pro has 24-pin and 4-pin connectors.
CPU power is carried out by enhanced 8-phase scheme for cores and additional nodes. Converter itself based on a digital PWM controller ASP1400B with integrated power control subsystem Digi+ VRM. All components of the power of CPU have high reliability level: solid capacitors and chokes with ferrite core.
The voltage regulator of the processor power on the Board is 8-channel and based on the PWM controller ASP1400B. In each channel the power use chips NTMFD4C86N company On Semiconductor. In each such chip has two N-channel MOSFET-transistor with a current limit 20 A (High Side) and 32 A (Low Side).
For cooling the various heat-producing components on the motherboard Asus H170I-Pro provides only one tiny radiator, which is installed on the chipset.
On the elements of the voltage regulator of the processor heatsink is not installed.
In the process of testing the motherboard Asus H170I-Pro we tested how critical in this case, the absence of a radiator on the elements of VRM module.
For this test we have used three well-known utilities that are in the stress mode of the CPU: AIDA64 (FPU Stress), LinX 0.6.5 and Prime95. On the motherboard was installed processor Intel Core i7-6700K.
If you use AIDA64, maximum CPU temperature was 77 °C, and the power consumption is 81 watt.
LinX to test max CPU temperature was 81 °C, and the power consumption 91 watts.
In test Prime95 max CPU temperature was 80 °C, and the power consumption 98 watts.
In terms of heating the CPU tests Prime95 and LinX are about the same, but Prime95 gives a slightly higher power consumption, so we stopped there.
Next, using a thermometer we measured the temperature variation on MOSFET chips NTMFD4C86N.According to the indications of the thermometer, turned off the computer the temperature of the MOSFET chip was 24 °C when working at the computer in idle mode the temperature of the hot MOSFET chip was 38 °C, while the stress mode of loading temperature was increased to 70 °C.Here we must make allowances for the fact that the pyrometer may be a bit wrong to determine the absolute temperature value (depending on the material of the surface of the chip), but judging by the temperature of the chip in the cooled condition, the error is insignificant.
Of course, 70 °C for the MOSFET chip is a bit much, but only if it comes about that the temperature is constant. At the same time, the mode of stress loading is a rather exceptional situation, so the lack of heatsink on the MOSFET chips in this case is justified. Yes, and there will be no one to set a fee, Intel Core i7-6700K.
In addition to the chipset heatsink, for establishing a heat sink on the Board there are three four-pin connectors for the fans (including the fan of the CPU). Traditionally, the rotation speed of any fan can be configured via the UEFI BIOS.
Audio subsystem on-Board Asus H170I-Pro is very simple and is based on the audio codec Realtek ALC887.
For testing the output of the audio path, is for connecting headphones or external speakers, we used the utility Right Mark Audio Analyzer 6.3.0 and external sound card Creative E-MU 0204 USB. Testing was conducted for stereo, 24-bit/44.1 kHz.
The results of testing the audio on the motherboard Asus H170I-Pro was rated “Good”.
A full report with test results in the program RMAA 6.3.0 submitted on a separate page, the following is a brief report.
The UEFI BIOS on the motherboard Asus H170I Pro is a little different from the UEFI BIOS that’s used on other Asus motherboards with Intel H170 (for example, on the Board H170 Pro Gaming), and on other boards.
Recall that the Intel Z170 chipset allows you to overclock the CPU and memory, but the UEFI BIOS on the motherboard Asus H170I Pro has a traditional tab Ai Tweaker designed for overclocking the CPU and memory.
In fact, if you compare motherboards with Intel Z170 chipset boards from Asus chipset Asus H170I Pro, the main difference between the UEFI BIOS of these boards consists in the features included in the tab Ai Tweaker.
Let’s start with the fact that the possibility of changing the frequency of the clock generator BCLK in this case is not provided at all.
The multiplication factor of the processor cores (CPU K-series) you can change and set the multiplier as you can for each case the number of loaded cores and at the same time for all the loaded cores.
However, the maximum ratio that can be set equal to the maximum ratio CPU Turbo mode. For example, in the version of the processor Intel Core i7-6700K is 42.
In the settings of the Ai Tweaker, you can also specify a multiplier BCLK Frequency : DRAM Frequency (100:100, 100:133) and configured memory modules.
The maximum frequency of the DDR4 memory modules can be set equal to 4266 MHz, but only to install. In fact the maximum memory frequency is 2133 MHz.
Only that in this case you can really change is the memory timings.
Support XMP memory profiles in this case is that when you activate the XMP profile, changed the memory timings and voltages, but memory clock not changing.
Also, on the Ai Tweaker tab is useless (without overclocking) subsection that allows you to adjust the voltage of CPU, memory, etc., and also configure the operating mode of the voltage regulator.
As with all Asus motherboards, the UEFI BIOS you can configure the speed of all fans connected to the Board.In addition to choosing one of the four speed presets, you can adjust the speed limit manually by three points on the graph of the rotation speed specified by the fill factor of governors of the PWM pulses, the temperature of the processor. For fan CPU minimum fill factor of the PWM pulse is 20% and for two additional case fans at 60%.
Overall the Asus H170I-Pro is a good solution for medium-cost compact multimedia PCs and home servers.
Of course, this Board is not suitable for powerful gaming PC, and if you need a high performance PC for demanding tasks, the Asus H170I-Pro — not the best option. Available in combination with processors Skуlake-S with unlocked multiplier (K-series) makes no sense, since the Board does not allow you to overclock the CPU. High-speed DDR4 memory also makes no sense to use, because the memory is not accelerated, so that optimum use of standard memory DDR4-2133.
The main “highlight” of this Board is the presence of two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces and Wi-Fi module. Not everyone needs such an abundance of network interfaces, but sometimes you need a motherboard with two or even three network interfaces.
As already mentioned, to optimally use an Asus H170I-Pro in combination with the processor family Intel Core i3/i5 for the creation of compact multimedia PC or home server (NAS or Internet routers). Cheaper motherboard with the chipset Intel B150 or H110 Intel form factor Mini-ITX is not suitable for normal home server due to the lack of the possibility of combining drives in a RAID. And, apparently, so boards based on Intel chipsets B150 or H110 Intel form factor Mini-ITX motherboard with dual Gigabit network interfaces does not happen.To use for such tasks cost Intel Z170 redundant. So it remains only option with Intel Z170.
At the time of this writing the average retail price Asus H170I-Pro was …. For PCB form factor Mini-ITX chipset Intel H170 is the average cost. You can even find more cheap motherboards form factor Mini-ITX on the Intel Z170 chipset. However, if you need a Board with dual Gigabit network interfaces and Wi-Fi-module, it is cheaper to find already difficult. Competitors in this segment not so much, but they are. For example, this Gigabyte GA-H170N-WIFI with very similar characteristics.