GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-SOC FORCE Motherboard Review
GIGABYTE’s GA-Z170X-SOC FORCE is touted as the ultimate Z170 "Super OverClock" solution from GIGABYTE. It also offers an impressive array of features for the enthusiast and gamer alike. 22 phases of digital power, cool new OC Touch buttons, metal shielded PCIe slots, pretty lights, and an impressive set of three PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Connectors!
Motherboard Overclocking Software
GIGABYTE includes its EasyTune software as part of its App Center suite. This is one component or feature that’s offered by the application center, but this is the one that allows tuning from within the Windows operating system. This software was recently revised, although it maintains the same basic functionality and design layout that it has had for quite some time now. The application window was shrunk to a smaller default size. The interface now has a black on white color scheme instead of a blue on black one. This utility is only utilized for tuning purposes and hardware monitoring and power features are separate. These are part of the System Information Viewer utility which is also accessed via the "App Center."
From the perspective of the actual user experience, the EasyTune software is by far the best on the market. The application is extremely intuitive and has virtually no learning curve. The application owes this to two factors. The first is a well thought out and logical design. The second is due to the fact that the application is simplistic. It isn’t as robust as ASUS’ AI Suite III or even MSI’s Command Center. Interestingly enough, the EasyTune software looks like a simplified clone of ASRock’s utilities.
The utility does have all the voltage and clock frequency adjustments that you could want or ask for. Settings which have been altered are highlighted in a different color, denoting the change before it’s been applied. User profiles can be created and loaded through the utility and settings can be applied on Windows startup to make them take effect once the system reaches the desktop.
These statements are not meant to deride the EasyTune software. As I said the user experience is a positive one. Specific settings categories are logically grouped, and everything is presented in a way that never feels daunting over overwhelming. There are some places where application space is a little bit under-utilized, but this seems to be a purposeful design decision which makes it more user friendly. For the most part GIGABYTE has achieved its goals in spades.
My only gripe about the software is the separation of System Information Viewer from EasyTune. The latter application controls hardware monitoring and the system fans. The hardware monitor isn’t as nice as what ASUS or MSI offers, but its comprehensive enough. Furthermore, the fan control is rudimentary in comparison to what ASUS offers, but this isn’t exactly surprising. ASUS’ market lead in this area is huge. SIV is annoying in that it forces fan auto-detection and calibration when you first run it. This was annoying as hell given that I didn’t have any 4-pin fans connected to the system. ASUS’ Fan Xpert 3 on the other hand has a glowing pointer which tells me that I can auto-tune the fans, but it doesn’t force me to do so given that I may not have the desire to use the feature.
During my testing the applications worked very well save for the Ambient LED software. This utility is designed beautifully and its simplicity comes off as elegance rather than something targeted at people who chew on crayons. The issue I had here is that the tool was incapable of changing the color of the onboard LEDs. For this I had to go into the UEFI BIOS.