Z170 is the most feature-rich consumer chipset on the LGA 1151 platform. Here's a list of ITX, ATX and EATX motherboards available now.
Z170 is the most feature-rich consumer chipset on the LGA 1151 platform — only the Q170 chipset can surpass it in terms of features, but most of those extras are targeted at business users and are of no real value to gamers.
Intel 100 Series Consumer Chipsets
|CPU PCI-E 3.0 Config Support||1 x 16 or 2 x 8 or 1 x 8 + 2 x 4||1 x 16||1 x 16|
|Independent Display Support||3||3||2|
|Memory Channels/ DIMMs per Channel||2/2||2/2||2/1|
|CPU Overclocking Support||Yes||No||No|
|Intel Smart Sound Technology||Yes||Yes||No|
|Intel Small Business Advantage 4.0||No||Yes||No|
|Intel Small Business Basics||No||Yes||Yes|
|Intel RAID Support 0/1/5/10||Yes||Yes||No|
|Intel Smart Response Technology||Yes||Yes||No|
|Max Intel RST for PCI-E||3||2||0|
|I/O Port Flexibility||Yes||Yes||No|
|Maximum HSIO Lanes||26||22||14|
|Chipset PCI-E Support||20 PCI-E 3.0 Lanes||16 PCI-E 3.0 Lanes||6 PCI-E 2.0 Lanes|
|USB Support (USB 3.0)||14 (10)||14 (8)||10 (4)|
|SATA 3.0 Ports||6||6||4|
The Z170 chipset is also unquestionably the highest performance LGA 1151 solution, as it is the only one that supports CPU overclocking, allowing users to hit higher clock speeds and get the most performance out of the processor. This, paired with the ability to support multi-GPU configurations by splitting the CPU’s PCI-E lanes across several graphics cards, make it the best option for gamers and PC enthusiasts. The chipset also supports the most HSIO lanes, tied only by Q170, which OEMs can use for several functions.
Other chipsets can be viewed as stripped-down versions of the Z170, but there is one reason why you might want to buy one of those instead: price. With its features, Z170 is the most expensive chipset on the market. Even when you have the choice between a low-end Z170 motherboard and an H170 board, for example, at comparable prices the Z170 may not be the clear winner. Although a straight comparison of the chip would show the Z170 is superior, secondary characteristics of the motherboard such as the power design, audio solution, SATA ports and other features added by the OEM might make the Z170 board less appealing. Therefore, be sure to compare all aspects of the motherboard before buying.
Micheal Justin Allen Sexton is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter.