Prepare for Overwatch | Build it Yourself: ASUS Z170 PRO GAMING Motherboard

Here’s how I chose the ASUS Z170 PRO GAMING motherboard. I spent weeks looking around different computer parts review sites such as HardOCP, and the name ASUS keeps ringing my ears. I have been a loyal EVGA fanboy since 2008, but I decided to open up to what other manufacturers have on the table at the moment. I might have a review for the latest EVGA Z170 sometime soon to compare.

I have read about the latest GIGABYTE, ASUS, MSI and EVGA motherboards and decided to go with the ASUS Z170 PRO Gaming Motherboard.

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How exactly do you come to know which motherboard among the vast variety of brands and models can you choose from to thin out the options?

First, you research what are the latest CPUs out there. I am a bit worried that Intel is abandoning the PC CPU scene, but decided to go with the 6th-Generation Intel CPU instead of an AMD CPU. Intel is just ahead of anything AMD has come up with in terms of technology. AMD is a bit slower shipping out new technologies, so I’d rather go with the flow until I need a new computer years from now.

This is what Matt Smith from Digital Trends says: “I don’t recommend buying an AMD processor if high-end gaming is your goal.”

 

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How to Choose a Motherboard?

So the latest Intel CPU technology is the Intel Core i5 and i7 Skylake (14nm) microarchitecture which shipped on August 2015. Dubbed the 6th-Generation Intel Core. The i7 CPU right off the bat costs above $400. So unless you are rich, I will rather go the i5 CPU route. In this case, the Intel Core I5-6600K 3.50 GHz (Skylake) CPU — which shipped on September 2015 at a price range of $253 – $279. This CPU is compatible with LGA 1151 CPU slots.

In the research now you know two important things to narrow down all the available motherboard brands and models: (1) You want a Gaming Rig, and (2) Your 6th-Generation Intel Core CPU target requires an “LGA 1151 CPU slot-compatible motherboard.” With that knowledge out of the way, and knowing how good reviews ASUS has, then there are only 6 ASUS motherboards that fit that criteria — still they have slight differences to analyze:

 

Less Appealing

 

More Appealing

 

The computer case size isn’t a factor at all because I already chose what my computer case is and it supports all three sizes: ATX, Extended-ATX and Mini-ATX. Now you might stumble upon a dilemma here. Which of these 6 ASUS motherboards is best for you? Considering all six have a decent under $200 budget, this is how I further narrowed down my choices.

First I checkmark out what I don’t like. These are 6th-generation Intel Core i5/i7 (Skylake) LGA 1151-compatible motherboards. Thus, why not use all the benefits of the technology by downgrading yourself to DDR3 RAM memory? The new CPUs benefit from the new DDR4 RAM memory. Thus, bye-bye DDR3 motherboards. Out! Mini-ATX … sorry, not my flavor. Out!

That leaves me with 3 ASUS Motherboards to choose from: B150 PRO, H170 PRO and Z170 PRO. All of them have USB 3.1, plenty of PCIe 3.0 expansion slots, and 4 SATA slots (6GB/s) for hard drives. Out of these three however, the B150 PRO doesn’t have a SATA Express. That’s optional to you whether that’s a factor (considering it only costs $127).

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Memory support is the only substantial matter that marks the difference between these three models. Considering that I not only play video games, but I wish to stream video with XSplit, record video of Overwatch and World of Warcraft: Legion for YouTube using OBS software, I often use Adobe Photoshop CC for image-editing, and Adobe Premiere for video-editing — I think it all comes down for me on RAM memory support at this juncture. So I go with the highest RAM Support possible (just in case) which is DDR4 … above 3000Mhz.

The winner for me is the ASUS Z170 PRO Gaming with support for up to DDR4 3400MHz (OC) RAM.

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Again, RAM here might not really be a factor for you (if you aren’t into video editing or livestreaming), so you are free to choose other DDR4 ASUS motherboard models within your budget range.

 

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Hands-On Photos

Update: So I don’t just preach about the newest technologies out there, I ordered the ASUS Z170-PRO GAMING motherboard. I hope to share a step-by-step installation video soon for those of you who would love to upgrade to a custom-built computer but do not know how to do it. Usually it would take a few weeks to learn how to build a computer rig by taking a CompTIA training which costs a few hundred bucks to enroll into. Hopefully, my training video is helpful. Follow us on Twitter for an update once the videos are ready.

My own ASUS Z170-PRO GAMING arrived, and here I share some of the packaging photos:

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When you open the box, the motherboard isn’t all lonely inside. It does come with a few useful tools.

  • User Guide
  • plastic CPU installation guide tool — you wrap it around the CPU, then fit it on the motherboard LGA 1151 CPU socket. Then unwrap the plastic tool
  • Driver CD
  • 2 bags with SATA (6GB/s) cables (total 4 cables)
  • SLI connector — I was surprised to see this item in a motherboard box. Usually comes inside a graphic card’s box.
  • Sticky cable labels — well, this one is helpful. Write what the cable is for, wrap the sticker around the SATA cable, and it makes easy to manage them.
  • Anti-corrosion I/O panel — this one goes in the back of the computer case, where you connect your USB, and Ethernet cables.
  • Screws x 2.

 

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

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