As late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel recently found out, gamers simply cannot take a joke. With the fervor of millions of religious zealots, he received death threats and was an online pariah overnight because he did not understand the scale of gaming’s user base and just how relevant gaming is in many people’s lives (to be fair, he also did not imagine how crazy they would be). What was initially a niche corner of the market is now ever present and demands to be taken seriously as a cultural landmark beyond notions that it is for basement dwellers. Not that there aren’t grounds to the stereotype but that it is a lifestyle that is represented in all shapes and forms.
That same fanaticism however, leaves the gaming crowd easy prey to opportunistic marketers who casually label things as a “gaming” product, and in the PC gaming community, proudly even wave the “Master Race” banner readily to gain ground. Not that the media is that big of a help about the issue either, when even the biggest reviewers are accepting bribes and expensive perks so they turn around and shill for the manufacturers, breaking an ethical line that should never be crossed by any reviewer purporting fairness. The picture is not completely bleak however as sometimes even the most cynical comes across something that gives faith to the faithless; an actual gaming product that lives up to the hype and can face scrutiny and come out unscathed.[sc:sponsor sponsor=”Gigabyte” product_link=”http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=5481#ov” product_name=”Z170x-Gaming 7″ product_price_link=”http://amzn.to/1X3LRiT” product_price=”$219.99″ ]
The Z170X-Gaming 7 is a $219.99 motherboard from Gigabyte that is filled to the brim with gaming features that completely dwarfs many of its peers in the same price range. It supports the latest Intel Skylake LGA1151 processors and takes advantage of the Z170 chipset’s 20-PCI-E lane count by incorporating a pair of M.2 slots that can be set to RAID mode. Audio-visual amenities are present such as customizable LEDs for the audio trace and rear IO cover as well as impressive Creative Core3d audio with anti-pop filters and swappable OpAmp. For network connectivity, the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 sports not one but two of the fastest Ethernet solutions available for gamers: an Intel i219V and Killer E2400 NIC. The back of the Z170X-Gaming 7 box displays many features already but unlike most other motherboards, this is only what Gigabyte can fit on the box and there are a lot more capabilities as you dive deeper.
The packaging for the Z170X-Gaming 7 features Heroes of the Storm as Gigabyte is an exclusive BlizzCon partner. Included inside the package is a promo for BlizzCon as well that users can take advantage of. This is for the US version while there is also an EU version that features a World of Warships promo on the front cover and in the bundle. Packaging otherwise is standard fare like in other Gigabyte motherboards with promotional information at the rear and the contents inside separated in a top and bottom compartment for the motherboard proper and the accessories. The motherboard is housed in an anti-static bag.
Accessories for the Gigabyte Z70X-Gaming 7 include the essential driver disc, IO shield (with LED light built-in), a user’s manual, a Heroes of the Storm door hanger (non-EU version), multi-lingual installation guide, Heroes of the Storm promo card, G1 gaming sticker, display connector covers, two-way SLI ribbon, two sets of SATA cables and front panel adapters. These front panel adapters are new and basically make it easier to plug-in front panel cables.
The Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 uses an ATX form factor measuring 305 x 244mm with a look that resembles something between a Gundam mecha suit and an F1 racing car. The PCB is black with white and red accents. The DIMM slots and the PCI-E slots are black and red to match the color scheme as well.