Quick introduction: ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI
In general the motherboards from this price segment have many features, but the extra functionality between the models definitely differs. Some boards have extra options for overclockers, while others, for example, have a gaming network controller from Killer.
ASRock Z170 Extreme6
ASRock has introduced four Extreme motherboards for the Z170 generation, the Extreme3, 4 ,6 and 7. There are also plus-versions available of the last three boards, where ASRock offers an USB 3.1 front panel. This makes the Extreme6 one of the higher end boards from ASRock. As we are used to seeing from ASRock a lot of time has been spent on the extras. For example we only find USB 3.0 or faster ports on the I/O panel. The Extreme6 is also the only motherboard in this test with two extra SATA600 ports, thanks to a controller.
ASUS Maximus VIII Ranger
The Ranger is the cheapest model in the Republic of Gamers series, which is aimed at overclockers. Consequently it offers basic functionality for overclockers, such as on-board buttons for power, reset and clear CMOS. It also has the good sound implementation which the ROG line is known for. This board turned out to be an excellent motherboard for gamers, which is why it received an Excellent Award during our first review of Z170 motherboards.
Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5
The Z170X-Gaming series from Gigabyte immediately impressed, mostly due to the amazing price/performance-ratio of the Gaming 3. Compared to the Gaming 3, the Gaming 5 is slightly more expensive, but it also offers more features. We find on-board power, reset and clear CMOS buttons. With these it can measure up well to comparatively priced motherboards from other manufacturers.
MSI Z170A Gaming M5
The MSI Z97 Gaming 5 was one of the most popular motherboards from last generation, because of its excellent price/performance-ratio, but its successor is in an entirely different price class. The Gaming M5 certainly has some interesting options. It's the only motherboard in this test with voltage measuring points. Later we'll see that power consumption is exceptionally low.