Z170 versus X99-3

Intel's DDR4 Consumer Platform versus Enthusiast Platform

Steve Smith talks about which DDR4 platform is right for your needs.

Episode #6-02 released on September 14, 2015

Watch on Youtube

My most popular episode on YouTube is my episode on Intel's H97, Z97, and X99 platform. I did one by request for the AMD platform, but like the number of new processors by them in the last three years few people watched that one. that is the life of a technology YouTuber.

Now, it's later in the year 2015, and we now have two DDR4 platforms from Intel, to choose from. the X99-3 which I discussed at length before, and the new Z170 platform made for the new 6th Generation of Intel processors, the i5-6600K, and i7-6700K. I predict more processors will be released, however, to this day, these are the two available for purchase.

The Z170 lines does replace the preceding H97 and Z97 platform, which only supported 16 PCI-E lanes, and DDR3. the Z170 platform now has access to 20 PCI-E Lanes, which allows for two way, and quad SLI or crossfire configurations. Both configurations will only utilize 16 of the 20 PCIE lanes, making it possible to add up to four expansion cards, provided they are 1x each. this, also, allows for people to install NVM-E drives which occupy 4 lanes, will maintaining the number of lanes requires for two way and quad SLI configurations.

Now, if you are interested in a higher end machine, with multiple GPUs and having a NVM-E drive, or even multiple expansion cards, is the Z170 platform good for you?

If you are looking for a modern board that will allow for DDR4 Ram support with speeds currently up to 3400mhz, have the ability to support more add on cards than the previous H97 and Z97 boards, but don't have the budget for the X99-3 line which utilizes the 5th generation Intel processor, and not the 6th. then this platform is for you. You get the benefit of access to faster Ram, more choice in configurations, less sacrifice in system builds than before, with a price tag less that the more professional X99-3, which is really only useful for you if you plan on having 3 or 4 way SLI or crossfire supported on your mainboard. It has access to USB 3.1 Type A and C connectors which are the faster more modern version of USB, as well as access, to USB 3.0/2.0 which will allow all your current and future peripherals to work correctly.

Now, if this new platform lacks the number of PCI-E lanes you require, the X99-3 platform has three processors with 28 lanes with the i7-5820K processor, and 40 lanes available with the i7-5930k and i7-5960X processors.

The i7-5820K will support 3-way SLI with 4 additional PCI-E lanes which may be plenty for most users looking for more graphics card support than the Z170 board, however, if you want 4 graphics card support for 4 way SLI configurations, then choosing the i7-5930K or i7-5960X will allow for 4 way SLI or crossfire where the first card will be running at its full 16 PCIE lane speeds. However, if all the cards are setup to run with 8 lanes each if the board you choose allows this, then you will be left with an additional 8 available lanes, however, unless you are using an extended ATX board you won't be able to take advantage of, unless you are using an m.2 connector with a NVM-e drive, which will only occupy 4 PCIE lanes anyway.

If you are wondering which platform is for you, let me help you with that. If you are anything like me, and you want the best processor for the platform. the cost of 32 GB of DDR4, an i7-6700K, and a Z170 is just slightly higher than the i7-5960X processor for the X99-3 platform, and you still haven't bought a mainboard, or RAM either. the Z170 upgrade would cost roughly a grand for top tier parts, a little more or less based on availability of stock, and market availability. the highest performing i7-5930X processor for the X99-3 platform is, also, a grand to buy, as well. You are looking at nearly double, or triple the upgrade cost to go to the X99-3 platform, over the Z170 platform, without the addition of graphics cards.

If you have a currently Z87, or Z97 platform, and want to move up to the Z170 platform, the cost of entry which have you sacrificing your RAM, and Processor in buying the new mainboard, but the new flexibility you gain should more than make up, for the cost, in the long run, not to mention, that by moving to the DDR4 platform, future upgrades will cost less because you will already have the correct RAM, for those builds.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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