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So, you’ve decided to build your own PC? Don’t worry, you’re joining a vast community of new and also experienced PC builders that have decided to take computer efficiency into their own hands. Everyone has their reasons to engage in such a tedious journey, but whether it be for filmmaking, work, or gaming you’ll be sure to find someone whose reasons are akin to yours.

Now, you have to make important decisions on which parts and pieces to buy. With a sea of options, it may seem overwhelming. Motherboards are more likely the most important part of your PC you can buy and it’s imperative to make a choice that’ll uphold the expectations you have of your new PC.

Chipsets are important because they are the central station of information for your computer, allowing pathways and connections to be built throughout and run through your motherboard. We decided to compare two widely popular chipsets utilized by the community today, specifically the gaming community.

Intel H170 Vs Z170 at a Glance

Intel H170 Advantages:

  • (6) fan headers
  • Incorporates USB Type-C
  • Has a TPM connector

Intel H170 Disadvantages:

  • Only (2) PCI-e 3.0 x 16 slots
  • Outsource a part to run graphics
  • Only (8) USB 3.0 ports

Intel Z170 Advantages:

  • Easy to overclock
  • Integrated graphics
  • (10) USB 3.0 ports

Intel Z170 Disadvantages:

  • Only (3) PCI-e x1 slots
  • No TPM connector
  • Only (5) fan headers

Winner: Don’t want to read the full article? The editor’s choice is Intel Z170.

Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel H170 Mini-ITX DDR4 Motherboard GA-H170N-WIFI

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What’s the Difference Between Them?

Overclocking

When you begin to assemble the pieces to build your PC, you’ll find that the more capabilities your chosen chipset has, the better. Overclocking uses the settings available on the motherboard in order to have your CPU run at higher speeds than what it is typically default in PC terms.

Be wary, this tends to come at the cost of escalated heat production, as well as possible limitation of lifespan, though for many others the benefits seemingly outweigh the risks of this happening. Overclocking your CPU is an effective way to make your PC run faster and smoother without breaking your bank on an expensive upgrade.

It’s accomplished by running your CPU at a higher than calculated frequency. To achieve a stable overclock you would need to learn about pushing the processor to its capabilities and check the computer’s temperature. The Z170 has no problem overclocking given it’s BIOS capabilities and features.

The degree of overclocking is determined by the manufacturers motherboard offerings and further research would have to be done to be able to delineate whether it reaches your desired limitations. For gamers, it’s advised to use K-SKU types of processors when picking the Z170. This is because of its compatibility with overclocking chipsets.

The H170 does not have an overclocking feature, causing an outsourcing of certain materials. There’s no telling why it is disabled, but if you do end up deciding the H170 then a K-SKU type processor would not be advisable.

It all depends on whether you want the ease and capability of an overclocking feature when building your PC, or whether an H170 accompanies different features that you find more desirable. For our preference, we’d have to go with the Z170. Since both of these chipsets are similarly priced with very little difference, the Z170 seems the obvious choice when it comes to this feature.

Verdict: Z170

ASRock Mini ITX DDR4 Motherboards FATAL1TY Z170 Gaming-ITX/AC

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USB Ports

USB actually stands for Universal Serial Bus which is an industry standard for short-distance digital data communications. USB ports allow USB devices to be connected with each other as well as transfer digital data over the USB cables.

Supplying electric power across the cable to devices that need it, is just another capability of these important ports. USB ports travel at higher speeds than other ports making them popular among gaming PC’s. The only disadvantage to having a USB port, is if you plug in a USB drive and don’t back up the files causing viruses to easily enter your drive and corrupt the files.

It’s always a possibility, but it’s not a high probability that this will happen to everyone. A motherboard that gives you more options for USB ports, is a motherboard we recommend investing in. USB 3.0 is the most up to date and widely used USB port, instilling more options when it comes to what you’d like to connect to your PC. Both the Z170 and H170 have 14 USB ports between them, but one has two more USB 3.0 ports than the other.

The H170 has 8 USB 3.0 ports whereas the Z170 has 10 USB 3.0 ports. The other respective ports are an older type of USB port such as the USB 2.0. Depending on what your preference is, both of these chipsets may have more than enough USB ports for you to work with. For our preference we had to go with the Z170. More options means more bang for your buck.

Verdict: Z170

ASRock Mini ITX DDR4 Motherboards FATAL1TY Z170 Gaming-ITX/AC

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TPM Connector

Security and keeping your PC safe from hackers may be very important to different people as well as gamers. This is what a TPM connector is built for, it stands for trusted platform module. It is a computer chip that can firmly house articles used to authenticate the platform, for example your PC.

These articles can include certificates, encryption keys, or passwords. If a TPM connector senses that your system’s integrity has been compromised by a virus, malware, or bug it can restart it in a quarantine mode to help fix the problem. Needless to say, every PC should establish some sort of TPM.

Interestingly enough, one of the chipsets comes with the TPM connector already installed whereas the other one will require you to outsource your security. The H170 utilizes the importance of a TPM connector and comes with one already built in, whereas the Z170 comes lacking.

It’s unclear as to why the Z170 didn’t come prepared with the security, requiring people to install a TPM themselves or bypass the security measure when booting up the CPU. It’s possible that with the other features that the Z170 has, it felt like a TPM connector could be compromisable.

We decided to go with the H170 for this feature, because installing a motherboard without worrying about security is something that should be applied to all chipsets. Of course, with a look at the last feature of these motherboards, it will decide whether the lack of security in the Z170 is a dealbreaker for you.

Verdict: H170

Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel H170 Mini-ITX DDR4 Motherboard GA-H170N-WIFI

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PCI-e Lanes

What things can be plugged in PCI-e slots and how are they important? To give a quick explanation, PCI-e slots are able to insert an assortment of cards, such as SSD, USB, SATA, video capture, graphics card, network card, operation card, transfer serial port, memory, wireless network card, bluetooth card, and more! PCI-e stands for peripheral component interconnect express.

It is a customary interface for establishing and connecting to high-speed components. Every desktop PC motherboard will have a number of PCI-e slots you can use to add any of the cards mentioned above. The number of PCI-e lanes are most likely the most important difference between the two motherboards.

When it comes to who has the most lanes and most support, the Z170 once again takes the win. This is because the H170 has 20 HSIO lanes with 16 PCI-e 3.0 lanes, compared to the Z170 which has 26 HSIO lanes and 20 PCI-e 3.0 lanes.

What this means for the H170 is that it has considerably less support than the Z170. The more PCI-e lanes that the Z170 offers, also makes scalable link interface (SLI) possible in your PC. It means that you can use two or more video cards to work together to produce one output that gives you better performance.

These possibilities and features are very important to gamers who want the best PC to support their gaming graphics, games, and overall CPU performance.

Verdict: Z170

ASRock Mini ITX DDR4 Motherboards FATAL1TY Z170 Gaming-ITX/AC

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Conclusion

Picking the right chipset for your PC is imperative to the way it operates and processes data. You want something that works efficiently, quick, and stays reliable while time goes on. You also want something that’ll give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to purchasing all the pieces and finally putting it all together.

After researching the two chipsets and all the features they embody or lack, we have to go with the Z170. The loss of the TPM connector is a shame, but it can be helped unlike other qualities like the amount of PCI-e lanes and USB ports.

The H170 is a good choice for those looking to save a few bucks whilst building a PC meant for work and simpler things. For gamers, the Z170 has the capacity and expansion to support the heavy data that gaming brings. You can sleep easy knowing that there are many possibilities when it comes to this motherboard and that making a decision is half the battle finished!

If you have decided to go for the Intel Z170 chipset, then here are the best Z170 motherboards you should consider buying!

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