Features and Motherboard Layout
Courtesy of ASUS
- USB 3.1 onboard: One Type-A port plus a reversible Type-C port
- Thermal Armor with Flow Valve – Strengthen your ability. Totally boosted airflow.
- TUF Fortifier – Damage Protection and Improved Cooling
- TUF Detective 2 – system information at your fingertips
- TUF ICe & Thermal Radar 2 – Total cooling system
- Dust Defenders – Repel the Dust, Expand the Lifespan
- TUF Components [TUF 10K Ti-Caps, TUF Alloy Chokes & MOSFETs; Certified by Military-standard]
In keeping with the TUF aesthetic, ASUS designed with Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1 board with a black PCB, charcoal-colored board overlay with black accents over the rear panel, and a mix of tan and black port covers. The board features dual fan ports in the armor's surface as well as integrate flow ports over the VRM heat sinks. The board's integrated components are well spaced with more than adequate room to access all ports and headers.
The back of the board is covered by the TUF Fortifier back plate – a matte black aluminum plate offering added protection to the components on the board's back, as well as rigidity and a secondary heat dissipation path. The area directly behind the CPU is full free of components, ensuring no risk of board damager or chip crush from the CPU cooler back plate.
ASUS integrated the following ports into the Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1's rear panel: five USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 3.1 ports (1 Type-A and 1 Type-C), dual RJ-45 ports (one Intel I219-V controller and one Realtek controller), a DisplayPort video port, an HDMI video port, the USB BIOS FlashBack button, the USB TUF Detective port (standalone USB 2.0 port), an optical audio port, and five analogue audio ports. All blue colored USB 3.0 ports are controlled by the Intel Z170 controller. The two USB 3.1 ports, the teal-colored type-A port and the type-C port below it) are controlled by the integrated ASMedia controller.
The USB BIOS Flashback button can be used to re-flash the BIOS without having to boot the system into the UEFI BIOS interface or a command-line mode interface. Simply plug in a USB drive containing the proper BIOS file in the root of the drive into the lower USB 3.0 port (blue colored) located to the right of the USB BIOS Flashback button and power on the system. As the BIOS is updated, the LED flashing frequency increases. Once the LED goes out, the flash operation is completed and the board can be booted. Note that if the BIOS Flashback LED flashes for 5 seconds and then glows solid, it means that something went wrong with the flashback operation. Check the USB drive for the the BIOS file in the root and make sure that the BIOS file is named correctly. BIOS Flashback looks for a specific filename and file format when attempting to replace the on-board BIOS. According to the user manual, the BIOS file in the root of the flash drive must be named Z170ST.CAP for the BIOS Flashback applet to successfully re-flash the board's BIOS.
The USB TUF Detective port can be used to monitor the system via an attached Android or iOS device using the TUF Detective applet. The TUF Detective applet give monitoring and control access through the attached device, including board voltage, fan speed, and temperature monitoring, POST code monitoring during system initialization, BIOS reset, and system shutdown and reset.
Directly behind the USB 2.0 ports in the rear panel is a panel connected to a vertical fan bracket. The fan mounts behind the rear panel pulling air in through a filtered inlet hole in the rear panel shield to cool the VRM heat sinks and components covered by the Thermal Armor.
The Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1 motherboard has a total of six PCI-Express device ports – three PCI-Express x16 slots and three PCI-Express x1 slots. For the PCI-Express x16 slots, the board supports full x16 bandwidth with a single card, x8 / x8 bandwidth with two cards seated, and x8 / x8 / x4 with three cards populating the board. Note that PCIe x16 slot 3 and SATA port 5 and 6 share bandwidth.
Courtesy of ASUS
The audio components and audio PCB separator line are hidden underneath the upper left portion of the Thermal Armor overlay. ASUS integrated audio shielding, de-pop circuitry, and amplifier circuitry to ensure the best audio experience when using the integrated auto solution.
Just below the primary PCIe x1 slot is a metal panel hiding the middle board fan inlet port. If desired, the panel can be removed and the included inlet fan installed to provide additional airflow to the components under the Thermal Armor overlay. The fan attaches to the board using the same holes used to fix the panel in place and is powered by a 3-pin fan header in the lower portion of the fan hole.
The S/PDIF output header, front panel audio header, extension fan header, CPU overvolt jumper, a thermal sensor header, and Thunderbolt device port are located in the upper left corner of the board, along the outside of PCI Express x16 slot 3. The thermal sensor header can be used for attaching the included temperature diodes for BIOS and Thermal Radar 2 based monitoring. The Thunderbolt header is used to connect to the optional ThunderboltEX II PCIe board using a USB extension cable included with the Thunderbolt card. The CPU Overvolt jumper enables a higher voltage ceiling selectable from the CPU Voltage setting within the BIOS. The extension fan header can be used to interface with an external device to add additional fan headers to the system.
Along the lower left side of the tertiary PCI-Express x16 slot area fan header, an Intel Z170 controlled USB 3.0 header, and an on-board USB 2.0 headers.
The USB 2.0 headers, multiple fan headers, CMOS reset header, DirectKey header, and the front panel headers are located in the lower left corner of board. The DirectKey header can be connected to a case button, used to trigger direct boot into the UEFI BIOS on next system restart.
In between the secondary and tertiary PCIe x16 slots and to the left of the chipset heat sink are the CMOS battery and PCIe x4 M.2 slot, sitting underneath a secured panel. An M.2 SSD can be installed to the board and the panel put in place, making for a clean and unencumbered install. Note that the M.2 slot shares bandwidth with PCIe x16 slot 3.
Courtesy of ASUS
The Intel Z170 chipset is cooled with a low profile, black aluminum heat sink resting just under the plane of the Thermal Armor and just below the primary and secondary PCIe x16 slots. The heat sink features the ASUS corporate logo with stylized designs giving it a sleek appearance. Just below the heat sink embedded into the Thermal Armor are system status LEDs, dubbed QLED indicators by ASUS. Each LED is labeled and illuminate as the subsystem is checked on boot. The LEDs are tied to the following subsystems from the left: system power, boot, VGA, DRAM, and CPU.
ASUS integrated a total of four on-board SATA 6 Gb/s ports and two SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports into the port block located just under the chipset cooler, making for a total of eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports is the SATA-Express ports are used individually. Framing the port block are three 4-pin system fan headers, two on the left and one on the right. The SATA-Express ports and the black SATA ports are tied to the Intel Z170 controller with the white SATA ports tied to the ASMedia controller.
The on-board DDR3 memory slots are located just below the CPU socket in the lower right quadrant of the board. Dual Channel memory mode is enabled by seating memory modules like colored slots with the tan colored slots acting as the primary slot set. The board supports up to 64GB of memory running at a maximum speed of 2400MHz. Note that memory speeds above 2133MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. Below the DIMM slots are an Intel controller USB 3.0 header and the 24-pine ATX power connector.
To the lower right of the DIMM slots are a temperature sensor header and the MEMOK! button. The MemOK! button is labeled and underneath a moveable section of the Thermal Armor overlay. The MemOK! button can be used to reset memory-related BIOS settings to defaults, useful when the system doesn't boot because of memory options are set over-aggressively.
The CPU socket is clear of obstructions with the power circuitry and VRM heat sink surrounding the upper and right sides of the socket. Although the Thermal Armor adds bulk to the VRM heat sinks surrounding the socket, the socket design is not impeded by it. The board contains a total of 12 digital power phases, in an 8+4 configuration, to ensure board stability under all operating conditions. Notice how the MOSFETs are completely encased in chrome heat sinks, ensuring that the heat is dispersed as efficiently as possible.
ASUS included air flow vents and control values in the armor above and to the right of the CPU socket. The vent is closed when orange shows below next to the switch in the switch channel. These switches open or close the slotted ports permitting customization of airflow over the VRM heat sinks located just under the control valves.
The CPU fan and secondary CPU fan headers, chassis fan headers, Thermal Armor rear panel fan header, and the 8-pin ATX12V power connector are located along the outer edge of the VRM sinks to the right of the CPU socket.