Overclocking and Conclusion

Overclocking

To give a feel for the overclocking performance potential of the Z170-Lightsaber motherboard, we attempted to push it to known CPU-supported performance parameters with minimal tweaking. While we were able to push the CPU to a 4.5GHz clock speed with a 4.5GHz ring bus speed, we were unable to get the board to run at a base clock speed any higher than 100MHz. However, we did get the system stable with memory running at 3200MHz at those overclocked speeds. All overclocking sessions remained stable for over 4hrs. System stability was tested running the AIDA64 stability test in conjunction with EVGA's OC Scanner X graphical benchmark running at 1280×1024 resolution and 8x MSAA in stress test mode. Note that 16GB (4 x 4GB) of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 memory modules were used for the overclocking tests.

100MHz Base Clock Stats

Note that this is is meant only as a quick preview of the board's performance potential. With more time to tweak the settings to a greater extent, pushing to a higher base clock and ring bus speed may have been achievable, in addition to an overnight stability run without issue.

Performance

The Z170-Lightsaber motherboard performs within expectations under stock conditions with decent overclocking. However, the board seemed to not like higher than stock memory speeds, oddly enough.

Pricing

As of January 27, the ECS Z170-Lightsaber motherboard was not available from any US retailers.

Conclusion

The Z170-Lightsaber is a very well designed product, illustrating ECS' ability to design an enthusiast-friendly product in this crowded marketplace. The board aesthetics were appealing and designed to blend in almost any build. Design-wise, ECS did integrated high-end features normally found on more costly board like the 15-phase digital power system, a slew of ports, and top-notch sound. The one obvious trade-off was in the design of the M.2 port, limiting it to x2 speeds rather than allowing for the full PCIe x4 bandwidth common to most enthusiast boards.

Strengths

  • Stock performance
  • Price
  • Overclocking potential
  • Board aesthetics, layout, and design
  • Motherboard manual details
  • UEFI BIOS design and usability
  • No bandwidth sharing between PCIe slots, SATA-Express ports, nor M.2 port
  • GigE network controller performance
  • M.2 port placement between PCIe x16 slots 2 and 3
  • Inclusion of enthusiast-friendly features – dual CMOS chips, on-board power / reset / Quick OC / BIOS function buttons, 2-digit LED diagnostic display

Weaknesses

  • Lack of US retail availability
  • M.2 port limited to PCIe x2 bandwidth
  • CMOS battery placement
  • BIOS reset button in rear panel
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