ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Motherboard Review

[caption id="attachment_187378" align="aligncenter" width="562"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S[/caption] ASUS is one of the most recognizable names in the enthusiast community, with a product line that covers nearly every aspect of computer hardware, including motherboards, graphics cards, monitors, networking devices and many other product lines.  One of their most well known product lines is their award winning motherboards.  When a new chipset is released, they are ready with new motherboards, designed to fit almost any budget and user type.  When the Intel Z170 chipset first came out, ASUS provided us the opportunity to take a look at one of their flagship motherboards the Maximus VIII Extreme.  Which while one of the best motherboards available, it has a price tag to match.  Now, we have a chance to take a look at one of their mid-tier motherboards, the Sabertooth Z170 S; with a price tag of $169.99 with free shipping, it is better priced to meet the budget of most enthusiasts. [caption id="attachment_186936" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170-S ASUS Sabertooth Z170-S Rear I/O Cover and Fan Assist[/caption] Being a part of the ASUS TUF series motherboards, the Sabertooth Z170 S has gone through heavy duty testing before it is packaged for the user.  This testing includes subjecting them to high and low temperatures, bending, shocking and even dropping them.  It is developed to military standards for durability, which includes military grade components to protect your system and to ensure 24/7 reliability.  In fact, ASUS is so sure of their TUF motherboards, the Sabertooth Z170 S is covered by a 5 year warranty! So what TUF components are included on the Sabertooth Z170 S?  The TUF Allow Chokes, and 10K Ti-Caps, are designed to last longer and to have a better tolerance for temperatures.  The MOSFETs are more power efficient, which in turn means less heat.  The Intel Gigabit ethernet connection has the LANGuard system, to help protect your vital components from electric surges coming in over the ethernet connection.  The other I/O ports on the back are also protected with advanced ESD protection. [caption id="attachment_186582" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Features Overview[/caption] Let's take a quick look at the features and specifications of the Sabertooth Z170 S before taking a look at what else this motherboard has to offer. Features and Specifications
ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Specifications
Form Factor ATX 12in x 9.6in (30.5cm x 24.4cm)
CPU Intel Socket 1151 6th Generation Core i7/i5/i5/Pentium/Celeron Supports Intel 14nm CPU Supports Intel Turbo Booth Technology 2.0
Chipset Intel Z170
Memory 4x DIMM, Max 64GB, DDR4 2400/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory Dual Channel Memory Architecture Supports Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
Graphic  Integrated Graphics Processor - Intel HD Graphics support Multi-VGA output support: HDMI/Display Ports HDMI with max resolution 4096x2160@24Hz / 2560x1600@60Hz DisplayPort with max resolution 4096x2160@24Hz / 3840x2160@60Hz Maximum shared memory of 1024MB Supports Intel InTru 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider DP 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport compliant, supports DP 1.2 monitor daisy chain up to 3 displays
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA Quad-GPU SlI Supports NVIDIA 2-Way SLI Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX
Expansion Slots 2x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8) 1x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode) 3x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x1
Storage Intel Z170 Chipset 2x SATA Express port, Compatible with 4x SATA 6.0Gb/s ports 1x M.2 x4 Socket 3, with M Key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 support both SATA & PCIe mode 6x SATA 6Gb/s ports (grey) Support RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 Intel Rapid Storage Technology support Supports Intel Smart Response Technology
LAN Intel i219V, 1x Gigabit LAN controller Gigabit Intel LAN Connection - 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) appliance ASUS Turbo LAN Utility
Audio Realtek ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC -- Supports Multi-streaming, Front Panel MIC Jack retasking -- High quality 112dB SNR stereo playback output (line-out at rear) and 104dB SNR recording input (Line-in) Audio Features:
  • Optical S/PDIF out ports at back panel
  • BD Audio Layer Content Protection
  • Audio Shielding: Ensures precision analog/digital separation and greatly reduced multi-lateral interference
  • Dedicated audio PCB layers: Separate layers for left and right channels to guard the quality of the sensitive audio signals
  • Audio amplifier: Provides the highest quality sound for headphone and speakers
  • Unique de-pop circuit: Reduces start-up popping noise to audio outputs
  • Top notch audio sensation delivers according to the audio configuration
  • Absolute Pitch 192khz/24bit true BD lossless sound
USB Ports Intel Z170 Chipset
  • 6x USB 3.0/2.0 ports(s): 2 at back panel (Blue), and 4 at mid-board
  • 8x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s): 4 at back panel (Black), 4 at mid-board
ASMedia USB 3.1 Controller
  • 1x Type-A USB 3.1/3.0/2.0 port at back panel (Teal)
  • 1x Type-C USB 3.1/3.0/2.0 port at back panel (Reversible)
Back I/O Ports
  • 1x DisplayPort
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x LAN (RJ45)
  • 1x USB 3.1 Type-A (Teal)
  • 1x USB 3.1 Type-C
  • 4x USB 2.0
  • 2x USB 3.0 (Blue)
  • 1x Optical S/PDIF out
  • 5x Audio Jacks
  • 1x USB BIOS Flashback Button
  • 1x 8-channel Audio I/O
  • 1x TUF Detective USB Port
Inernal I/O Ports
  •  1x AAFP connector
  • 2x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
  • 2x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
  • 2x SATA Express connector: , Compatible with 4 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
  • 1x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key design, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (Supports both SATA & PCIE SSD)
  • 6x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
  • 1x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
  • 1x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
  • 6x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
  • 2x Assistant Fan connector(s) (1 x 3 -pin, 1 x 4 -pin, [White])
  • 1x S/PDIF out header(s)
  • 1x Thunderbolt header(s)
  • 1x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
  • 1x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
  • 1x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
  • 1x 5-pin EXT_FAN(Extension Fan) connector
  • 1x Chassis Intrusion connector(s)
  • 1x DRCT header(s)
  • 1x MemOK! button(s)
  • 3x Thermal sensor connector(s)
  • 1x CPU OV
  • 1x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
  • 1x Water Pump header (4-pin)
  • 1x 14-1 pin TPM connector
[gallery ids="186921,186920,186922,186919"] Like any of the top tier motherboard manufacturers, ASUS does a great job at packaging their motherboards, even though most will probably purchase the motherboard online, not paying any attention to the packaging.  If you do happen to find it in a retail setting, there is plenty of information on the box to know exactly what the Sabertooth Z170 S is capable of.  I found it interesting, that ASUS designed the packaging around the motherboard, as the Sabertooth Z170 S is the Arctic Camouflage, the packaging is the same way.  Just one of the added touches that shows ASUS cares about first impressions.  The front of the box gives just a quick overview of the features, while the bulk of the information is left to the back of the box.  Here you find the details for several of the key features as well as the motherboard specifications.  Opening the box, we find the motherboard is packaged in an anti-static bag, placed inside another box.  Beneath the motherboard box ASUS has loosely placed all the accessories. [caption id="attachment_186928" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170-S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Accessories[/caption] ASUS includes a number of accessories with the Sabertooth Z170 S.  The usual documentation includes a Users Guide, detailed Warranty notice, software/driver disc and a Certificate of Reliability.  Other required accessories include the rear I/O shield, four SATA cables, SLI bridge, ASUS front panel Q-Connector, CPU installation tool,  an a small dust guard for the rear I/O ports. Let's take a quick look at some of the major features of the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S along with the test system components before starting it up for some tests.

ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Overview

[caption id="attachment_186933" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170-S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Skylake i3, i5, i7 Motherboard[/caption] When taking a look at the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S, one thing immediately stands out; the all white PCB with Arctic-Camouflage.  Aestetically, the motherboard is much better looking than I originally imagined.  However, aestetics are a small portion of what enthusiasts look for in a motherboard, we are typically focused more on performance, quality and features.  ASUS hasn't cut any corners with the Sabertooth Z170 S. [caption id="attachment_186934" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170-S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Rear I/O Ports[/caption] If you are familiar with motherboards, the rear I/O port cluster shouldn't pose any big surprises.  Starting with the first cluster on the left, we find four USB 2.0 ports, with a fifth solo one right next them.  This solo USB port is the TUF Detective port, which is an ASUS utility to allow you to remotely manage and control the computer using an Android device.  Next we find the BIOS Flashback button, used to flash the BIOS using a USB flash drive connected to a specific USB port.  Video out options on the motherboard are provided by DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI1.4.  The two blue USB connections are SuperSpeed USB 3.0, the bottom port is the Flashback port, plug in a USB flash drive with the BIOS files on it, and it'll be accessed here.  Next is the Intel i215V Gigabit Ethernet port featuring ASUS TUF LANGuard to increase throughput and help protect your system from power surges over Ethernet, a USB 3.1 and a USB 3.1 Type-C.  Finally, we have a standard 8-channel audio cluster, that includes one optical out port. Taking a close look at the rear I/O cluster, we see that there is a large amount of "dead" space above the TUF Detective port and the BIOS Flashback button.  This is to add an optional 40mm exhaust fan to assist the cooling system. [caption id="attachment_186936" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170-S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Rear I/O Cover and Fan Assist[/caption] Adding the optional 40mm fan is done by removing a cover on the I/O cover, attaching the fan to the cover and routing the power cable to the Asst_Fan1 header next to the 8-pin AUX power connector.  ASUS has used military grade 10K Ti-Caps designed with a +/- 20% temperature tolerance, and a 5x longer lifespan.  The TUF Alloy Chokes are designed to be 13.6% cooler than standard Chokes, with a really cool and unique look these TUF Alloy Chokes add to the military feel of the Sabertooth Z170 S! [caption id="attachment_186947" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S PCIe Slots[/caption] For PCI Express slots, ASUS has included a total of 6 slots, 3x PCIe x1 slots and 3x PCIe x16 slots.  If you are running a single dedicated GPU, you'll want to put it into the first PCIe x16 slot, as it'll run at the full speed.  If you happen to run in SLI or CrossFireX, PCIe x16 slots 1 & 2 will downgrade to x8 speeds.  ASUS has done a nice job at making sure any backplate you have on your GPU doesn't run into the I/O cover by placing the first PCIe x1 slot between the PCIe x16 and the I/O cover.  To the right of the 2nd PCIe x16 slot, is the ASUS TUF ICe processor, which monitors onboard temperature sensors and fan speeds. [caption id="attachment_186935" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170-S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S On-Board USB 3.0, M.2 and Error LEDs[/caption] When taking a quick look over the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S a few features stood out.  First, the Z170 chipset heatsink is rather large, this is because ASUS has integrated POST LEDs into the heatsink cover.  We have seen these POST LEDs before so they aren't a "new" feature, this is just a different way to make them extremely visible to the user.  Next, ASUS included 2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, one near the 24-pin ATX power connector, and one along the bottom edge, both of these stand out as they are tan instead of black like most of the other ports.  Finally, beneath the Z170 chipset heatsink is the M.2 M-Key port which shares bandwidth with SATA_Express_1, it supports 2242/2260/2280/22110 (up to 110mm) M.2 SSDs, with a maximum speed of 32Gb/s. [caption id="attachment_186937" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S SATA Ports[/caption] ASUS has split the SATA ports into two groups, all of which are controlled by the Intel Z170 chipset.  The black ports are SATA 6Gb/s ports only.  The grey group contains 2x SATA Express connections, which can also be used for 4x SATA 6Gb/s ports.  The M.2 port shares bandwidth with the SATA_Express_1, which is the top SATA Express connection. [caption id="attachment_187441" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Back of Motherboard[/caption] Generally, the back of the motherboard isn't something to be worried about, it'll be covered once it's installed.  Back in 2015, ASUS updated their manufacturing process for video cards by using 100% automated ASUS AUTO-EXTREME technology and that eliminated the sharp pins on the back of the PCB. That technology hasn't made it over to motherboards just yet, so you still have the usual pins sticking out.  We also wanted to call out that even though it won't be seen, ASUS has carried the Arctic-Camouflage onto the back of the motherboard.  

Intel Z170 Test Platform

[caption id="attachment_187092" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S on Lian Li Test Bench[/caption] [caption id="attachment_186993" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S CPUz Baseline[/caption]
Intel LGA 1151 Z170 Test Platform
Component Brand / Model Live Pricing
Processor Intel i7-6700K Click Here
Memory Kingston 32GB DDR4 2666MHz Click Here
CPU Cooler Corsair H105 Click Here
Video Card eVGA GTX 970SC Click Here
Hard Drive Intel Pro 2500 180GB SSD Click Here
Hard Drive 2 Sandisk Ultra II 480GB SSD Click Here
M.2 Drive Kingston HyperX Predator 240GB Click Here
Power Supply Corsair CX750M Click Here
Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Click Here
The above listed components will be installed on an open air test bed and will be running a fresh install of Windows 10 64-bit Anniversary edition.  All of the patches, drivers and firmware will be updated prior to beginning the performance testing. Testing is conducted in a temperature controlled room that is maintained at 72F (22.2C), with a 24 hour burn in being completed before beginning testing.  Whenever possible we will use integrated benchmarks, running them three times and averaging the results.  If no integrated benchmark is available, we will use FRAPS to analyze the performance doing the same tasks three times before averaging the FRAPS results.

ASUS Value Added Software

On the included installation CD, ASUS includes all the drivers for the Sabertooth Z170 S motherboard, along with a wide range of software.  Let's take a quick look at the installation process, and see what exactly ASUS is providing on their installation CD. [gallery ids="187246,187247"] On the main installation screen for Drivers, ASUS shows all the drivers that are necessary for your motherboard.  They show you the version that is on the installation CD vs what is already installed and whether a restart is necessary to initialize the driver.  Allowing you to choose the drivers or utilities you want to install is a nice feature as sometimes you might prefer to use an older version.  In addition, ASUS provides a couple additional pieces of software here, Google Chrome and Norton Security. [caption id="attachment_187249" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Thermal Tuning[/caption] Once you have installed the AI Suite, it will auto-load and place an icon in the system tray.  Here you can open it and begin doing some tuning to your system from within Windows.  The first menu is Thermal Tuning, here you can see each of the various thermal sensors on the motherboard, and see what they are monitoring.  ASUS also provides an auto-tune which allows you to select each fan and adjust them individually to optimize your cooling between high performance and noise level. [caption id="attachment_187250" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Fan Control[/caption] Fan Control is similar to the fan tuning in the Thermal Tuning, however here it is more about overall system usage.  Adjusting the fan speeds to speed up when the system heats up, or to run in a specific fan profile (Silent, Standard, Turbo or Full Speed). [caption id="attachment_187251" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Thermal Status[/caption] Thermal Status is ASUS's way of trying to provide additional assistance for cooling.  Here they will evaluate your cooling, and provide you an idea of how they feel it rates. [caption id="attachment_187252" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Recorder[/caption] Of all the integrated tools, I found the Recorder option to be one of the most useful overall.  It keeps track of the Voltage, Temperature and Fan speeds over a 2.5minute timeframe. [caption id="attachment_187253" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S DIGI+ Power Control[/caption] DIGI+ is ASUS's Dual Intelligent Processors, TPU (TurboV Processing Unit), and EPU (Energy Processing Unit) providing precise control over power to the CPU and DRAM.  With one click you can enable an extreme performance mode providing the ability to use ASUS's knowledge of power control versus giving power control over to the CPU which will limit power usage to its default specifications. [caption id="attachment_187254" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Additional Tools[/caption] The main menu options aren't the only tools provided in the ASUS AI Suite, on the side menu there are additional tools that you might find useful.  AI Charger+ for example enables the motherboard to charge USB devices using the BC 1.1 standard, which provides for around 1.5A of power to devices that are enabled for BC 1.1.  USB 3.1 Boost, enables a USB Turbo Boost and USB UASP modes; in my testing USB Turbo Boost provided around 5 - 10MB/s on a USB 3.0 drive.  EZ Update is ASUS way of making it easy to keep drivers and BIOS up to date.  Mobo Connect, enabled mobile devices to use the keyboard/mouse and stream audio from the mobile device to the PC. As always, while it is nice that ASUS has provided the drivers on the installation CD, it is always advisable to check the ASUS website for the latest drivers and software.  Thankfully, ASUS makes this extremely simple, either using their website, or through their AI Suite tools.  While many enthusiasts won't need the tools provided by ASUS it is always nice when a company makes it easy for the average users to get the most out of their system without working too hard.

BIOS and Overclocking

The hardware used to test the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme has been used throughout all of the Intel Z170 motherboards I have tested.  We have been able to overclock the Intel i7-6700K to 5.0GHz, and the Kingston Fury DDR4 kit up to 3200MHz, while the average is 4.8GHz for the CPU overclock and 2966MHz when the memory is overclocked.  While those have been the highest overclocks we have been able to achieve without going through extreme overclocking steps, the average overclock for this configuration is 4.7GHz on the CPU and 2900MHz on the memory. [gallery ids="187260,187261"] Like most modern UEFI BIOS, the Sabertooth Z170 S has two different modes, depending on user experience and needs.  The default BIOS screen is the EZ Mode, here you can select and configure basic options on the Sabertooth Z170 S such as Boot Priority, XMP profile selection, FAN control, and pre-configured system profile.  Switching over the Advanced Mode you can get into much more detail settings. [caption id="attachment_187263" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S AI Tweaker and CPU Overclocking[/caption] If you are interested in overclocking the CPU and Memory, you will want to turn your attention to the AI Tweaker menu.  The CPU Core Ratio is pre-configured to "Sync All Cores", this makes all the CPU cores have the same ratio.  You can set this to allow each core to have different maximum ratios, however for our testing we will leave it at the default.  What we will change is the Core ratio, switching it from Auto we can type in a number for the ratio we want.  As the default ratio is 40, we will start with that. [caption id="attachment_187264" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S DRAM Frequency[/caption] Using the XMP setting, the memory was correctly set to 2666MHz with 15-17-17-35 @ 2T.  Switching over to manual settings, we can quickly overclock the memory using a drop down menu.  The common DDR4 memory speed options are built in, with a maximum speed of 4266MHz.  We will use this option to overclock the memory.   Overclocking Results Starting with a low overclock of 4.4GHz (Ratio set to 44), we will increase the Ratio by one until we are no longer able to get the system to successfully post.  At which time, the CPU Voltage will be increased to a maximum of 1.45V.  If we are able to successfully boot into Windows, we will run a few tests to verify stability.  If the system is unstable, we will lower the CPU Ratio by one until it is stable. [caption id="attachment_187282" align="aligncenter" width="410"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S CPUz CPU Overclocked[/caption] Using our normal process, we were able to get the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S to boot at 5.0GHz, however it was a little unstable.  During various benchmarks the system would freeze; going to 5.1GHz we couldn't boot into Windows without a BSOD.  Reducing the multiplier to 49, 4.9GHz, we were able to successfully run all the benchmarks without any issues. [caption id="attachment_187283" align="aligncenter" width="410"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S CPUz Memory Overclock[/caption] Once we were able to get the CPU overclock stable, we turned our focus to the memory.  Starting at 2900MHz, we ran through all the benchmarks until we were unsuccessful.  At 3000MHz, we would get random freezes again.  So dropping it down to 2966MHz, the system once again became stable enough to complete the benchmark suite.  Even at 2966MHz, the rest of the timings remained at 15-17-17-35 @ 2T.  Use the BIOS to adjust these and the memory should be able to go beyond 2966MHz. While were weren't able to break our record with this hardware on the Sabertooth Z170 S, it still overclocked slightly above our average  I have no doubt that if somebody wanted to overclock the Sabertooth Z170 S further, they could accomplish this by doing fine tuning on the overclock settings.  

General Performance Testing

To test the general performance of the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S, we will focus on several industry standard benchmarks that test the CPU, Memory, Ethernet and GPU. Sisoftware Sandra CPU Arithmetic Benchmark [caption id="attachment_187280" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S CPU Arithmetic[/caption] Sisoftware Sandra Memory Benchmark [caption id="attachment_187281" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Memory Bandwidth[/caption] Cinebench R15  [caption id="attachment_187121" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Cinebench R15[/caption] PCMark 8 Advanced Home Overall Score [caption id="attachment_187125" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S PCMark 8[/caption] CPUz Bench  [caption id="attachment_187122" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S CPUz[/caption] Totusoft LAN Speed Test [caption id="attachment_187319" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S LAN Speed Test[/caption] Legit Reviews Benchmark Results:  Most of these benchmarks focused on how well the motherboard works with the CPU.  The ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S took a clear lead in each of the benchmarks by receiving between 2% to 7% better scores in the Cinebench R15, PCMark 8, and CPUz tests.  

Gaming Performance Testing

Let's take a look at how well the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S handles working with the CPU, Memory, Storage, and GPU for various types of games. 3DMark Time Spy [caption id="attachment_187120" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S 3DMark Time Spy[/caption] Rockstar Games: Grand Theft Auto V [caption id="attachment_187124" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Grand Theft Auto V[/caption] Codemasters: Dirt Rally [caption id="attachment_187123" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Dirt Rally[/caption] Eidos: Thief [caption id="attachment_187128" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Thief[/caption] CD Projekt: Witcher 3 [caption id="attachment_187129" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Witcher 3[/caption] Legit Reviews Gaming Performance Results:  The ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S performed rather well for gaming purposes.  While there was a noticeable difference in scores during the "General Performance" benchmarks, for gaming there was typically less than 1FPS difference between the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S and the next motherboard.  

Storage Performance

All storage performance will be done utilizing the latest version of CrystalDiskMark x64.  When testing a specific device, it will be formatted prior to testing, with the system being rebooted between each test run.  To test the SATA connection, we will use the SanDisk Ultra II 480GB SSD, with a rated speed of 550MB/s Sequential Read and 500MB/s Sequential Write.  Testing the M.2 interface, a HyperX Predator 240GB drive will be used, with its rated speeds of 1400MB/s Sequential Read and 600MB/s Sequential Write.  The final test will be done on the USB 3.1 connection which will be tested using  a USB 3.0 hard drive dock and the SanDisk Ultra II SSD. SATA 6Gb/s [caption id="attachment_187098" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S CrystalDiskMark SATA 6GB/s[/caption] M.2 [caption id="attachment_187097" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S CrystalDiskMark M.2 with HyperX Predator[/caption] SuperSpeed USB 3.1 [caption id="attachment_187096" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S CrystalDiskMark USB 3.1[/caption] Storage Performance Results:  Taking a look over the various storage benchmarks, we can see that CrystalDiskMark is reporting that the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S is just a little faster than the other motherboards.  Nothing to get really excited over, at these speeds with between a 1.5% to 5% difference in performance most people would never notice.

Power Consumption and Temperature

We will use a P3 Kill-A-Watt meter to monitor the power consumption throughout all phases of testing.  While monitoring the power usage, we will make notes of the highest and lowest reading for each test. [caption id="attachment_187126" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Power Consumption[/caption] While idle, the Sabertooth Z170 S was pulling the least amount of power at 47W; which provided a 17% power savings over the highest non-overclocked score.  Once we put the system under a heavy load, the maximum it pulled was 247W, placing it right in the middle of the five motherboards tested, pulling in close to 10% less power usage than the highest power rating.  Of course overclocking the system we expect to see the power usage increase, here we saw the idle power usage go from 47W to 68W, a 44.5% increase in power usage!  During the overclocked load tests, we saw a high reading of 305W, an increase of 58W or 23.4%. [caption id="attachment_187127" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S Temperatures[/caption] At idle, the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S was as cool as we have come to expect.  Under a load we saw it begin to heat up, reaching 45.75C.  Once overclocked, we saw the temperatures jump dramatically, reaching a high temperature of 92.25C, putting it dangerously high, but no thermal events were experienced.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

[caption id="attachment_186548" align="aligncenter" width="500"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S[/caption] The ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S performed rather well for a motherboard that is designed more for reliability than for performance.    In nearly every test we threw at it, it received top scores, or was just slightly behind the top scoring motherboard.  In the general performance benchmarks, the Saberooth Z170 S was typically ahead of the other motherboards between 2% and 7%; that's a pretty nice performance boost.  However that didn't translate into gaming performance.  In the games we tested, it was typically within 1FPS to 2FPS of the next motherboard; not a huge performance difference.  For the storage tests, we once again saw the Sabertooth Z170 S edge out the other motherboards with slightly faster performance.  Even the overclocking on the Sabertooth Z170 S was more than sufficient. [caption id="attachment_186933" align="aligncenter" width="645"]ASUS Sabertooth Z170-S ASUS Sabertooth Z170-S Motherboard[/caption] Aesthetically, I have to admit that I have had reservations about the recent trend of making all the components white.  I have always preferred my components to be black.  With that being said, I have to say the Sabertooth Z170 S has made me rethink that.  The Arctic-Camouflage design looks better than I was expecting, and would look great with any color scheme.  The Z170 chipset heatsink cover looks great, and the integrated LED's makes it easy to know if there is a problem with any of the components during it's self-test. The Sabertooth Z170 S offers nearly every modern feature on available on a socket 1151 motherboard.  The features on the motherboard include 4x DDR4 slots, which the BIOS shows support up to 4266MHz, 6x SATA 6Gb/s ports, M.2 PCIe 32Gb/s, USB 3.1, Type-C, Quad-GPU SLI or 3-Way CrossFireX support, 8-channel audio and the Intel i219V Gigabit controller.  The Sabertooth Z170 S also offers two Superspeed USB 3.0 front headers, and ten fan headers! For a motherboard with a price tag of $169.99 with free shipping, you will be hard pressed to find a better option.  Most motherboards offer between a one to a three year warranty, ASUS provides a five year warranty with the Sabertooth Z170 S.  That just goes to show how confident they are in their TUF series motherboards.  Which all must pass an extreme durability test prior to being shipped out. LR_Recommended Legit Bottom Line:  With the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S, you are not only get one of the best performing motherboards, but you are also getting one of the most feature packed and durable motherboards available.  If you like the Arctic-Camouflage and you are looking for a motherboard that is designed to last for years, the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S should be one of your top choices.