Boom! Behold, ladies and gents, the first shots of a motherboard based on Intel’s upcoming Z170 chipset, compatible with the upcoming Skylake processors. Its from Asian-based motherboard and graphics vendor Colorful, and this particular piece is called the iGame-Z170-U. There will be three variants of this board available in Asia, India and Russia later this year and Intel expect vendors to offer different SKUs that will have either DDR3 or DDR4 memory slots on the board.
Yeah, you read that correctly. Although not officially confirmed as of yet, Intel’s plan is to allow motherboard vendors to offer different products that support Skylake processors and either have DDR3 or DDR4 memory compatibility. The iGame-Z170-U is the version that supports DDR4 and will top out at 64GB of installed RAM with four 16GB DIMMs. Aside from the memory differences, boards based on the Z170 chipset and the other Skylake-compatible chipsets should be largely identical.
Looking closer, there are some things we can pick out already that should make their way to other motherboard vendor’s designs. There’s a M.2 10Gb/s slot in between the bottom two PCI-Express slots, which occupies four lanes of connectivity provided by the chipset. Skylake now comes with 20 lanes of PCI-Express 3.0 connectivity instead of sixteen as we’ve seen in previous desktop releases, a change Intel thought necessary because more and more people are going to want to take advantage of the insane speeds of M.2 drives, especially in NVME form. Those extra four lanes can be broken up into two 5Gb/s M.2 slots and using both of those should leave the lone SATA Express connector functional.
If you zoom in a bit closer to the rear I/O panel and looking from left to right, we can see one PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports above a Displayport connector, a CMOS reset button, two more USB 3.0 ports above an HDMI port, another two USB 3.0 ports (which could be USB 3.1 ports), Gigabit Ethernet by Realtek with more USB ports and finally 7:1 channel audio with an optical connector.
All in all, its a very standard-looking board for a high-end desktop rig, but the real surprise will probably come in the form of performance increases thanks to the Skylake architecture and the shift to the 14nm production process. This is going to be a very interesting year for computer enthusiasts!