23 Sep, 2015   Rakesh Sharma    Reviews MSI Z170A GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

Today we are very excited to review our first MSI product, the MSI Z170A GAMING M7 motherboard. MSI solution to medium-high oriented enthusiast gamers, an high-level feature packed full ATX board supporting new Skylake processors , fastest DDR-4 RAMs out there, Audio Boost 3 audio, Killer NIC E2400 LAN , USB 3.1 and dual M.2. slots for RAID setup of two M.2. SSDs boosting up-to 64 Gbps of bandwith. All that for just Rs. 24K.

Now let’s see what this MSI Z170 chipset gaming board have for us.

Package

Looking at the front of the box, we see MSI logo with motherboard model no. At the rear of the box, we find that MSI goes into great detail on the specifications of the motherboard.

Inside the box

Looks

Board is a solid build in the great looking black and red colour theme..

Features
















  • Supports 6th Gen Intel® Core™ / Pentium® / Celeron® processors for LGA 1151 socket
  • Supports DDR4-3600+(OC) Memory
  • DDR4 Boost: Give your DDR4 memory a performance boost
  • USB 3.1 Gen2 2X FASTER: USB 3.1 Gen2 offers performance twice as fast as a regular USB 3.0 connection
  • Twin Turbo M.2 64Gb/s + Turbo U.2 ready + USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C + Type-A combo + SATA 6Gb/s
  • GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Killer™: The best online gaming experience with lowest latency
  • Audio Boost 3: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality
  • Nahimic Audio Enhancer: Immersive sound quality that pushes the limits of reality
  • Game Boost: This one goes up to eleven; 1-seconds of easy overclocking
  • GAMING Hotkey: Assign macros, launch your favorite games or do real-time overclocking using a single button
  • Designed for overclocking: with OC Essentials and OC Engine 2
  • XSplit Gamecaster v2: 1 year free premium license to show off your skills and achievements to the world
  • SteelSeries Certified: Optimized for SteelSeries gaming gear
  • Military Class 5: The latest evolution in high quality components featuring the brand new Titanium Chokes
  • MULTI-GPU with Steel Armor: Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports NVIDIA SLI™ & AMD Crossfire™
  • Click BIOS 5: Award-winning brand new Click BIOS 5 with high resolution scalable font
  • BIOS Flashback+: Easy BIOS recovery without the need of a CPU, memory and VGA card
  • GAMING CERTIFIED: 24-hour on- and offline game testing by eSports players for the best gaming experience

Specifications

Layout

Detailed layout of board.

1. Intel LGA 1151 socket, supporting current 6th generation CPU.

2. 4 DIMM Dual channel DDR4 memory slots supporting max. 64GB at 2133MHz in normal and up to 3600MHz +OC.

3. ATX Power connector (24-pin EATXPWR)

4. ATX CPU Power Connector (8-pin ATX12V).

5. Back Panel Connectors

6. 7. 13. 19. 20. 1 x CPU Fan, 1 x CPU OPT Fan and 3 x System Fan Connectors

8. Two front USB 3 Port.

9.2 x SATA Express connectors, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

10. Easy button 3 : On board power, reset, Game Boost , flash and Slow Mode buttons

11. 2 x USB 2.0 Connectors

12. Front panel and debug speaker connector

14. Debug LEDs and TPM Connector

15. Front panel Audio connector.

16. 17. Dual PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 connector

18. Expansion Slots.

3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (support x16, x8/x8, x8/x8/x4 or x8/ x8/x2 modes), 4 x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots

21. Hot Key Switch, enables HOTKEY function to the keyboard connected directly to the HOTKEY port on the rear I/O panel .

Removing Heat-sinks

MSI used dense aluminum heatsink in this board. Heatsinks base is having thermal pad installed.

Component Layout

Let’s now see what all components MSI have planned for this board.

1. 2. CPU voltage regulator circuit has Nikos PK632BA and Nikos PK616BA as the high and low side MOSFETs controlled by Intersil ISL95856 Hybrid Digital PWM Controller.

3. 2-Phase digital memory power supply section is controlled by Powervation’s PV3205 Digital Dual-Phase Synchronous Buck Controller.

4. Two the NXP Semiconductors PTN3360D HDMI / DVI level shifter.

5. 8.ASM1464 USB 3.0 repeater chips

6.ASmedia ASM1142 USB 3.1 Contoller

7.IDT6V41516NLG – (Overclock Engine 2) Clock Generator

9. Intel Z107 Express Chipset.

10. ASMedia ASM1480 PCI-E quick switches to provides all bandwidth to the PCI-E 16x slots.

11. NUVOTON NCT6793D – Super I/O Chipset.

12. MSI uses SPI chip labeled MXIC MX 2SL12873F a capacity of 128 Mb for storing UEFI BIOS.

13. Killer Gigabit Ethernet Controller, Killer E2400.

14. MSI Audio Boost 3 Audio and Nahimic Sound technology is powered by Realtek ALC1150 chip which is a high-performance multi-channel High Definition Audio Codec that delivers an exceptional audio listening experience with up to 115dB SNR, ensuring users get the best possible audio quality from their PC.

The ALC1150 provides ten DAC channels that simultaneously support 7.1-channel sound playback, plus 2 channels of independent stereo sound output (multiple streaming) through the front panel stereo outputs. Two stereo ADCs are integrated and can support a microphone array with Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC), Beam Forming (BF), and Noise Suppression (NS) technologies. The ALC1150 incorporates Realtek proprietary converter technology to achieve Front differential output 115dB Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) playback (DAC) quality and 104dB SNR recording (ADC) quality.

A semi-transparent line on motherboard separates the whole audio section from the rest of the board in order to minimize interference. In addition MSI used two OPA1652 Op-amp for front audio amplification. So listening under Stereo mode produces high audio quality with excellent dynamic range.

RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) suite is used for testing MSI High Definition audio against Asus Xonar DX Sound card. You can see clearly the difference between Noise level, dynamic rang and Total harmonic distortion percentage produced by MSI High Definition audio.

RMAA Asus Xonar DX

RMAA Audio Boost 3 Audio

Testing

CPUIntel Core i7 6700K
Board MSI Z170A-Gaming M7
RAM2 X 8GB HyperX Fury DDR4 2666Mhz
SSDKingston SV300 120GB
CoolerCorsair H100i GTX
GFXAsus HD7750
PSUCM 750
DisplayAcer S220HQL
OSWin 8.1 Pro / Windows 10

BIOS

Bundled Softwares

Overclocking


Memory Overclocking

Benchmarks

Power Consumption

Wattage reading as per displayed by APC Pro 1000VA (Model no. BR1000G-IN) UPS.

Pros

  • Excellent and easy OC
  • Multi GFX support
  • Good audio
  • Killer LAN
  • Custom Overclocking with Game Boost.

Cons

  • UEFI seem a little cluttered. Almost every setting is displayed in central small area. Like one windowed interface.

Conclusion

MSI Z170A GAMING M7 is an excellent overclocking and Gaming motherboard offering lot of gaming oriented feature and great performance with USB 3.1 and dual M.2 ports. One interesting and unique thing we like on this board is the Game Boost feature, a small knob and button combo giving overclockers some great custom overclocking capabilities. I was able to OC my i7-6700k processor up to 4.8GHz and by selecting one of the build-in Memory OC profile in BIOS, I overclocked Kingston HyperX fury DDR-4 2666 RAM to stable 3200MHz very easy.

At the conclusion I found MSI Z170A GAMING M7 to be a great gaming motherboard, with some unique OC feature, best suitable for gamer and overclockers.

Manufacturers Info

Site Link

Thanks.

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