Z170A M7 Gaming Details
The two m.2 slots on the motherboard can both handle the longest 80mm m.2 SSD variants (2280), and each slot will automatically configure itself to work with either PCI-E or mSATA SSDs.
Here’s a closer look at MSI’s metal-shielded PCI-E slots. MSI says their “Steel Armor” provides additional mechanical support for heavy GPUs as well as enhanced shielding. I dunno if either of those claims is anything more than marketing-speak, but I must admit they look really cool.
This “hot key” switch in front of the memory sockets enables some useful utility functions directly from the keyboard when it’s enabled: stuff like incrementing and decrementing the CPU base clock and multiplier, turning the system on and off, or updating the BIOS.
The Realtek ALC1150 audio chip is shielded under the (soldered-on) Audio Boost cover and backed with gold-colored Chemicon audio capacitors. MSI says the audio circuitry is electrically isolated from the rest of the motherboard. It looks as if the time for separate audio cards has largely passed.
There are six SATA 6g connectors; the separate block at the left supports either two SATA Express drives (should any ever actually exist) or four standard drives. Next are two USB 3.0 headers, one pointed outwards and one pointed up.
The demise of the Fully Integrated Voltage Regulator (FIVR) that Intel introduced on the Haswell CPUs means a cooler-running processor; it also means motherboard vendors can now compete with beefy power regulation sections. Titanium chokes and solid aluminum-core “dark” capacitors are what MSI uses here.