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MSI Z170A GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

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Motherboard Bundled Software

MSI includes a nice software bundle with the Z170A Gaming M7 motherboard. The centerpiece is the MSI COMMAND CENTER, which allows fine adjustment of CPU clock and multipliers, as well as voltage and fan control, which are things you’d normally need to drop into the BIOS to tweak, including fine control of the system fans.

msi_command_center_1Of course you can also adjust settings for the RAM as well…

msi_command_center_2…and the overclock settings of the Game Boost dial. Although the dial “goes to 11”, there are really only eight possible settings.

msi_command_center_3As on their other gaming systems, MSI includes the Killer Network interface for the Ethernet port. With the supplied utility you can fine-tune the amount of network bandwidth used by individual applications.

msi_970_gaming_killer_2The Live Update application keeps all your MSI software up to date and can be configured to check for updated automatically.

msi_live_updateOddly, MSI includes a couple of single-function utilities like Fast Boot (which, as best I can tell, simply reduces the pause you see at boot time where you have time to press a key to drop into the BIOS or choose a boot device), and Fast Charger, which enables high-amperage charging over some USB ports. Why these functions aren’t simply integrated into the Command Center is a mystery.

As with previous MSI motherboards, Fast Boot didn’t seem to make any difference in my testing– there was less than two seconds’ difference in boot-to-login times when it was enabled or disabled. The GO2BIOS button ensures that your board boots directly to the BIOS the next time you restart, but I found it unnecessary: unlike many boards, pressing the Del key at startup time to get into the BIOS instantly rewards you with an on-screen acknowledgement and reliable entry to the BIOS– you won’t be sitting there, pressing the Del key rapidly and cursing when your system ignores you and boots to Windows.

And of course there’s the Realtek HD Audio Manager to manage the audio subsystem.

msi_970_gaming_realtek-audioIn the next section I’ll describe overclocking this motherboard.


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2 comments

  1. Kristijan Vragović

    I have a question about motherboard that really bugs me since i would like to use MSI boards in the future. Fan headers that are on my MSI Z87 G65 gaming motherboard offer PWM control only on CPU header while other 3 offer just voltage control. So. what i wanna know is have MSI changed things a little bit and put PWM control on all 5 fan headers or is the situation the same as i described it for my MB. Thanks

    1. Olin Coles

      It’s going to be different for every motherboard model, and then, making things a bit more difficult, some UEFI/BIOS settings will allow you to change a fan header to turn PWM on or off. You might want to look into the settings on your board to see if this isn’t already possible.

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