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MSI Z170A GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

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MSI Z170A Gaming M7 Conclusion

The MSI Z170A Gaming M7 is a solid, high-end gaming motherboard that effectively leverages the new features of Intel’s Z170A chipset without going overboard on “tack-on” features. Probably the only thing that struck me as silly was the rather flimsy aluminum shroud covering the I/O ports. A lot of motherboards seem to be doing things like this now, but a nicely-molded and better-fitting plastic piece would be preferable to this bit of stamped sheet metal, which has no discernible function other than to try and look cool…a function it fails at.

msi_z170a_gaming_m7_box_board2

But, honestly, that’s pretty much it when it comes to hardware criticisms of this board. Everything an enthusiast needs is there: MSI has even started providing dual CPU fan headers, which I put to good use running the dual fans of my Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU cooler.

The performance of the board was excellent. I was a little disappointed in my relatively meager overclock, but from what I see online the Core i7-6700K just doesn’t have very much headroom.

Appearance-wise, the board follows the aggressive red-and-black scheme of other MSI gaming motherboards. It can look a little overbearing, but aside from the aluminum port shroud, there’s really nothing to complain about.

The construction of the board appears as solid as any other motherboard from a top-tier maker.

Functionally, this board stands out for its inclusion of dual m.2 slots and a USB 3.1 connector, as well as onboard power, reset, and overclocking controls.

Available online for $204.99 (Newegg | Amazon), this could be considered a pricey motherboard…but by including everything enthusiasts need, and nothing they don’t, it represents a good value that would make an excellent long-term foundation for your Skylake build.

Pros:

Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award Logo (Small)

+ Improved ClickBIOS
+ Full of next-gen interface goodness
+ Probably more PCI-E lanes than you’ll ever need
+ Onboard power, reset, and overclocking…plus POST code display

Cons:

— What’s with that silly I/O port shroud?
— Some separate, single-function utilities should be built into Command Center

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.75
  • Appearance: 9.00
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 9.75
  • Value: 9.00

Final Score: 9.40 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

COMMENT QUESTION: Who makes the best motherboards, in your opinion?

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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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