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.
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.
+ 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
— What’s with that silly I/O port shroud?
— Some separate, single-function utilities should be built into Command Center
Final Score: 9.40 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: Who makes the best motherboards, in your opinion?