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MSI Z170A Gaming M7 Review

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MSI Z170A Gaming M7 Closer Look:

Every motherboard manufacturer has its own set of software tools that best work with its hardware; MSI is no different in that respect. What MSI included with the Z170A Gaming M7 is some of the familiar applications as well as staples that get updates to improve the functionality.

Super Charger is used to manage the power supply through the identified high current USB 3.0/3.1 ports to allow charging your portable electronics, such as smartphones, tablets, or multimedia devices. Fast Boot gives you a direct ticket into the BIOS when this option is enabled in the BIOS. Using the GO2BIOS button functions similarly and is needed since the keyboard is inactive when in Fast Boot mode. M+Cloud is a tool that allows the user to setup cloud storage. X-Split Gamecaster is a new game streaming software that manages the settings to best utilize the PC without impacting your gaming. MSI gives the end user a six-month subscription to this new tool. MSI's Eco Center is an application that is used to turn off hardware to reduce the power consumption of the components on the PCB.

 

 

 

 

Gaming App is a low overhead tool used to quickly set up and validate an overclock. There are three select modes: Silent, OC, and Gaming, each with a specific clock speed profile setup. In the past this was a simple interface with not a whole lot going on, but MSI has ramped it up a bit with the addition of an all new feature set. Eye Rest is used to help eliminate eye strain, and Mouse Master is used to set up profiles for your mouse and Steel Series hardware. OSD lets you choose the items you want to track while in game from FPS to CPU and DRAM speeds. Gaming Hotkey is used to set up keys on your keyboard for specific game movements. LED allows the user to configure the operation of the onboard LEDs. A pulsing red glow is pretty interesting coming out the side window of the chassis.

 

 

 

 

By including the Killer E2400 series Ethernet connectivity by default, you gain access to the Killer Network Management software package. This software package provides the end user the ability to tailor Internet bandwidth by application. For use on the MSI Z170A Gaming M7, the interface gets a decidedly Windows 8 look to it throughout the menus. Killer's implementation is said to improve bandwidth and reduce ping and lag in games.

 

MSI is still using Realtek's ALC1150 codec on this mainstream Z170 chipset board. You can use Realtek's control panel, but included with the software package is Nahamic Audio software that is used to enhance the audio experience you get with MSI's Audio Boost 3 package. There are three distinct profiles under the audio tab: Music, Gaming, and Movies. Each profile is different, but still retains some flexibility to tailor the sound within the limits of the applications settings.

 

 

 

MSI Live Update 6 is useful for checking MSI's servers for updates to the installed utilities, BIOS, and drivers. This process can be run automatically or as a manual process. Simply choose what you want to do and start the process.

 

 

Command Center is MSI's tuning and monitoring program. This application has come a long way and features a red and black interface to go along with the theme. There are four functional areas with a few sub menus to include the CPU, DRAM, RAMDisk, and Game Boost. The CPU section allows the user to modify the clock speed and multiplier, increasing the speed of the processor. Voltage adjustments are available for all the pertinent voltages under the advanced menu at the bottom of the page. While not specifically spelled out with its own tab, the fan control feature set can be set to run in Smart mode or in a manually configured mode with a new auto tuning feature.

DRAM functionality is much more limited with only the DRAM voltage being configurable. The RAMDisk feature was something new a while back on the X-Power line, but MSI moved it to the Gaming series on the Z97 Gaming 7 and now on the Z170A Gaming M7. What the RAMDisk feature does is allow the end user to utilize a portion of their system memory as a small to modest sized, fast storage drive to reduce the time it takes to open commonly used files. Game Boost takes the place of OC Genie and is infinitely more adaptable to the needs of the end user as you use a knob on the bottom right of the PCB or the software in the BIOS for this replacement of MSI's lauded one-second overclocking tool.

 

 

 

The advanced section at the bottom of the utility allows access to three separate menus: Voltage, Fan, and DRAM. The voltage option allows the user to manually configure the voltages needed to run the processor and memory at max speed, or tune for the lowest voltages when running stock speeds. The fan section is where you will allow the fans to be tuned by the board's controller or set up manual profiles. The DRAM section allows for tuning memory sub-timings from within the OS to help you find the best combination of settings. Under the sensor section you can view the system and CPU temperatures. 

 

 

 

MSI delivers a fully updated, easy-to-use set of tools that add value and bring added functionality to the equation. A fully functioning overclocking and monitoring tool is a must in today's competitive sales environment. With Command Center and Game Boost, MSI has this covered. A one-stop shop for all your overclocking needs if you choose to go that route.




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