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MSI Z170A Gaming M7 Review

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MSI Z170A Gaming M7 Testing:

Testing this new platform will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and NVIDIA drivers for the NVIDIA GTX 770. In the past we had locked the clock speed on the processor to eliminate any easily controlled variables due to processor speed. However, there is a difference in how each manufacturer handles the CPU default and boost speeds, creating opportunity for one board to deliver a higher level of performance. This variable is a point of difference between boards. The majority of users will run the stock settings, making this point a valid concern, so we are changing up the test methods to capture this difference.

Testing Setup: Intel Socket 1151

 

Testing Setup: Intel Socket 1150

 

Comparison Motherboard:

  • ASUS ROG Maximus VII Hero

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

 

Just how many ways can you overclock with the Intel Core i7 6700K and the MSI Z170A Gaming M7? Quite a few once you dig deeper into the board and BIOS. The easiest way to overclock the MSI Z170A Gaming M7 is to enable and use the Game Boost feature that takes the place of MSI's OC Genie. This tool lets you choose an overclock from mild to wild just by pushing a button and dialing up your overclock. In the past MSI's OC Genie tool provided a one click overclock. Game Boost does much the same thing, but using the old tool gave you a single option that got conservative over time. Not any longer as there are now seven options to choose from starting at 4.30GHz and maxing out at 5.0GHz if your chip will run the number.

Using the Game Boost tool I could reach 4.9GHz setting the dial to number 10, but this clock speed was good enough for some benchmarks only. Dropping down to the number 8 setting proved to be quite a bit more stable, with this setting passing prime 95 for close to two hours before throwing a single error knowing what it takes to get my test CPU stable. Game Boost focuses on raw CPU speed and will run the memory at 2133MHz with my 2800MHz kit, and keeps the ring ratio in the 39 to 40 range to again maximize core speed. All it takes to overclock is to push the button to enable the hardware level control, spin the dial to the number you want to run, and its off to the races.

Manually tuning the Core i7 6700K takes a little bit more time and, for the most part, follows the overclocking rules we have been using since Sandy Bridge was released. Bump ratio, bump voltage, wash rinse repeat. The real addition for the enthusiast has been the return of bclock overclocking instead of using gear ratios to bump the bclock to predetermined levels. With this chip I had no problems running a high bclock and lower memory dividers to reach a sustainable overclock. I also found that this chip would almost run the ring ratio 1-1 with the core ratio using a memory speed of 2800MHz. It just took a bit more voltage to get there.

My final settings that I found stable were a bclock of 101.3 using a clock multiplier of 47, a ring ratio of 46, memory speed of 2837MHz 16-16-16-36 using 1.365v to the core, 1.30v to the ring bus, and 1.30 to the memory with all other settings on auto. I found these settings allowed the processor, motherboard, and memory to run stable through five hours of prime 95 testing. The voltage is a bit on the high end, but I did not run into any thermal limits.

 

 

Maximum Core Clock Speed:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed overclocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the overclocked scores in the testing.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  • Scientific & Data:
  1. PCMark 8
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2014
  3. Cinebench R15
  4. X.264 5.1
  5. AIDA64 3.00
  6. CrystalDiskMark
  7. ATTO 2.47
  8. iPerf
  9. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  • Gaming:
  1. 3DMark
  2. Batman: Arkham Origins
  3. Metro: Last Light



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