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MSI Z270 SLI PLUS Review

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MSI Z270 SLI PLUS 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 Z270 SLI PLUS is some of the familiar applications, as well as staples that get updates to improve the functionality.

Smart Tool is used to create a Windows installation drive using a flash disk. 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. DPC Latency Tuner is a lightweight tool used to apply basic performance tweaks to the system. CPU-Z is a diagnostic tool that provides a wealth of real time information about the installed system components including the CPU, Ratio Memory, motherboard, and GPU. Included in the latest version is a basic benchmark with comparative results from current processors from Intel and AMD. 

 

 

 

MSI RAMDisk As we have seen with other manufacturers, tuning and tweaking the installed hardware for maximum performance can be accomplished in many ways. Improving game or program load times are one application for this kind of software. If you are using 16 to 32GB of DRAM, you can easily set up a small virtual drive out of your unused DRAM. It's as easy as chosing the total DRAM commitment and applying the settings. By viewing the CrystalDiskMark results shows just how much faster this dynamic volume is than accessing a disk drive or solid state drive. To say the access speed is an improvement is a bit of an understatement.

 

 

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.

 

MSI Network Manager is used to prioritize or manage LAN connectivity at the port or program level. The interface includes several basic tabs including a performance test and information about the hardware/software combination. Under the application radio button is where you can manage traffic at the program level or set up the access based on a series of presets.

 

 

Mystic Lighting This handy little tool lets you configure the color of the LED border of the Audio Boost 4 sound solution and LED backlights to match the color theme of your build. The full RGB spectrum of colors is available, so you should be able to find the color that you need. The LED extension header at the base of the PCB is wrapped up into the controls of the Mystic Lighting application. You can choose to have the lighting remain static or use a series of pulsing or flashing effects.

 

MSI X-Boost is another part of MSI's software suite that is used to optimize the operation of the board. From setting up the software and hardware to best perform with VR Boost functionality to increasing storage performance, this tool is able to improve responsiveness without a lot of work from the user.

 

 

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, IGP, and OC Genie 4. 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. OC Genie 4 is a useful tool to set a modest overclock without having to take the time to tweak a bunch of settings in the BIOS.

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

As usual, MSI delivers a fully updated, easy-to-use set of tools that bring value to the table and add functionality to the equation. A set of fully functioning software suite is a must in today's competitive motherboard sales environment. Using this full suite of tools, MSI has the bases covered .




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