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MSI Z270 SLI PLUS Review

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MSI Z270 SLI PLUS Conclusion:

Having looked at a lot of MSI's Gaming Series boards over the years, it's refreshing to see that the work it does on the upper end and Gaming products trickles down to the SLI PLUS. With the Gaming Series, you get a lot of flash and gaming centric software that you can take advantage of fairly easily. That being said, you get a lot of the same software to play with when you move down to the MSI Z270 SLI PLUS. Command Center, RAMDisk, Network Manager, Mystic Lighting, and even an MSI-branded version of CPU-Z are all tools you can use to enhance the performance of the Z270 SLI PLUS.

Out of the box, when paired with a set of 3600MHz memory, the Z270 SLI PLUS delivers excellent performance. Although, in many cases the performance curve of the Z270 MSI SLI PLUS is roughly the same as I see when running the Core i7 7700K in a Z170-based board for comparison sake. Visually, the board is subdued by comparison to the flashier Gaming Series, but the Mystic Lighting feature set lets you take that muted black and silver theme and wrap some RGB coloring around it for added effect. Add in an RGB LED strip and you can make the board any color in the rainbow.

Durability and overclocking almost go hand in hand. MSI uses its Military Class V components that run cooler and more efficiently to give you a longer running, more stable platform. The side benefits are that these same components of MSI's all-digital VRM help with overclocking stability. I found that this board was every bit the overclocker as the comparison board at a much lower price point. Sporting a factory boost clock speed of 4.5GHz, the Core i7 7700K would easily run at just shy of 5GHz when pushed to the limits of the cooling solution. Although only about a 450MHz bump over the baseline core clock speed, this is a full eight-core overclock and not an AVX offset clock that pushes the core clock down when an AVX load is set. If you go that route on your overclocking adventures, you can easily tweak a bit more clock speed out of the CPU without the thermal limits causing issues with stability. If you want a quick and easy overclock, all you have to do is run the OC Genie tool from the BIOS or from the Command Center application to get a performance lift. MSI's DDR4 Boost lets the memory perform up to expectations thanks to an enhanced trace layout that is improved over previous designs.

MSI's Audio Boost sound solution out of the box sounds as good as my ears can tell the difference and really does a good job of communicating sounds to the user. It comes with audio grade capacitors and a dedicated headphone amplifier to go along with the separated left and right channel layers in the divorced PCB.

When you look a the full feature set that MSI has incorporated, you get quite a bit for the money. MSI's Steel armor is used throughout the board on the M.2 slots, DIMM slots, and the two primary 16x PCIe slots. You get improved ESD protection, dual GPU capabilities with both brands, and more for just under $150. For that price, you can't go wrong! 

Pros:

  • Performance
  • Ease of overclocking
  • Mystic Lighting
  • Military Class
  • Steel Armor
  • ESD protection
  • Pricing

Cons:

  • None
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