MSI Z87M Gaming Reviewccokeman - January 20, 2014
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MSI Z87M Gaming Introduction:
Last year when Intel launched its Fourth Generation Core series processors and supporting Z87 chipset, its partners launched a myriad of high performance motherboards. It's all so the Fourth Gen Core series processors from Intel had the best chance of success when it came to reliability and ultimately chip performance. What we saw with MSI's offering was the company moving in the right direction to capture a larger part of the lucrative gaming centric motherboard market by offering features that gamers want. Things like better onboard sound, Killer Gaming's E2200 series network hardware, easy performance improvement through OC Genie 4, one touch overclocking, and good reliability thanks to the company's Military Class IV component selection.
Priced at $159, the MSI Z87M Gaming is priced around $30 less than the full size Z87-GD65 Gaming and MSI took all that was good with the Z87-GD65 Gaming and put it into a smaller MATX form factor, giving us the Z87M Gaming. With its pedigree established, let's see if lightning can strike twice in the same product line.
MSI Z87M Gaming Closer Look:
MSI's packaging of its Gaming series products is bright and has a ton of eye appeal if you are shopping in a traditional brick and mortar retail outlet. The Dragon themed red and black imagery has taken over as the look to have for motherboards targeted at the enthusiast and gamer. The front features a tribal dragon image in silver/grey as the dominant feature of the package, while you have support for Fourth Generation Core series processors from Intel and the inclusion of a Killer Gaming E2200 series NIC. The back panel looks at some of the more specific features the MSI Z87M Gaming has to offer. Here the Killer Gaming E2205 is touted as a tool to reduce ping and latency for an improved online experience. Further mentions include Audio Boost, one second overclocking with OC Genie 4, Sound Blaster Cinema, Military Class IV component selection, and how the PS/2 Gaming port is more robust and features gold contacts. All important features that help set the MSI Gaming series apart from the crowd. You even get multi GPU capabilities with the Z87M Gaming!
Internally you have two levels to the packaging. The top layer holds the board in place securely while the bottom level holds the substantial bundle of accessories.
The accessory bundle included with the Z87M Gaming consists of the documentation and hardware needed to get the board functioning to its maximum capacity. For documentation you get the users guide, installation guide, "Do Not Disturb" door tag, and the driver/utility disc. The hardware side of the bundle includes the basics, such as the quartet of SATA 6Gbps data cables, a pair of M-Connectors, SLI Bridge connection (Crossfire Bridges are included with the video cards), a good looking case badge, and I/O shield. The case badge on its own will stand out from the crowd if you proudly display it. The I/O Shield offers three-way protection in the form of an EMI protection with an aluminum shield, in addition to the force absorbing foam inner core layer. M-Connections have been a standard on MSI boards for several years and make installing front panel connections onto the board much easier.
When I looked at the Z87-GD65 and the MPower Max boards from MSI, I found that the company had indeed turned the corner and offered a top notch product for the end user. With a list of high end features, the boards performed well right out of the gate and delivered excellent performance. The hope is that by shrinking the form factor we get the same solid performance we saw last year.