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MSI Z87M Gaming Review

ccokeman    -   January 20, 2014
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MSI Z87M Gaming Conclusion:

Having seen what the MSI Z87-GD65 can do as far a performance and usability go, it's good to see that the apple does not fall far from the tree when shrinking the form factor down. If you had to choose based solely on performance in a blind "taste test", you would be hard pressed to see the difference in performance between the Z87M and Z87-GD65 Gaming from MSI. That in a nutshell is what you get. The feature set on the Z87M Gaming mirrors that of the Z87-GD65, but you lose a little bit of capacity more than anything else. Capacity? Yep, you lose the capacity to run more than two video cards in SLI or CrossfireX, you lose a few SATA 6Gbps ports, and the exclusion of an mSATA slot on the board. On the flip side you gain an additional HDMI port that helps support up to 4K resolutions using the on-chip graphics.

At this point let the form factor be your guide, with the price differential between the ATX and MATX boards are right at $30, with the Z87M Gaming currently selling for $159. Overclocking the Z87M Gaming was just as easy as it was on the Z87-GD65, however I just could not get 4.7GHz fully stable on the Z87M Gaming. Maybe a little ring rust, but running the Z87-GD65 at 4.7GHz was just the same as when I reviewed it back in June of 2013. Memory overclocking with my Hynix MFR-based memory was just as easy with a quick push up to 2800MHz possible with some sub-timing tuning. However to get there the clock speed and ring ratio need to drop down to a max of 42 on my specific Core i7 4770K. A golden chip it is not.

If manually tuning the BIOS is not something you choose to delve into, MSI provides its OC Genie 4 one second overclocking tool that is as simple to use a pushing a button and booting the system. MSI offers two ranges that are both conservative, but are indeed Prime 95 stable without any added voltage tuning to deliver system stability.

To deliver the overclocking and reliability that the enthusiast and gaming communities demand, MSI equips its Gaming series boards as well the rest of the product stack with Military Class IV components, including Dark Capacitors, tantalum filled Hi-C Caps, Super Ferrite chokes, and Military Class Essentials that beef up the six layer PCB to provide long term reliability along with cooler operation and improved efficiency. MSI's sound solution delivers excellent sound quality using the Realtek ALC 1150 codec coupled with specific audio capacitors, all running through a built-in headphone amplifier. Sound Blaster SBX Pro Studio technologies are used to enhance your gaming experience.

Overall I have to say that MSI has moved into a space mostly occupied by one of its chief rivals and laid claim to that turf with the Z87M Gaming. It's got impressive looks for that image and performance to back the looks up. At $159 with a three-year warranty, the Z87M is a solid option if you are looking for a small form factor build.

 

Pros:

  • Small form factor
  • Good looks
  • Full size performance
  • Overclocking
  • Dual GPU ready
  • OC Genie 4
  • Click BIOS 4
  • Sound solution
  • Military Class IV components

 

Cons:

  • None


 

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