MSI Z87M Gaming Reviewccokeman - January 20, 2014
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MSI Z87M Gaming 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. Included with the Z87M Gaming are the following tools.
Super Charger is used to manage the power supply through the identified high current USB 2.0 port to allow charging your portable electronics such as smartphones, tablets, or multimedia devices. 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 Fastboot mode. Super RAID is a tool that looks like a front end for access into Intel's Rapid Storage Technologies. MSI Utility is used as a one stop source for the utilities package and sits on the edge of the screen until called for, eliminating shortcuts on the desktop for a cleaner work space.
By including the Killer Gaming E2205 ethernet connectivity, you by default gain access to the Killer Network Management software package. This software package enables the end user the ability to tailor Internet bandwidth by application. For use on the MSI Z87M Gaming the interface gets a decidedly Win 8 look to it throughout the menus. Killer's implementation is said to improve bandwidth and reduce ping and lag in games.
The use of the Realtek ALC 1150 codec brings with it the Realtek HD Audio manager control panel that proves to be fully functional. An added enhancement is the inclusion of the Sound Blaster Cinema Suite. This enables the use of several preset options including Movie, Game, Music, and a Custom profile. Configurable within the profiles are Surround, Crystalizer, Bass Boost, Smart Volume, and Dialog Plus.
MSI Live Update 5 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.
Command Center is MSI's tuning and monitoring program. This application has come a long way to get to the current iteration, and features a red and black interface to go along with the theme. There are five functional areas with a few sub menus to include the CPU, GPU, DRAM, RAMDisk, and OC Genie. 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.
DRAM functionality is more limited here, but the basics work in this menu. The GPU Section is used when an MSI Gaming series video card is installed and calls up MSI's VGA Boost option set to increase the current flow to the card for higher overclocking potential. The RAMDisk feature was something new with the MPower Max, but is now available for the Gaming series allowing the end user to utilize a portion of their system RAM as a small, fast storage drive to reduce the time it takes to open commonly used files. OC Genie leads the user through the steps to use this one second overclocking feature set while identifying the steps the controller takes to reach a successful overclock.
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.
Buried in the settings menu is a recording tool used to record over time how the voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds are tracking to let the end user know if there is a problem that can then be tied to actions on the system.
MSI brings a full suite of tools to the table for the end user with this addition to the Gaming line up. A functional overclocking tool is a must in today's competitive sales environment.