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MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

We carry on our benchmarks of Kabylake, with a review of the MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard. In terms of features, the list is immense, and it literally has everything gamers need with even more for good measure!

Pricing on the day of review is around £260 but is likely to fluctuate. Right now, it is the board I’d suggest for a serious gamer running a  multi-GPU setup, or those with mass storage needs. Let me show you why…

Z270 GAMING M7  Features and Specs

  • Supports 7th / 6th Gen Intel® Core™ / Pentium® / Celeron® processors for LGA 1151 socket
  • Supports DDR4-4133+(OC) Memory
  • DDR4 Boost with Steel Armor: Give your DDR4 memory a performance boost
  • VR Ready and VR Boost: Best virtual reality game experience without latency, reduces motion sickness
  • Mystic Light RGB and Mystic Light Sync: 7 colors / 5 effects controlled in one click with GAMING APP or a mobile device
  • Triple Turbo M.2, Steel Armor, M.2 Shield. Intel Optane Memory Ready, Turbo U.2, Lightning USB 3.1 Gen2
  • Audio Boost 4 PRO with Nahimic 2: 2x dedicated audio processors for the most immersive gaming experience
  • GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Killer™: The best online gaming experience with lowest latency and bandwidth management
  • BIOS Flashback+: Easy BIOS recovery without the need of a CPU, memory and VGA card
  • Military Class 5, Guard-Pro: Latest evolution in high quality components for best protection and efficiency
  • MULTI-GPU: With Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports NVIDIA SLI™ & AMD Crossfire™
  • In-Game Weapons: Game Boost, GAMING Hotkey, X-Boost, Xsplit Gamecaster
  • EZ Debug LED: Easiest way to troubleshoot
  • Click BIOS 5: Award-winning BIOS with high resolution scalable font, favorites and search function
  • GAMING CERTIFIED: 24-hour on- and offline game and motherboard testing by eSports players

Z170 VS Z270 M7

MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

See more? Courtesy of MSI

Packaging & Accessories

The MSI branding hasn’t really changed since Z170, its the same super clean crimson red box. Information is clearly listed on the backside, and easy to digest.

In the box, the bundle is on the thin side. With the following included

  • 4x SATA cables
  • RGB header cables
  • Case badge + Cable stickers
  • SLI bridge
  • Driver + Manuals
  • Generic information
  • Thank you note

For the price, I’d like to have seen more.

First Look

We start our tour with a complete top down view, to absorb what’s on offer. As I said in past reviews, I thought Z170 was the turning point from plain and simple boards, to something much more appealing to the consumer. The Z170 range as a whole, from MSI, was beautifully executed and well designed.

MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

The new Z270 products are really enticing. MSI have really polished and tuned their designs. Focusing on the Gaming M7, its stunning piece of craftsmanship, Your eyes are spoiled with clean and enticing design elements all around the board. Colors are a mix of grays and black, with no bold reds spoiling the design. The oversized heatsink + shrouding around the MOSFETs + I/O area are fantastic. And it gets better when you boot the system up, as theirs a lighting solution implemented underneath and on other parts of the board.

MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

Tweak away as you see fit with the MSI app, and find what works best for you. MSI have also added a 5050 RGB header if you need more lighting.

MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

We find small but key silver accents around the PCI-E slots and 4x DDR banks. These little changes really make big difference, and this is without a doubt my favorite looking Z270 board on the market.

The heatsink over the Intel Z270 chipset,  is stacked and unique addition. More lighting under this one too, to give the product some eye candy.

MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

[PCI-E Setup]

The clue is in the name, and the motherboard is ready for some serious gaming. MSI added something different around the slots to separate this from the rest

MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

• Supports 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
• Supports 3-Way AMD® CrossFire™ Technology

3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (support x16/x0/x0, x8/x8/x0, x8/x4/x4 modes)
• 3 x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots

[Audio]

MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

• Dual Realtek® ALC1220 Codec
– 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio

[Storage Options]

Remember when SATA Express was set to be the next big thing? No… Many won’t, as it was dead before it hit the ground and it’s sat idle since on lots of Z170 products.

MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

MSI offer 6x SATA III 6gbps ports in total. We also have the less common U.2 connector for those who demand the most from their kit.

Supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10 for SATA storage devices
• Supports RAID mode for M.2 PCIe storage devices*

[M.2 / U.2]

M.2 took some time to filter into the market, and pricing to adjust accordingly. Now it’s become a mainstream product and the desire to use more was apparent. Intel noted this and now offer the ability to run 2x products on a single board this is further enhanced with Intel optane tech.

MSI are offering something unique here with 3, yes 3 M.2 slots. They’ve also bundled a metal heatsink to help with thermal throttling. While I’m pleased with the addition, in disappointed to find only one in the box.

M2_1 slot supports up to PCIe 3.0×4 and SATA 6Gb/s standards, 2242/ 2260 /2280/ 22110 storage devices
– M2_2 slot supports up to PCIe 3.0×4 standard, 2242/ 2260 /2280 storage devices
– M2_3 slot supports up to PCIe 3.0×4 and SATA 6Gb/s ** standards, 2242/ 2260 /2280 storage devices

[Fan Locations]

MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

A total of 6 headers for system or CPU fans

1.+ 2  Above VRM heatsink

 3. Above 24 pin POWER

4 . Above PCIe Slots

5 + 6.  Base  of board

[Other ports/ Features]

Along the motherboard base, you’ll find plenty of headers and the actual placement of everything is neat and well thought out.

1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
– 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
– 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
– 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
– 1 x U.2 port
– 3 x M.2 slots
– 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C connector
– 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports)
– 2 x USB 2.0 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
– 1 x 4-pin CPU fan connector
– 1 x 4-pin water pump fan connector
– 4 x 4-pin system fan connectors
– 1 x Front panel audio connector
– 2 x Front panel connectors
– 1 x RGB LED connector
– 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
– 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
– 1 x Low Temperature Booting Jumper
– 1 x 2-pin Slow mode jumper
– 1 x 2-pin OC retry jumper
– 1 x 2-pin OC Force enter BIOS jumper
– 1 x 2-pin Discharge jumper
– 1 x 2-Digit Debug Code LED

Finishing up our tour of the board, looking at the I/O which consists of:

MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review

  • 1 x PS/2 mouse & keyboard combo port
  • – 3 x USB 2.0 Type-A ports
  • – 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • – 1 x DisplayPort
  • – 1 x HDMI™ port
  • – 1 x LAN (RJ45) port
  • – 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports
  • – 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port
  • – 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port
  • – 1 x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector
  • – 5 x OFC audio jacks

Top of the charts for the M7, great results from the CPU specific tasks.

Despite benching with the exact same kit of RAM, results on Z270 are better. Solid results in both applications.

[GAMING]

Armed with a Nvidia GTX 1080, how does the new Kaby processors affect FPS?

MSI Z270 GAMING M7 Motherboard Review
Bottom Line
The M7 has everything as gamers need with some more on top for good measure. It looks epic and delivers the good to in every test we put in front of it. Amazing board...
Positive
RGB done right
Stellar Performance
Future proof
Epic UEFI
Negative
Killer LAN
No Wifi
9.5
Amazing...
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