MSI Z270 XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM Motherboard Review
- MSI Z270 XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM Motherboard Features
- Packaging & Accessories
- First Look
- Test Setup and Overclocking
- Conclusion – TL:DR
MSI Z270 XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM Motherboard Review. The 3rd iteration of the Xpower Titanium series has arrived, now sporting the Z270 chipset. Visually a perfect mix of the X99 and Z170 models we loved, with some subtle changes and a refreshed feature set.
Namely, DDR4 up to 4133+, triple M.2 slots with Intel optane support, Dual LAN, OC panel, 4x PCI-E lanes and so much more. A product of this caliber, and a stunning design does come at a higher cost (naturally!), with a price tag in the UK of about £339.99
MSI Z270 XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM Motherboard Features
For more than a decade, Republic of Gamers has delivered exemplary design and performance to thrill the world’s best players and PC enthusiasts. Our journey is a road without end. Now, it’s time for competitors to be warned and for gamers and enthusiasts to push the limits: The packed and pumped ROG Maximus IX Code motherboard is ready to defeat all challengers.
- 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
- OC DASHBOARD: The ultimate overclocking tool to experience easier on-the-fly overclocking
- USB Xpander: For more controllable devices and flexible usage with USB 2.0 in-chassis connectors
- Mystic Light Sync: Synchronize other RGB solutions with your gaming rig and control all LEDs in one click
- Triple Turbo M.2, Steel Armor, M.2 Shield. Intel Optane Memory Ready, Turbo U.2, Lightning USB 3.1 Gen2
- Audio Boost 4 with Nahimic 2: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality for the most immersive gaming experience
- Dual GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Intel® : 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
|CPU (Max Support)||i7|
|Chipset||Intel® Z270 Chipset|
|DDR4 Memory||4133(OC)- 2133 MHz|
|Max Memory (GB)||64|
|USB 3.1 ports (Front)||4(Gen1, Type A)|
|USB 3.1 ports (Rear)||1(Gen2, Type A),1 (Gen2, Type C), 4(Gen1, Type A)|
|USB 2.0 ports (Front)||4|
|USB 2.0 ports (Rear)||3|
|Audio ports (Rear)||Realtek® ALC1220 Codec|
Courtesy of MSI
Curious about the lineup? Take peek at this video from MSI, which outlines the differences and features of each
Packaging & Accessories
MSI house the board in a sleek box, from the front side it’s a simplistic design that gives very little away regarding specs. Around the rear, they’ve done a great of outlaying the features without overwhelming you, and cramming the box with jargon.
Being a premium product, the box has some extra eye candy. I appreciate the little things like this with a higher end product
Taking a look at the bundle now in no particular order, you’ll find the following:
- I/O Shield
- 6x SATA Cables (silver)
- Sticker Label Kit for cables
- User manuals/Quick start
- SLI bridge
- OC Dashboard
- OC Dashboard cable extension
- LED strip extension
- Voltage Check Cables
For the price point, this is a decent bundle. The only thing lacking is WI-FI/Bluetooth but… given that this is an overclocker’s paradise, designed to smash world records we understand why it was omitted.
We start our tour with a complete top down view, to absorb what’s on offer. If you take a closer look at the X99 version, and then the Z170 model. Imagine you merged the two together; this is essentially the result. Sporting the same unique silver/metal/shiny PCB and matching heatsink. It’s truly one of a kind product that you’ll either love or hate.
The color is an interesting one, and lighting affects the overall tones. In certain lights, the older models had a white tint, but for the most part, now, it looks like it’s made from Titanium…which is the idea right?
The I/O shrouding and VRM heatsink has been loaned from the X99 model and slightly revised.
Under the hood we now have a whopping 16 phase power delivery system, to push your CPU further.
The silver/titanium tones are used in conjunction with subtle black sections to produce a super clean board, but still, has that wow factor.
It is a ingenious design from MSI, despite the mass amount of features crammed on, the overall looks are still minimalistic and stylish.
MSI has been smart with the location of all these extra headers, power connectors and placement for add-ons. Credit to the design team.
The 4x PCIe 3.0 slots, offer you the option to run the most demanding multi-card setups, and being OC orientated, you can manually turn on/off the lanes with a flick of a switch.
MSI has implemented steel Armor on all 4x slots. Granting additional strength to avoid potential damage with heavy cards over time, and adding some eye candy too.
• 4 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (support x16/x0/x0/x4, x8/x0/x8/x4, x8/x4/x4/x4 modes)
• 2 x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots
• Supports 4-Way AMD® CrossFire™ Technology
• Supports 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
• Realtek® ALC1220 Codec
– 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio
– Supports S/PDIF output
With SATA express now dead in the water, the Xpower has everything you’d expect and more in its arsenal, with a U.2 Port
– 1 x U.2 port
– Supports PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe storage
The Titanium offers 8x SATA III 6gbps ports.
• ASMedia® ASM1061 Chipset
– 2 x SATA 6Gb/s ports*
• Intel® Z270 Chipset
– 6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports
While I’m not normally a fan of vertical SATA ports, the location does render them useful. Being able to add or disconnect a drive without worry about the GPU obstructing you
[M.2 / U.2]
M.2 is now the go-to choice for most, and Z270 allows for some interesting options. Namely, additional m.2 ports and the new Intel optane tech. (which requires a 7th gen CPU).
With the Xpower you can install 3x such devices! MSI bundle a stylish M.2 shield for tame the heat and avoid throttling. A real shame to see they only included one cover, for over 300 pounds I expect 3…
- – 3 x M.2 slots (Key M)
- – Support up to PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA 6Gb/s
- – M2_1 slot supports 2242/ 2260 /2280/ 22110 storage devices
- – M2_2 & M2_3 slots support 2242/ 2260 /2280 storage devices
- – Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready for all M.2 slots
- Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology for Intel Core™ processors
Tons of headers here for the most extreme demands
- – 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- – 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- – 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
- – 1 x 6-pin ATX 12V power connector
- – 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- – 2 x USB 2.0 connectors (support additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
- – 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 connectors (support additional 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 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 4-pin RGB LED connector
- – 1 x 2-pin Slow mode connector
- – 1 x 2-pin OC retry connector
- – 1 x TPM module connector
- – 1 x Front panel audio connector
- – 2 x System panel connectors
- – 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
The OC Panel returns, to allow one-touch control of power, reset, Frequency +/- and to enable slow mode. A simple addon, but a real benefit to extreme overclockers and tweakers!
Finishing up our tour of the board, looking at the I/O which consists of:
- – 1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port
- – 1 x Clear CMOS button
- – 3 x USB 2.0 Type-A ports
- – 2 x LAN (RJ45) ports
- – 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports
- – 1 x DisplayPort
- – 1 x HDMI™ port
- – 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port
- – 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port
- – 5 x OFC audio jacks
- – 1 x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector
Test Setup and Overclocking
Proudly Powered by our Dimastech Mini V1.0 Test Bench
[TECHICIZE TEST SYSTEM]
|Intel® 7700K (Kabylake)|
|Memory:||16GB Kingston Kingston Predator 16GB DDR4 PC4-24000C15 3200MHz Quad Channel Kit|
|PSU:||Bitfenix Fury 750G|
|Hard Drives:||SSD – Kingston HyperX 3k240GB |
M.2 -Kingston M.2 HyperX 240GB
|OS:||Windows 10 X64|
We covered the i7 7770K and other Kabylake products in a much more detailed review, here we’ll be looking at more than the new CPUs from Intel.
- 5000Mhz has been the average for almost all boards we’ve tested, while the MSI M7 almost booted at higher, it didn’t have the goods under the hood to run stable.
- The Xpower, however, booted and benched at 5100Mhz, and we actually managed to benchmark about 80% of our suite at 5200Mhz
- With more time I’m sure we could have stabilized the system. This is all thanks to the 16 phase power delivery system. If you want the most from your chip, this is the board you’ll need
- General System
- CPU & Memory
- Storage & USB
- Audio &Networking
We start with a broader view of general system performance and then break it down, as we delve deeper with sub testing, where we can examine key areas.
-[PC Mark 8]
PCMark 8 from Futuremark. PCMark 8 is designed to test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. It’s the complete PC benchmark for home and business.
The first test we run is PCMark 8, as we’re also able to gauge an all-around score. This test is heavily affected by all internal components rather than focusing on just one.
Pitting the new Z270 again its predecessor the gains are apparent but I want to emphasize that the CPU has a higher clock speed than Skylake, and the bulk of the improvement shown is directly linked to just that. That said a higher end board do produce better results from the same CPU/RAM and Storage setup.
-[Performance Test 8]
Passmark PerformanceTest is an award winning PC hardware benchmark utility that allows everybody to quickly assess the performance of their computer and compare it to a number of standard ‘baseline’ computer systems. Find out if your PC is performing at its best, compare the performance of your machine to similar machines and make objective independent measurements on which to base your purchasing decision.
A great set of numbers, barely anything between this and the CODE from ASUS, for the Inter math test.
The MSI board is actually… the better overall with higher scores in the other sub tests.
Cinebench is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.
The Kabylake architecture brings better performance from the exact same kit of ram we used on Skylake.
Reliable results from MSI
This is echoed again in Performance Test 8
Armed with a Nvidia GTX 1080, how do the Z270/kaby processors affect FPS? and does a higher end board really deliver more?
The Xpower delivers stellar scores across the board. Tied 1st in our current database
On Z170, MSI just couldn’t top the charts, and seemed to struggle with peak speeds for SATA, USB, and m.2. This has been addressed on the Z270 incarnations, with better all around performance on all
Stellar performance with an m.2 drive, and keep in mind you now can use more than one on Z270… Imagine those in Raid! The new Z270 scores on MSI product have improved a great deal vs Z170.
We don’t have any USB 3.1 (Gen2 ) devices at the time of testing, so will be focusing on 3.0/3.1 only. Be sure to understand the actual difference between USB 3.0/3.1 Gen 1 & Gen 2. As it’s something that not all brands have explained clearly.To measure speeds we use AS-SSD, with an SSD inside a USB 3.0 Caddy from Startech
The Kingston SSD has a theoretical limit of 499MB/s Write, when hooked up internally to an SATA 6GB/s port. Overheads and such we accept that some degradation occurs when used over USB 3.0/3.1
As expected the controllers have matured over time but differences in terms of speed between models, are minimal generally.
Using the in built network test for Performance test 8. The method is to install the software on two machines, that are on the same network. One acts as a client and the other as a server, a designated amount of data is sent across and then the min, Avg, and max transfer speeds are outputted.
While KillerLAN and MSI have intertwined for a good while now, I’m pleased to see the transition back to an Intel solution. The numbers speak for themselves in our database, while peaks of MAX are similar from all controllers.
Do pay attention to mins and Avg’s, With Intel LAN, they are so much more consistent. The Xpower features two NIC’s, though they aren’t identical.
• 1 x Intel® I219-V Gigabit LAN controller
• 1 x Intel® I211AT Gigabit LAN controller
We use RightMark Audio Analyzer, connecting “Line out” to “Line in” with a 3.5mm cable.
|Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB|| |
|Noise level, dB (A)|| |
|Dynamic range, dB (A)|| |
|THD, %|| |
|THD + Noise, dB (A)|| |
|IMD + Noise, %|| |
|Stereo crosstalk, dB|| |
|IMD at 10 kHz, %|| |
|General performance|| |
The Audio quality is fair, and not an issue given this a gaming/OC board anyhow
Conclusion – TL:DR
So then conclusion time, and now that we’ve had a play around with many Z270 boards, we can deliver a fair conclusion. We’ll tackle the elephant in the room here because over 300GBP for a motherboard is a lot of money, and I ain’t going to sugar coat this fact. That said, looking at the bigger picture, especially at neighboring/lower models, and what’s available from the competition.. the Xpower is actually decent value. Let’s delve deeper, as I’m sure we’ll not all agree (yet)
Let’s focus on the MSI M7 Gaming for example. Currently priced about 60 less, or the Code from ASUS which is 30 less. The Xpower has many more feature here to play with, while the majority are geared towards overclockers, it’s a nice a nice bump up in features for the price difference. Extra SATA ports, extra PCI-E slots, OC panel, more power phases, and extra LAN port to name a few. As is there’s enough here to please the masses, but ultimately this is a niche product, and it’s not meant for everyone. The Xpower is designed for those that demand every drop of performance from their kit, and it’s able to do just that
Performance, was fantastic from start to finish, as seen in our other MSI Z270 reviews, they’ve massively improved in weaker areas, such as M.2 and USB speeds ( compared to Z170). Overclocking is where the product shines, not only is it a breeze, but the Xpower has so many features and settings. We barely scratched the surface today; the improved power delivery system is no gimmick. We broke past our 5100 MHz limit today, showing its worth. With more time and other hardware, we’re confident we could have refined our scores more so.
After much thought, we feel the MSI Z270 XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM has all the criteria for a GOLD AWARD
Thanks to MSI for sending out the sample for this review.