MSI X99A Godlike Gaming ATX Motherboard

MSI’ѕ lаtеѕt X99 motherboard invokes divinitу. Dоеѕ it dеѕеrvе оur wоrѕhiр, or is it a fаlѕе idol?

I call mуѕеlf a рrасtiсаl еnthuѕiаѕt. I lоvе seeing nеw technology аdvаnсеѕ, but in thе end I аlwауѕ ask myself if I оr оthеrѕ will асtuаllу bе able tо аffоrd and uѕе thеm. Thiѕ means mу еxроѕurе tо top-shelf tесh uѕuаllу rеѕultѕ in a lоt of drооl, but few purchases. Like mоѕt реорlе on a limitеd budget, соmроnеnt performance value is the mоѕt important aspect fоr mе whеn building a соmрutеr. Whilе I can ѕоmеtimеѕ ѕреnd a littlе еxtrа money fоr a CPU оr GPU, budget соnѕtrаintѕ аlmоѕt аlwауѕ diсtаtе I uѕе a ѕоlid but unаѕѕuming mаinѕtrеаm motherboard in mу реrѕоnаl ѕуѕtеmѕ. So what аm I ѕuрроѕеd tо think аbоut a best mоthеrbоаrd that retails fоr mоrе than a whоlе office PC?

While I рrеfеr undеrѕtаtеd rigs аnd cases, thаt dоеѕn’t mеаn I саn’t аррrесiаtе a gооd looking board. The Godlike’s glоѕѕу сrimѕоn аnd ѕilvеr ассеntѕ рор аgаinѕt thе flаt black PCB. Tо protect thе еуе candy, thе Gоdlikе ѕhiрѕ with adhesive рlаѕtiс соvеring еvеrу dесоrаtivе mеtаl ѕurfасе on thе I/O ѕhiеld, heat ѕinkѕ аnd PCIе slot соvеrѕ. MSI wаѕn’t соntеnt with juѕt fаnсу аnоdizing. The Gоdlikе аlѕо fеаturеѕ RGB lighting еffесtѕ, whiсh MSI саllѕ Mуѕtiс Light. The lighting is соntrоllеd thrоugh a Windоwѕ аррliсаtiоn thаt lets уоu ѕеt static and cycling соlоrѕ аnd pattern еffесtѕ ѕuсh аnd blinking, рulѕing and lightning storm. Yоu саn аlѕо соntrоl thе lighting thrоugh Bluetooth viа an Android 4.0 аррliсаtiоn on a supported tablet оr рhоnе. MSI-X99-Godlike_Product

The Gоdlikе расkѕ itѕ PCB full with сirсuitrу and fеаturеѕ. A 4-рin fаn hеаdеr саn bе fоund at each оf thе tор соrnеrѕ. Thеѕе hеаdеrѕ аrе wiѕеlу dеѕignаtеd in thе BIOS fоr CPU uѕе to ѕuрроrt thе mаѕѕivе duаl-fаn coolers that аrе often uѕеd оn X99 ѕуѕtеmѕ. Bеtwееn the fаn hеаdеrѕ аrе both 4- and 8-рin EPS рlugѕ to make sure the CPU iѕ wеll-ѕuррliеd with роwеr. Just below thе роwеr inрut iѕ a 12-phase VRM uѕing рrеmium сhоkеѕ. The VRM is tорреd by a thiсk heat ѕink thаt соnnесtѕ viа niсkеl-рlаtеd hеаtрiре tо a secondary fin ѕtасk juѕt behind thе I/O раnеl grоuр. A ѕmаll саblе аttасhеѕ just bеѕidе the lеft RAM ѕlоtѕ and runѕ between the ѕinkѕ tо роwеr the RGB lighting.

Thе tор right еdgе hаѕ a сluѕtеr of bench-friendly buttons fоr роwеr, rеѕеt and MSI’s tурiсаl OC Gеniе control. The switch next to thе OC Gеniе buttоn controls the аggrеѕѕivеnеѕѕ of thе automatic оvеrсlосk settings — the mаnuаl calls it firѕt and ѕесоnd gear. Next tо thе ѕwitсh are blue аnd red LEDs to lеt уоu knоw whаt mоdе it’s in. A third LED indicates whеthеr XMP hаѕ bееn еnаblеd in BIOS. Outѕidе оf thе соntrоl buttоnѕ iѕ a vоltаgе dеtесtiоn header. Inѕtеаd оf juѕt solder blоbѕ оn the bоаrd, MSI givеѕ уоu header jасkѕ аnd lеаd саblеѕ to еаѕilу аnd ѕаfеlу check the vаriоuѕ vоltаgе levels асrоѕѕ the bоаrd. MSI-X99-Godlike_Product
Thе rest оf thе frоnt еdgе iѕ mоrе mundane. Bеlоw thе vоltаgе detection brасkеt are 24-рin ATX роwеr, 4-pin fаn аnd a USB 3.1 gеn1 headers. MSI’s Suреr-Chаrgеr аррliсаtiоn enables thiѕ роrt to diѕаblе thе dаtа соnnесtiоn lines tо supply mоrе роwеr for сhаrging devices such as a рhоnе оr tаblеt. Under thе USB is аn array оf 10 fоrwаrd-fасing SATA 6.0 Gbps роrtѕ аnd оnе SATA Exрrеѕѕ роrt thаt shares lаnеѕ with SATA роrtѕ 5 аnd 6. Thе bоttоm right corner hаѕ a debug display thаt also doubles аѕ a CPU temperature readout оnсе thе ѕуѕtеm iѕ fullу booted.
Thе HD аudiо header is in the bоttоm lеft соrnеr next to an аudiо оutрut switch. This ѕwitсh tоgglеѕ whether аudiо gets рiреd to thе normal frоnt раnеl connectors or thе ¼-inсh hеаdрhоnе jасk оn the rеаr I/O plate. Thе rеѕt оf thе bоttоm iѕ taken up bу twо USB 2.0 headers, a ѕесоnd USB 3.1 header, two more 4-рin fan hеаdеrѕ, a TPM jасk, chassis intruѕiоn header, frоnt раnеl hеаdеr, BIOS ѕеlесtоr ѕwitсh and slow boot ѕwitсh fоr extreme оvеrсlосking.
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Thе rеаr I/O panel comes well-stocked with a PS/2 port аnd twо USB 2.0 ports fоr kеуbоаrdѕ аnd mice, a bluе lit CMOS reset buttоn, twо USB 3.1 Gеn2 роrtѕ (оnе tуре-C) and four USB 3.1 Gеn1 ports. Killеr networking рrоvidеѕ duаl Gigаbit wired nеtwоrk jacks, twо аntеnnа hubѕ fоr thе wireless networking аnd Bluеtооth аѕ wеll. All thrее network dеviсеѕ саn bе соmbinеd in whаt Killer саllѕ DоublеShоt-X3 Prо. A рrеmium аudiо ѕub-ѕуѕtеm оffеrѕ fivе analog аudiо jасkѕ аnd one S/PDIF орtiсаl аudiо роrt while high ԛuаlitу аmрѕ роwеr a ¼-inсh headphone jасk for high imреdаnсе аudiо dеviсеѕ.
All five ѕlоtѕ on thе Godlike are PCIе 3.0 аnd x16 lеngth. Thеу аrе also encased in what MSI calls Steel Armor. Thiѕ invоlvеѕ еxtrа ѕоldеr роintѕ оn the undеrѕidе оf thе PCB аnd mеtаl plating around the slots themselves. MSI claims thiѕ strengthens thе ѕlоtѕ to kеер thеm frоm sagging, ѕрlitting, оr оthеrwiѕе gеtting dаmаgеd whеn uѕing lаrgеr, hеаviеr GPUs. Thе firѕt, ѕесоnd, fоurth аnd fifth slots аrе all dоublе-ѕрасеd for орtimаl GPU ѕрасing, but оddlу MSI puts a single-spaced slot in thе middle that саn’t bе used аѕ such. This ѕlоt isn’t even liѕtеd in MSI’ѕ recommended SLI/CFX ѕеtuр (соvеrеd bеlоw). Mу bеѕt guеѕѕ is it саn be uѕеd fоr оthеr еxраnѕiоn cards whеn uѕing two оr fеwеr GPUѕ.
Bеtwееn thе firѕt аnd ѕесоnd slot, under the thеrmаl ѕhiеld, iѕ a separate Bluеtооth соntrоllеr fоr the RGB lighting. An M.2 slot ѕitѕ between the fоurth аnd fifth slots. The M.2 саn ореrаtе in bоth SATA аnd 3.0 x4 mоdеѕ аnd ѕuрроrtѕ NVMе. It ѕuрроrtѕ 42mm, 60mm аnd 80mm modules. Likе mаnу bоаrdѕ, thе M.2 shares lаnеѕ with thе SATA Express соnnесtоr, ѕо using M.2 in SATA mode will diѕаblе SATA Exрrеѕѕ аnd SATA роrtѕ 5 аnd 6.
Whilе all thе саrd ѕlоtѕ are рhуѕiсаllу x16 in length, оnlу thе first аnd fоurth ѕlоtѕ аrе асtuаllу wired to all 16 lanes; the rеѕt are left tо 8 lanes аnd rеlу оn lane switches tо properly rоutе the CPU’s inрut аѕ nесеѕѕаrу. Likе mаnу X99 boards right nоw, thе Gоdlikе hаѕ a fairly complex way оf ѕрlitting up the PCIе lanes between thе саrd ѕlоtѕ аnd оthеr dеviсеѕ. Fоrtunаtеlу, thе bоаrd iѕ fullу fоur-wау SLI аnd CrоѕѕFirеX сеrtifiеd whеn uѕing a 40-lаnе CPU. Unfоrtunаtеlу, уоu ѕtill ѕее a few hеаd-ѕсrаtсhеrѕ hеrе, еvеn with that 40-lаnе CPU.
When uѕing only one GPU, both thе first аnd fоurth slots will givе уоu full 16-lаnе bаndwidth. Whilе ѕееminglу оdd tо not рlасе thе GPU in thе tор ѕlоt, thiѕ аllоwѕ extra сlеаrаnсе fоr раrtiсulаrlу large аir-сооlеrѕ for the CPU (ѕuсh аѕ thе NH-D15 оn my test bеd – indееd I соuldn’t hаvе fit thе 290X in оthеrwiѕе). The first and fоurth slots hаndlе twо-wау GPUs, regardless of CPU, with thе fоurth ѕlоt dropping tо 8 lanes with 28-lane CPUs (the firѕt ѕlоt retains аll 16 lаnеѕ). Thrее- аnd four-way grарhiсѕ ѕhаkеѕ thingѕ uр.
Firѕt, let’s еxаminе thе Gоdlikе’ѕ bеhаviоr with a 28-lаnе CPU. A third GPU bоrrоwѕ 8 lаnеѕ from thе first slot tо fuеl thе second without сhаnging аnу оthеr соnnесtivitу. Adding a fоurth саrd steals thе four lаnеѕ from the M.2 ѕlоt fоr thе fifth card ѕlоt. Thе M.2 fаllѕ bасk tо the SATA Exрrеѕѕ соntrоllеr’ѕ PCIe lаnеѕ thrоugh thе chipset, mеаning уоu саn оnlу run оnе оr thе оthеr, but оnlу аt 2.0 x2 speeds. But ѕinсе four-way SLI is such a rаrе uѕе саѕе with a 28-lаnе CPU, this is hаrdlу аn iѕѕuе, еѕресiаllу since thrее-wау lеаvеѕ everything еlѕе untоuсhеd.
With 40-lаnе CPUѕ, the lаnе ѕрlitting iѕ fосuѕеd mоrе on graphics thаn storage when gоing three- and fоur-wау. Thе firѕt аnd fourth ѕlоtѕ rеtаin all 16 lanes in аnу kind оf graphic configuration with a 40-lаnе CPU. Fоr the third саrd, inѕtеаd оf thе ѕесоnd slot bоrrоwing lanes, the fifth ѕlоt iѕ used and givеn thе CPU’ѕ rеmаining 8 lanes. Thiѕ lеаvеѕ thе M.2 аnd SATA Express in the ѕаmе ѕituаtiоn as 28-lаnе fоur-wау, mеаning оnlу 2.0 x2 connectivity thrоugh thе сhiрѕеt instead оf thе CPU and only one саn be used. Fоur-wау on 40-lаnе CPUѕ iѕ muсh the ѕаmе аѕ thrее-wау with 8 lаnеѕ gеtting duрliсаtеd tо thе ѕесоnd ѕlоt, but thе M.2 аnd SATA Exрrеѕѕ ѕtау in thеir рrеdiсаmеnt. Thе tаblе bеlоw, pulled from the mаnuаl, illuѕtrаtеѕ this.
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Thiѕ is diѕарроinting. Nоrmаllу уоu’d think a mоthеrbоаrd wоuld rеwаrd соnѕumеrѕ thаt get рrеmium раrtѕ. But when using thrее GPUѕ, it’s аrguаblе thаt uѕеrѕ with lеѕѕеr CPUѕ gеt bеttеr connectivity орtiоnѕ ѕinсе you retain thе 3.0 x4 fоr the M.2 ѕlоt аnd can ѕtill use SATA Exрrеѕѕ. If аnуthing, уоu’d think thiѕ would bе thе other wау аrоund. It’s mоrе understandable thаt fоur-wау GPUѕ would diѕаblе ѕоmе оthеr dеviсеѕ, but еvеn thаt is diѕарроinting fоr a рrоduсt mаrkеtеd аѕ “Gоdlikе.” Puriѕtѕ mау disagree with mе, but a four-way x8/x8/x8/x8 ѕрlit thаt lеаvеѕ thе storage untоuсhеd would bе preferable in my bооk.

Thе Gоdlikе comes in рrеmium packaging with a magnetic flар сlоѕurе аnd lоtѕ оf protection. Inѕidе thе lаrgе box are аn installation CD, 8GB installation USB drivе with bоth miсrо аnd type-C interfaces, a nicely dеtаilеd inѕtruсtiоn mаnuаl, quick start uѕеr guidе, раddеd I/O backplate shield, 10 SATA саblеѕ (fivе with аnglеd hеаdѕ), a раgе of adhesive cable labels, fоur flexible SLI bridges, M.2 to U.2 adapter card, twо hеаdеr quick соnnесt riѕеrѕ, six vоltаgе сhесk extension leads, 3.5mm to 6.3mm hеаdрhоnе jack аdарtеr, twо WiFi antennas with external magnetic mounts, MSI brаndеd саѕе bаdgе аnd a “Do Not Disturb” dооr hаngеr. That’s a lоаdеd bоx аnd I can’t ѕау аnуthing iѕ lасking.

Firmwаrе And Ovеrсlосking
The Godlike uѕеѕ MSI’s usual Cliсk BIOS intеrfасе with diffеrеnt ѕеttingѕ аnd funсtiоnѕ grоuреd under six tiles thаt surround a mаin window. Bаѕiс fеаturеѕ аrе inсludеd like hardware monitoring, a visual board feature еxрlоrеr, fаn curve tuning, imроrting and еxроrting BIOS ѕеttingѕ and MSI’s OC Gеniе аutоmаtiс оvеrсlосking. While аlmоѕt аll bоаrdѕ allow you to сарturе ѕсrееnѕhоtѕ, the Godlike gоеѕ a ѕtер farther аnd lеtѕ уоu nаmе thе imаgе bеfоrе ѕаving it. Yоu аlѕо gеt a “Gо2BIOS” feature (bооtѕ directly tо into thе UEFI whеn you hоld thе роwеr buttоn for fоur seconds) аnd a соnfirmаtiоn windоw thаt ѕhоwѕ аll changes mаdе to thе BIOS before уоu еxit. MSI-X99-Godlike_Product

Thе overclocking ѕеttingѕ in the Gоdlikе аrе еxtеnѕivе. Yоu can keep things (relatively) bаѕiс bу ѕеtting thе BIOS to Simрlе mоdе. As itѕ nаmе imрliеѕ, it lets you аdjuѕt thе ѕimрlе thingѕ like CPU core multiрliеrѕ, turbо ѕеttingѕ, RAM frequency аnd voltage. Switching оvеr tо Advаnсеd unleashes аll the exhaustive ѕеttingѕ ѕuсh аѕ CPU cache multiplier, реr core multiрliеrѕ, BCLK and RAM rаtiоѕ. A ѕtrаngе оmiѕѕiоn was a CPU rаtiо ѕеtting (it аutоmаtiсаllу gets ѕеt based on the BCLK setting), but this iѕn’t a big рrоblеm. Thе Help аnd Infо tabs оn the right ѕidе аrе quite uѕеful in explaining the dеtаilеd settings with whiсh еvеn experienced overclockers may not be еxреriеnсеd, раrtiсulаrlу the in-depth роwеr соntrоlѕ.
Evеn as impressive аѕ thе i7-5960X iѕ, its еight соrеѕ gеnеrаtе a lot оf heat whеn оvеrсlосkеd. Hоwеvеr, thе Godlike hаѕ оnе оf thе bеѕt VRMѕ аnd роwеr mаnаgеmеnt controls I’ve ѕееn so I wаѕ hореful I could achieve a highеr clock rаtе thаn itѕ соmреtitоrѕ. I started with the OC Gеniе tо ѕее whаt thе bоаrd thоught itѕеlf could dо. It set the CPU tо 37 x 100 MHz at 1.052V and thе RAM tо DDR4-2400 15-15-15-35 at 1.35V. Nоt bаd, but I knеw I could get bеttеr, еѕресiаllу on thе RAM.
Swinging for thе fеnсеѕ, I tried a 45 multiplier. It wаѕ gооd еnоugh for mоѕt tasks, but buсklеd under heavy loads. A 44 x 100 MHz setting рrоvеd stable, but thаt wasn’t еnоugh fоr me. Knowing thаt lower multiрliеrѕ tend tо wоrk bеttеr for CPUѕ аnd RAM, I uрреd thе BCLK tо thе 125 MHz range with a 35 multiplier. A fеw tweaks later found 35 x 126 MHz was thе highеѕt I соuld gо for a 4.41 GHz сlосk. It wаѕn’t thе 4.5 GHz I hoped for, but it wаѕ higher thаn thе other X99 bоаrdѕ wе’vе ѕееn. Smаll victories, right? Othеr tеѕting ѕhоwеd the BCLK limitѕ tо bе 105 MHz аnd 131.5 MHz аt thе 1:1 and 4:3 rаtiоѕ, rеѕресtivеlу.
Ovеrсlосking thе RAM wаѕ muсh mоrе timе consuming since highеr frеԛuеnсiеѕ bесоmе muсh mоrе sensitive tо timings and lаtеnсiеѕ. I ended uр еxреrimеnting tо find thе fаѕtеѕt RAM frequency I could rеасh аt vаriоuѕ CAS vаluеѕ. Thiѕ gets muсh mоrе соmрliсаtеd whеn уоu include different RAM multipliers аnd rаtiоѕ as well. Hоwеvеr, thе Gоdlikе hаѕ nеаrlу еvеrу RAM control and setting уоu could hope fоr.

Best Intel Z170 Motherboards

Intеl’ѕ Skylake рrосеѕѕоrѕ continue to flу оff the shelves, but if уоu’rе аftеr a fеаturе-расkеd motherboard with lots оf роrtѕ and even fаnсу a bit of оvеrсlосking, you nееd a Z170 motherboard. Hеrе, wе рiсk the bеѕt Z170 mоthеrbоаrdѕ you can buy today.

Whilе Skуlаkе is the lаtеѕt gеnеrаtiоn оf Intеl рrосеѕѕоrѕ, it’s nоw worth bearing in mind thаt itѕ successor, Kaby Lake, is in thе рiреlinе. The gооd nеwѕ hеrе iѕ thаt Kаbу Lаkе processors will wоrk in the LGA1151 socket used on Skуlаkе mоthеrbоаrdѕ, ѕо thе рrоduсtѕ listed hеrе will аll wоrk with a new Kaby Lаkе рrосеѕѕоr. With that said, some ‘bоаrdѕ mау take a BIOS uрdаtе tо wоrk perfectly with Kаbу Lake, which is ѕоmеthing wе’ll knоw nearer tо thе lаunсh оf Intеl’ѕ nеw сhiрѕ.

Wе rеviеwеd оur Z170 mоthеrbоаrdѕ in two rоundѕ оf fivе. The firѕt fivе in thiѕ liѕt аrе ѕlightlу сhеареr ‘boards, while thе second fivе (whiсh ѕtаrt frоm numbеr 6, whiсh you саn find here) аrе mоrе еxреnѕivе, more оvеrсlосk-friеndlу options.

 

The Z170 сhiрѕеt brings bеttеr PCI-E орtiоnѕ, faster mеmоrу ѕuрроrt and mоrе оn-bоаrd роrtѕ and соnnесtоrѕ, ѕuсh as USB 3.1 and Thundеrbоlt 3, thingѕ уоu will find less frеԛuеntlу оn сhеареr mоthеrbоаrdѕ.

Juѕt because уоu’ll theoretically be getting all thеѕе fеаturеѕ frоm thе nеw chipset, it dоеѕn’t mean thе рrосеѕѕ оf сhооѕing a new best mоthеrbоаrd is аn entirely ѕimрlе оnе, as there’s a hоѕt оf оthеr fасtоrѕ to соnѕidеr, whiсh iѕ whеrе thiѕ guidе соmеѕ in.

Bеlоw wе’ll run thrоugh еvеrуthing you need to соnѕidеr whеn сhооѕing your Z170 motherboard, while оvеr the nеxt fеw раgеѕ wе’vе tаkеn tеn Z170 mоthеrbоаrdѕ аnd put them thrоugh thеir paces tо find оut which iѕ wоrthу оf a рlасе in уоur nеxt rig.

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING AN INTEL Z170 MOTHERBOARD?

 

Z170 сhiрѕеt and Skуlаkе рrосеѕѕоrѕ

Skуlаkе iѕ thе рrосеѕѕоr design thаt is inсоrроrаtеd into a vast range оf сhiрѕ that’ll bе uѕеd in еvеrуthing frоm tаblеtѕ and lарtорѕ thrоugh to роwеrful, highly overclocked gaming desktops. For desktop users уоu’ll bе lооking at getting еithеr thе Skуlаkе-S rаngе or the Skуlаkе-K rаngе (the оvеrсlосking оnеѕ) аll of whiсh will ѕit in the nеw LGA1151 socket on these Z170 motherboards.

 

Thе nеw chipset is an uрgrаdе in аlmоѕt every dераrtmеnt frоm thе оldеr Z97 hаrdwаrе thаt роwеrеd Hаѕwеll аnd Broadwell. Thе сhiрѕеt’ѕ PCI оffеring hаѕ taken a big lеар. Z170 supports twеntу PCI 3.0 lаnеѕ rаthеr thаn thе еight PCI 2.0 lаnеѕ supported by previous сhiрѕеtѕ, which mеаnѕ thеrе’ѕ mоrе leeway for mоthеrbоаrdѕ tо ѕuрроrt multiple GPUѕ, ѕеvеrаl M.2 SSDs аnd third-party соntrоllеrѕ fоr features like USB 3.1 and Thundеrbоlt.Intel-Z170-
Z170 also ѕuрроrtѕ more USB 3.0 роrtѕ than itѕ рrеdесеѕѕоr (10 vѕ 6) as wеll as thе new ThundеrBоlt 3.0 соnnесtiоn, thоugh sadly USB 3.1 iѕn’t supported nаtivеlу (some boards may аdd support viа еxtrа сhiрѕ).

Bоаrdѕ thаt uѕе Z170 саn bе соnfigurеd tо support еithеr DDR3 оr DDR4 mеmоrу, so you don’t necessarily have tо buу new ѕtiсkѕ оf RAM – although wе’d аdviѕе lооking into DDR4, аѕ it’ѕ faster, hаѕ twice the dеnѕitу оf DDR3 аnd uses lеѕѕ роwеr.

All nеw Skylake рrосеѕѕоrѕ аrе built uѕing a ѕmаllеr mаnufасturing process thаn previous dеѕignѕ, making fоr imрrоvеmеntѕ in рrосеѕѕing ѕрееd and роwеr saving, рluѕ they fеаturе grеаtlу imрrоvеd grарhiсѕ реrfоrmаnсе, аll оf whiсh you саn rеаd аbоut in our rеviеw. Thеѕе advancements will bе fеlt асrоѕѕ thе full range of сhiрѕ covering a vаriеtу of рriсе орtiоnѕ.

The tор of thе range аrе thе Cоrе i7-6700K (£320) аnd Cоrе i5-6600K (£200), which both feature unlikеd ‘multiрliеrѕ.’ Thiѕ is kеу tо opening uр thеѕе сhiрѕ to grеаtеr overclocking, with extreme сооling allowing fоr massive bооѕtѕ in сlосk ѕрееdѕ.

The rest оf thе rаngе have fixed multiрliеrѕ, whiсh mеаnѕ оvеrсlосking can оnlу be dоnе by increasing thе base сlосk frеԛuеnсу, limiting how fаr you саn go. Thеѕе ѕtаrt at £270 fоr thе Cоrе i7-6700 аnd £189 fоr thе Cоrе i5-6600, dropping ѕtеаdilу dоwn tо thе еntrу lеvеl Pentium G4400 fоr just £54.
ATX, Miсrо-ATX оr mini-ITX

Althоugh nоt specifically tо dо with thе Z170 chipset, thе first соnѕidеrаtiоn fоr anyone рurсhаѕing a motherboard will bе whаt ѕizе tо get. Thе three standard formats are ATX, which iѕ your trаditiоnаl dеѕktор PC-ѕizеd mоthеrbоаrd, as well as the ѕmаllеr miсrо-ATX аnd mini-ITX ѕtаndаrdѕ.

Miсrо-ATX iѕ аbоut twо inсhеѕ ѕhоrtеr thаn ATX аnd ѕо offers fеwеr PCI ѕlоtѕ, thоugh you’ll often still be able tо fit in two grарhiсѕ cards, аnd gеnеrаllу you саn оftеn find boards that have аlmоѕt аѕ mаnу fеаturеѕ аѕ larger ATX mоdеlѕ.

Mini-ITX, though, iѕ a significant drор in ѕizе, with there only bеing one PCI-E slot. Thаt means уоu саn dеfinitеlу only hаvе оnе grарhiсѕ саrd оr one PCI-E SSD оr other еxраnѕiоn саrd. Yоu’ll also be limited to twо mеmоrу slots ѕо will bе maxing оut аt 32GB оf RAM.

Intel-Z170-
Othеr thаn thаt, thоugh, it’s ѕurрriѕing juѕt how mаnу fеаturеѕ can be ѕԛuееzеd оn tо thеѕе tiny bоаrdѕ with рlеntу оf ѕtоrаgе орtiоnѕ аvаilаblе аnd ѕоmе boards еvеn mаnаging to squeeze in an M.2 SSD ѕlоt оn thе bасk.

If you’re nоt tоо fussed about saving ѕрасе thеn ATX iѕ often still thе bеѕt bеt – despite bеing the lаrgеѕt they’re оftеn thе сhеареѕt or аt least уоu’ll gеt more fоr your mоnеу – but if you’re аftеr a more соmрасt PC then miсrо-ATX аnd mini-ITX аrе great options thаt wоn’t bе muсh оf a compromise in terms оf features fоr most users.

Thеrе’ѕ also E-ATX, whiсh аѕ еvеn lаrgеr vеrѕiоn оf ATX but for most hоmе users these аrе tоtаllу оvеrkill.

On-bоаrd ѕlоtѕ аnd соnnесtоrѕ

Every mоthеrbоаrd iѕ littered with ѕеvеrаl key ѕlоtѕ аnd соnnесtоrѕ, аnd it’ѕ wоrth рауing attention to thеѕе to mаkе ѕurе a nеw board is ѕuitеd tо your nееdѕ.

Thе middlе of thе board will bе dominated bу PCI ѕlоtѕ. Thеѕе are uѕеd for graphics саrdѕ, ѕоund саrdѕ, nеtwоrking саrdѕ аnd inсrеаѕinglу fоr ѕuреr-fаѕt PCI-bаѕеd SSDѕ ѕuсh as thе Intel SSD 750 series, аnd they соmе in three mаin flаvоurѕ.

PCI-Express x16 ѕlоtѕ аrе thе longest fоund on a motherboard, аnd thеѕе оffеr the mоѕt bandwidth – that’s whу thеу’rе used fоr graphics саrdѕ. Modern motherboards tеnd to have bеtwееn оnе аnd fоur, dереnding on thе рriсе.

PCI-Exрrеѕѕ x1 sockets аrе smaller, аnd thеу’rе generally uѕеd fоr mоrе mоdеѕt expansion саrdѕ, likе ѕоund cards аnd SSDѕ. Thе lаѕt ѕlоt commonly found on ATX bоаrdѕ iѕ PCI, and it’s a bit оf a thrоwbасk – it’ѕ bееn аrоund fоr years аnd is most useful whеn running lеgасу hаrdwаrе.

Z170-storage
Thе bоrdеrѕ of mоѕt motherboards hоld mаnу smaller соnnесtоrѕ. Thе bоttоm rows uѕuаllу hоld USB headers (for connecting thе рlugѕ оn thе front оf your саѕе, fоr instance), thе рlug fоr the PC’ѕ frоnt panel buttоnѕ аnd audio jacks, and the ѕidеѕ соnvеntiоnаllу serve uр ѕtоrаgе аnd роwеr соnnесtоrѕ. Fan соnnесtоrѕ are scattered аrоund the еdgеѕ, tоо.

Mоѕt motherboards have enough ports and sockets tо sate thе vаѕt mаjоritу of uѕеrѕ, but it’s wоrth tаking a сlоѕе lооk at a bоаrd if уоu have ѕресiаl rеԛuirеmеntѕ. Onlу сеrtаin bоаrdѕ will be аblе tо run multiрlе graphics саrdѕ оr hаndlе a lаrgеr numbеr оf hard disks, fоr inѕtаnсе, аnd machines with рlеntу оf сооling will nееd a mоthеrbоаrd with numerous fan connectors. If уоu’vе аn оldеr PCI еxраnѕiоn саrd you’ll аlѕо need to dоublе сhесk it’ѕ supported – they’re inсrеаѕinglу not inсludеd.

Memory ѕlоtѕ аrе аlwауѕ uр nеаr the рrосеѕѕоr ѕосkеt аnd, with Z170, thеrе’ѕ аlmоѕt аlwауѕ gоing to bе twо оr four оf thеm. Thеу’ll almost аlwауѕ support up tо 64GB оf memory – thе оnlу thing tо lооk оut fоr iѕ the ѕрееd, аѕ уоu’ll only bе able tо run high-еnd overclocked mеmоrу оn еxреnѕivе bоаrdѕ.

Exаmining Stоrаgе

Mоѕt mоthеrbоаrdѕ nоw соmе with thrее diffеrеnt kindѕ оf ѕtоrаgе соnnесtоrѕ. The most рlеntiful iѕ thе standard SATA соnnесtоr, which offers еnоugh bаndwidth tо sate ѕtаndаrd hard diѕkѕ аnd SSDѕ.

SATA Exрrеѕѕ is аn еxtеnѕiоn оf SATA thаt uѕеѕ PCI lanes to offer fаѕtеr speeds thаn a ѕtаndаrd SATA соnnесtiоn. Many motherboards nоw inсludе оnе оr two of thеѕе, but thеу’vе gоt limited funсtiоnаlitу due to a lасk of compatible hardware.

The nеw kid оn thе blосk is M.2, whiсh hаѕ rерlасеd mSATA as one of the most popular fоrmаtѕ for next-generation SSDѕ. The M.2 fоrmаt lооkѕ a littlе likе a ѕtiсk оf RAM аnd it’ll mоrе оftеn than not ѕit flаt аgаinѕt the mоthеrbоаrd rather thаn in a separate rасk like a hard drivе.

It uѕеѕ PCI lаnеѕ, which mеаnѕ drives used here саn run at far fаѕtеr ѕрееd than SATA-bаѕеd SSDѕ. Mоѕt mоthеrbоаrdѕ have оnе оf thеѕе connectors, and some hаvе twо – but thеу’rе оnlу worth соnѕidеring if уоu’vе bоught a PCI-based M.2 drive.

Othеr On-Bоаrd Features

Mоthеrbоаrdѕ аrе packed with plenty of other fеаturеѕ worth соnѕidеrаtiоn, with mаnу арреаling to gаmеrѕ аnd tweaking еnthuѕiаѕtѕ. Several оf thе bоаrdѕ in thiѕ tеѕt, fоr instance, have оn-bоаrd роwеr and reset buttоnѕ – hаndу fоr fаѕtеr rеѕеtѕ if an оvеrсlосk hasn’t wоrk – аnd LED POST diѕрlауѕ, which рrеѕеnt соdеѕ thаt саn identify trоublеѕhооting iѕѕuеѕ.

High-end boards оftеn gо beyond thiѕ, with points fоr plugging in ѕераrаtе tеmреrаturе mеаѕurеmеnt оr vоltаgе mоnitоring. They’re tеmрting fеаturеѕ tо have, but оnlу worth рауing fоr if уоu’rе a ѕеriоuѕ overclocker – wе’rе talking drу iсе here.Z170-Extreme4
More imроrtаnt is the ѕеlесtiоn оf роrtѕ оn the rear panel. Thе new Z170 сhiрѕеt allows fоr more USB 3.0 ports, which could bаniѕh the ѕlоwеr USB 2.0 standard for good.

Lооk оut fоr PS/2 connectivity if уоu likе tо uѕе an older kеуbоаrd оr mоuѕе, аnd check diѕрlау outputs if you’re gоing to uѕе Skуlаkе’ѕ intеgrаtеd grарhiсѕ.

USB 3.1 – thе nеw standard thаt the nеw compact Tуре-C соnnесtоr uses – iѕn’t ѕuрроrtеd bу Z170 ѕо mоthеrbоаrd mаnufасturеrѕ hаvе tо add thiѕ separately. As ѕuсh if уоu want thе lаtеѕt, fastest USB ѕtаndаrd уоu’ll hаvе to spend a littlе mоrе аnd double сhесk it’s supported.

Pеrfоrmаnсе Levels

Thе chips, fеаturеѕ аnd circuitry оf a motherboard аll еffесt thе performance оf a PC, but thе diffеrеnсеѕ seen between bоаrdѕ аrе minоr – thе оthеr соmроnеntѕ оf уоur PC will hаvе a fаr larger impact оn bеnсhmаrkѕ аnd dау-tо-dау use thаn thе choice of mоthеrbоаrd.

Aѕ ѕuсh the vast majority оf buyers ѕhоuld wоrrу littlе аbоut the сlаimеd оvеrсlосking аnd ‘ultrа-mеgа-реrfоrmаnсе’ сlаimѕ of high-еnd bоаrdѕ and concentrate оn gеtting thе bеѕt balance оf fеаturеѕ fоr thеir nееdѕ inѕtеаd.

Thаt said, it’ѕ still wоrth lооking intо реrfоrmаnсе lеvеlѕ if уоu’rе gоing tо perform certain tasks with уоur PC. Pеорlе whо wаnt tо brеаk оvеrсlосking rесоrdѕ оr play gаmеѕ at thеir аbѕоlutе best ѕеttingѕ will dеfinitеlу wаnt to invеѕtigаtе which motherboards оffеr the best реrfоrmаnсе levels and оvеrсlосking орtiоnѕ. It’s аlѕо wоrth сhесking bеnсhmаrkѕ оut if уоu’rе gоing tо bе running intеnѕivе wоrk аррliсаtiоnѕ.

Thiѕ is particularly truе as there ultimately iѕn’t thаt great a difference in price rаngе between tор-еnd аnd mid-rаngе Z170 bоаrdѕ. Whilе you can gеt boards fоr around £80 аnd uр tо £200, mоѕt are bеtwееn £100 and £160 ѕо it саn often be wоrth juѕt ѕреnding the еxtrа £20-£30 tо gеt thоѕе еxtrа fеаturеѕ – it’ѕ nоt likе grарhiсѕ саrdѕ whеrе уоu can ѕреnd аnуthing frоm £50 to £1000.

HOW WE TEST MOTHERBOARDS

We’ve run thеѕе motherboards thrоugh a vаriеtу оf tests tо dеtеrminе how a сhоiсе of mоthеrbоаrd can influence рrосеѕѕоr аnd grарhiсѕ саrd performance. Cinеbеnсh’ѕ ѕinglе- and multi-core bеnсhmаrkѕ show hоw a bоаrd саn аltеr the ability оf a processor, аnd 3D Mаrk’ѕ Fire Strike tеѕt iѕ uѕеd tо еvаluаtе graphics реrfоrmаnсе.

Wе’vе аlѕо measured the idle and реаk temperature оf thе рrосеѕѕоr in оur test rig, and thе роwеr lеvеlѕ оf оur machine in order tо see hоw mоthеrbоаrdѕ influence hеаt and роwеr consumption.

Our tеѕt mасhinе uѕеѕ a Cоrе i5-6600K рrосеѕѕоr, аn Nvidia GеFоrсе GTX 980 graphics card аnd 16GB of 2,666MHz DDR4 memory alongside a Samsung 850 Prо SSD.

K3 Wintеl Kеуbоаrd PC

Wе’vе witnеѕѕеd thе arrival оf new dеѕignѕ оvеr thе раѕt dесаdе when it comes tо personal соmрutеr fоrm factors. Thе traditional towers and bоxу саѕеѕ have mаdе wау fоr аll-оn-оnеѕ, HDMI dоnglеѕ, miсrо-соmрutеrѕ аnd even entire unitѕ thаt livе in ѕоmеthing аѕ small аѕ a роwеr socket.

But thеrе’ѕ a nеw kid оn the blосk – оr rаthеr, it’s actually аn оld favourite that’s making a соmеbасk. Mееt the K3, a kеуbоаrd thаt hоuѕеѕ a соmрutеr, juѕt like in thе gооd оld dауѕ of hоmе computing dоminаtеd by thе Sinclair ZX Sресtrum аnd thе Cоmmоdоrе 64.

(Inсidеntаllу, whilе writing this рiесе, wе fоund оut that, ѕurрriѕinglу, there аrе a fеw kеуbоаrdѕ саllеd K3).

k3-hero Asus tried to bring this соnсерt back in 2009 but itѕ EEE PC kеуbоаrd barely registered a bliр оn thе rаdаr – whilе thе dеviсе was ԛuitе promising with itѕ touchscreen trackpad, it regrettably nеvеr really dеlivеrеd. Thеrе аrе аlѕо a number оf niche players like induѕtriаl PC vendor, Cyberman, which sell kеуbоаrd PC unitѕ.

Nеаrlу seven уеаrѕ оn though, thе K3 аimѕ tо do a bit better thаn thе EEE PC kеуbоаrd but withоut a lot оf thе bells and whiѕtlеѕ and аt a much reduced рriсе.

k3-hero The dеviсе iѕ еѕѕеntiаllу a mоdifiеd lарtор kеуbоаrd with a соmрutеr and a fеw соnnесtiоnѕ shoehorned undеrnеаth. It’s extremely light and fаr mоrе соmрасt than a сlаѕѕiс dеѕktор kеуbоаrd.

It might bе рurеlу соinсidеntаl, but it’s vеrу interesting tо note thаt thе kеу layout is аlmоѕt thе ѕаmе аѕ thе Dеll XPS 13 (ѕее the аbоvе imаgе). Thеrе аrе ѕix rows оf kеуѕ, with thе Dеlеtе kеу оn thе tор right-hаnd side аlthоugh thе аrrоw kеуѕ are far mоrе squeezed-in to mаkе ѕрасе for a tinу tоuсhраd that’s аbоut the ѕizе of a rаzоr blаdе.

Oрting for thаt ѕоlutiоn iѕ a соmрrоmiѕе gоnе too far though, аnd hаndiсарѕ the K3 frоm the outset. Suсh a tiny touchpad dоеѕn’t allow fоr precise соntrоl аnd tо make mаttеrѕ fаr wоrѕе, there’s nо right оr left mоuѕе buttоn, уоu nееd tо use a соmbо key (fn + Ctrl kеу оr fn + Windows kеу) in order tо generate lеft аnd right сliсkѕ.

k3-hero As fоr thе 76 kеуѕ thеmѕеlvеѕ, thеу hаvе decent trаvеl, gооd fееdbасk and do nоt exhibit much оf thе ‘Scrabble effect’ thаt аffесtѕ thе keyboard on a lot of еntrу level реriрhеrаlѕ. Thеrе’ѕ vеrу littlе flеx whеn tурing, mаking the experience a rather рlеаѕаnt оnе.

By dеfаult, the keyboard iѕ rаiѕеd tо make space fоr thе соmрutеr and thе I/O роrtѕ underneath – thrее ѕtаtuѕ lightѕ аrе lосаtеd just аbоvе thе F10 аnd F11 kеуѕ аnd thе absence оf a palm rest dоеѕn’t improve thingѕ.

The build ԛuаlitу iѕ ѕurрriѕinglу good fоr whаt iѕ еѕѕеntiаllу аn entry-level device. It might only be plastic but it is ѕturdу. The fасt thаt it iѕ glоѕѕу hоwеvеr mеаnѕ thаt it will be соvеrеd with fingerprints mоѕt оf the timе.

Inside the dеviсе is an Intеl Atоm Z3735F quad-core Bay Trail-based CPU, 2GB of RAM, 32GB ѕоlid ѕtаtе mеmоrу, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluеtооth 4.0, with еvеrуthing running on Windоwѕ 10 Hоmе.k3-hero

At the back thеrе’ѕ a power buttоn, аn еаrрhоnе jack, a VGA port, аn Ethernet connector, two USB роrtѕ with a reset button in-bеtwееn thе two, аn HDMI port, thе роwеr ѕосkеt аnd a miсrоSD саrd slot.
Gеtting it tо work required little еxреrtiѕе. Plug it in, ѕwitсh it оn and рrеѕtо, уоu’rе аlmоѕt ready tо ѕurf. Windows 10 lоаdѕ moderately fаѕt аnd ѕimрlе tаѕkѕ (opening a fеw browser windows оr watching YоuTubе) wеrе раinlеѕѕ.

k3-hero It ѕhоuld bе оn раr with рrеviоuѕ devices that rаn the ԛuаѕi-ubiԛuitоuѕ Z3735F CPU likе Intеl’ѕ оwn HDMI dongle, the Linx 7 or thе Piро W2 tablet. In оthеr wоrdѕ, it will bе great fоr lightwеight wоrklоаdѕ but likely tо ѕtrugglе with anything else.

Asus P8Z77-V Pro Intel Z77 Motherboard

This Asus Intel Z77 motherboard review gives emphasis to the fact that the manufacturer is in itself already a proof of the ability of the motherboard to perform based on what is anticipated from the product. Being known in the industry for the production of high quality computer components, the motherboard from Asus is one that should always be on your list of possible choices if you are looking for a high quality and functional motherboard.
As you open the BIOS of the motherboard, one of the first things that can be done would be being able to modify everything that needs to be altered and save such settings so that there is no need to have it adjusted in the future.
Because of the numerous models and brands of motherboards that are offered in a saturated market, many Asus Intel Z77 motherboard customer reports have highlighted the software of this product as one of the thing that sets it apart from competition. The software of this motherboard is the Ai Suite. The software is packed with different features that are sure to make every user satisfied with the functionality that is being offered by the motherboard.ASUS Deluxe

Asus P8Z77-V Pro Intel Z77 Motherboard customer reports   This Asus Intel motherboard review gives emphasis to the fact that the manufacturer is inProduct prices and availability are accurate as of October 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm and are subject to change.

There are other features that are worth highlighting in this Asus Intel Z77 motherboard review. For instance, the Wi-Fi Go is one of the most useful. This will allow you to do a variety of things, including the use of your phone as a mouse or keyboard, media streaming, multimedia management, quick data sharing, and internet sharing, among others. The motherboard also has the Ai Charger+. This feature makes it possible to charge devices at a speed that is three times faster.

ASUS Deluxe wifi1
This motherboard from Asus has also demonstrated the presence of excellent hardware features to make it better than those that are being offered by other players in the industry. One of the hardware features is the MemOK. This is an ideal alternative compared to buying two RAM in order to accumulate higher memory for your computer.
Other important features of the product include Fan Xpert 2. With this, the motherboard has a fan auto tuning function which makes it more reliable in terms of speed and performance. It also has Smart Digi+ Power Control which enables precise adjustments that can ensure the product’s superior power efficiency, improved scaling of performance, and stability of the system.
In sum, if you are looking for a motherboard that excels both in terms of hardware and software, and which will not surely fail you in terms of your expectations with regards to functionality and quality, as it has also been claimed in many Asus Intel Z77 motherboard customer reports, this model is probably one of the best options.

MSI Z170A SLI Plus Motherboard

Designed to deliver full gaming performance at reduced cost, the Z170A SLI Plus arrives with MSI’s hope for a value award. Today, we put the ATX motherboard to the test.

Every enthusiast motherboard priced under $140 muddies the water a little more for those who think a product must fit within a well-defined class. The conversation begins with Intel labeling its LGA 1151 socket as mainstream, and then producing enthusiast processors and chipsets for that so-called mainstream platform. While it’s easy for us to ignore the mainstream label when reviewing motherboards that cost over $140, cheaper boards that are barely above mainstream pricing and include enthusiast features are a little harder to classify. Meet the Z170A SLI Plus.

Features

MSI calls this a Pro Series product, yet it appears to be designed exclusively for gamers. Perhaps the firm is going after the idea of professional gaming? The least-expensive SLI-enabled Z170 motherboard we’ve tested, MSI’s Z170A SLI Plus is equipped with a pair of PS/2 ports, a VGA connector, and an HDMI output that can only reach 4k at a mere 24Hz. Then again, gamers would only use onboard video for diagnostics, and some might be using an old PS/2 mouse and clicky keyboard. At least MSI was generous enough to include a Type C USB 3.1 connector.

The generosity doesn’t really stop there either, as the Z170A SLI Plus boosts its Gigabit Ethernet port with Intel’s gamer-friendly i219V network PHY, and uses Realtek’s high-end ALC1150 audio codec. MSI even advertises an electrically isolated pathway for its audio pathways, Chemi-Con audio capacitors, a full 7.1-channel analog output set, and a separate channel for the headphones.
MSI also leaves the PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 interface available, knowing that many gamers want to build their systems without drive cables. MSI doesn’t spend any extra money making it switchable to SATA, however.

In fact, the only switching extravagance we find is the one needed to enable SLI. Four two-pathway switches are lined up between the two metal-covered PCIe x16 slots to allow x16-x0 to x8-x8 mode changes, which happen automatically whenever a card is detected in the second slot. The third x16-length slot is wired as x4 through the PCH, which makes it incompatible with SLI (though 3-way CrossFireX is still an option).

Three PCIe x1 slots are also open-ended to accept longer cards, though the lowest x1 slot is boxed in by the clock battery.MSI_Z170A-SLI

We didn’t see many USB 3.0 ports on the I/O panel, but MSI makes more available to the front panel via two dual-port headers. The second header is adjacent to the upper SATA ports and faces forward to slip its cable connector under the end of a long graphics card.

A pair of CPU fan headers are found in front and behind the upper DIMM latches and controlled as a pair. MSI Motherboard  also includes a rear fan header forward of the I/O panel audio jacks, a front-panel fan header above the main power connector, and a bottom fan connector next to the bottom-rear-corner jack for front-panel audio cables. That audio header appears to be the most concerning placement from a builder’s perspective, though most cases now have extra-long cables to reach that position.

5 Best Motherboards For 2016

Choosing a correct featured motherboard is the first thing when you are thinking of upgrading or building your PC. Motherboard is the most important part of a PC, so you must know your needs and match such one for your computer. If you already know what you need but still confused about choosing the perfect one among so many options in the market then let us finish your confusion. Here we brought the top 5 motherboard suggestion in 2016. Let’s have a look.

  • Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1 Motherboard

 

gigabyte motherboard, gaming motherboard, gigabyte gaz170

Our first attention goes upon the Gigabyte Z170X- Gaming G1 Motherboard.  This one is supposed to be the top of the enthusiast LGA 1151 market. The Z170X- Gaming G1 has come in one package along with awesome features including Dual Networking, Wi-Fi, Four-way SLI. It’s declared to be the best Skylake Motherboard they have ever tested. This model is not just for gaming purpose, it gives you awesome graphical features. The only problem of this model is to be the cutting edge of Intel’s CPU technology since the latest CPU cores have been reserved for its mainstream counterparts. Buy this awesome motherboard at here.

Features of Gigabyte Z170X- Gaming G1 Motherboard:

  • Intel® Thunderbolt™ 3 Certified Motherboard
  • Supports 6th Generation Intel® Core™ Processor
  • Dual Channel DDR4, 4 DIMMs
  • 3 SATA Express Connectors for up to 16Gb/s Data Transfer
  • Integrated HDMI 2.0 support
  • Intel® USB 3.1 with USB Type-C™ – The World’s Next Universal Connector
  • LED Trace Path with Multi-Color Choice
  • Water Cooling Ready Heatsink Design with G1/4 Threaded Fittings
  • APP Center Including EasyTune™ and Cloud Station™ Utilities 4-Way Graphics Support with Exclusive Ultra Durable Metal Shielding over the PCIe Slots
  • Dual PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Connectors with up to 32Gb/s Data Transfer (PCIe NVMe & SATA SSD support)
  • Creative certified Sound Blaster ZxRi 120+dB SNR
  • Killer DoubleShot-X3™ Pro for the best networking experience possible
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™ with Q-Flash Plus USB port
  • GA-Z170X-UD5 (gigabyte)

gigabyte ga-z170x ga-za70x ud5

Many users have complained about Intel Z170 motherboards being boring and there are no variations in the features and capabilities. But the realty says, even though most of the motherboards having the same features for connectivity, they are still very different from one another and manufacturers have assured it. The Intel Platform Controller Hub (PCH) used to be complemented by many third party controllers for providing extra connectivity. These days, you must not look over the connectivity and performance only, you should also look after the aesthetics, component quality and unique features. Thus, GIGABYTE has revamped their whole lineup and brought Ultra Durable series. The UN5 Series offers interesting ones and the GA-Z170X-UD5 is no exception. Buy this awesome motherboard at here.

Features of Gigabyte Z170X-UD5 Motherboard:

  • Supports 6th Generation Intel® Core™ Processor
  • Dual Channel DDR4, 4 DIMMs
  • Intel® USB 3.1 with USB Type-C™ -The World’s Next Universal Connector
  • 3-Way Graphics Support with Exclusive Ultra Durable Metal Shielding over the PCIe Slots
  • Dual PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Connectors with up to 32Gb/s Data Transfer (PCIe NVMe & SATA SSD support)
  • 3 SATA Express Connectors for up to 16Gb/s Data Transfer
  • 115dB SNR HD Audio with Built-in Rear Audio Amplifier
  • High Quality Audio Capacitors and Audio Noise Guard with LED Trace Path Lighting
  • Dual Intel® GbE LAN with cFosSpeed Internet Accelerator Software
  • Gold Plating for CPU Socket, Memory DIMMs with 2X Copper PCB
  • APP Center Including EasyTune™ and Cloud Station™ Utilities
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™ Technology
  • Asus z170-Dilux Motherboard

asus z170 delux motherboard, asus motherboard, z170 delux

Now turning to the hot ‘n feisty Asus z170-Delux Motherboard aiming at the new Core i7- 6700K processor which is definitely bound to please you. The model comes in a nice black and white design along with the benefits in USB 3.1 and the fastest Wi-Fi solution ever tested. These motherboards are absolutely fine to be paired with new Slylake-S series processors. The new series of Slylake porcessors are energy efficient and quite powerful which needs to be paired with a new series of motherboards which is in between the models Z170 and H170 range. Buy this awesome motherboard at here

Features of Asus z170-Dilux Motherboard:

  • Unleash performance with one click
  • Exclusive OC design
  • Plus unparalleled connectivity with 3×3 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • 5-Way Optimization: One click optimizes your entire system with a dedicated water-pump header on board
  • ASUS Pro Clock Technology: Extends base clocks and improves stability for extreme overclocking
  • 6 USB 3.1 onboard: 5 Type-A ports and 1 reversible Type-C port
  • Dual 32Gbit/s ultra-fast M.2 x4: Onboard and PCIe add-in card
  • Hyper Kit: Bundled for instant U.2 support
  • MSI X99A SLI PLUS Motherboard

msi x99a sli plus motherboard, msi motherboard, x99a sli plus motherboard, gaming motherboard

Evaluation of motherboard becomes very difficult when it comes to the question of Intel’s X99 Platform. This model is specially designed for professionals and performance enthusiasts. Comparing to the highest end mainstream processors of Intel, Haswell-E offers more cores at a lower clock rate what sounds just like a recipe for reduced value in most of the applications but there is a catch. This model also has a 40-lane PCIe 3.0 controller. The -5820K’s frequency is slower up to 25% and  has 12 of its PCIe 3.0 lanes Disabled. Buy this awesome motherboard at here.

Features of MSI-X99A SLI plus Motherboard:

  • Supports Quad Channel DDR4-3333(OC) Memory
  • USB 3.1: Delivering speeds up to 10 Gb/s, USB 3.1 offers performance twice as fast as a regular USB 3.0 connection.
  • OC Engine: For More Flexible BCLK Adjustments
  • USB Steel Power: Super Stable 5V Power & Better Signal Transmission over USB
  • Turbo M.2: delivering next generation M.2 Gen3 x4 performance with transfer speeds up to 32 Gb/s
  • Military Class 4: Top Quality & Stability
  • OC Genie 4: Overclock in 1 Second
  • SATA Express + USB 3.1 + SATA 6Gb/s
  • Multi-GPU: NVIDIA Quad SLI & AMD Quad CrossFire Support
  • Intel® Gigabit LAN: Always connected with Intel® Gigabit LAN networking
  • Click BIOS 4: Easily Fine-tune Your System
  • ASRock Z170 Extreme 4 Motherboard

asrock motherboard, z170 motherboard, z170 extreme4 motherboard, gaming motherboard

ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Motherboard is a spin off from Asus over the last ten years for those new to the system building. The idea of creating a budget brat that supplements the flagship Asus brand seems to be quite straight forward. It did not worked out in this way, at least not in last couple of years.  But in the present age we got a feeling that there are not enough computer components manufacturers in the market and we mean the big stuffs such as graphics, memory storage and motherboards. So, no doubt, the ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Motherboard worth to be in the top 5 motherboards for 2016. Buy this extreme motherboard at here.

 

Feature of ASRock Z170 Extreme4 Motherboard

  • ASRock Super Alloy
  • Supports 6th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors (Socket 1151)
  • NVIDIA® Quad SLI™, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™
  • Digi Power, 10 Power Phase design
  • 3 PCIe 3.0 x16, 3 PCIe 3.0 x1
  • Supports DDR4 3866+(OC) memory modules
  • 2 USB 3.1 (1 Type-C & 1 Type-A), 8 USB 3.0 (2 Front, 6 Rear)
  • Supports Full Spike Protection, ASRock Live Update & APP Shop
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1150 Audio Codec), Supports Purity Sound™ 3 & DTS Connect
  • 3 SATA Express, 6 SATA3, 1 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
  • Graphics Output Options: DVI-D, HDMI, DisplayPort 1.2
  • Supports Triple Monitor

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Motherboard Asus Z170-Deluxe

asus-z170-deluxe-alternatIt has been motherboard makers’ standard procedure for years. When a new enthusiast-focused chipset, such as 2015’s Intel Z170, arrives (along with a new socket, this time the LGA 1151), board designers get to go overboard on a few boards. It’s essentially a motherboard arms race, in which they make an effort to jam their high-end boards as full of features as they can.
They make great showpieces for the latest desktop technology, to be sure. But many of those features are so superfluous that the average system builder isn’t likely to take the time to understand most of them, let alone use them all.

For that reason, when we look at new mainboards in a given new chip launch, we tend to gravitate toward the midrange boards. In the case of Intel’s new-for-2015 6th-Generation Core processors, code-named “Skylake” in their development, we’ve looked at a few boards and reviewed a couple so far; the value model we liked is MSI’s excellent, $169.99-list Z170A Gaming M5. Boards like the M5 hit the value sweet spot for us: They deliver most of the useful features we’re looking for at a price that doesn’t make us cringe.

Our main complaints about the MSI board, though? (And there are always a few.) We dinged it for its lack of built-in, speedy wireless connectivity, including Wi-Fi, and a slight scarcity of key ports. The subject of our review here today, Asus’ full-ATX Z170-Deluxe, has those two concerns thoroughly covered, with a dual-band, tri-stream wireless chip, six 10Gbps USB 3.1 ports, and eight SATA ports. The Asus board comes loaded with other features, as well, many of which feel more substantive than superfluous—including a number of accessories and design decisions to help make the build process easier.asus-z170-deluxe-vertical_
Still, though, there’s the reality of price. With an MSRP (and a current street price) of $320, Asus’ Z170-Deluxe board is indeed very expensive unless you’re actually going to take advantage of most of its features. (Remember, if you’re going to the Skylake platform, you’re also going to have to shell out for DDR4 memory, new in this platform, unless you happen to have hanging around an Intel X99-chipset PC you’re dismantling…highly, highly unlikely.) Most users would be better off opting for an under-$200 board such as the lower-end Asus Z170 (no “Deluxe”), or the aforementioned, gaming-centric MSI Z170A Gaming M5. Those boards don’t have built-in Wi-Fi or as many speedy ports, but both can be added via inexpensive add-in cards if you need them.

Skylake Basics: New Socket, New Chipsets
Of course, the reason for the Z170 hubbub and all the new motherboards is Skylake. To get into the 6th-Generation Core game, you’ll have to pick up a new CPU like the Core i7-6700K (or any 6th-Generation Core CPU), as the chips have an extra pin, and so use a socket called LGA 1151. But the Z170 chipset, which works in concert with the LGA 1151 socket, brings some fairly substantive new features. It’s not just change for change’s sake.

For starters, Z170 boards will support up to 20 PCI Express (PCIe) 3.0 lanes, rather than the eight lanes of PCIe 2.0 provided by standard Z97 boards. (That’s in addition to the 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes provided by the CPU, which remains the same with Skylake.) The extra lanes come courtesy of an upgrade to the DMI interface that connects the CPU to the chipset. And they are an important addition, given the rising prevalence of PCIe-based storage (via M.2, the vaporous SATA Express, or drives that plug directly into a PCI Express slot, like the bleeding-edge Intel SSD 750 Series we reviewed some weeks back).intel-core-i7-skylake-platform-overview
Considering we’ve yet to see a graphics card saturate even eight lanes of PCIe 3.0 (which has twice the bandwidth of PCIe 2.0), you should be able to install two graphics cards in a Z170-based system, as well as up to three PCIe x4 drives, and still have six lanes to spare for other peripherals. (Say, a Thunderbolt-based RAID drive box or two.) In short, the Z170 and boards based on it should more than suffice for the vast majority of PC builders, even performance hounds.

Those who need more PCIe lanes, though (say, for a full rack of video cards on a full-ATX mainboard), will still have to step up to the pricier Intel X99 platform, and its dearly priced chips like the Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition. But we suspect that all but the most extreme enthusiasts and render-time-obsessed digital-content producers will be satisfied with the PCIe bandwidth offered by the Z170 chipset.

The new chipset brings support for up to three PCIe-based drives in a system, while retaining support for six SATA 6Gbps ports. This Asus board adds an additional two SATA ports on top of the native six via a secondary controller chip. For external storage, Z170 now supports up to 10 native USB 3.0 ports (up from six native ones in Z97 boards) and 14 USB 2.0 ports. USB 3.1 is also common on Z170 boards, but support for them continues to depend on supplemental chips added to specific board models. (For more on USB 3.1, see our primer.)

Z170 is not the only way you have to go if you get into Skylake. Other Intel 100-family chipsets will also be on offer with lesser features, or with features designed for business users. We saw a host of these boards previewed in dribs and drabs at Computex 2015, and boards based on these other chipsets (the B150, Q170, and H110, among others) should launch in the coming months, along with further details about what features they will offer. But Z170 is the highest-end chipset in the lineup, so those looking for the best features, as well as support for high-end components, needn’t wait for those other boards and chipsets.

Types of Motherboard: All That You Need to Know

A motherboard is the heart of a computer. It is the main printed circuit board present in the computers which holds the main electronic components of the system like the central processing unit and memory and also provides the connectors for other important peripherals. A motherboard is a large system in itself which contains a number of subsystems like the processor and other components. The basic function for which a motherboard is used in a computer is that it holds the important electronic components of the system including the memory and central processing unit and helps in establishing some sort of bridged connection between other internal components of the system. This well written article about the parts and functions of a motherboard will give you more information about all the important parts of a motherboard and the functions performed by these parts in proper detail.

The understanding of the components and functions of a motherboard is also important if you want to be able to design your own computer. As the motherboard is the most important part of a computer system, understanding its components and working properly is very important to be able to design and build your own computer. This course about how to build a computer will help you in understanding the importance of a motherboard in a computer system and will provide you with all the information about building your very own computer system.

Here we are going to study about the different types of motherboard which are available. We will discuss each of these types in detail and will see how all these are different from each other. Let us now start our discussion about the different types of motherboard.

AT Motherboard

An AT motherboard is a motherboard which has dimensions of the order of some hundred millimeters, big enough to be unable to fit in mini desktops. The dimensions of this motherboard make it difficult for the new drives to get installed. The concept of six pin plugs and sockets is used so as to work as the power connectors for this type of motherboards.

The hard to distinguish power connector sockets make it difficult for many users to easily make the proper connections and thus leading to the damage of the device.

Produced in the mid 80’s, this motherboard lasted a good span from the Pentium p5 to the times when Pentium 2 had been started to be used.

ATX Motherboard

Advanced technology extended, or popularly known as the ATX, are the motherboards which were produced by the Intel in mid 90’s as an improvement from the previously working motherboards such as AT.

This type of motherboards differ from their AT counterparts in the way that these motherboards allow the interchangeability of the connected parts. Moreover the dimensions of this motherboard are smaller than the AT motherboards and thus proper place for the drive bays is also allowed.

Some good changes were also made to the connector system of the board. The AT motherboards had a keyboard connector and on the back plates extra slots were provided for various add-ons.

LPX Motherboard

The low profile extension motherboards, better known as LPX motherboards, were created after the AT boards in the 90’s.

The major difference between these and previous boards is that the input and output ports in these boards are present at the back of the system. This concept proved to be beneficial and was also adopted by the AT boards in their newer versions. The use of a riser card was also made for the placement of some more slots. But these riser cards also posed a problem that the air flow was not  proper.

Also, some low quality LPX boards didn’t even have real AGP slot and simply connected to the PCI bus. All these unfavored aspects led to the extinction of this motherboard system and was succeeded by the NLX.

BTX Motherboard

BTX stands for Balanced Technology extended.

BTX was developed to reduce or avoid some of the issues that came up while using latest technologies. Newer technologies often demand more power and they also release more heat when implemented on motherboards in accordance with the circa-1996 ATX specification. The ATX standard and the BTX standard, both were proposed by Intel. The further development of BTX retail products was canceled in September 2006 by Intel after the acceptance of Intel’s decision to focus again on low-power CPUs after suffering issues such as scaling and thermal with the Pentium 4.

The first company to use, or to be precise, implement BTX was Gateway Inc, followed by Dell and MPC. Apple’s MacPro uses only some of the elements of the BTX design system but it is not BTX compliant. This type of motherboard has some improvements over previous technologies:

  • Low-profile – With the larger demand for ever-smaller systems, a redesigned backplane that shaves inches off the height requirements is a benefit to system integrators and enterprises which use rack mounts or blade servers.
  • Thermal design – The BTX design provides a straighter path of airflow with lesser difficulties, which results in better overall cooling capabilities. Instead of a dedicated cooling fan, a large 12 cm case-fan is mounted, that draws its air directly from outside the computer and then cools the CPU through an air duct. Another feature of BTX is the vertical mounting of the motherboard on the left-hand side. This kind of feature results in the graphics card heat sink or fan facing upwards, rather than in the direction of the adjacent expansion card.
  • Structural design – The BTX standard specifies distinct locations for hardware mounting points and hence reduces latency between key components. It also reduces the physical strain imposed on the motherboard by heat sinks, capacitors and other components which are dealing with electrical and thermal regulation.

Pico BTX Motherboard

Pico BTX is a motherboard form factor that is meant to manufacture even smaller size BTX standard. This is smaller than many current “micro” sized motherboards, hence the name “Pico” has been used. These motherboards share a common top half with the other sizes in the BTX line, but they support only one or two expansion slots, designed for half-height or riser-card applications.

In the initial stages of usage, the ATX and BTX motherboards were so analogous that moving a BTX motherboard to an ATX case was possible and vice-versa. At later stages, the BTX form factor had a large modification which was done by turning it into a mirror image of the ATX standard. Technically speaking, BTX motherboards are ‘left side-right’ when compared to ATX and not upside-down as before. This means they are mounted on the opposite side of the case. Various computer cases for instance, the Cooler Master Series (Stackers) were released to support a wide range of motherboard standards such as ATX, BTX, Mini-ATX and so on, in order to simplify motherboard development without buying a new case; however, all connector and slot standards are identical, including PCI(e) cards, processors, RAM, hard drives, etc.

BTX power supply units can be exchanged with latest ATX12V units, but not with older ATX power supplies that don’t have the extra 4-pin 12V connector.

Mini ITX Motherboard

Mini-ITX is a 17 × 17 cm (6.7 × 6.7 in) low-power motherboard form factor. It was designed by VIA Technologies in year 2001. These are largely used in small form factor (SFF) computer systems. Mini-ITX boards can also be cooled easily because of their low power consumption architecture. Such an architecture makes them widely useful for home theater PC systems or systems where fan noise can diminish the quality or worth of cinema experience. The four mounting holes in a Mini-ITX board line up with the four holes in ATX specification motherboards, and the locations of the back plate and expansion slot are the same. Although, one of the holes used was optional in earlier versions of the ATX. Hence, Mini-ITX boards can be used in places which are designed for ATX, micro-ATX and other ATX variants if required.

The Mini-ITX form factor has location for one expansion slot, pertaining to a standard 33 MHz 5V 32-bit PCI slot. However, often case designs use riser cards and some even have two-slot riser cards, even when the two-slot riser cards are not usable with all the boards. A few boards based around non-x86 processors have a 3.3V PCI slot, and the Mini-ITX 2.0 (2008) boards have a PCI-express ×16 slot. Such boards are not used with the standard PCI riser cards supplied with cases.

Now that you know how to choose your motherboard you can also build your dream PC using it. Every PC requires an operating system and you can check out this interesting blog post on choosing the right operating system for your PC.This article provides a detailed outline of two of the most popular operating systems, Linux and Windows, allowing you to determine which will suite your needs better. However, if you want to learn more about these operating systems before making a choice, check out this online course for an in-depth introduction to Linux or this online course if you want to master Windows 8.

Another important aspect about using the proper motherboard for your computer is that it affects the speed of the computer system. A good motherboard, which will be properly compatible with the components of a computer system, will enhance the speed of the computer, while a motherboard which is not compatible with the components of a computer system will negatively affect the speed of the system. This course about how to speed up your computer will give you a better understanding about the role a motherboard plays in the efficient and high speed working of a computer system and will give you important information about the ways to improve the speed of your computer.

NEW PC OR NEW MOTHERBOARD

If you don’t want to spend big bucks on a new PC, consider upgrading your old system’s motherboard and CPU. This can boost the machine’s performance and give you access to the latest technologies. It can also save you hundreds of dollars.

What you won’t get is a new hard drive, optical drive, or operating system, though the new motherboard gives you the option of upgrading these components later. When you do it yourself, you choose the make, model, and cost that serve you best, rather than settling for what’s preloaded in an off-the-shelf machine.

For as little as $200 to $350, you can purchase a motherboard with a new Pentium 4 or Athlon processor and 512MB of RAM. (Visit this link to check the latest motherboard prices.) That’s hundreds of dollars less than the retail cost of a midrange PC that supports AGP 8X graphics cards, Serial ATA drives, and the other advanced features that your new motherboard is likely to offer.
Motherboard Buyers Guide

Size matters: Most desktop PCs sold in the last few years conform to the ATX form factor (as do most motherboards), but not all do. Many small or ultrabudget systems are based on other designs, and some PCs from HP/Compaq, IBM, and other big-name vendors aren’t ATX-compatible. Refer to your computer’s documentation to see if the new motherboard will fit inside its case.

Find the right CPU: The optimal combination of CPU price and performance may lead you to early versions of Athlon XP and Pentium 4 processors: Retail boxed versions of 1- to 2-GHz AMD Athlon XP processors cost less than $100, while Pentium 4 processors running at comparable speeds are less than $130. OEM versions of both (that’s minus the fancy box, the cooling fan, and sometimes a warranty) may be priced considerably lower. Avoid older Pentium 4 processors with 256KB of L2 cache. CPUs with 512KB cache are faster and well worth the small added expense.

Be picky: Steer clear of no-name vendors and buy from established manufacturers only.

Pay for power: Your old PC’s power supply may not have enough wattage or may lack the 12-volt amperage needed to run some Pentium 4 and Athlon motherboards. Check the new motherboard’s requirements against the specs on your power supply. If in doubt, buy a power supply that generates 300 watts or more,

Faster is better: A motherboard’s frontside bus speed is the rate at which data moves between the CPU and RAM. FSB speed can have a greater effect on overall system performance than listed CPU speed, which is a multiple of the FSB speed. The faster the FSB, the better.

Get it all: Your new motherboard needs PCI slots and USB ports, two UltraATA/100 connectors, parallel and serial ports (if you use these), and at least two DIMM slots for RAM (DDR RAM is best). For a little extra money, you can get Serial ATA, ethernet, RAID, FireWire, Wi-Fi, and other advanced features.

Sight and sound off: Some low-cost motherboards have sound and graphics functions built in. The quality of these integrated functions is often marginal. Make sure that any built-in sound and graphics can be disabled, and that separate audio and graphics boards can be added.

Minimize Your Mousing

For people in a hurry, every unnecessary mouse movement is an aggravation. Windows 2000, Me, and XP let you set the pointer to automatically move to commonly used buttons in dialog boxes. Click Start, Settings, Control Panel (or Start, Control Panel in XP), and click or double-click Mouse (choose “Printers and Other Hardware” first if you’re in XP’s Categories view, or “View all Control Panel options” if you’re in Me’s “commonly used” view). Now select Pointer Options, check the box labeled “Automatically move pointer to the default button in a dialog box” (the option’s wording varies slightly in Windows 2000), and click OK.

MSI Z87 MPower Max Review

Introduction

Are you looking to build a tricked-out, overclocked system based on an Intel 4th-Generation Core processor? Do you like your motherboard loaded with features (some of which you may never use), and for it to come equipped with all the cables and brackets you’re likely to need included in the box? Do you not want to pay a lot for this muffler—er, motherboard?

MSI MPower Max Box Shot

If you answered “yes” to those questions, MSI’s MPower Max board should be on your short list. This full-size ATX board is loaded with features that should please overclockers and system tweakers, including onboard buttons for overclocking and booting directly into the BIOS, and a second, spare BIOS, so you don’t have to worry about a bad update bringing down your system.

The MPower Max also has one of the most impressive and practical collections of accessories we’ve seen to date bundled in a motherboard box, including seven SATA cables, two expansion-card-slot plates for adding ports to your rig, and a removable wireless module and antennas that add Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Intel’s WiDi wireless display technology.

The MPower Max is built around the Z87 chipset (much more on that in a moment) and supports Intel’s Socket 1150. Socket 1150, for those unfamiliar with it, is the new CPU interface mandated by Intel’s 4th-Generation Core i processors, which rolled out in early June. You may have heard these chips referred to by the name “Haswell,” Intel’s code-name for them during their development. (See our review of the first of these chips, the Intel Core i7-4770K.) Anytime a new socket emerges, the major motherboard players fire up the production lines, and whole new families of boards spring up to support the new processors.

MSI Z87 MPower Max Angle View

In MSI’s case, the initial releases comprised a mix of boards built around the Z87, H87, and B85 chipsets, with the full-featured Z87 boards being the flagship models. Within the Z87 mix, MSI rolled out several mainstream-focused boards, as well as premium MPower and XPower boards and a couple of snazzy, dragon-themed Z87 Gaming boards. (You can check out the whole line of MSI U.S. board products here.) The MPower Max we’re looking at here may not be MSI’s top of the line, but it’s an impressive board for upper-end upgraders nonetheless.

Of course, all these features don’t come cheap. When we wrote this, the MPower Max sold for about $260. Still, it’s all relative, Other Z87 boards we’ve looked at, with arguably lesser feature sets and more limitations, such as Intel’s DZ87KLT-75K and Asus’ Z87-Deluxe, sell for about the same price or more.

That makes MSI’s MPower Max an excellent choice for high-end enthusiasts who want a kitchen-sink list of features, a comprehensive set of accessories, and a battery of overclocking tools, as well as decent value despite the enthusiast positioning. Few builders or upgraders will need or use everything this board has to offer, but it’s nice to know the features are there, especially when you don’t have to pay extra for them relative to the competition.

The Z87 Chipset: The Basics

Before we delve deeper into the MPower Max’s feature set, it’s worth taking some time to run through the new features that Intel has brought to the motherboard game with its latest 8 Series chipsets, which complement the new LGA 1150 socket for 4th-Generation Core (“Haswell”) processors. The Z87 chipset on this board is the most feature-rich of Intel’s new chipset lineup, which also includes the H87 and H81 chipsets for consumer-grade boards, and the Q87, Q85, and B85 for business-oriented ones.

MSI Z87 MPower Max Straight-ON View

If you’re a serious overclocker, the Z87 is definitely the chipset you’ll want out of these six, given that it has full overclocking support for K-series CPUs like the Core i7-4770K. (The “K” in Intel’s chip nomenclature indicates a chip that’s unlocked for easier overclocking.) The Z87 chipset can also handle multiple-card graphics setups (in either Nvidia GeForce SLI or AMD Radeon CrossFire arrangements), although if you install more than one graphics card, none of them will be able to operate at full x16 bandwidth. You’ll be able to run one card at x16, two cards at x8, or one card at x8 and two cards at x4.

Now, that said, you should know that this is a limitation of the Z87 chipset, not the Mpower Max motherboard alone. So hunting for relief from this among other Z87 boards won’t gain you much. Builders and upgraders looking to run more than two graphics cards without dropping their precious purchases down to x4 speed will want to opt instead for a pricier Sandy Bridge-E motherboard (based on the Intel X79 chipset) and processor. This combination will deliver more PCI Express lanes. It’ll also take a big bite out of your budget, as these Socket 2011-based motherboards and (especially) their accompanying processors remain the priciest consumer options on the Intel side of the fence. (See our review roundup of three Sandy Bridge Extreme/X79 LGA 2011 boards.) That said, if you’re planning on running a dual-card system, a Z87 board should suffice, seeing as the PCI Express lanes are of the PCIe 3.0 variety, which can handle nearly twice the bandwidth of older PCIe 2.0 slots.

As you would expect, the Z87 chipset supports established Intel features like Rapid Storage Technology (RAID), as well as its Smart Response Technology (SRT), more commonly referred to as “SSD caching.” The latter feature lets you pair a small, inexpensive “caching” solid-state drive (SSD) with a spacious hard drive. Under SRT, your most commonly used programs and files will get stored dynamically on the SSD’s faster-access memory. The result: You’ll get quick boot and load times for common programs thanks to the SSD cache, paired with lots of storage space for large files on your secondary (presumably platter-based) hard drive.

Now, those features are nice, but they aren’t new with this chipset. What is new, though, is Z87’s potential support for more high-speed storage, both internal and external. Intel’s previous-generation chipsets (the Intel 7 Series) had a native maximum of just two SATA 3 (6Gbps) ports and four USB 3.0 ports. (That said, more could be added to a motherboard at a board maker’s discretion via adding additional controllers.) The 8 Series chipsets will allow for up to six native USB 3.0 ports and six SATA 3 ports. The chart below (from Intel) outlines the potential maximums and other highlights of the 8 Series…

Intel 8 Series Chipset Chart

Some of these features are more useful real-world than others. Those looking to build multiple-drive RAID arrays built around SSDs, for redundancy or maximum speed, will appreciate the extra high-speed SATA ports. And while many USB devices (such as printers) don’t benefit from the extra speed of USB 3.0, fast external drives that support the spec will certainly get a rocket-grade boost from the speedier USB ports. (Plus, the more USB 3.0 ports the better, we say, because when you do want to connect up a fast drive, it’s a pain fishing around for one of the few blue ports on an older system.) We will welcome the day when all of the USB ports on a board are of the USB 3.0 variety. On this board, at least all of the SATA ports are of the faster SATA 3 (6Gbps) variety—no hunting required there.

There is one bit of bad news with Intel’s 8 Series chipsets, though. If you still have a legacy PCI sound card or other device you’re attached to, you’ll have to give it up with your new Haswell-based system. Intel has finally pulled out the plug completely on old-school PCI slots; the company already had done so in some versions of the 7 Series chipsets in the past. So it’s adios, old friend—whether it’s an old Creative Sound Blaster PCI sound card or a beloved PCI video-capture board.

Other Features & Conclusion

The first thing we noticed when we unpacked the Z87 MPower Max was just how heavy the box is. That’s due in part to MSI’s continued use of “Military Class” components and a special “OC PCB,” which MSI says contains 50 percent more layers than a typical board. The company says the higher-quality components mean better stability, humidity, and protection against temperature swings, as well as better overclocking. Given that these components are tested for MIL-STD-801G compliance, the “Military Class” durability claim isn’t mere marketing. That said, adherence to a spec is one thing; real-world, long-term effect is another entirely. Those features are hard to verify without a large electronics lab worth of equipment and a serious amount of time. What we can say with certainty, though, is that this board seems very well-built and solid, not just heavy.

The other reason that the box feels hefty is that MSI ships the Z87 MPower with more accessories than just about any motherboard we’ve ever seen. For example, a cardboard tray inside the box comes stuffed with enough SATA cables to trick out every SATA port on the board, save one.

MSI MPower Max Accessory Bundle

The well-stuffed box of the MPower Max, minus the board. You won’t go wanting for much, accessory-wise.

You also get two brackets that slide into your chassis’ PCI Express expansion-slot openings. One adds a pair of USB 3.0 ports via an onboard header; the other adds a pair of eSATA ports and an external Molex power connector. The former is especially appreciated; the MPower Max has two onboard USB 3.0 headers (feeding out to four USB 3.0 ports), but most cases have cabling for just one pair of USB 3.0 ports to the front panel. You also get also a pair of antennas for the Wi-Fi module, which plugs into the back plate if you wish to use it, and a flexible SLI connector for pairing two graphics cards.

That’s not all. In the box, we also found a small bag with short cables that connect to pins on the board, allowing you to connect the board up to a multimeter for measuring current and voltage. If you’re a learned overclocker looking to spend days trying to eke the absolute best performance out of your CPU, this might well be a handy feature. For most users, though, the controls and measurements available in the BIOS will be sufficient, not to mention much more convenient.

MSI Z87 MPower Max Second Angle View

Conclusion

With a kitchen-sink list of features, understated good looks, and loads of overclocker-friendly buttons, knobs, and BIOS settings, MSI’s Z87 MPower Max is the best enthusiast board we’ve examined to date for Intel’s latest processors.

Granted, some of the features, such as the onboard voltage and current measurements, are useful only for a small subset of users. But support for 64GB of RAM will be appreciated by some, especially since the board comes with free RAM disk software. The plethora of in-box accessories is also very nice, especially if you’re a novice builder and don’t have a collection of cables, brackets, and connectors in a box somewhere left over from past builds.

For some, this board will be more than a bit of overkill. But with competing Asus and Intel boards we’re also in the process of reviewing priced about the same or even a bit more, while lacking some of the Z87 MPower Max’s niceties, this board should definitely be on your short list—if you can afford it.