MSI Z170A Gaming M5 Motherboard Review
MSI has been on a roll lately and their 'Gaming' series has been at the forefront of a newly revived motherboard lineup. Much like GIGABYTE’s own Gaming-branded products and ASUS’ RoG brand these boards cater to gamers and overclockers alike with a unique mix of features and capabilities that were specifically chosen for their intended market. Make no mistake about it though, these boards are anything but a direct knockoff of competitors’ solutions; MSI has taken their own approach to designing motherboards they think entice some very picky customers.
Sitting in the proverbial catbird seat is the all new MSI Z170 Gaming M5. Much like the ASUS Maximus VIII Hero, this motherboard is positioned with value orientated buyers in mind. That means it may not have all the expensive elements of the M9, M7 or the insane XPower editions but its feature set is tailored to offer the high points of those class leaders while leaving out some of the more superfluous elements. In fact with an online asking price of only $190, this motherboard is arguably one of the most affordable “gaming” motherboards available today as it costs only $25 more than entry level motherboards like ASUS' Z170-A.
Don’t let this motherboard's low asking price fool you though. It may cost over $50 less than even ASUS Hero, but it is also packed to the brim with things overclockers and gamers will appreciate. For the overclocker in all of us the M5 boasts a 12 phase power delivery system consisting of Dark CAPs and Titanium Chokes. Together these parts make up MSI’s ‘Military Class V’ group of components which run cooler, last longer and are more efficient than previous generations - and that really is saying a lot.
MSI has also beefed up the DDR4 subsystem, and have not only optimized the trace paths but now offer full electronic separation between them and the rest of the motherboard. This in conjunction with other minor tweaks is what MSI calls DDR4 Boost and allows this inexpensive board to offer DDR4-3600+ speeds. On top of these features MSI has also included an all-new 'Boot Slow' option to allow the system to temporarily slow CPU ratios down to ensure stability during POST. Mix in the new V-Check Points with their onboard multi-meter points for real time monitoring of voltage and most enthusiasts will like what they see with the M5.
Not to be outdone by the competition, MSI has not ignored the needs of PC gaming enthusiasts either. They have included features such as proper separation of the two main PCI-E x16 slots so that even the largest of video cards will fit. To insure these extra-large cards will not cause any slot damage the MSI Steel Armor is also which consists of more solder points on the PCB to PCI-E connections and top level metal inserts to protect against EMI interference. Mix in an upgraded Killer E2400 NPU for the Ethernet controller, dual M.2 x4 slots, and a much improved integrated sound solution which boasts dual headphone amps, as well as Chemi-Con caps and the Gaming M5 puts to bed any concerns over this being a 'cheap' motherboard.
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