MSI Z170A Gaming M7 Review

Published by Marc Büchel on 04.11.15
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General   + -
A closer look at the motherboard lineup from MSI reveals that the Z170A Gaming M7 is a high-end model, regarding their gaming branded products. Of course it comes with some really neat features, like for example a Game Boost, OC Genie and the new updated UEFI BIOS. The MSI Z170A Gaming M7 motherboard is powered by an 14-phase CPU VRM which is enough for an overclocked system even if you wanted to do extreme benching using liquid nitrogen as coolant. MSI also equipped this board with features specific to gamers including a beefed-up audio solution as well as the latest Killer E2400 Ethernet chip. The Killer LAN chip always comes bundled with a good software, which for example allows traffic shaping. Apart from that there is an adequate bundle, containing everything necessary to start building a new rig.   - Design
- Layout
- Features
- 2 x M.2 x4 Slot
Layout   + -
Overall, the MSI Z170A Gaming M7's layout has been well thought. Once more practical are the angled SATA connectors that you can find on almost all motherboards nowadays. Other than that there are also two internal USB3 headers. We always love it when we find practical power- and reset-buttons alongside a clr_CMOS button, which is located on the I/O panel. Furthermore there is even a debug display. This one is always higly useful in case you should have issues with a component in your system or the board itself. It also features three PCI Express Gen3 x16 slots, which have been very well positioned. You have four PCIe Gen3 x1 connectors onboard, and they can be found in between the PCIe Slot. Furthermore the Gaming M7 has also been equipped with two M.2 x4 Gen 3 slots. Apart from that you get four USB3.0, three USB2.0, six SATA3 ports and two internal USB3 headers for four additional USB3 ports as well as two USB2 connectors for four more USB2.0 ports.
As this is a high-end MSI motherboard you also find an OC Genie button.
  - Angled SATA connectors - Power/Reset-Button onboard
- Debug display
- Space around the CPU socket - Audio Solution
Performance   + -
Calculating the average of all 3D benchmarks we ran, we see that this board ranks 10th out of 11 boards tested. When taking the average of all 2D results this board again comes on the 11th out of 11 ranks. In general there are quite a few tests where this board is behind the competition. On the other hand the Z170A Gaming M7 is doing really well when it comes to power consumption, which in the end makes it the overall most energy efficient board we've tested so far.   - 3DMark 11
- Memory Bandwidth
- Power Consumption3D Performance
- 3DMark Ice Storm
- 3DMark Fire Strike
- PCMark 08
- Cinebench R15
- Sleeping Dogs
Overclocking / BIOS   + -
MSI has put a lot of time and effort into making their BIOS look nicer and more user friendly. Especially when we compare this version of MSI BIOS to the first UEFI BIOS from MSI, it simply cannot be compared, since the two are worlds apart. What's almost self-explanatory is that you get a lot of tuning and tweaking options in order to optimize the system towards your needs. We also like the entry screen which displays a lot of useful information. Apart from that overclocking our test CPU to 5.0 GHz was straight forward and there were no issues whatsoever.   - Sheer amount of options
- Design
Recommendation   + -
The Z170A Gaming M7 is a very well equipped Z170 motherboard. Unfortunately this board is slower than its competitors but at the same time it features great energy efficiency. Currently this board costs 199 Euro and at this price we can definitely recommend it.   - Price - Gaming
- Enthusiast
- Overclocking
We give the MSI Z170A Gaming M7 good 4 out of 5 stars.

Page 1 - Introduction Page 14 - SiSoft Sandra 2
Page 2 - Specs and Delivery Page 15 - UC Bench
Page 3 - Features Page 16 - Super Pi 1M / 32M
Page 4 - Layout Page 17 - wPrime 1024M Multi Core
Page 5 - Connectors and I/O Page 18 - Cinebench
Page 6 - BIOS Page 19 - Tomb Raider
Page 7 - Test setup Page 20 - Metro Last Light
Page 8 - Preview / Gallery Page 21 - Sleeping Dogs
Page 9 - 3D Mark Page 22 - Power Consumption
Page 10 - 3D Mark 11 Page 23 - Performance Rating
Page 11 - 3D Mark Vantage  Page 24 - Price Comparison
Page 12 - PC Mark 8 Page 25 - Conclusion
Page 13 - SiSoft Sandra 1  

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