At CES, MSI announced four new motherboards divided between the Skylake LGA 1151 and the Haswell-E LGA 2011-3 sockets.
Three of these motherboards are targeted at enthusiasts and share many features including support for USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) connections, M.2 ports and steel plated PCI-E slots. These boards also feature support for Audio Boost 3 and Nahimic Audio Enhancer 2, which can simulate surround sound audio from a 2D source.
I had a chance to try Nahimic Audio Enhancer 2 while watching recorded game footage of Battlefield, but I had mixed feelings about the software. The game used an arrow to point in the direction that sounds were coming from, and although the audio did sound more dynamic as if it was all around me, the arrow always seemed to be pointed in the wrong direction. Several times I thought the audio sounded like it was behind me, but the arrow pointed forward.
It is hard to say if the audio sounded like it was coming from the wrong direction because of a problem with the Nahimic Audio Enhancer 2, a problem with the headset, or if the arrow point in the direction of the noise was simply off.
The X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon and one of the Skylake Z170 motherboards, the Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon, also feature MSI’s Mystic Light technology that allows you to customize the color coming from the motherboard’s LED lights.
The lower-end motherboard in the group is the MSI B150M Gaming 3X, which is targeted at gamers but uses a lower-end B150 chipset and doesn’t possess an M.2 port or a third-party controller chip for USB 3.1 Gen 2. This board still stands out, however, because MSI opted to make the PCB a gold color, which is easily noticeable in the ocean of motherboards with black PCBs.
|MSI CES 2016 Motherboards|
|Model||B150 Gaming 3X||Z170A Krait Gaming 3X||Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon||X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon|
|Memory Support||2 x DDR4-2133 MHz||4 x DDR4-3600 MHz||4 x DDR4-3600 MHz||8 x DDR4-3400 MHz|
|SATA||6 SATA-III||6 x SATA-III (Two Reserved For SATA-Express)||6 x SATA-III (Two Reserved For SATA-Express)||10 x SATA-III (Two Reserved For SATA-Express)|
|M.2||No||1 x M.2 Key M||1 x M.2 Key M||1 x M.2 Key M|
|USB||6 x USB 3.1 Gen 14 x USB 2.0||2 x USB 3.1 Gen 26 x USB 3.1 Gen 18 x USB 2.0||2 x USB 3.1 Gen 26 x USB 3.1 Gen 18 x USB 2.0||2 x USB 3.1 Gen 28 x USB 3.1 Gen 16 x USB 2.0|
|Nahimic Audio Enhancer 2||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
There is currently no word on pricing or availability for these motherboards.