MSI Shows Off Three Z170 Gaming Motherboards And Features

Over the last few weeks we've been learning more and more about the next generation of motherboards with Intel's latest chipset (read about Gigabyte's motherboards here, and EVGA's boards here), and today MSI joined the fray by showing off three new boards: the Z170A Gaming M5, the Z170A Gaming M7, and the Z170A Gaming M9 ACK. MSI also teased the Z170 Krait motherboard last week.

Included with this reveal are some of the details about the boards, although we still cannot get into the specifics of the Intel chipset that they pack.

Among the features are that some boards will come with two USB 3.1 connectors, one of which is a Type-A connector and one of which is a Type-C connector. Additionally, some boards will have MSI's Gaming LAN, which is a dedicated port equipped with the so-called "LAN Protect." This is a surge-protected port capable of surviving 15 KV blasts.

On the storage front, MSI's stance appears to simply be that SATA Express is dead, and I agree. It really doesn't have much of a purpose at this point, so what MSI has done is use the PCI-Express lanes that would otherwise be used for the SATA-Express ports to make a second Turbo M.2 slot. Thus, some of the boards may come with two M.2 slots that are each capable of transfer speeds of up to 32 Gb/s.

The top-tier board, the M9 ACK, will pack Reactive Armor. We're not quite sure how the armor "reacts," but it does make the board more rigid, and some may argue that it looks better -- not that you'll see the backside of the motherboard when it is installed in a system. This motherboard will also come with the "ACK" connectivity, which gives you a Killer 1535 Wireless AC networking adapter that can work in tandem with a Killer Gigabit Ethernet adapter. It also comes with MSI's "Game Boost" technology, which on this board comes in the form of a dial, which you simply need to turn in order to overclock your CPU.

MSI said that all three boards are SteelSeries certified. MSI told us that it means SteelSeries peripherals will work best with these three motherboards, but we're frankly not sure what that's supposed to entail.

Do note that not all boards will come with the same features. One may pack all of the above features, while another may have none at all (although we deem that unlikely). MSI did not specify this clearly.

For now, that's all we can say. Sit tight for more details as the release of Intel's next-gen hardware approaches.

Update, 7/30/15, 6:50am: Switched top image.

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Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.

  • voodoochicken
    I'm digging it. Gigabtyte white/red is still holding on me though. Really need to see full features on any board after launch though
  • agentbb007
    How do these compare to the Z170 Krait they just teased? Which is considered to be the higher end mobo?
  • beoza
    They look nice but I still want to see the ability to order custom boards with different color schemes for both the PCI-E and Memory slots, as well as the heatsinks. Offer green, blue, gold, purple, white or other colors with select boards.
  • g-unit1111
    16299319 said:
    How do these compare to the Z170 Krait they just teased? Which is considered to be the higher end mobo?

    On Z97 the Krait and Gaming 45 are the same board with a different color scheme (black/white vs black/red). I'm sure that will apply to the Z170 variants.

    I'm not sure I get the backplate on the motherboard. It looks cool but you can't see it after installation unless you have a clear case.
  • Andrewst1021
    I'm hoping for the evga ftw motherboard, I want a gold and black themed build
  • danlw
    Hopefully taking the pcie lanes from eSata means that a full 16 lanes will still go to the graphics card, even with an m.2 drive installed. The Asrock Extreme6/9 Z97 boards turn the primary graphics slot into an x8 slot if the "Ultra M.2" slot is utilized. I'm hoping that won't have to happen under Z170.
  • Dagstar
    Love 'em or hate 'em, MSI makes some nice looking mobos.
  • JayHW
    I'm hoping for the evga ftw motherboard, I want a gold and black themed build
    Sorry but all three evga boards are fully black and gray.
  • MattBooth
    To be quite honest, it's all well and good having two M.2 ports, but I'd rather have that and a set of 6-8 working SATA ports as well. Intel's current tech won't allow for it, unless MSI allow you to dedicate some PCI-Express lanes to this job if not using SLI.
  • luissantos
    How do companies like MSI get away with using copyrighted materials in this fashion? (in this case, concept art from X-COM)