Firmware And Software
The Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon features MSI’s familiar Click BIOS 5 firmware, but was only capable of pushing our 4.60 GHz-capable Core i7-6700K sample to 4.50 GHz. That’s not unusual for a budget board, but the Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon isn’t exactly a budget board.
Setting the firmware to 1.330V DRAM produced a 1.35V reading at DIMM slots. The CPU Core Voltage setting was far more accurate, and selecting “Mode 1” CPU Loadline Calibration setting from the firmware’s DigitALL Power submenu kept it stable under greater workloads.
CPU Specifications and Memory-Z submenus show additional hardware information, including SPD readings and XMP values.
MSI’s fan control firmware submenu replicates its software application, providing smart fan and custom curves for all five system fan headers.
MSI Command Center hasn’t changed significantly in a year, with the “game boost” setting still replacing the former “OC Button” function. The same 4.40 GHz, 1.32V-core Game Boost setting is also available as a function of MSI’s Gaming App applet.
Various popup menus provide redundant fan controls, system status monitoring/logging/alarms, advanced voltage controls, and even remote management with overclocking functions (for those willing to take the time to set it up). The DRAM timings menu is a Windows shortcut to firmware functions that requires reboot, and doesn’t always function.
MSI Gaming App includes an OC Mode of 4.40 GHz at 1.32V (for the Core i7-6700K), a Gaming Mode with certain power saving features disabled, and a Silent Mode with all power saving features enabled. Accessible pop-up menus provide keyboard macro settings, password storage, keyboard shortcuts to a few other MSI applications, and mouse function customization with poling rate control.
MSI Gaming LAN Manager is a custom interface for cFOS network acceleration software. Other re-branded applications include Intel XTU and CPU-Z.
The Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon includes a full license to Nahimic audio solution, including a fairly good virtual surround function, ordinary audio features like bass boost and reverb, and advanced features like voice clarity to amplify dialog.
MSI Live Update can be used to manually or automatically scan for updates to software and drivers installed with the Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon’s software suite. Other MSI applications include RamDisk, FastBoot, and USB Speedup.
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