MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming 'Coffee Lake' Motherboard Review

Software & Firmware

Killer XTend adds a page to the familiar packet and bandwidth prioritization software that comes with Killer network gear. The name refers to its ability to extend your wireless network through your wired network, assuming your gaming system is distanced from your home’s primary wireless transceiver. We’re basically looking at an onboard Killer-enhanced router/access point, with traffic priority for the local PC among its benefits.

MSI App Manager provides a handy menu for most of MSI’s own applications, including Command Center, DPC Latency Tuner, Fast Boot, Gaming APP and Xboost for performance tuning, Mystic Light onboard lighting configuration, MSI’s RAMDisk utility, Smart Tool for adding drivers to a Windows 7 installation drive or ISO, and SuperCharger for USB, which unfortunately wasn’t compatible yet with this motherboard model.

The great news on MSI Command Center is that similar technologies have allowed it to work immediately, without requiring further post-launch updates. We had complete control of the CPU core multiplier, base clock, and core voltage from the time we installed it.

My initial intent to include completely new descriptions of the advanced menus of MSI Command Center gave way to the sheer number of unchanged screen shots, to the point where I decided that previous descriptions would be just as beneficial, while substantially reducing the load time of this page. Even the old Skylake model numbers remain on the Game Boost menu: Actual Game Boost frequencies for Coffee Lake are 1x-7x above the stock Intel Turbo Boost ratios in seven steps, each step likewise increasing CPU core voltage by ~50mV, culminating in a 5.4 GHz max O/C at a 1.50V max voltage when “dialed up to 11.” The actual Game Boost “levels” are numbered 1-2-4-6-8-10-11, where the 5.1 GHz “Level 6” gave us 5.0 GHz with a single-core fully-loaded, scaling down to 4.7 GHz as more cores were loaded. Progressively higher Game Boost levels caused progressively quicker thermal throttling.

MSI DPC Latency Tuner is a far more limited overclocking utility compared to Command Center.

MSI Gaming App also includes an overclocked mode, which is drawn from the “Level 1” settings of MSI Game Boost. Additional features include system status overlay for 3D apps, a digital screen control menu with “Eye Rest” mode to reduce blue light, a macro recorder with additional hot key options, a mouse configuration menu, and MSI VR Ready for quick shutdown of certain (unspecified) background processes.

MSI Dragon Eye allows overlaying online videos atop the play screens of certain games, which may be good for tutorials.

After using MSI Live Update to update all of the system’s drivers and applications, its menu serves as a reminder of the installations that failed (Intel SGX and MSI Super Charger), as well as the ones a user didn’t want to install.

MSI Mystic Light is still broken, although it now adds a feature to sync its lighting with that of other machines. I was able to make a few changes somewhat randomly before the program locked up completely. Its settings appear to be stored on a portion of system ROM that isn’t cleared when using the CLR_CMOS button, so the only way to restore default settings after a complete software failure was to uninstall and reinstall the program.

Each Z370 Godlike Gaming motherboard includes a full license for Nahimic 2 audio solution, which adds virtual 3D to stereo headphones, virtualizes 3D from non-encoded sources to multi-channel speaker systems, and adds visual source tracking to certain games.

MSI also includes a one-year subscription to XSplit Gamecaster, a three-month sub to TriDef VR, and a two-month license for WTFast VPN.

Firmware

We talked a bit about Game Boost on the previous page and above, and here’s the trick: It’s programed into the firmware. That means the knob works even without software, and the software settings simply call up the programming that’s associated with the knob. So, the knob is a human interface device for firmware.

The Z370 Godlike Gaming enters UEFI the first time to its EZ Mode interface, after which it remembers which mode was used at the previous interface exit. EZ Mode controls include storage controller settings and XMP-enable for performance memory.

We reached 4848 MHz at 48x 101 MHz on our Core i7-8700K using 1.30V, and DDR4-4040 at 15x 4/3x 101 MHz (x DDR, of course), with two modules installed. The maximum stable DRAM frequency dropped to DDR4-4000 with all four of our DDR4-3866 modules installed, and the closest DRAM setting to our desired 1.350V was 1.330V, which measured 1.346V at the DIMM slot. The next higher VDIMM setting—1.340V-set—produced 1.356V-measured, violating our 1.355V limit.

The Z370 Godlike Gaming includes a complete set of DRAM timing controls, but users should be aware that the board responds to overclocking past XMP-ratings by automatically loosening timings. We also found our memory stable at DDR4-4000 using its rated timings.

We were able to achieve a 1.30V core under load by using the Z370 Godlike Gaming’s 1.295V CPU core setting, in concert with its Mode 3 Loadline Calibration. A 72K temperature delta when running 12 threads of Prime95 prevented testing at higher voltage levels.

The Memory Z submenu goes several levels farther to display both SPD and XMP values.

The M-Flash option forces reboot to a special firmware updating mode.

MSI’s firmware ROM has enough space to store up to six custom configurations as overclocking profiles, and users are welcome to save and share their overclocking profiles by transferring them to and from a USB flash drive.

MSI’s hardware monitor menu has gotten extremely complex over the past few months, and still allows users to set their own fan maps if desired. All 10 fan headers can also be manually switched between PWM and voltage-based RPM control, or left to the motherboard’s automatic detection.

MSI Board Explorer shows our CPU, M.2, and memory, but doesn’t appear to notice whether the USB or SATA interfaces are connected.

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25 comments
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  • karma77police
    Nice board!
  • John Philips
    If AMD really wanted to bury Intel, they should release a mainstream cpu with at least 24 PCIE lanes and higher clock .
  • Embra
    Looks to be $500.
  • michaelhinchey
    Why are the hdmi specs never included with these reviews?
  • wirelessmikey
    whats with the video, never works!!!
  • berezini.2013
    Not even going to read this article. All msi products are garbage.
  • berezini.2013
    Ever since the all-msi build I have done; (Half the motherboard caught on fire with default settings, melted speaker cables near the case, and all caps poped like popcorn in the popcorn popper, I've never looked at another msi product and never had any dangerous issues again) Im way better off. BTW Msi motherboard and MSI graphics cards together are not compatible. Don't even try.
  • BugariaM
    What about VRM design?
    Again a handful of cheap 2c mosfets from NIKOS?

    Well, purely my opinion - instead of the three useless Killer E2500 PCIe, it's better to have one Intel-based NIC

    ---
    Pretty superficial review ...
    Where is tech p0rn?
  • mablt
    Well, tech issues aside - IMHO it is the best named board ever - "Godlike Gaming with a Coffee Lake processor" - the imagery is stupendous! ;^)
  • Crashman
    2564531 said:
    Why are the hdmi specs never included with these reviews?

    The specs table drops down to reveal this:

    Video Ports


    I hope that answers your question :D
  • samer.forums
    Such expensive boards for Z series should never exist. people will never pay $500 for 16 lanes motherboard what so ever ...

    The whole point about the Z series is lower price point ... lower lanes (16 only) , half memory bandwidth (no Quad channels) . why would any one pay a high price for a product designed to be entry level ?
  • samer.forums
    2559264 said:
    Not even going to read this article. All msi products are garbage.



    wrong, Their Graphics Products are the best .. they have the best cooler in the market . Silent and best performance. The x series .
  • michaelhinchey
    I used to live in California. They need more lanes too. Just like these boards.
  • Lucky_SLS
    ^ nice one.

    It's usually Asus that comes with the most extravagant go to board for overclockers and those with too much cash. Hoping that this time there will actually be some competition ;)
  • C_peter
    Too many cooks spoil the soup. The article mentioned some features aren't available when another set of features is active. So not buying it.
  • Crashman
    2215566 said:
    Too many cooks spoil the soup. The article mentioned some features aren't available when another set of features is active. So not buying it.

    That should be "too many cooks spoils the broth". Without the extra "s", it could mean "many cooks spoil broth...too many". But with the extra "s" your treating the "many cooks" as a singular group, rather than a plural of individual cooks :D
    Proof of this can be found by changing "too many cooks" to "too much input".

    BTW, I see official grammar sites would disagree with my assessment, but that's because they aren't actually thinking about what's being said. Instead they're apply the rules for the sake of rules. Such is the case with "Sandy and I went to the market" but then "And Bill went to the market with Sandy and me". The "me" will make them throw fits until they actually think about what's being said. My experience with language professors indicates that most will refuse to consider these special cases.

    We can still refer to the original, and I can say that the original author was grammatically correct when he wrote:
    "When an undertaking hath been committed to many, it caused but confusion, and therefore it is a saying, Too many Cooks spoils the Broth".

    To avoid argument, it's better to say "too much change spoils the result" rather than "too many changes spoil/spoils the result". And that type of argument avoidance can also be shown in the earlier version of the broth saying: "The more cooks the worse pottage"

    Then again, fine words butter no parsnips...
  • Matthew Renna
    Actually, this is one fancy looking board, I wouldn't like it very much because it lacks any older style pci slots and only has one pci express slot. While it has four slots for gpus, I would rather have the extra pci express and pci slots than being able to add four gpus.
  • Matthew Renna
    lol I meant to type although in the beginning of the comment.
  • Crashman
    2406551 said:
    Actually, this is one fancy looking board, I wouldn't like it very much because it lacks any older style pci slots and only has one pci express slot. While it has four slots for gpus, I would rather have the extra pci express and pci slots than being able to add four gpus.


    Well then use the bottom slot as an x1 and maybe avoid some PCIe pathway conflicts in the process?

    2406551 said:
    lol I meant to type although in the beginning of the comment.


    Allllrighty then!
  • Matthew Renna
    wait you can use a gpu slot as a x1?
  • Crashman
    2406551 said:
    wait you can use a gpu slot as a x1?

    Yes. In fact the bottom slot is actually only x4 to begin with, and supplied those lanes from the chipset after stealing some of them from onboard devices.
  • Matthew Renna
    hmm, I guess you learn something new each day. I had no idea that you could do that.
  • Crashman
    2406551 said:
    hmm, I guess you learn something new each day. I had no idea that you could do that.
    Not only that, but when the forward part of the slot connector is open, you can stick in a longer card and usually have it work (at lower bandwidth).
  • samer.forums
    8708 said:
    2406551 said:
    hmm, I guess you learn something new each day. I had no idea that you could do that.
    Not only that, but when the forward part of the slot connector is open, you can stick in a longer card and usually have it work (at lower bandwidth).


    You missed the power part. you cant get 75 watts out of 1 lane slot .. If I remember right it has 25 watts only. so you still have power restriction , not all cards will work.