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.