Z270 SLI Plus Software, Firmware And Overclocking
MSI Command Center is up and running again, with a Core i7-7700K overclocking profile as the only major change from our previous description. The OC Genie menu claims it will take the CPU to 4.80 GHz, which is nice, but when we tried it the CPU was first stuck at 4.50 GHz and 1.20V, dropped to around 1.15V under load (indicating that MSI Loadline Calibration was disabled), then jumped to 4.80 GHz after a minute or so pause, immediately freezing Windows. The manual settings carried over from previous versions were far more useful.
The Z270 SLI Plus has white LEDs and an RGB LED control header. The Mystic Light menu addresses this disparity accordingly.
MSI X-Boost is supposed to set data access priority for various applications, while its Network Manager is a repackaged version of the cFOS packet prioritization suite.
The Z270 SLI Plus includes an MSI-themed version of CPU-Z, along with other classics such as its Fastboot and Ramdisk apps. MSI Live Update 6 polls MSI servers for the latest updates.
MSI Click BIOS 5 reverts to monochrome in the Z270 SLI Plus, except for notifications and warnings. We were able to get the CPU stable up to a 101 MHz BCLK (base clock) while using a 47x multiplier at 1.30V CPU core, the resulting 4747 MHz coming up just a little short of the expected 4.80 GHz previously found on higher-priced motherboards.
The Z270 SLI Plus also reached the same two-DIMM DDR4-3867 and four-DIMM DDR4-3636 data rates seen in our review of MSI’s Z270 Gaming M5. The Z270 SLI Plus has the same over-voltage behavior as most competing products, and the 1.35V rating of G.Skill’s DDR4-3867 four-DIMM kit was reached by manually setting the firmware to 1.330V.
The CPU Loadline Calibration Control setting bumps line voltage up a little in order to compensate for the drop that occurs at full CPU load. Of the eight compensation scales available, we found Mode 5 most appropriate for our overclock settings.
The Z270 SLI Plus includes a wide range of primary, secondary, and tertiary memory timing controls, allowing memory tuners to seek stability at a higher data rate or quicker response time at an acceptable data rate in minute detail.
In order to achieve precise comparison data between various motherboards, we configure each of these to disable any clock cheats (including MSI’s fixed-frequency Enhanced Turbo Mode) and enable all of the CPU’s power throttling capabilities prior to running our basic benchmark and power test suite. A forum member inquired about Intel SGX settings in our previous Z270 Gaming M5 review, and the menu shows that “Software Controlled” is enabled by default.
Other firmware features include storage on the onboard ROM for up to six overclocking profiles along with a setting to export these to a USB flash drive, a fan menu with MSI-defined and user-configurable thermal response, and a Board Explorer menu that allows you to see which devices have been detected. That last setting might appear to be useful for locating bad (or badly-installed) hardware, but it can’t tell you whether your unused cable leads (such as a headphone jack with no headphone connected) are plugged into the motherboard.
EZ Mode for Click BIOS 5 is hidden by default, but a setting within advanced mode allows you to choose it as the default view.