MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Review

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Review, Best Z97 Motherboard Gamers and enthusiasts out there who are looking for the best Z97 motherboard, the MSI Z97 GAMING 7 is perfect for their needs. This board is design for optimum gaming performance with superb quality components to meet the demands of modern gamers. From the looks to its features it offers nothing but a killer performance.

The price it offers is in the mid-range level which is way below the $200 mark so that any gamers will hardly passed on it. The greatest offering from the all new Z97 chipset is the super fast M.2 storage that reaches the 10GB/s speed limit. As opposed to the standard 6GB/s coming from the previous SATA 3, this further boost the system boot up time and program loading.

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The Looks And Connectivity

The MSI Z97 GAMING 7 is undeniably a good looking system board with its traditional black and red trim as being the part of the MSI Gaming range of board. From its black aesthetic matte color that covers the board’s traces with less busier looks is very much appealing. The heatsinks are well sized with a very nice design and great engraving of MSI logo doesn’t seem to be cheap.

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Review, Best Z97 MotherboardThe board comes in a standard ATX form factor so that it will fit most of the casing available on the market without any compatibility problem compare to other EATX boards. The regulator circuitry features a 12-phase VRM power design with generous heatsink size to secure full stability during overclock.

The CPU slot provides a descent space for the cooler. If you decide to upgrade it with water cooling system for overclocking purposes you can do so without any problems. Beside the CPU socket there are four DIMM slots in all black color appearance. It can support up to 32GB of DDR3 with maximum frequency of 3200MHz so that any memory speed including an OC RAM can handle without any problem.

The 8-pin power connector is nice placed at the edge of the board beside the voltage regulator heatsinks. It doesn’t create any distraction for better wiring connections. On top of the DIMM slots is the 24-pin power connector in excellent position. Beside of it is the debug LED and the voltage check points in which hardcore overclockers will happy to have it as a handy tool for diagnostic purposes.

Turning on the side of the board, there’s an eight SATA 6GB/s connectors in right angle position that provides fast connection. However, a lack of SATA Express connector could be frustrating to other who’s craving for the new high speed storage in this form. Though, there isn’t yet available in the market in the near future it is expected to become a new platform.

Looking at the expansion slots, a healthy dose of ports can be expected and an excellent layout is presented. Starting on the PCIe slots you can have three of them. With the first slot running at x16, followed by x8/x8 if dual configuration and lastly, at x8/x8/x4 if all populated.

In between the PCIe x16 slot there’s a series of PCIe x1 that comes in a very nice spacing. For a total of four PCIe x1 slot with none of these is an old PCI which is a good sign of maturity in motherboard technology.

Cabling wise, you can notice a smart position of the M.2 port in between the second and third PCIe x16 slot. Other board manufacturer put it beside the CPU socket that creates obstruction on the part of the CPU cooling system in case they upgrade to an oversize cooler.

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Review, Best Z97 MotherboardFinally on the back I/O panel, you can notice an army of ports to maximize its usefulness. Beginning at the left side where you can find the PS/2 and two USB 2.0 which is exclusively dedicated gaming ports. Followed by CMOS clear button, four USB 3.0 in blue and another two on the far right for a total of six.

MSI is fully devising the latest video ports on the market while leaving the old behind. The presence of two HDMI ports and Display port is a big advantage for gamers and movie aficionados. Finishing the lineups with the RJ45 Gbit LAN, another two USB 2.0 ports and 7.1 channel audio jacks.

More Advanced Features From MSI Z97 GAMING 7

Though the MSI Z97 GAMING 7 is based on the Z97 chipset like other mainstream board, the unique advance key features what makes them separate from the rest. This Board belongs to Military Class 4 family that brings an outstanding durability. By providing a top of the line Military standard components, it ensures full system stability and longer life span.

This includes the High-c Cap that comes in a tiny form but delivers optimum efficiency. Due to its small appearance it provides excellent spacing to give way for the CPU cooler. The addition of the Super Ferrite Choke on the voltage regulator circuitry it provides 30-percent higher current capacity and another 20-percent improvement on power efficiency for better OC capability.

By incorporating a high-end capacitor in the form of Dark CAPs with lower ESR provides more than 10-year lifespan. Working with the old time keyboard driven BIOS setting could be frustrating. Not anymore with the MSI Click BIOS 4, the latest UEFI BIOS from MSI that provides optimization for Windows 8 OS. It runs smoother and reacts quicker with improved mouse support.

For overclockers out there, the all new OC Genie 4 gives you the simplest way to overclock your CPU at a single push of a button. An additional 20-percent performance in CPU, Memory and iGPU is achievable effortless.

The Guard-Pro feature provides total system security. For optimum circuit protection MSI Gaming board includes top quality materials, multiple PCB layer and shielding. You can reduce your power up to 29-percent by disabling the unused chips through the Eco Power feature.

Reduce the moisture absorption through the Humidity Protection; untreated system board got a higher failure rate up to 10-times. Due to its Military standard components it guarantees a stable performance even at tough environment. I/O ports are fully protected against any Electro Static Discharge with its ESD Protection circuitry. It also reduces the impact Electromagnetic Interference through EMI Protection feature.

The MSI Z97 GAMING 7 is made for hardcore gamers that pours on heavy gaming features to meet everyone’s demand. Computer sound system has evolved dramatically to deliver the best quality and the cleanest possible. You can expect this level of quality with the MSI Audio Boost 2 that gives you total gaming excitement.

This makes it possible with Realtek audio chip with dedicated power interface to ensure its stability and powerful outputs. To complete your audio experience it includes the Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2 software to enhance its surround sound.

To deliver a powerful output and audio quality for your headphone there’s a Dual Headphone Amplifiers. This makes it possible by incorporating two physical audio chips onboard so that both of your back panel and front panel audio ports can have the same level of audio quality.

The circuit also includes high quality Nichicon Japanese Caps which is especially designed for audio filtering. To produce the best possible signal transfer a gold plated audio connector is placed on the audio port jacks to achieve this and a longer life span can be expected.

The MSI Z97 GAMING 7 provides a dedicated Gaming Device Port to maximize your gaming performance. The board provides a PS/2 mouse port and 2x USB 2.0 in red for smoother and highly responsive game play.

Network games and online gaming is the primary concern of hardcore gamers out there. The Killer E2200 is an intelligent networking platform that is built to secure a super fast connection. It automatically increases game traffic speed ahead of other network for smoother and lag free game.

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Review (Overclocking)

Overclocking the MSI Z97 GAMING 7 is made simple for you especially for novice users. The fourth generation OC Genie fully automates the CPU overclocking without the need of dirty work. As I stated earlier, with a single push of a button you can increase its CPU clock speed up to 20%. You can select from Silent mode, Gaming mode and OC-mode for the highest possible performance.

If you want an advanced overclocking potential the Click BIOS 4 is very handy tool with boot time optimization especially for Windows 8. The system is tested using the famous Haswel Core i7 from Intel with 3.5GHz clock speed.

As we already know that Haswell processors are locked with 100MHz base clock frequency while the only thing we could do adjustments are from the multiplier and a bit of the core voltage. Though, Haswell is sensitive to high voltage that makes it limited for us to do full potential OC speed.

The maximum achievable OC speed for this board is at 4.6GHz. Though, we manage to go down a bit to 4.5GHz for full stability. The base clock in untouchable at 100MHz with x45 is set for the multiplier and the voltage is set only to 1.3v. The system performance drastically increases in various games that run without any problem.

Conclusion

Improvements on the MSI Z97 GAMING 7 are clearly seen in this board compare to its predecessors. Though not much on the part of the Z97 chip but, feature wise it shows visual evident. From Audio Boost 2, aesthetic, network gaming and the UEFI BIOS drastically improved.

What separates the difference between the Z97 and Z87 is the M.2 that features a faster storage platform from the old 6GB/s to whooping 10GB/s. Though, there’s no current availability of the SATA Express storage on the market, MSI should be forgiven for not including even one of these.

Overclocking this board made easy to anyone with the OC Genie 4. Bundled software and features are very attractive though the Davil’s Canyon processor is not yet available. The MSI Z97 GAMING 7 delivers huge value for the price it offers with almost the same as the older Z87 platform. >>Click Here to get it at its Lowest Price!