MSI Z170A GAMING M5 (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

by - 4 years ago

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Final Thoughts


Pricing 

The MSI Z170A GAMING M5 is available from Overclockers UK for £142.99 plus shipping. Around the £100 mark, there’s a huge selection of motherboards offering impeccable value. However, you have to take into account the Z170A GAMING M5’s dual M.2 connectivity, one year XSplit license and superb overclocking functionality. This makes it a great choice for users with high demands who don’t want to spend an absolute fortune.

Overview

Even though motherboard companies tend to fixate on black and red colour schemes which can become stale, this never entered my mind when analysing the Z170A GAMING M5’s aesthetic design. This is because the gorgeous dragon logo on the PCH and stunning contrast of colours creates a unique appearance. Furthermore, the stylish accents towards the memory slots greatly enhances the motherboard’s visual appeal. Honestly, I’m astounded by the sophisticated appearance and believe it’s one of the best looking Z170 options on the market today!

MSI have adopted a no-comprise approach to the motherboard’s specification and utilized premium grade components including 10K capacitors, high thermal tolerance titanium chokes, and a 12-phase power design. Additionally, the DIGITALL delivery, overvoltage protection, and DDR4 Boost offers exceptional headroom when overclocking your hardware. Not only that, there’s hefty electrostatic discharge protection on the rear I/O and the multi-layer PCB is designed to cope with extreme climates.  MSI decided to incorporate a huge array of overclocking features to please hardware enthusiasts. For example, the LED post readout switches to a temperature indicator in Windows and it’s such a wonderful idea that works perfectly. The ability to quickly glance at the CPU’s current temperature in real-time without relying on software is superb and useful during impromptu stress testing. Another important inclusion revolves around the voltage readout points. This enables professional overclockers to monitor voltage points across the VCCIO, Vcore, DRAM and more on-the-fly.

The BIOS is an absolutely joy to use and makes tweaking various aspects of your system extremely easy. The default mode allows you to quickly enable the memory’s XMP profile, monitor cooling RPM values and complete other essential tweaks. The Game Boost feature automatically increases the i7-6700K’s frequency to 4.40GHz from 4.2GHz. This is handy if you feel intimidated by the overclocking process. The advanced mode is laid out in a conventional manner and I didn’t encounter any problems finding the required settings to achieve a substantial overclock. The user-interface is easy to learn and contains complex variables in sub categories.

In terms of performance, the motherboard didn’t manage anything revolutionary during CPU tasks and struggled to match the best results we’ve encountered. This applies in both stock and overclocked testing scenarios. Despite this, you’re unlikely to notice these differences outside of synthetic benchmarking software. In normal usage scenarios, the motherboard will provide an exemplary experience and utilizes your hardware to its full potential. On a more positive note, the linear read numbers were excellent and outclassed many other products. The audio clarity especially at higher bit rates was superb and greatly improved on other ALC1150 solutions. Rather surprisingly, the Killer E2400 network chip set a new maximum speed record and became the first instance of numbers beyond 1000Mbps.

Pros

  • Admirable approach to reducing electo static discharge
  • Attractive BIOS with intuitive layout
  • Excellent linear read performance
  • Great software package
  • Loads of overclocking features such as Slow Mode, Debug LED and Voltage points
  • Military Class 5 components
  • Staggering maximum network speeds
  • Stunning aesthetic design
  • Superb audio
  • Supports 64Gb/s MSI Twin Turbo Dual M.2/U.2 PCI-E storage
  • USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C connectivity

Cons

  • Falls behind competing products in synthetic CPU testing

“The MSI Z170A GAMING M5 might not be the best performer in synthetic tasks, but its exceptional feature list and gorgeous styling makes it a marvellous accompaniment to any Skylake build. Furthermore, the staggering connectivity options offers a great deal of flexibility and caters to users with ultra fast storage devices.”

Editors-Choice

MSI Z170A GAMING M5 (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Thank you MSI for providing us with this sample.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. A Closer Look & Layout Analysis
  3. The Test System and Test Software
  4. BIOS and Overclocking
  5. Software Overview
  6. CPU Performance
  7. Memory Performance
  8. Storage Performance
  9. Networking Performance
  10. Audio Performance
  11. Power Consumption
  12. Final Thoughts
  13. View All

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