• Slots: LGA1151
  • CPU: Intel Z270
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • RAM Type: DDR4
  • Ports: 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, 1x LAN, 1x PS/2 combo, 3x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A, 1x USB3.1 Gen2 Type-C, 2x USB3.1 Gen1 Type-A, 1x S/PDIF, 5x OFC audio jacks
  • Pros:
  • MSI Armor
  • Overall performance
  • Aesthetics
  • Cons:
  • None
  • Benchmark Results
  • PCMark 8 (Home): 3,809 points
  • PCMark 8 (Creative): 5,592 points
  • PCMark 8 (Work): 4,433 points

Gaming, Gaming, And More Gaming

With Kaby Lake processors coming out, it’s not surprising that manufacturers are getting their gears moving. The Z270 chipset and Kaby Lake processors promises performance like never before with an upgraded Intel Rapid Storage Technology and additional downstream PCI-E 3.0 lanes. The Z270 chipset also features 14 general purpose PCI-E lanes versus the 10 on Z170 with a total of 30 lanes instead of 26.

With that MSI has sent us their MSI Z270 Gaming M5 motherboard for us to put through the works. The motherboard supports both Skylake and Kaby Lake processors from the LGA 1151 socket. It sports four DDR4 memory slots that can support up to 64GB of RAM. With Kabylake processors users can support frequencies of 2133MHz and 2400MHz. From 2600MHz to 3800MHz will require the user to overclock. Whereas those on Skylake processors are only able to reach a maximum of 3600MHz even when overclocked.

There are 3 PCIe x16 slots which supports 2-way SLi and 3-way AMD CrossFire for those who run multiple graphics cards. There is also an additional three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots for miscellaneous peripherals and expansion cards. Storage wise there are six SATA 6Gb/s ports and two M.2 slots that support up to PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA 6Gb/s, and also one U.2 port that supports PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe U.2 SSD’s. SATA1/5 will be unavailable when an M.2 SATA SSD module has been installed while U.2 port will be unavailable when an expansion card is installed in PCI_E6 slot.

There is also a huge amount of USB3.1 ports ranging from Gen1 and Gen2 ports with Type-A and Type-C in the mix. MSI’s BIOS is again done very well, leading to ease of use for updating BIOS software and overclocking right from the BIOS. When it comes to debugging or failing to boot, the motherboard sports EZ Debug LED which will pinpoint any issues that are causing your boot to fail. Furthermore MSI’s Steel Armor returns once again and is found on two of the three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, which is always a welcome addition with the heavy graphic cards out there.

CHIP CONCLUDE: Whether you’re a gamer or an enthusiast, the MSI Z270 Gaming M5 should be something you can look forward to. Great materials, hardware and software make this motherboard something you shouldn’t miss out on.

(previously published in issue January 2016)

MSI Z270 Gaming M5