• Socket: LGA 1151
  • Chipset: Intel Z270
  • RAM Slots: 4
  • Memory: 4000(OC)/ 3800(OC)/ 3600(OC)/ 3200(OC)/ 3000(OC)/ 2800(OC)/ 2600(OC)/ 2400/ 2133 MHz DDR4
  • Ports: 1x PS/2, 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, 1x LAN, 2x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C, 6x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A, 5x Audio port, 1x Optical (SPDIF), 3x PCIe x16, 1x PCIe x1, 6x SATA 6Gb/s, 3x M.2, 1x U.2
  • Pros:
  • Great for overclocking
  • Three M.2 slots
  • Cons:
  • None
  • Benchmark Results
  • PCMark 8 Home – 4453 points
  • PCMark 8 Creative – 5143 points
  • PCMark 8 Work – 3756 points

How To Master OC

With Intel’s Kaby Lake processors finally revealed in January, new supporting chipsets were expected and you saw some with the three Z270 motherboards we reviewed last issue. This month, we’ve got another pair from MSI with one of it being higher-end model to last issue’s Gaming M5 – the Gaming M7.

The general layout of the Gaming M7 looks similar to the M5, there’s metal reinforcement for the DIMM and PCIe slots, as well as a shield for one of the M.2 slots. However, there are also notable differences. For one, there’s more chokes and capacitors for additional power phases to the VRM, which should provide more headroom for overclocking the CPU and RAM. In addition, the M.2 Shield protected slot is in a different position.

We also spotted three Turbo M.2 slots, which means that it’s possible for you to use up to three NVMe based SSDs, or two SSDs with the third used for an M.2 WiFi card instead. There’s also plenty of option for cooling for the Gaming M7. It has six fan headers, all of which can be monitored and controlled from the BIOS, as well as a dedicated header for a liquid cooling solution’s pump.

Compared to the type of back I/Os of most motherboard, we’ve seen Z270 boards drastically reduce the number. Gone are the 8 to 12 USB ports that are typical. The Gaming M7 has six USB ports, including the Type-C port, readily available at the back.

The Gaming M7 is compatible with all of MSI’s latest software, including the new Mystic Light. It allows you to connect any RGB LED to the onboard header and control it through the Windows app or from your smartphone. Very handy feature, if you’re the type that likes to change the lighting mode and colours every now and then.

We do our benchmarks with settings out of the box so it’s hard for you readers to tell, but the Gaming M7 is very capable when it comes to overclocking. The extra 4-pin power and power phases provide more power and greater stability for CPU overclocking, which also means better overclocks for the RAMs.

CHIP CONCLUDE: Great features, extra overclocking potential, and a sweet third M.2 slot. If you’re thinking of getting into overclocking and want a stable option, this is a good choice to consider.

(previously published in issue February 2017)

MSI Z270 Gaming M7