The MSI Z170A SLI PLUS Review: Redefining the Base Line at $130by Ian Cutress on April 13, 2016 8:00 AM EST
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When picking out the feature set for a $120 Z170 motherboard, there isn’t going to be much on the list beyond the standard Intel specifications. There are things that can be done fairly cheaply, such as M.2 support, although M.2 SATA is easier than M.2 PCIe. At this price point, it might also be a cost down measure, skimming a few cents here and there on the codec or network controller, but we don’t get that here.
|MSI Z170A SLI PLUS|
|Warranty Period||3 Years|
|Memory Slots (DDR4)||Four DDR4
Up to 3600 MHz
|Memory Slots (DDR3L)||None|
|Video Outputs||HDMI at 4096x2160 @ 24 Hz
DVI-D at 1920x1200 @ 60 Hz
VGA at 2048x1280 @ 60 Hz
|Network Connectivity||Intel I219-V|
|Onboard Audio||Realtek ALC1150|
|PCIe Slots for Graphics (from CPU)||2 x PCIe 3.0 (x16, x8/x8)|
|PCIe Slots for Other (from PCH)||1 x PCIe 3.0 x4
3 x PCIe 3.0 x1
|Onboard SATA||Six, RAID 0/1/5/10|
|Onboard SATA Express||Two, RAID|
|Onboard M.2||1x PCIe 3.0 x4, RAID 0/1, NVMe via Turbo U.2 (not included)|
|USB 3.1 (10 Gbps)||1 x Type-C
ASMedia ASM1142 Controller
|USB 3.0 (5 Gbps)||2 x Rear Panel
4 via headers
|USB 2.0||2 x Rear Panel
4 via headers
|Power Connectors||1 x 24-pin ATX
1 x 8-pin CPU
|Fan Headers||2 x CPU (4-pin)
3 x CHA/SYS (4-pin)
|IO Panel||1 x Mouse PS/2
1 x Keyboard PS/2
1 x USB 3.1 Type-C
2 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Network RJ-45 (Intel I219-V)
HDMI / DVI-D / VGA
|Other Features||TPM Header
COM Port Header
LPT Port Header
Clear CMOS Header
Front Panel Header
Front Audio Header
There’s a single USB 3.1 Type-C port, which is more than I would expect, along with support for SLI and a full complement of DDR4 slots. There are only four USB Type-A ports on the rear which might be a little lower than I would like, and there’s no power/reset switches and a two-digit debug that I would want as well, but there are PCIe guards (MSI’s ‘Steel Armor’) on the main slots, a Realtek ALC1150 codec enhanced by PCB separation and filter caps, and an Intel I219-V network controller. Perhaps it’s a bit of give and take, but the 10-phase power delivery is also a factor in this.
In The Box
We get the following:
Rear IO Shield
Four SATA Cables
Flexi SLI Bridge
As one might expect in a low-cost box, normally the minimum is added to satisfy most users. I somehow suspected there might only be two SATA cables, but MSI adds in another couple here, giving four in total.
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thetuna - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkYour data for the Gigabyte UD5 is very wrong (I own it).
It has 4 dimm slots, 0x u.2, 1x m.2, and the pcie slots do either 16+4 or 8+8+4.
Idk what else is wrong there...
DanNeely - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkIt looks like it's pulling data for a different board entirely. The shopping link is for an Asus mITX board; that appears to have the specs shown here.
Gunbuster - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkSomewhere a warehouse slightly less full of overstocked PS/2 ports is happy.
hansmuff - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkI like my PS/2 ports, NKRO is a given and hardware interrupts > software interrupts.
Ikepuska - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkI really applaud MSI for this board. It's a great price point for a compelling product.
Unfortunately I'm going to be sitting skylake out it looks like. I'm waiting to see what the kaby lake refresh might bring in terms of motherboards because U.2 is really really hard to find in a 170 series for a sane price.
The honest truth is that I hope for fewer SATA ports and no SATA Express ports in kaby. Because of the longevity of the cpu performance nowadays I really want 2 or more U.2 ports, ideally one M.2 port for a boot drive. I'd be willing to give up all or almost all sata ports for such a mythical board. (Not that a board with no sata ports would ever sell yet.)
dreamcat4 - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - link> I'm waiting to see what the kaby lake refresh might bring in terms of motherboards because U.2 is really really hard to find in a 170 series for a sane price.
Well I can understand people wanting to wait for Kaby Lake now. SInce its so near. However lack of U.2 ports isn't really one of them. For one thing, very few products are coming out with U.2. Making it next-to-useless.
Secondly, there do already exist very simple m.2 --> U.2 adapters. So with one of those, then any cheap Z170 mobo with an x4 m.2 slot should work fine. In fact mine has 2 of them, and its not even classed as a mid-range board. (Gigabyte Z170X Gaming 3). And using m.2 --> U.2 adapter is the more flexible solution. Since for some reason theres no adaptors available on the market which can go the other way around.
jasonelmore - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkF Kaby Lake, we all waiting for Skylake EP
Ikepuska - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkWhile I agree that U.2 is nascent, I still had a functioning 2009 board as of this year in use. The truth of the matter is that people still have Sandy and Ivy systems as their main gaming rig. So while yes, there are adapters and add-in cards that would serve the purpose of providing U.2 connectivity, I'd rather have the right ports available and grow into them so to speak. Since I'm looking at keeping the next platform I build for about 8 years or so.
Manch - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - linkWouldn't use this as my main rig board but a media center mid range gaming pc for the living room this would fit the bill nicely.
kaesden - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkHad this board been out a few months ago, i'd probably have gone with this over my Asus board and saved a hundred bucks.