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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Dr. Swag - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkHey Ian, any word on how far along the x4 845 review your promised a while back is? I'm very interested in it but it's been quite a while now. I know you've been busy on other reviews but just want to know how that's going. If you don't know what I'm talking about:
Ian Cutress - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkIt's taken a couple of weeks, but I think the X4 845 is tested (regular and OC). Just need to run through a couple of older gen chips to see difference / IPC - X4 760K only arrived yesterday. Should have the 860K in there as well, all three tested at stock and 3G for comparison - CPU (office, synthetic and realworld tests) and gaming performance are both covered. I've also got a set of i3 parts on the go, most of the new E3 Xeons, an FX retest and new A10 reviews in flight, so apologies for the delays. If you've been following my twitter feed recently, I've been updating the test work flow to hopefully optimize this for the future... :)
Dr. Swag - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkAwesome man! Just take your time and don't rush it :). Thanks for the reply/update.
owan - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkI wish more mid-high end boards would sport color schemes like this. If you want to do a mod project, this is like a blank slate that can work with nearly any theme. Unfortunately high end boards usually have one gaudy color that you can't ignore or alter without significant work. I get that its all part of the branding, but having such a neutral color scheme would have been nice when doing my own project.... I found myself having to use red in my build just to make my Asus ROG board (purchased prior to the project) work, even though I don't really care for the color.
ImSpartacus - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkI know! Why is a tasteful black & gray so troubling to get right?
Questor - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkAmen to that! I saw the MSI X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon and dropped three credit cards on the floor trying to get the one I initially grabbed! At that point, I had not idea what socket, what the specs were and what was generally compatible. I saw the awesome black and shiny combo, like a black muscle car with lots of chrome and went lights out. I came too when my walked up to me and asked why I had my cards out and why is that big black and metal thing $600.00?!!!
Impulses - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - linkAgreed, this was a factor in me picking the ASUS Z170-A, seemed like every other board in the same price range (before this MSI, which didn't come out until the end of last year) was pimping a red scheme or something bolder.
Oxford Guy - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkGive us a Skylake that makes use of its EDRAM controller (by having EDRAM) and then I'll care about this generation of boards.
Oxford Guy - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkProbably in the same file with the GTX 960. "Coming real soon."
KLC - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkSo I'm in the early stages of thinking about a new build. I don't do this often, I'm currently using a
Q6600 box I built almost 8 years ago. I don't game, I don't overclock, I'll use the integrated graphics with an SSD and HDD for storage. Most uses are standard office apps, web browsing plus media, and photography using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop with a little video using Sony Vegas. There is a bewildering array of motherboards out there. I want a quality mb with quality components, good sound and the latest USB ports but since I'm not on the extreme bleeding edge I don't need to spend a fortune for a mb. This one looks like it might be a good fit for me. Am I right or are there other mbs out there I should look at?