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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blahsaysblah - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkAsrock Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac has all the latest, no extra flush.
- Intel i219-v LAN.
- Realtek ALC1150 sound.
- 2 Chassis Fan ports(not incl CPU)
- Display Port 1.2, HDMI 2.0 w/4k@60(but not HDCP 2.2), HDMI 1.4(thats two HDMI ports)
- full x4 M.2 on back of motherboard
- one regular and one type C USB 3.1 ports
- removed the AC Wifi+BT module before install so dont know about that.
One ITX board with no extra stuff. (im ok w/o HDCP 2.2 as that requires an extra chip and who knows what driver issues will pop up). Only thing better would have been two M.2 ports.
KLC - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkThanks, I'll look into that one. I'll probably post this same question in the forums.
thebeansoldier - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - linkYep I had the ol' q6600 as well and just upgraded to a 6600k with the Asrock z170 itx/ac last month. Tasks like Handbrake are so much quicker. Picked up a GTX 970 as well and couldn't be happier.
Impulses - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - linkThis is a very solid choice, Asus Z170-A is worth considering but it might be a touch pricier or harder to find for minor differences. I had an MSI P97 and this SLI PLUS wasn't out when Skylake came out, so I changed it up to ASUS.
I still think ASUS does a better job on the software end, my MSI P97 had certain quirks like not allowing speed control over all fan headers, but those are things they've worked on and fixed since back then.
Toshio - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkGuys you have both the comparison table AND the "Test Setup" specs table wrong. This MB doesn't have any SATA-Express ports. I was comparing this one with ASUS' Z170-A and saw you list the later with two LAN adapters which is also wrong.
I've always liked your reviews and trusted the data w/o the needed to re-check specs in the manufacturer's website. I hope you get the time to fix this, thanks for the good work!
extide - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkYeah the boards are all mixed up in that dropdown comparison table. It was all messed up in the previous motherboard review as well. They are usually good about this stuff, so I hope they fix it soon.
Ian Cutress - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkI think one of my table html scripts screwed up. When I get to my PC I'll fix it :)
extide - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkThanks, Ian.
MrShigura - Sunday, April 17, 2016 - linkStill isn't fixed...
extide - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - linkYet again the motherboard comparison drop down is totally messed up. The specs shown do not match the motherboard selected in the dropdown. I mentioned this on the previous motherboard review as well. Please fix!