Tuesday, March 18th 2014

MSI Z97-based Gaming Series Motherboard Lineup Detailed

With Intel's "Haswell Refresh" CPU lineup around the corner, motherboard makers are giving final touches to their next-gen socket LGA1150 lineups based on Intel Z97 Express chipset. MSI, which practically reinvented itself in the DIY hardware scene with its Gaming Series of motherboards and graphics cards, is readying three products based on the chipset, the mid-range Z97 Gaming 3, the premium Z97 Gaming 5, and the high-end Z97 Gaming 7. With it, MSI is ditching the "G45," "GD55," and "GD65" brand extensions. In addition to M.2 slots, some of the three will include SATA-Express add-on cards, which let you plug-in drives with a staggering 10 Gbps of bandwidth.

MSI unveiled early versions of the top of the line Gaming 7 and the mid-range Gaming 3 at this year's CeBIT event. The Z97 Gaming 7 offers a 12-phase CPU iVR, three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, four PCIe x1 slots, eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports, an M.2 slot, and possibly an included SATA-Express add-on card; in addition to a wealth of connectivity. The Gaming 5 could be based on the same PCB, but with a lighter feature-set. The Gaming 3, on the other hand, is based on a lighter PCB, with a 6-phase CPU iVR, a lack of the M.2 slot, legacy PCI slots, yet retaining the ground-layer isolated on-board audio, and Killer NIC. The "Haswell refresh" Core processor lineup, along with motherboards based on the Z97 Express chipset, could be launched around the same time as Computex.
Sources: Expreview (1, 2)
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8 Comments on MSI Z97-based Gaming Series Motherboard Lineup Detailed

#1
EzioAs
I'm not sure I like MSI naming most of their motherboards with the "Gaming" name. It just makes it sound stupid like gaming cases, gaming power supplies, gaming RAMs...
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#2
Sasqui
by: EzioAs
I'm not sure I like MSI naming most of their motherboards with the "Gaming" name. It just makes it sound stupid like gaming cases, gaming power supplies, gaming RAMs...
"Just Game" => 'Just Branding'
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#3
james888
I know the PCH has never really needed great cooling, but is that PCH cooler just because it is not a final product.
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#4
The Von Matrices
by: james888
I know the PCH has never really needed great cooling, but is that PCH cooler just because it is not a final product.
I'd suspect so. You'll also notice that most of the back panel ports are missing on the boards as well.
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#5
15th Warlock
What's the difference between the Z87 and the Z97 chipset?
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#6
The Von Matrices
by: 15th Warlock
What's the difference between the Z87 and the Z97 chipset?
The only thing I know of is native M.2 SSD support. SATA express was pulled a while ago, and there are no more SATA 6Gb/s or USB 3.0 ports compared to the 8 series if the reports are correct. It would be nice to have PCIe 3.0 support, but all rumors point to maintaining PCIe 2.0. There's basically zero reason to switch to a 9 series chipset if you already have an 8 series chipset.
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#7
Sasqui
by: The Von Matrices
The only thing I know of is native M.2 SSD support. SATA express was pulled a while ago, and there are no more SATA 6Gb/s or USB 3.0 ports compared to the 8 series if the reports are correct. It would be nice to have PCIe 3.0 support, but all rumors point to maintaining PCIe 2.0. There's basically zero reason to switch to a 9 series chipset if you already have an 8 series chipset.
Yea, it doesn't look that special. The only major thing, it seems it 10gbs I/O:

"
Intel Broadwell to Get 9-Series Based Z97 and H97 Chipsets
The details have been leaked by VR-Zone which details Intel Broadwell 9-Series chipset codenamed. Haswell would currently use the 8-Series Lynx Point chipset which brings nothing new on the table over Ivy Bridge CPUs, compared to them Intel Broadwell Z97 for high-end enthusiasts and H97 for mainstream consumers would bring with them the latest SATA Express support which would bring industry leading I/O storage performance with transfer speeds rated upto 10 – 16 GB/s. Current motherboards come with SATA III transfer ports which deliver only 6 GB/s ports so we would essentially be looking at faster transfer speeds and additionally blistering fast 10 GB/s SSD solutions since the upcoming motherboards would be able to fully support them."

Source: http://wccftech.com/intel-broadwell-compatible-9series-based-z97-h97-chipsets-brings-sata-express-10-gbs/
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#8
Oubadah
by: james888
I know the PCH has never really needed great cooling, but is that PCH cooler just because it is not a final product.
Obviously, but bear in mind that the heatsinks they put on the prototype boards are probably more effective than the final designs anyway. They're actually heatsinks, as opposed to the stupid, inefficient bricks of aluminium that the final boards get because apparently 'gamers' think they look cool.
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