Tuesday, May 6th 2014

MSI Also Launches its Z97 Gaming Series Motherboards

In addition to its overclocker-centric OC Series of motherboards based on the Z97 Express chipset, MSI launched several motherboard models in the Gaming Series. It starts off with the Z97I Gaming for mini-ITX builds, Z97M Gaming for micro-ATX ones, the Z97 Gaming 3, Z97 Gaming 5, and Z97 Gaming 7, built in the standard ATX form-factor. Interestingly, these are not the only Gaming Series boards. There's also the Z97-G43 Gaming, Z97-G45 Gaming, and Z97-GD65 Gaming. A characteristic feature of these boards is a design focus on better audio and wired networking. On the audio front, most models feature AudioBoost audio with ground-layer isolation and headphones amp; while on the wired networking front, the higher-end models feature Broadcom Killer E2200 gaming-optimized NICs. On the ones that lack it, MSI dropped in at least an Intel-made NIC.

The Z97 Gaming 7 and Z97 Gaming GD65 are two different beasts, although they're in the same price bracket (around $180). The Gaming 7 features an all-PCIe expansion area with modern M.2 slot, while the GD65 features dated mSATA 6 Gb/s. The rest of their feature-sets are identical, even if their PCBs are not. You get a 12-phase CPU VRM, three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x8/x4/x4 when all are populated), eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports, AudioBoost audio, and Killer E2200 NIC. The story repeats itself with the Z97 Gaming 5 and Z97-G45 Gaming.

Barring the milder 8-phase CPU VRM, both are similar in features to the more expensive Gaming 7 and GD65, with the exception of two fewer SATA 6 Gb/s ports. At the entry level are the Z97 Gaming 3 and Z97-G43 Gaming. The two are designed for gaming builds with no more than two graphics cards, and offer some legacy PCI slots. The two offer AudioBoost and Killer E2200, but skimp out on the CPU VRM, featuring just a 6-phase one. Storage connectivity is consistent with those of the Gaming 5 and G45.
The Z97M Gaming and Z97I Gaming AC cater to the micro-ATX and mini-ITX crowds, respectively. Each make up for their diminutive size with loads of onboard features. The Z97I Gaming AC offers a decent 6-phase CPU VRM, AudioBoost audio, Broadcom Killer Ethernet, 802.11 ac WLAN, Bluetooth, and four SATA 6 Gb/s ports. The Z97M Gaming, on the other hand, is feature-rich, in offering two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x8/x8 when both are populated), an M.2 slot in addition to six SATA 6 Gb/s, a mighty 8-phase CPU VRM, Killer NIC, and AudioBoost Audio.
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6 Comments on MSI Also Launches its Z97 Gaming Series Motherboards

#1
sgtspiff
Is it just me or...
Where is the M.2 on the itx board?
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#2
wotevajjjj
When will they finally come up with a extended mini-itx size ? Just give me m-atx length and 2 pci-e slots. Most high end itx cases are big enough anyway....
Posted on Reply
#4
Ciric
by: wotevajjjj
When will they finally come up with a extended mini-itx size ? Just give me m-atx length and 2 pci-e slots. Most high end itx cases are big enough anyway....
Kinda makes the itx bit redundant.
...go mATX instead then. You can have those cases with the same footprint as the highend itx cases you're refering to
Posted on Reply
#5
micropage7
wow full line, from standard to small board.
Posted on Reply
#6
entropy13
If only I have the money, maybe my GD65 finally gets a newer reincarnation lol
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