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MSI Z97 GAMING 5 (Intel LGA 1150)

cadaveca

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Fresh on the market in just the past few days is Intel's Z97, and I get to take my first look at MSI's new Z97 GAMING 5, built from the ground up for gamers looking for great features at a great price. Featuring a new esthetic design as well as a host of new features.

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Hi Dave interesting review. I was looking through the 3D performance results and was comparing the Firestrike results to the Metro last Light results. The MSI Z97 board was top at 9019 and the EVGA Z87 Stinger was bottom at 7970 and yet in the Metro test the EVGA board was a whole 50fps faster! I just don't get this difference. Any thoughts on the inconsistent 3D performance of this board?
Cheers,
Footman.
 

souleet

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Is SATA express useless since there's no device until next year?

Great review by the way!
 

cadaveca

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Is SATA express useless since there's no device until next year?

SATA Express could be useful, for sure. The drives are blazing fast. This board does not have it built-in, but there WILL be adapters that slot into the M.2 port. I don't think many $150 boards will have built-in support for this interface, but some will.

Great review by the way!
With this board in particular, it's not here because the drives will be expensive. There are other MSI motherboards to cater to users that want all the latest goodies.
Hi Dave interesting review. I was looking through the 3D performance results and was comparing the Firestrike results to the Metro last Light results. The MSI Z97 board was top at 9019 and the EVGA Z87 Stinger was bottom at 7970 and yet in the Metro test the EVGA board was a whole 50fps faster! I just don't get this difference. Any thoughts on the inconsistent 3D performance of this board?
Cheers,
Footman.

The issues at this point when it comes to performance are all related to how cache and CPU multis scale. You can change all of that manually, quite easily. Different boards designed for different users get different profiling for how the multis scale, and this lets some boards excel at workloads others do not, and vice versa.

Makes motherboards testing a headache, let me tell you.
 
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Thanks Dave, looking forward to some more Z97 reviews.
 

cadaveca

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I have 5 other boards sitting here, and am expecting quite a few more. Should have at least one a week for the next month or so.
 
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Ah so its basically like Dynamic Storage Accelerator @ Asus mobos, gotcha. :)
 

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It seems like the motherboards get better and better every generation. The Gaming 5 seems like a replacement for the G45 and it's better all around with more features.
Audio is better, POST code is nice addition, LAN is a bit better and M.2 is better than mSATA

Only things I don't like are the heatsinks and badge.
 
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Does Audio Boost with molex reduction bringing more loudness with normal 32ohm headphones?
 

cadaveca

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Does Audio Boost with molex reduction bringing more loudness with normal 32ohm headphones?
I have some 70 ohm Sony MDR-XD200's that it helped a bit, and I also tested 150 ohm Sennheiser PC 350 SE and Monster iSport Immersion.

Differences were not noticed at lower volumes, honestly, but higher volumes did have a bit more clarity(dunno if this is the right term to use).
 
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Alright.

I'm gonna go and (as usual) disagree with Dave on this score.

A 9.6 Z97 board is a board that offers great value,
A 9.6 Z97 board is a board that offers new and advanced connectivity
A 9.6 Z97 board is a board that offers great overclocking abilities.

The Z97 Gaming 5 has non. It's a slightly over-priced, slightly-worse overclocker that lacks outputs, lacks SATA Express and defo not a 9.6 out of 10.
I'll it it as a 9. 6/10

For pete's sake, ASRock's Z97 Extreme6 cost 10$ more and for that, it will blow the GAMING 5 out of the water.
 

cadaveca

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Alright.

I'm gonna go and (as usual) disagree with Dave on this score.

A 9.6 Z97 board is a board that offers great value,
A 9.6 Z97 board is a board that offers new and advanced connectivity
A 9.6 Z97 board is a board that offers great overclocking abilities.

The Z97 Gaming 5 has non. It's a slightly over-priced, slightly-worse overclocker that lacks outputs, lacks SATA Express and defo not a 9.6 out of 10.
I'll it it as a 9. 6/10

For pete's sake, ASRock's Z97 Extreme6 cost 10$ more and for that, it will blow the GAMING 5 out of the water.

We never agree on scoring often. Sometimes you can sway me in one direction, sometimes not.


I think the lack of outputs and SATA Express is a good thing. I don't want crap on a board I'm not going to use. The ASRock Z97 Extreme4 is the board that this one "competes" with, not the Extreme6, BTW.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157503


Extreme6 is competition for GAMING 7.

I see where you are coming from, though. I'll tell ya, ASRock sent me Z97 Killer, and that'll probably be the only ASRock Z97 board I review. How does that make you feel? :p (no really, you know I value your opinion a lot).

You'll also find that the type of boards that I review here for Z97 will be much different than I did with Z87. Much different focus for me with this platform.
 
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Msi makes some very attractive gaming boards. I love the color scheme and feature set equipped with these boards.

Still personally prefer my asus boards, but I'm waiting to see the msi x99 Big Bang board.
 

souleet

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How much did asrock pay you to post this?

Alright.

I'm gonna go and (as usual) disagree with Dave on this score.

A 9.6 Z97 board is a board that offers great value,
A 9.6 Z97 board is a board that offers new and advanced connectivity
A 9.6 Z97 board is a board that offers great overclocking abilities.

The Z97 Gaming 5 has non. It's a slightly over-priced, slightly-worse overclocker that lacks outputs, lacks SATA Express and defo not a 9.6 out of 10.
I'll it it as a 9. 6/10

For pete's sake, ASRock's Z97 Extreme6 cost 10$ more and for that, it will blow the GAMING 5 out of the water.
 
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Thanks for the review Dave, I have a question about the Z97 platform in general.

Is this new chipset the one that will drive Broadwell once it's released? Are there many differences between Z97 and Z87 besides the inclusion of M.2 support?

I just don't like the stagnation the PC platform has experienced in the last few years, I mean, after P67 it seems like pretty much every new chipset generation only includes minor upgrades and no real revolutionary changes like a new memory interface (like Haswell-E) or even more PCIe lanes for mainstream parts (not that they are needed in probably 90% of all cases anyways, Haswell-E will serve that purpose as well...)

Any point in upgrading from Z87 to Z97, or should people just wait longer to make a meaningful upgrade?
 

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I have some 70 ohm Sony MDR-XD200's that it helped a bit, and I also tested 150 ohm Sennheiser PC 350 SE and Monster iSport Immersion.

Differences were not noticed at lower volumes, honestly, but higher volumes did have a bit more clarity(dunno if this is the right term to use).
But the maximum volume level remain the same with or without molex plug?
 
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How much did asrock pay you to post this?
Let me tell you a secret, MSI's a good friend of mine, giving me samples and sponsorships with products worth a lot of money.

There's a thing call honesty and unbiased opinion, look it up.
I look at things from a practical point of view, and the GAMING 5 offers the bare minimum over the previous gen to be called a new gen of motherboard.

Yes, it is a great motherboard, no doubt about that. But it isnt extraordinary
 
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The motherboards are exciting for a number of reasons, the cpu's unfortunately are not. TDP is increased over Ivybridge and heat is going to be an issue when overclocking. I may reconsider when full details and reviews of Devils Canyon chips hit the market. For now....Meh....
 
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cadaveca

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Let me tell you a secret, MSI's a good friend of mine, giving me samples and sponsorships with products worth a lot of money.

There's a thing call honesty and unbiased opinion, look it up.
I look at things from a practical point of view, and the GAMING 5 offers the bare minimum over the previous gen to be called a new gen of motherboard.

Yes, it is a great motherboard, no doubt about that. But it isnt extraordinary
A big part of my opinion is thinking of the target audience for this board, and what that sort of user wants. You do, of course, always have valid info, and have changed my scores in the past.

How much did asrock pay you to post this?
Never question Dj-ElectriC. He is very much an impartial source of info that I trust implicitly. If the situation was different, and we swapped MIS and ASRock here, he'd still say the same thing.

Thanks for the review Dave, I have a question about the Z97 platform in general.

Is this new chipset the one that will drive Broadwell once it's released? Are there many differences between Z97 and Z87 besides the inclusion of M.2 support?

I just don't like the stagnation the PC platform has experienced in the last few years, I mean, after P67 it seems like pretty much every new chipset generation only includes minor upgrades and no real revolutionary changes like a new memory interface (like Haswell-E) or even more PCIe lanes for mainstream parts (not that they are needed in probably 90% of all cases anyways, Haswell-E will serve that purpose as well...)

Any point in upgrading from Z87 to Z97, or should people just wait longer to make a meaningful upgrade?
Moving from Z87 will give M.2, better overall drive performance, as well as the added support for 5th Gen Intel Socket 1150 CPUs, which are not available now. The other improvements are in design of the boards themselves, the board's BIOS, and refinement of the features offered. If you do not need these things, then no, I wouldn't upgrade from Z87. If you have and earlier system, or buying completely new, Z97 is the chipset to get, for sure.

But the maximum volume level remain the same with or without molex plug?
not in perceived TOTAL volume with the headphones I tested. It's more for high-impedance headphones, that may require more power to be pushed properly?

I did find the front panel to give better audio that the rear panel.
 
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Dave, in the past, during the various reviews of the Z87 platform, much was made about all digital VRM's for the CPU and RAM. Previewing some of the Z97 boards, I see a decrease in the number of manufacturer and boards choices that are utilizing digital VRM's. It seems like they are de-emphasizing this issue now as not as important. Maybe the digital VRM's are too expensive and board profit margins are too low to use them. What is your take on this? This board, I believe is a good example of not including all digital Voltage Regulation Module(s)? Is this technology still very important like many manufacturers and reviewers made it out to be? Does it make a big difference in performance, power efficiency, and board/chip longevity?
 
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cadaveca

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Dave, in the past, during the various reviews of the Z87 platform, much was made about all digital VRM's for the CPU and RAM. Previewing some of the Z97 boards, I see a decrease in the number of manufacturer and boards choices that are utilizing digital VRM's. It seems like they are de-emphasizing this issue now as not as important. Maybe the digital VRM's are too expensive and board profit margins are too low to use them. What is your take on this? This board, I believe is a good example of not including all digital Voltage Regulation Module(s)? Is this technology still very important like many manufacturers and reviewers made it out to be? Does it make a big difference in performance, power efficiency, and board/chip longevity?
For me, it's still too early to be able to answer any questions about board longevity on this platform in regards to VRM design. Obviously many different parts are available out there, and many boards use different parts, but the actual life--time of the board and it's warranty should cover any such concerns in the first place. I don't really put any value myself in having a product out-live it's warranty period, as much as that might suck, as it keeps stuff in production. In regards to overall efficiency, generally digital VRM designs out-class "analogue" designs, but there are cases when each can out-class the other.

As to performance being affected by power quality, I can't say that that is the case.. performance is largely set by BIOS profiling, or by Intel's default values. I suppose in the extreme worst case performance might be impacted, but if that's the case, you need a new motherboard.

At the same time, I do feel chips themselves need to last longer, and sustain higher frequencies, yet at the same time I punish my own chip fairly hard, even with just the multiple installs into many different motherboards, that is still on-going ,and I've yet to see my chip degrade in any way. However, with Z97, there might be a relation to power designs again, but I haven't had enough time to fully delve into everything the platform itself offers in that regard. I do know that there is an option to use an external PLL source for some chips, and perhaps there's more to power delivery in general with this platform that has yet to reveal itself. I'm too dumb to know the difference. :roll:


I still have quite a few Z87 boards to review here, and will continue to do so while pushing out Z97 reviews, so this is something I plan to look at perhaps, since one has to wonder why some future CPUs might not work with Z87, but do with Z97, and I need more boards in my hands and time with them, or some documentation that explains why this idea exists, before I know why that is. The most obvious change would be in power regulation...
 
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