With Intel's Z370 chipset and CoffeeLake CPUs now widely available around the globe, it's time to take a look at yet another Z370-based motherboard, and this go around we've got one from MSI. In this instance, however, I'm not doing my standard review. Yes, this is a motherboard review just like all my past ones, but I'm not using an unlocked top-tier CPU. This time, I am employing the 6-core i5-8400. With the full 9 MB of cache available on this chip and Hyper-Threading absent, this modestly priced CPU is something that should have caught your attention, especially for gaming, so to me, it is only natural that I take my sample i5-8400 to see just what boards offer when not mixed with the almighty "K" CPUs.
The MSI Z370 GAMING PRO CARBON is a well-equipped board. Ready for exactly such a build as I've got here in this review, MSI really built this board to be the base of any high-end gaming rig; all the bells and whistles you really do need are here, including superb audio, bundled Wi-Fi connectivity (from Intel, of course), high RAM compatibility, a good VRM design, and, of course, RGB LEDs. Yet all you RGB haters can relax... the MSI Z370 GAMING PRO CARBON AC does the whole RGB thing just right and isn't going to burn holes deep into your retinae. MSI has done well at evolving their gaming products through the generations, and the MSI Z370 GAMING PRO CARBON AC is nigh on the perfect board for a gaming build, no matter your overall budget.
With nearly matched prices of $200 between the i5-8400 and MSI's Z370 GAMING PRO CARBON AC, these two bits of hardware seem like a perfect match for one another. Add in some $200 RAM kit, preferably spec'd at 3200 MHz or higher, and you potentially have a killer rig for all your gaming needs, but before I can just go and put a stamp of approval on these parts, they naturally need to be put to use first. In that exact context, built up as a gaming rig (this time with multiple videocards and a beefy PSU to ensure we can push the limits of what all this hardware has to offer), I've spent considerable time with this specific configuration, taking an in-depth look at what might be the best value-oriented mainstream configuration for 4K gaming. Of course, in doing so, it needed to be gamed on, and I've been doing that for the past couple of weeks on a daily basis (Destiny 2 is stealing my soul!). That all said and done, it's now time to talk about that rather uneventful yet wildly satisfying experience.
6x SATA 6 Gb/s port (Intel Z370) 2x M.2 port (PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA 6 Gb/s)
1x Intel I219-V
1x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port 2x USB 2.0 Type-A ports 1x DisplayPort port 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port 4x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports 1x HDMI port 1x LAN (RJ45) port 5x OFC audio jacks 1x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector
Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec
ATX Form Factor: 12.0-in x 9.6-in, 30.5 cm x 24.3 cm