The Z270 Gaming M5 is the middle road of MSI’s Z270 chipset based motherboards. It’s Intel Kaby Lake time, and that can mean only one thing - a whole new slew of motherboards designed to take advantage of Intel’s latest and greatest. We’ve got our hands on MSI’s Z270 Gaming M5, the updated version of last year’s Z170A gaming motherboard. Of MSI’s fresh crop of LGA1151 socket motherboards, the Z270 Gaming M5 is undoubtedly one of the more feature rich of the bunch. Built for gaming first and foremost, it’s packing just about everything you’re going to need for a premium experience while using Intel’s Core 7000 series CPUs, or the previous generation Skylake chips.
A closer look at the motherboard lineup from MSI reveals that the Z270 Gaming M5 is an upper mid-range model, regarding their gaming branded products. Of course it comes with some really neat features, like for example Game Boost and the new updated UEFI BIOS. The MSI Z270 Gaming M5 motherboard is powered by an 8-phase CPU VRM, which is usually enough for an overclocked system even if you wanted to do extreme benching using liquid nitrogen as coolant, neverthelss we would choose another model from the MSI Z270 portfolio for that purpose.
- Supports 7th/6th gen Intel Core/Pentium/Celeron processors for LGA 1151 socket
- DDR4 Boost with Steel Armor: Give your DDR4 memory a performance boost
- VR Ready and VR Boost: Best virtual reality game experience without latency, reduces motion sickness
- Gaming Certified: 24-hour on and offline game and motherboard testing by eSports players
- Gaming LAN with LAN Protect Powered by Killer: The best online gaming experience with lowest latency and bandwidth management
- Intel Core i3/i5/i7 Processor, LGA 1151, Dual Channel DDR4, USB 3.1, PCI-E 3.0, PCI-E x1, Sata 6 GB
With its black PCB and silver and ash-grey accents, the Z270 Gaming M5 is a distinctive, though very dark, board. But like almost every other mid-to-high-end motherboard these days, MSI brought along some RGB LEDs to lighten things up.
The RGB lights here add your choice of seven colors to a strip atop the chipset cooler, as well as a section underneath it, facing the bottom of the board. Accompanying software lets you plug in a standard LED strip and sync both it and the board's own lighting, so that colors and effects match up.
MSI Z270 Gaming M5 seems to be taking advantage of its native features as much as possible. It also provides two M.2 mounts (With RAID) which share lanes with some of the SATA 6Gbs as many mainstream motherboard users will be aware from their past experiences. One of its own selling points are two USB ports specifically labeled ‘VR Ready’ and ‘VR Boost’. In a nutshell, it provides clean signals to avoid any latency.
The big one that stood out is MSI’s OC Mode, or 1-Second Overclocking function. This is cool. As any CPU overclocker knows, the overclocking process is a slow and arduous one, having to creep your way up the multipliers and voltages until you find the sweet spot, but with the Z270’s one stop OC you just press a button and they’ve found the perfect OC for your CPU.
Using the MSI Z270 Gaming M5's overclocking feature the i7-7700k goes from 4.2Ghz to 5.2Ghz, the i5-7600k goes from 3.8Ghz to 4.9Ghz and the i3-7350k goes from 4.2Ghz to 4.9Ghz. It was that easy and we had no problem temperature wise with our aftermarket cooler on our 7600k. This system also works on the DDR4 memory speed as well.
Some other cool features the board has are the new and improved USB 3.1 Gen2 Lightning support. Pretty speedy. Support for USB 3.1 Type-C on the front panel is there if you want, with a total of 13 USB ports available across USB 3.1 and USB 2 to use.A pretty stellar audio design, overvoltage protection, Debug LED, LED support all over the place (both on the board and support of LED strips), clear CMOS button and DDR4/PCIe Steel Armor to name a few. And for any VR nuts out there, MSI has definitely put VR in its sights. With a VR Boost function, a specific chip attached to the designated VR port that ensures a smooth, clean and strong signal from your computer to your headset.
Overall, the MSI Z270 Gaming M5's layout has been well thought.Once more practical are the angled SATA connectors that you can find on almost all motherboards nowadays. Other than that there are internal USB 3.0 headers. Unfortunately there are no practical power- and reset-buttons. Nevertheless MSI decided to equip this board with a debug display.
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