Introduction of the MSI Z97I AC
With the launch of the X99 chipset from Intel just around the corner, we want to try to quickly knock over the last of the Z97 boards we have laying around. This is not because the X99 chipset is replacing the Z97, but because we've got an absolute flood of X99 boards coming in, which will take priority over the next few weeks, if not months.
As we just mentioned, the X99 isn't a replacement to the Z97 chipset, but is instead designed to be its high-end counterpart. The focus on X99 is CPUs with large amounts of threads, and multi GPU Video Card setups that move past the most common two GPU setups. The X99 chipset is going to carry a higher price point for motherboards, and higher price point for CPUs.
For people who are continuing to look for a more serious bang for buck, the Z97 chipset is still going to be the one to buy. In the same way that our focus will move to the X99 architecture for some time, so will the focus of motherboard manufacturers.
With all that said, we should quickly cover what exactly we're dealing with today. The other day we got to check out a Mini-ITX motherboard from GIGABYTE in the form of the Z97N-GAMING 5, and we found ourselves impressed with what the company was offering. Today we get the chance to look at an offering from MSI, the Z97I AC.
We don't know a lot about the Z97I AC from MSI, and we have only had a brief chance to see it during Computex this year. So, with that said, we should move on with haste, and see exactly what MSI is offering in with this tiny motherboard.
Package - What comes inside the box
Taking a look at the front of the box, we can see that most of the information is in regards to the Military Class 4 components, which bring Humidity, High Temperature ESD, and EMI Protection. You can clearly see the model on the front, and a brief mention of the 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Across the bottom of the box, you can see a couple of the other main features being pushed, including USB 3.0, SATA III, PCIe Gen 3, and Fast Boot.
Turning the box over, you can see the left side again shows that Military Class 4 logo with the main specifications below it. This side also offers a look at the I/O. On the right side, you can see exactly what Military Class 4 brings to the table; in this case it's Hi-c Cap, SFC, and dark capacitors. We again see what that offers as far as protection, and we get another mention of the 802.11ac Wi-Fi feature.
Upon opening the box and diving inside, you can see there's not a whole lot going on, as you'd expect. In terms of paperwork, we've got a User Guide and Quick Install Guide. Along with that, we've got two Driver CDs, an I/O back plate, a pair of SATA III cables, and in the bottom right corner, you can see a pair of antennas that are undoubtedly for the 802.11ac Wi-Fi card.
PRICING: You can find the MSI Z97I AC Mini-ITX Motherboard for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The MSI Z97I AC Mini-ITX Motherboard retails for $138.99 at Amazon.
Canada: The MSI Z97I AC Mini-ITX Motherboard retails for CDN$166.45 at Amazon Canada.