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MSI Z97I AC (Intel Z97) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

By: Shawn Baker | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Aug 25, 2014 10:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: MSI

Close up with the MSI Z97I AC

 

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Taking a look at the whole board, you get a fairly good idea of what's going on due to the small size that the Mini-ITX form factor brings to the table. Taking the time to look closer and see exactly what's offered, we move in to the bottom part of the board. Being a Mini-ITX board means that we're limited to just a single expansion slot. As usual, we see that MSI has chosen to include a single x16 PCIe slot that supports all of the latest video cards.

 

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Turning the corner, you can see we're greeted with two DIMM slots, which support up to 16GB of DDR3, at speeds ranging from 1066MHz DDR to 3000MHz DDR via overclocking. If we turn the corner again, we see our main 24-Pin ATX power connector, and about that we see our Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 7260 card, which brings 802.11 ac/a/b/g/b Wi-Fi support, along with Bluetooth 4.0 support.

 

Moving a little over to the right, we've got a USB 3.0 header, and next to that we finish this area off with four SATA III ports that run off the Intel Z97 chipset.

 

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Moving to the middle of the board, you can see that we've got a single 4-pin CPU power connector sitting behind a small heat sink. This is different from the 8-pin CPU power connector we normally see; it will be interesting to see if this affects overclocking. Looking at the CPU area, you can see it's pretty tight, as usual, with everything crammed in together.

 

This design is a little different, and the CPU socket sits towards the bottom right corner of the board. This could create a slight problem for larger coolers, as both the RAM and back of the video card sit quite close; you really couldn't go too big. Fortunately, we didn't run into any problems with our Corsair H100i AIO Cooler.

 

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Finishing up our look at the motherboard, we head over to the I/O side of things. Starting from the left, we have a pair of USB 2.0 ports, along with a PS/2 combo port. Next to that we have two small buttons; one is for GO2BIOS, and the other is a Clear CMOS button. Next to that we've got an Optical S/PIDF-Out port, which goes along with the six auxiliary ports on the far right, which run off the Realtek ALC892 Codec.

 

Below the optical port, we have a HDMI and DisplayPort, along with a DVI-I port next to that, and a pair of connectors for the two Wi-Fi antennas that we saw in the box. We finish up our look at the I/O with four USB 3.0 ports, and a pair of Gigabit networking ports that run off the Realtek RTL8111G chip.

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