MSI's Z97 Gaming 9 ACK has some really unique features. The CMedia audio solution is one of the best to ever be integrated onto a motherboard, and there's no doubt in my mind that it's much more impressive than Realtek solutions. I think MSI should have tossed the Realtek solution and only used the CMedia. One real benefit of this board is the Killer DoubleShot Pro, which isn't just fancy a title for Killer's software, but rather an intelligent dual adapter ecosystem. Since MSI uses both a Killer NIC and a Killer Wireless AC card (both of which scored very well in performance testing), Killer's DoubleShot Pro technology is enabled.
The technology allows for the simultaneous use of the Wi-Fi and Wired NIC, but they aren't teamed in the traditional sense. Instead, Killer's software will determine which adapter is faster and route high priority bandwidth (games) through the faster network adapter while routing lower priority bandwidth (Windows updates etc) through the lower speed adapter. With the normal Killer software, your background tasks are throttled, but with the DoubleShot Pro technology, background tasks are routed through a different network adapter. This means that you can download a movie and play a game, without the download affecting gaming performance.
Apart from the gaming features, the MSI Z97 Gaming 9 ACK features a lot of connectivity. IO performance as well as general system performance is excellent. There are a few downsides; the PCI-E spacing for two GPU's doesn't allow much room for the GPUs to breathe, but I didn't experience any issues with GPU performance using two GTX 980s in SLI.
The price of the Z97 Gaming 9 ACK is also pretty high if you consider the fact that most other $299 Z97 motherboards feature a PLX bridge chip for greater multi-GPU capabilities. Even with those slight flaws, the Z97 Gaming 9 ACK has one of the best UEFIs I have seen for the Z97 platform, and fan control is excellent because of it. Overclocking and VRM thermal performance was all top notch, and I didn't encounter any issues in regard to overclocking.
Product Summary Breakdown
|Performance (including Overclocking)||95%|
|Quality including Design and Build||95%|
|Bundle and Packaging||95%|
|Value for Money||95%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||95%|
The Bottom Line: If you want the best audio and the most intelligent consumer networking solution in a solid Z97 motherboard which can also overclock, MSI's Z97 Gaming 9 ACK is the right choice for you.
PRICING: You can find the MSI Z97 Gaming 9 ACK for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
United States: The MSI Z97 Gaming 9 ACK retails for $289.99 at Amazon.
Australia: The MSI Z97 Gaming 9 ACK retails for $445 at PLE Computers.
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon Canada's website.
- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and the Z97 Gaming 9 ACK]
- Page 3 [Z97 Gaming 9 ACK Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [Z97 Gaming 9 ACK Circuit Analysis Continued]
- Page 5 [BIOS and Software]
- Page 6 [Test System Setup]
- Page 7 [Overclocking]
- Page 8 [CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks]
- Page 9 [System IO Benchmarks]
- Page 10 [Temperature and Power Consumption]
- Page 11 [Final Thoughts]
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