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MSI Z170A Gaming M9 ACK (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Sep 7, 2015 3:09 pm
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: MSI

Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption

 

System power usage is measured at the AC/DC PSU (the Corsair AX1200i) which I have connected to another system to measure the test system, and as a backup I have a wall meter to verify. The CPU power is measured through the 8-pin connector, which is hooked up to a hall effect IC, which measures current and puts out a voltage in proportion to the current. That voltage is logged by a National Instruments ADC, which logs the DC voltage level that I then convert into current.

 

msi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-review

 

Note on Thermal Images: In the temperature section, we use our Seek thermal imaging camera to capture the surface temperatures of major components on the board. I look at the VRM and then all other things that light up the screen. If there is something to worry about, then I will state it, otherwise I will just show the hotter running parts of the board for fun. Unless some component is over 80-90C, then there really isn't anything to worry about.

 

 

All systems will act differently, so I will look for commonalities, such as how far from the VRM the heat spreads through the PCB and the difference in temperature between the front side and backside of the PCB. Keep in mind, the majority of the heat from the VRM goes into the PCB as it is a giant soldered on copper heat sink. A larger difference in temperature between the back and front of the PCB points towards a more effective heat sink.

 

Thermal Testing at Stock Speeds:

 

The image on the left is always at idle and the image on the right is at load. During ALL TESTS, fans above the VRM that cool the CPU cooler's (Corsair H110i GT) radiator are turned on to high (12v).

 

msi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-reviewmsi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-review

 

Full frontal.

 

msi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-reviewmsi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-review

 

Up-close of the front of the VRM.

 

msi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-reviewmsi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-review

 

Up-close of the back of the VRM.

 

 

Thermal Testing at 4.5GHz Overclocked Speeds:

 

msi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-reviewmsi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-review

 

Full frontal.

 

msi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-reviewmsi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-review

 

Up-close of the front of the VRM.

 

msi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-reviewmsi-z170a-gaming-m9-ack-intel-z170-motherboard-review

 

Up-close of the back of the VRM.

 

The VRM on the Z170A GAMING M9 ACK isn't the best I have seen on the Z170 platform and it's not close to the worst. While the CPU was overclocked to 4.5GHz, the VRM did seem to run a bit warmer than at stock, but always in the safe range. The heat sinks seem to work well to dissipate the heat. The heat sink has built in water cooling support, and I do think that it could reduce VRM temperature, but it wouldn't affect performance much (you probably won't be able to OC higher since the VRM isn't really limiting anything). The longevity of the components will be increased by cooling the VRM with water cooling, but it's not really necessary here.

 

Anything under 60C is great, 60-80C is acceptable, and anything above 80C is a bit worrisome (if at stock).

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