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MSI Z270 Gaming M7 Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Jan 9, 2017 8:55 pm
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TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: MSI

Packaging and Overview

 

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MSI's box design has not changed much; it displays the motherboard lit up and shows us their CES 2017 innovation award. The motherboard is securely packaged.

 

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The accessory package includes four SATA6Gb/s cables, two RGB extension cables, IO shield, SLI bridge, M-Connectors, case badge, cable stickers, and of course driver DVD and manual.

 

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MSI offers six fan headers on the Z270 Gaming M7, and all of them can work in either DC or PWM Mode. The two headers circled in red can auto detect if the fan plugged in is a DC or PWM fan and change the pins accordingly. The four headers circled in blue will work in DC mode by default, but can be changed to PWM mode in the UEFI if needed.

 

The color theme of the motherboard is black and gray, something many enthusiasts have been asking for mainly because everything matches with black. The motherboard does have accent lighting; all of it consists of well-diffused RGB LEDs. The back of the motherboard is bare except for some doublers.

 

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The rear IO panel offers three USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, PS/2 port, Clear CMOS button, DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 3.1 type-A, USB 3.1 type-C, 1GBit LAN, and gold plated audio connector with S/PDIF optical.

 

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The PCI-E Layout is simple enough; the first and second x16 slots share x8 of bandwidth so you can get either x16/x8 or x8/x8. The last x16 slot is x4 hard wired to the PCH and shares its bandwidth with the U.2 connector. The motherboard features six SATA6Gb/s connector and a U.2 connector. The U.2 port, some SATA ports, and M.2 slots share bandwidth and MSI provides nice diagrams in the manual to help you figure out what ports to use.

 

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MSI is using the new USB 3.1 20-pin internal connector, which should catch on soon enough. A new feature to MSI is USB Flashback+, which allows users to recover a corrupt BIOS with a USB stick, you just plug in the USB stick into the designated USB port and click the FLASHB1 button. MSI has not only shielded their PCI-E and memory DIMMs, but also their M.2 slots. One of their M.2 slots even gets a heat sink shield to cool down hotter M.2 drives. MSI is the first motherboard vendor to implement and M.2 SSD heat sink, but it's very thin.

 

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The third M.2 slot sits right below the CPU socket and supports longer M.2 drives. The motherboard does have overclocking features including a POST Code display.

 

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The memory DIMMs are shielded as well, and the traces that go to the memory DIMMs have an isolation layer starting from the CPU socket and ending at the DIMMs. A USB 3.0 header sits at the bottom of the motherboard near two USB 2.0 internal headers.

 

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An RGB LED header is also located at this bottom row as are the power and reset buttons. MSI's GAME BOOST knob provides eight different OC presets for users to choose from, with the maximum being a 5.2GHz overclock on a Kaby Lake CPU.

 

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MSI's M.2 shield/heat sink has a thermal pad, all you have to do is peel off the blue layer, install your M.2 drive, and screw down everything for it to help cool your M.2 drive. The VRM heat sink is practically integrated into the IO panel shield. All heat sinks and shields are screwed down, and all three segments have RGB LEDs built into them.

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