MSI Gaming Build Part Selection
We decided to team up with MSI to bring you our first sponsored build guide featuring the MSI Z270 Gaming M7 and MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8GB. The purpose of this build guide is simple; we will go over the component selection, physical build optimization, UEFI optimization, software optimization, and finally overclocking.
The guide will offer both a shallow and deep dive into the build so that both novice and experienced users can optimize each part to get every last drop of performance. If you have never built a computer before, this guide doesn't necessarily cover how to build a computer, but MSI's motherboard manual does. Pages 3 to 12 of MSI's Z270 Gaming M7 manual detail how to build a PC.
The guide will focus on two of MSI's top products; the GTX 1080 Gaming X 8GB featuring the Twin Frozr VI cooler (Review Here) and the Z270 Gaming M7 motherboard (Review Here). MSI is one of the top vendors for enthusiast-grade motherboards and graphics cards, and that's because of their commitment to producing gaming oriented products.
The build we are going to walk-through has been designed and optimized to feature some of the fastest available components, and these two products are some of MSI's best and most popular. The graphics card has been optimized to operate at extremely low noise levels while providing top notch performance, while the motherboard is designed to support the latest technologies and easy configuration (including overclocking).
The rest of this build was done with components I chose to reduce bottlenecks and optimize compatibility; you can change the part selection depending on your needs. I will discuss each part, why I chose it, and what you might want to change.
- CPU: Intel Core i7 7700K - The LGA1151 socket paired with an Intel Z270 chipset motherboard can take full advantage of the 7700K and 7600K. If you don't do much in terms of multithreaded work, the 7600K might be a preferable alternative. The IPC of Skylake (6700K) and Kaby Lake (7700K) are almost identical, and you can use either CPU. However, the 7700K overclocks much easier and supports a few more features (Optane).
- Motherboard: MSI Z270 Gaming M7 - The MSI Z270 Gaming M7 is one of the most popular MSI gaming motherboards, offering many great features for its price. It has almost every modern feature you could want and offers many unique MSI features. When you buy a vendor's most popular product, you are almost guaranteed they will support it better than their more unpopular ones and that the community approves of it.
- Cooler: Corsair H115i GT - Buy from Amazon - I used this cooler because I had an extra, but I wanted to make sure to use a double radiator AIO. While some users prefer to use their custom built water cooling setups, I decided to go AIO to save time and peace of mind (leaks). I have been a fan of Corsair's AIOs, and their performance is good enough to overclock Intel's 10-Core 6950X, so it should be good enough to cool our 5GHz 7700K. You can use whatever cooler you like, just remember that the overclocking limiter for modern Intel CPUs tends to be cooling.
- Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum (4x4GB) 3200MHz - I had this kit on-hand, as the 32GB version just replaced it in my review test-bench. Memory compatibility is one of the most common issues that leads to failed boots, instability, and just random problems. If you want to be 100% sure that the kit you purchase won't cause problems, stick to MSI's Memory QVL.
- Video Card: MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X 8GB - Based on NVIDIA's famous Pascal architecture, this GTX 1080 offers 8GB of GDDR5X, a hefty Twin Frozr VI cooler, and custom PCB. Cooling is what sets many GPUs apart, and MSI is known for having some of the highest performing and quiet coolers around.
- Storage - Boot Drive: Samsung 950 Pro 256GB - Samsung makes some of the fastest NVMe-based M.2 SSDs, and MSI's motherboard can take three of them at the same time. The Samsung 950 Pro is an excellent choice for a boot drive, so is the 960 Pro. If you are on a budget, Intel's 600p offers a lot of storage for a small price. I highly recommend you get an SSD (SATA or PCI-E) for the general experience enhancements they provide.
- Storage - Game and Movie Storage: Intel 750 400GB U.2 - I wanted to highlight the U.2 connector onboard, and I had an extra Intel 750 on-hand I had been itching to use in a multi-purpose build for local file storage (I use a NAS for local permanent storage). I realize that 400GB isn't enough for a large game collection (I mean, AoS is 86GB alone), so you might want to replace the 750/add a 2TB storage drive. I will warn you right now; some SATA ports will be disabled when some M.2 ports are used, that is not MSI's fault but rather a platform limitation to allow for M.2 RAID. I will cover how the ports are switched on the next page.
- Case: Corsair Carbide 400C - The Carbide 400C is a compact, elegant, and well-built case. It has great cooling potential, easily fits a dual radiator AIO, and I like the tinted side panel. It doesn't have any front bays for optical drives or other devices, so if you need those or want a bigger case, you might want to choose something else.
- Power Supply: Corsair RM1000x - The RM1000x offers fully modular cabling, 80+ Gold certification, a 10-year warranty, and a zero RPM fan mode. Power supplies are one of the first things to go on high-performance PSUs, so look for something with a decent warranty. The RM1000x is overkill for this build unless you plan on adding a second GTX 1080 Gaming X 8GB in the future for SLI, which is why I chose it. If you are not planning to upgrade down the line, stick with a 600-800W PSU with a good name, solid efficiency, and a good warranty.
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 - Buy from Amazon - Do we really have an option these days? In my opinion it's a decent OS, and the learning curve is short if you have never used it.
- Monitor: ASUS PA328 ProArt 32" 4K - Buy from Amazon - It's the monitor I use daily, and this build will replace my daily rig. The machine we are building will be able to play games at 4K (3840x2160), so a 4K monitor isn't a bad idea.
- Keyboard: Corsair K70 LUX - Buy from Amazon - Also part of my daily machine. It has RGB LEDs too, and they are tastefully done.
- Mouse: Corsair M65 PRO RGB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review - Also part of my daily machine.
The cost of our configuration is roughly $2,200, but your number could differ greatly. Our configuration uses one of the most expensive AIO coolers, a very expensive PSU, and about $500 of storage. The motherboard costs roughly $239.99, while the GPU costs $629.99. You might also choose to go with cheaper memory if you want to save a few dollars.
I would estimate on the low-end you could build this system for close to $1500, and at the high-end, you could easily spend over $3000 by adding in another GPU in SLI, higher density memory, better cooling, more storage, and so on.
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