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MSI Z97 GAMING 9 AC (Intel Z97) Motherboard Review

By: Shawn Baker | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Jun 19, 2014 9:02 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: MSI

Close up with the MSI Z97 GAMING 9 AC




Taking a look at the motherboard, you can see it's very black. It's pretty much a black on black design with red highlights on the heat sinks. You can see the bottom heat sink has the G Series logo and the MSI one. Overall, it's a pretty clean look and very standard for the G Series. Let's move in a bit closer, though, and see just what we're dealing with here today.






Taking the time to move in closer, you can see it's fairly busy down here. For the expansion slot side of things, we've got a standard Z97 setup that sees three PCIe x1 slots and three PCIe x16 slots. These three slots run in the standard configuration of x16, x8/x8, or x8/x4/x4 depending on how many cards you're using. Also, you can see that we have our M.2 connector between the bottom two PCIe x16 slots. While here, we also get a look at the EMI Shielding around the audio components of the board, which we mentioned on the first page.




Looking across the bottom, you can see half of it is cut off via the EMI shielding offered. On the right side, though, you can see our normal array of USB 2.0 and fan headers along with our main front panel connector. In the right corner, you can also see an LED Debug reader that lets us know of any errors during the boot process.




Turning the corner, you can see we've got a total of eight SATAT III ports being offered. Six of these run off of the Intel Z97 chipset, while the other two run off of the ASMedia ASM1061 chipset. To the right, you can see we've also got a single USB 3.0 header here.




Moving to the top end of the board, you can see our normal four DIMM slots that support 32GB of memory from 1066MHz DDR to 3300MHz DDR via overclocking. Below that, we have our main 24-Pin ATX power connector with another USB 3.0 header to the left. On the right, you can see our V-Check points along with three buttons, including Power, Reset, and OC Genie.






Heading around to the CPU area, you can see our standard 8-Pin CPU connector in the back corner. As for the CPU area, you can see it falls in line with most motherboards these days, and it looks very clean. The overall heat sink design is simple but feels great. It's hopefully more than enough cooling to get some decent overclocking done.




Finishing up our look at the motherboard, we leave with the I/O side of things. Starting from the left, we have a combo PS/2 port above two USB 2.0 ports. Next to that, we have room for our Intel WiDi card followed by a clear CMOS button. Continuing on, we've got six of the total eight USB 3.0 ports that run off of the ASMedia ASM1074 and ASM1042 controller.


Gigabit networking is provided by the Killer E2205 controller, and video out options include DisplayPort and HDMI. Finally, we finish up with the audio side of things, which includes six auxiliary ports along with an optical port all running off of the Realtek ALC1150 Codec.

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