Pricing, Availability, and Final Thoughts
Mini-ITX boards always come in at a lower price point for the simple fact they can't hold as much on them, meaning that some of those pricier features just aren't seen here. Coming in at a little under the $150 mark, the Z97I AC from MSI is priced extremely well, and comes in at a more aggressive price point than the GIGABYTE Mini-ITX motherboard we looked at the other day.
The overall look of the board is great, but we can't deny the fact that the placement of the CPU socket might be an issue for people wanting larger coolers. On the other hand, people building systems around a Mini-ITX motherboard normally opt for a smaller case, and larger coolers just aren't an option anyway. Still, it's something that is worth mentioning, as the socket does sit in a slightly different position in comparison to other Mini-ITX motherboards.
As for the features, for the most part, you've got everything you would need. The single PCIe x16 slot can accommodate a nice, fast video card, and we've got a bunch of networking options with dual gigabit ports seen on the back, along with the 802.11 ac card that also offers us Bluetooth 4.0.
When it comes to the bundle, there's not a whole lot going on, but considering the size of the box, you were never going to see too much anyway. When it comes to a board this size, you don't need a lot, and in the end, everything you need is included, with the main stand out feature being the two antennas that are used in conjunction with the 802.11 ac wireless card.
Mini-ITX boards are always interesting when it comes to rating. This is because you can get a board that offers more features at a lower price point at the cost of size. If you're not worried about the size of your motherboard, then a Mini-ITX board just isn't going to hold any value for you at all.
On the other side of the fence, if you're thinking about building a small system that can pack quite a punch, then Mini-ITX might be just what you're after. At this price point, the MSI Z97I AC is a great option. The performance is strong on the board, and we've got all the features that you'd hope for, and expect. Click BIOS 4 is fantastic these days, and looking at the results, you can see that the overclocking ability on this board is quite strong. With that said, we wish we had a i7 4790K that was more capable of overclocking so we could see just how much performance we can get out of this board.
If you're after a Mini-ITX motherboard, and you're trying to not spend too much, this is a fantastic option from MSI. The price point on the model is strong, and you've really got everything that you'd want from a board that comes in at this size. If you're looking for something well priced, yet looks good, and feels great, the MSI Z97I AC is a Mini-ITX option that you should really consider.
PRICING: You can find the MSI Z97I AC Mini-ITX Motherboard for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The MSI Z97I AC Mini-ITX Motherboard retails for $138.99 at Amazon.
- Page 1 [Introduction and Package]
- Page 2 [Motherboard Details]
- Page 3 [BIOS Images and Information]
- Page 4 [Test System Setup and Overclocking]
- Page 5 [CPU & System Benchmarks]
- Page 6 [USB 2.0, USB 3.0 & SSD Benchmarks]
- Page 7 [Memory & Gaming Benchmarks]
- Page 8 [Temperature & Power Testing]
- Page 9 [Pricing, Availability, and Final Thoughts]
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