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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

Overclocking Results


CPU Overclocking


CPUID recently released their latest CPU-Z version which brings some major changes to the much loved software. One of these changes has made it harder to get a validation at lower stability levels, so it becomes much more troublesome to validate 5.2GHz at 1.5v with every board. While CPU-Z has changed, many motherboards (not this one) don't have LLC. I have to set a higher voltage to compare all these boards at the same voltage. I have decided to reduce the CPU VCore to 1.4v applied (I will measure real VCore at the output capacitors), and see how high I can validate. On most boards its 5.0-5.1GHz. I have also decided to add real voltage levels compared to what is set for all motherboards, if they don't have voltage read points I will mark where I got the readings from.




The Z170A GAMING M9 ACK is doing 5.0GHz, the only reason being I didn't have a light enough software program to change settings in the OS.





I am using HandBrake to transcode a 2GB video, and it is very telling since it pulls all cores to maximum frequency and load. Handbrake is good for a quick stability check, plus I get a log of the encoding speed and the number of errors. It is very easy for the queue not to finish all the way and just error out, and 1-3 hours of AIDA is about equal to this HandBrake test, so I am replacing it.




There is only one option for LLC and its 100%. I have no idea why LLC is so limited these days compared to the past, but it is pretty important. This isn't the only motherboard with only one LLC level, sadly, it has become rare to find more than one LLC level on a motherboard. LLC on this board works quite well, it also gets rid of all VDroop, there is still a little, but nothing too significant.



Memory Overclocking


I have decided to also change some things for the memory section. Clocking standard XMP has become easier, and ever since launch, memory performance and overclocking has gotten better too. I have decided to expand the overclocking tests to the following:






Test 1: 4x8GB (32GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX 2666MHz C16




I added a second Vengeance LPX kit to my previous memory test for 32GB of memory. This test is to see if the board can apply XMP meant for two DIMMs to four DIMMs of the same make and model, and the Z170A GAMING M9 ACK booted and applied the settings without issue.


Test 2: 4x4GB (16GB) Corsair Dominator Platinum 3200MHz C16




Here I am using a kit meant for X99 on Z170, this is a fast kit at the speed more people will run below for 24/7 operation. The board handled this kit without issue.


Test 3:2x4GB (8GB) G.Skill Ripjaws V 3600MHz C17




I got to 3466MHz with the G.Skill kit. This 3600MHz kit doesn't work on many boards, most overclocking motherboards operate it fine, but the board has to be tuned for it. The Z170A GAMING M9 ACK isn't an extreme overclocking board and it wasn't able to easily boot this with XMP (BIOS update should remedy this in the future). The settings would take, but it wasn't very stable, so I ended up setting 3466MHz instead, which ended up giving me enough stability.

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