Motherboards are perhaps the most underrated of all PC parts. They’re not as cool as a spaceship-esque PC case, or exciting as a new video card, yet the motherboard is the main junction and beating heart of your entire rig. Cutting corners with a shoddy board can sometimes lead to reduced performance, or even total hardware failure.
For this reason, it’s often wise to invest a little more into a board that will see you into the future. You also get a bunch of killer features with a motherboard that is specialized for gaming, which is something that can’t be said for those at the bottom of the heap.
The Z97 ATX motherboard by MSI is an example of keeping the gamer’s interests at heart, as well as providing a stable performance that is guaranteed to keep you going during those long gaming binges.
So, let’s discover a few things about the ATX DDR3 2600 LA 1150 Z97 from MSI. Because after you’ve finished reading, we’re sure you’ll be stoked at what this chipset can do for you.
Let’s get the nitty gritty out of the way first, as you’re probably curious about its compatibility with your video card and other parts.
The good news is that the Z97 supports the latest 4th and 5th generation of processors by Intel. You can plug and play your desired Intel Core, Pentium, or even Celeron processors that support the LGA 1150 socket.
DDR3-3300 Memory slots
USB 3.0 ports
SATA (6GB/s) connections
5 volt USB connectors for better speed and reliability
Loads of PCI and PCIe slots
VGA, DVI-D, HDMI, and Display output ports
There is a lot more stuff to cover just in terms of the Z97’s ports and slots for other parts. You’ll generally be okay though if you keep in mind that the Z97 does not work with processors from AMD. The rest can be found out by visiting the board’s listing on Amazon or via the company’s website.
Now that we’ve appeased the data nerds, let’s get to the stuff for all you audiophiles out there: how is the Z97’s audio performance?
Well, we’re happy to report that this thing kills it when it comes to audio for gaming or relaxing with your favourite tunes. This fact is evidenced in a few ways:
The Z97 comes with a Creative SoundBlaster X-FI MB3 Audio suite, Audio Noise Guard with LED Path Lighting, and top it off: Realtek ALC1150 115dB SNR HD Audio drivers. This software bundle means your highs will be clear and your lows extra-growly. The noise-cancellation feature is also a welcome addition for anyone who has annoying housemates or family members!
If the above wasn’t enough for you, you also get access to MSI’s Audio Boost for making quick adjustments to your sound quality on the fly via an intuitive user interface.
Finally, the Z97 is the only motherboard in existence that delivers a consistent 5 volts of power to all of your connected USB devices. While this may seem like an in significant detail on the surface, it’s actually quite a big deal. The number one cause of a crappy, static-y noise is due to a lack of voltage when everything is plugged in. So you won’t need to worry if this thing will cause you any dramas!
When you’re gaming, everyone knows that lag is insufferable. A high ping almost defeats the purpose of playing online games at all, so you’ll probably be pleased to know that the Z97 from MSI comes with some cool features for a smoother ping.
This board comes with the E2200 Intelligent Networking Platform, which means it was made for maximum networking performance when you’re playing games online or streaming media.
This feature prioritizes your gaming connection over other forms of networking for a stutter-free ingame experience that can give you that winning edge you need in order to emerge victorious in the digital arena.
Anyone who has read a gaming website for more than five minutes is familiar with the concept of overclocking. But for the newbies reading this, overclocking involves squeezing as much performance as possible from all of your gaming components. Your processor, video card, and RAM are all stretched to their limits, and is akin to hitting the nitrous boost on a supercar.
Unfortunately, the downside to overclocking your hardware is that it puts a lot of strain on your components, which commonly manifests as them becoming hot to the touch and unreliable.
In saying this though, there are some safer ways that you can increase your frame rates and processing power of your computer without putting your PC at risk. This is evidenced by the Z97’s OC Genie 4, as just hitting the button delivers 20% of free extra performance where your computer needs it the most to your CPU and graphics card.
In summary, MSI’s Z97 has everything you could want from a gaming motherboard, as it accommodates even the pickiest of shoppers from newbies through to your die hard gear heads.