Intel is not going through the best times in its history, but the wheel of progress continues to turn and now there is a new sales point for buyers of motherboards using the older hub for desktop segment processors. The hastily launched Intel Z370 did not offer anything new compared to the previous Z270, it was soldered into devices designed for six-core CPUs, which were first introduced in the same market niche about a year ago. The release of simple, but already updated, PCH (H370 and below) was not accompanied by a new «flagship», because it was kept for eight-core processors, which will soon be available on store shelves (it will be extremely interesting to observe the fact of their real presence). There were rumors about the need to rename the Z370 chip due to problems with production capacity, but they were not confirmed — we really have a new chip.
The innovations available here have been known for a long time and it is difficult to call them a breakthrough. However, modern PCs already work on the principle of a single-chip system, where all the fundamental interfaces are implemented on a common chip, next to the computing units. Its closest competitor, AMD, uses a similar structure in its Ryzen processors. Intel did not rework their products so deeply, as a result, support for the latest generation of USB and readiness to work with a wireless network adapter are all the trump cards of the new PCH.
The end board manufacturers have certainly prepared their devices to work with new, even more powerful processors, so we have the right to expect the proper level of performance of the VRM unit on them. As an example, we will have a «mainstream» gaming model MPG Z390 Gaming Plus in our laboratory. The high integration of modern interfaces makes the Z390 a key one, other controllers located here form a traditional set — an audio codec, a wired network controller and other, less significant microcircuits. There are no chips that expand the capabilities of the hub (except for the multicontroller).
Wi-Fi ready with a special socket that supports CNVi modules — devices that are simpler than a full-fledged wireless network adapter. There is a seat, and the user has the right, if desired and necessary, to purchase everything else separately. You can read more about this technological move in the Gigabyte H370 Aorus Gaming 3 WiFi review.
The image of the game model is complemented by a non-trivial design in black and red colors. Illumination basic, color — red. To expand the range of sensations, you can use a pair of sockets for external devices with RGB elements. The general set of features is located in the pivot table. Detailed information about the latest MSI product naming system can be found here.
|Model||MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus (MS-7B51 VER:1.1)|
|Official product page on the Web||msi.com|
|Processor socket||Socket 1151|
|Processors||Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium Gold, Celeron (Coffee Lake-S)|
|Memory||4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400/2666/2800*/3000*/3200*/3300*/3333*/3400*/3466*/3600*/3733*/3866*/4000*/4133*/4200*/4266 */4300*/4400*(OC), 64 GB maximum|
|PCI slots||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4)
4 x PCI Express 3.0 x1
|M.2||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4, SATA 6Gb/s (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4, SATA 6Gb/s (Key M, 2242/2260/2280)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x1, CNVi (Key E, 2230)
|Integrated video core (in the processor)||Intel UHD 610/630|
|Video connectors||HDMI, DVI-D|
|Number of connected fans||7x 4pin|
|PS/2 ports||1 (keyboard/mouse)|
|The port is USB||2 x 3.1 Gen2 (2 connectors on the rear panel (A and C), Z390)
6 x 3.1 Gen1 (2 connectors on the rear panel, Z390)
6 x 2.0 (2 connectors on the rear panel, Z390)
|Serial ATA||6 x SATA 6Gb/s (Z390)|
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, Z390)
0, 1 (M.2 PCI-E, Z390)
|Built-in sound||Audio Boost: Realtek ALC892 (7.1, HDA)|
|Networking||Intel I219V (Gigabit Ethernet)|
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 244|
|Additional features||EZ Debug LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, BOOT LED), AMD 2-Way CrossFireX support, pair of RGB LED headers|
|Retail price, $||–|
Packaging and equipment
The box is a standard, medium size with a bright design, on the top cover there are no accents on the possibilities or anything else.
A photo of the board, a list of main characteristics, a schematic representation of the rear panel are located on the back. The bias in the description of special features is made in the field of constructive research. We decided not to mention software support here.
There is nothing unusual in the set of accessories. The composition is as follows:
- user manual, which illustrates and describes the UEFI sub-items in detail (in English);
- a pair of mounting screws for M.2 format devices;
- multilingual quick installation guide;
- disk with drivers and proprietary software;
- buyer registration card;
- a small promotional booklet with MSI products;
- a plug for the body, complete with a black sticker with a symbolic designation of all sockets;
- MSI Gaming Series logo sticker;
- two SATA 6Gb / s cables, one of which has an L-shaped connector on one of the ends.
The design is at the same time strict, aggressive and minimalist. There are no plastic decorative elements, the role of a visor over the ports of the rear panel is performed by an oversized radiator. The board is designed for a one-time assembly, there is no POST code indicator and various status switches or buttons. The dimensions correspond to the ATX standard, there are nine points for fixing the device in the case.
The LEDs are on the back of the board. The main group is located along the right side, another one is near the Gaming Plus inscription, formed by etched layers of conductors in the textolite.
All elements are not backlit. The hub heatsink is a complex shape, but it’s a regular light alloy bar.
Coolers for M.2 devices are not included. The top seat is designed for the longest models, reaching 11 cm. Under the PCI-E x16 slot there is a specialized Key E type M.2 slot, here you can mount a CNVi standard wireless network adapter.
Another traditional M.2 output (such as Key M) will be able to interact with products up to eight centimeters long. In this case, the highlighted inscription will look a little strange, since it will be partially hidden.
There are six SATA outputs and all of them are longitudinal type.
A rack is not provided for a symmetrical USB output on the case, and ordinary outputs can be earned through a pair of second-generation interface pads, there is another pair — for a modern, third type, and one of the sockets is longitudinal, this will greatly simplify cable management during PC assembly.
The red shielded PCI-E slot works with the CPU lines, and the rest will interact with the hub, which means that forming an SLI configuration from two NVIDIA adapters will not work here.
Network and sound controllers do without shielding elements. The codec here is one of the simplest, there is no DAC or op amp to complement its work.
In the process of overclocking, the EZ Debug LED proprietary diagnostic complex, consisting of four red LEDs, can be useful, they are soldered over the main power socket.
There is one radiator for power elements of impressive size. It is extended to the rear panel ports, there were no problems when using the supercooler.
The structure of the voltage converter has a lot in common with the previous generation of boards, you can evaluate this, for example, using the Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC model. PWM controller from uPI Semiconductor — uP9521, it is five-channel. Four «phases» provide stabilization of the processor voltage, one — the integrated video core. Five external drivers help him. Transistors manufactured by ON Semiconductor — NTMFS4C029N and NTMFS4C024N. The products of the well-known element manufacturer are now included in (this) cheaper board, but here there is one less channel for the needs of the iGPU. In addition, one of the four «phases» of the CPU is left without a heatsink and will be cooled exclusively by the copper layers of the board. We will soon examine how this approach was justified.
Following the recent guest of our laboratory — MSI B450 Tomahawk — there are comments on the accuracy of the procedure for mounting the cooler on the assembly line. The total area of the thermal substance is sufficient for full contact with the transistors, but due to the displacement, one of them was not completely covered by it. Using the screw method of fixing the main radiator allows the user to correct the existing misunderstanding on their own.
You should not expect a dense rear panel layout from a model of this level. The set of ports available here can be called a sufficient minimum, more expensive devices will have a large number of outputs. We need to thank the manufacturer for a decent distance between the racks, this will facilitate future work with peripherals.