In fact, a year has passed since the appearance on the market of processors for the LGA1151 socket. By their announcement, MSI presented the Z170A Gaming M7 model, which can be attributed to the middle-end segment. Since then, there have been some changes in user expectations from modern motherboards, as a result, the developers decided to recall the proven and recognizable series of MPower models. In this review, we will see what, according to the logic of MSI specialists, a modern board for enthusiasts should be.
The nominal belonging to the overclocker series means the presence of a serious hardware base for overclocking. At the same time, there are game attributes, mainly tangible in software equipment. Instead of SATA-E, the U.2 port is soldered. The reinforcing theme looks intriguing: most of the sockets are equipped with a kind of screen, and the board itself has an overlay made of a thick sheet of metal on the back side.
|Model||MSI Z170A MPower Gaming Titanium (MS-7A16 VER:1.0)|
|Official product page on the Web||ua.msi.com|
|Processor socket||Socket 1151|
|Processors||Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium, Celeron (Skylake-S)|
|Memory||4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400/2600*/2800*/3000*/3200*/3600*(OC), 64 GB maximum|
|PCI slots||2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16+x0, x8+x8), 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4), 3 x PCI Express 3.0 x1|
|M.2||2 x PCI Express 3.0 x4|
|Integrated video core (in the processor)||Intel HD 510/530|
|Video connectors||HDMI, DVI-D|
|Number of connected fans||5x 4pin|
|PS/2 ports||1 (keyboard/mouse)|
|The port is USB||2 x 3.1 Gen2 (2 rear panel connectors (A and C), ASM1142), 7 x 3.1 Gen1 (2 rear panel connectors, Z170), 6 x 2.0 (4 rear panel connectors, Z170)|
|Serial ATA||6 x SATA 6Gb/s (Z170)|
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, Z170), 0, 1 (M.2 PCI-E, Z170)|
|Built-in sound||Realtek ALC1150 (7.1, HDA), 3х Texas Instruments OPA1652|
|Networking||Intel I219V (Gigabit Ethernet)|
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 244|
|Additional features||POST indicator, voltage measurement pins, EZ Debug LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA LED), Slow Mode switch, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX and NVIDIA 2-Way SLI support, U.2 port and USB 3.1 Gen1 type C on board , block for connecting RGB LED strip|
|Retail price, $||279|
Packaging and equipment
The box is medium in size, without a handle, the weight is unusually large. The designers took care of adding the product to the Enthusiast Gaming series.
An image of the product and its back panel, a table with the main characteristics and a small advertising block describing brand features are located on the back of the box.
Behind a separate cardboard tray with the board is the following set:
- user manual, which illustrates and describes in detail the UEFI sub-items (in Russian);
- multilingual quick installation guide;
- disk with drivers and proprietary software;
- MSI Gaming Series logo sticker;
- buyer registration card;
- sign on the door «I’M SORRY BUSY GAMING/I’M NOT HERE»;
- a pair of extension cords for connecting an LED strip;
- six SATA 6Gb / s cables, three of which have an L-shaped connector at one end;
- set of twelve labels for labeling SATA cables;
- a set of adapters for convenient connection of M-Connectors case connectors;
- plug for the body, complete with a black sticker with the symbolic designation of all sockets. The reverse part is pasted over with noise-absorbing material;
- one flexible bridge for organizing SLI from two video cards.
The product is devoid of the distinctive «game» colors of the manufacturer (red shades). Everything is done in a strict monochrome style. To my surprise, there are no auxiliary buttons or switches on the PCB (if you do not take into account the activation of Slow Mode), there are only points for measuring system voltages, among which there is not a single «ground».
Behind is a massive pressure plate. She did not become an assistant in cooling any zones on the board, her functions are reduced to protection and reinforcement.
The surface is carefully sealed with an insulating film.
The radiator is very massive, here it is assigned, in fact, an image role. Fastened with four screws. Under its corners on the board are four pairs of white LEDs.
There is no additional storage controller. The U.2 connector is content only with the PCI-E lines from the PCH. Longitudinally located native type C socket and blocks for connecting body cables with USB sockets belong to the initial type of interface of the third revision. A more recent version should be expected from the new generation chipsets — the «200» series.
The usual SATA outputs are implemented in both longitudinal and transverse slots. There are six of them in total.
Activity indicators are located in the top right corner of the board. This is a diagnostic complex of four white LEDs and a traditional POST code indicator, still with a red glow. In operating system mode, it displays the CPU temperature. Shielded RAM slots look unusual.
The bottom edge boasts the presence of a Slow Mode switch, the active state is signaled by a red LED, and the appearance of a socket for connecting an LED strip was also interesting. Support for elements of the 5050 type is declared, the total length of the illumination is up to two meters.
There are a couple of shielded M.2. In the case of using products that work via PCI-E, you can use each of them and even organize a RAID array. At the same time, the resources for the SATA slots remain unused. The only thing is that in this case it will not be possible to work with U.2.
PCI-E slots have a fairly traditional resource allocation scheme. Two full-weight ones can share sixteen lines from the CPU, and the bottom one is connected to the chipset. Resources are distributed between it, three compact PCI-E x1, a pair of M.2 and a single U.2. In other words, you can’t use everything at once.
The sound system looks more modest even against the background of the related Z170A XPower Gaming Titanium Edition. But everything traditional for today’s gaming boards is here: special Japanese Nippon capacitors, as many as three operational amplifiers, white backlighting, not very bright. The control of the indication will be discussed in the next part of the review.
The heatsinks are massive and take up a lot of CPU socket space. But they did not interfere with the installation of our cooling system at all. I would like to note the unusual way of connecting the main CPU fan. The socket has unusually low contacts, so you can work with it at a considerable angle without worrying about the possibility of «breaking» something.
The radiators are fastened with screws and have good contact with the transistors, a pair of thermal pads of sufficient area helped them in this. It is interesting to note that one of them is clearly larger than the other.
The stabilizer is based on a PWM controller from uPI Semiconductor — uP9506. This step is very different from other boards for Skylake-S, where the advantage is on the side of products from Intersil Corporation and where you can rarely see relabeled controllers from International Rectifier. The official documentation says about its 3 + 2 phase capabilities, three drivers are built inside. On the board you can see the missing two. However, measurements show the use of two pairs of transistors for the needs of the integrated GPU and eight pairs for the CPU. Two more pairs are tied to a smaller inductor, the CPU SA voltage is formed there. It is rather difficult to say what kind of implementation the company’s engineers carried out, the main thing is how such a solution will manifest itself during overclocking. Transistors are used familiar to MSI products — PK616BA and PK632BA from Niko Semiconductor.
The visor above the rear panel can be dismantled without problems, as a result, the board may look like this:
The filling of the back panel is completely identical to the Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon model, which obviously has no overclocking roots. In particular, it would be nice to see a button for resetting the BIOS settings here, because it is not on the board itself, if necessary, you will have to close the group of contacts in the old fashioned way. There are no more comments. Eight USB outputs of different generations and types, a pair of digital video outputs, five gold-plated audio jacks. The power socket has a built-in red light. The HDMI port is equipped with a PTN3360D signal level converter.