It’s now time to wrap up our review of the Z170A Gaming M5 Motherboard from MSI. First off, we want to say a big thanks to Thomas at MSI for sending out the hardware for the review.
Skylake’s new architecture does bring a lot of changes, and of course DDR4 RAM support. Intel has really only been competing with themselves every year, with new hardware simply launched to beat out themselves from the year before. Each new launch brings some new features, support, and slight performance upgrades.
Skylake is the first mainstream offering with DDR4 support, with Haswell-E being the first platform ever since its own launch last year. While DDR4 is clearly faster, it also means that users upgrading from any previous platform will have to pick up new RAM, which hasn’t been the case for a good few years, and puts extra cost should they choose to upgrade, as while DDR4 is getting cheaper, it’s a good bit more expensive than DDR3.
MSI continue with their Black and Red color scheme for their gaming boards and that seems to be the unofficial standard for a lot of board manufactures these days. It’s hard to fault something that has looked great for years, and users will have zero issues matching their system to a Black and Red board.
Since the color scheme and layout haven’t change, there really isn’t much we can say about the design of the board. MSI included faux Red data tracks from the DIMM slots to the CPU, which small change, but a welcomed addition none the less.
Basically, if you liked their previous looks, then your sure to like this. We do.
The Z170A Gaming M5 is not aimed at the high end or priced near it, so we’re not seeing things like Bluetooth, WiFi or other extras. Being a gaming board, it’s nice to see some decent internal audio support. Any users aiming for the high end gaming hardware, will typically have their own cards, so the Gaming M5 having it’s own is a great way for users to not drop money on extras and still have a decent audio experience.
USB 3.1 is the future. It’s hard to see that now with so little of the devices out there featuring it, but the amount of bandwidth and features that USB 3.1 offer are worth a mention. It will give users something they can take advantage of in the future.
The M5 Gaming ticks the right boxes for a mid level gaming board with decent audio, Killer LAN, USB 3.1, dual M.2 slots, and a great look. These are the main features we wanted and MSI made sure to include the important ones.
The performance numbers were solid across the board. The board took the 6700k for a ride and was easily able to push it to its limits. In the end we got a very sturdy 4.7GHz overclock and overall a rock steady system.
Gaming performance was as expected and it outperformed everything else on the charts. Since gaming favors clock speed over clock count, the 4.7GHz clock speed allowed for a higher score. Exactly what you want from aboard that screams overclocking and gaming.
Ultimately we’re very pleased with the MSI Z170A Gaming M5 motherboard. It has a common, but still great Black and Red design that will easily be matched with most of today’s hardware. The features are solid with RAID M.2 support, USB 3.1, and decent internal audio, Killer Lan and more. Pricing is another great factor with the boards price tag set at £139.99.
The only real competition for a board like this, is stepping things up to the Haswell-E range. Most of the other Z170 boards aren’t going to bring you much more performance, but cost more money. Going X99 will cost you a bit more, and only sensible if you were going for the 6700k, which costs nearly the same as the 5820k, but with two less cores and no real advantage over Haswell-E. Remember, upgrading to Skylake requires, a new board and new RAM. Just like going for Haswell-E
Getting the cheaper 6600K is also an option, and some may figure saving the money and picking up a better graphics card instead being the way to go, and that definitely makes sense. It’s here we see the Gaming M5 being a great offering, as it’s a fantastic board, with most of the bells and whistles your truly going to need, but without a high price tag.
We gladly award the MSI Z170A Gaming M5 motherboard with Gold and recommend it to anyone looking to pick up an excellent board and a great array of features, and superb performance. but without the high price tag.
A big thanks to Tom and MSI for providing the hardware for Review.