This is what it all boils down to. All the fun and games are over and we need to see if this board is a worthy purchase or not. The MSI Z97 GAMING 7 is jam packed full of features and accessories that should accommodate just about any user.
When looking at performance; I not only like to look at the overall scores but also how easy it is to squeeze the most performance out to make sure we are getting our money’s worth. Looking at the benchmarks we will notice the GAMING 7 holds its own with my 4770K running at the turbo frequency of 3.9GHz. For the most part, when running at the 3.9GHz mark the GAMING 7 is normally in the mid-top of our scores; which is exactly where we would expect to see it.
The issue with performance seems to come when I overclock the CPU. For whatever reason when running my 4770K at 4.5GHz I noticed some drastic losses in benchmark scores where memory was the main focus, AIDA64 Memory read speeds where significantly less and the SiSoftware Sandra memory and cache latency was also effected when overclocking the CPU.If you ask me, I say within a BIOS update or two this issue will be totally rectified; if it is in fact an underlying problem. Touching more on the gaming performance of the GAMING 7, I was quite impressed at how it performed with a dedicated GPU (MSI R9 270) and it came out on top during the majority of the benchmarks. This shows the main pedigree of the GAMING 7 as it lives up to its moniker; not surprised as this is something MSI have been leading since the release of the Z87 chipset.
Moving on to the aesthetics of the board; MSI have of course gone with their GAMING Red/Black theme. One of the things I would like to point out is the fact that all of the plastic connectors (PCI / PSU / RAM) are all the same colour, black. This goes a long way with me and makes it look just that much better. It is also nice as it matches the black heatsinks which have a bit of red accenting. If you do not like the ‘Claw’ part of the heatsinks for any reason, these are easily removed by taking out a couple of screws. Let us also not forget the black PCB which seems to be becoming the norm; though still a nice touch.
To finish things off I would like to say I am very pleased with the MSI Z97 GAMING 7 motherboard. While there was a major issue in performance on memory related tasks when overclocking the CPU, I have no doubt that this will soon be rectified and when it is, this board will perform as it should. Taking the price into consideration I think MSI have a very nice offering here. The MSI Z97 GAMING 7 has a host of features and as mentioned, makes tasks like overclocking easy as pie for a novice or it can be taken to extreme levels for enthusiasts. All-in-all, if the MSI Z97 GAMING 7 is in your price range it will definitely be a worthy contender, especially after a BIOS update or two.
While I would like to give the MSI Z97 GAMING 7 a better rating; I cannot overlook the performance issues that occurred during my testing. With that being said, this board still receives our Silver Award.
I would like to thank MSI for sending the Z97 GAMING 7 in for review and look forward to seeing more from them in the near future.
If you are looking for a decently priced board that offers all of the features of a more expensive one, especially in the way of Overclocking, then the MSI Z97 GAMING 7 is definitely worth a look. It has a plethora of accessories and features that are sure to keep even the most demanding of gamers/enthusiasts happy.
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