MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Motherboard Review

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[section_title title=”Closer Look”]Closer Look

Taking a closer look we will start with the ’Dragon Claw’ heatsinks. These are definitely a unique feature and should go over well with most users. Having the claws red in colour compliments the heatsinks nicely and adds that extra bit of detail to the board’s overall red and black theme.

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Close Dragon Claw Heatsink

If you do not like the claws, you can remove them by taking the screws out. This will allow for further customization; this should bode well with most users. However, if you like the ‘Dragon Claw’ heatsinks as they are there is no need to worry as the screws are not very noticeable once the motherboard is installed.

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Close Dragon Claw Heatsink Screws

A closer look at the Z97 Chipset heatsink which features the MSI GAMING G SERIES badge. The Z97 chipset offers more beneficial features over its predecessor, the Z87. With the new Z97 will support the newly released ‘Devils Canyon’ CPUs as well as the upcoming 5th Gen Broadwell CPUs when they are released. It also offers support for M.2 SSDs which will give us blistering fast transfer speeds of up to 10GBs.

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Chipset HS

Moving to the right a bit we can see our 4x RAM DIMM Slots which can support DDR3 RAM up to 3300Mhz(OC) as well as our V-Check points, 24 pin PSU connector and our debug LED among other things. The V-Check Points will allow us to plug the included V-Check Cables into the designated ports allowing us to connect multi-meters directly to the board so we can have a more accurate reading of our voltages. The Debug LEDs which are just to the left of the 24pin connector will offer us unique codes in the case our motherboard will not post this will come in handy tracking down the exact problem.

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 RAMM

Here we have our 3x PCI-E x16 and 4x PCI-Ex1 Slots. Our x16 slots run at (16,0,0) (8,8,0) (8,4,4) and support NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire technologies allowing us to connect multiple GPUs to our board resulting in amazing performance gains. Though this is now becoming the norm, it is nice to see and will allow for gamers, professionals and enthusiasts to get the performance they want/need or to just show off.

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 PCI

We of course have the Audio Boost 2 with EMI Shielding and our high quality audio capacitors. The Audio Boost 2 has a high-grade EMI shielding and also features dual headphone amps and ‘Golden Audio Connectors’ to help make sure we are receiving the best sound possible from our favourite speakers/headset.

Audio Boost 2 is according to MSI going to deliver the highest audio quality possible; using Creative /Sound Blaster Cinema 2 so you can enjoy clear sound and music from the on-board 8-channel HD Audio. The Gaming 7 also isolates the audio circuitry from the rest of the PCB to reduce distortion and interference to further help deliver a clear sound experience. Let us also not forget the direct audio power allowing us to directly plug power into the Audio Boost 2. If you add all of these features up it is almost as if we have a dedicated sound card right on our motherboard, truly amazing!

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Audio Boost

Under our bottom PCI-Ex16 slot we have our OC buttons which include a power, reset and OC Genie button. These should make overclocking much easier for enthusiasts and novices alike. If you are not big into Overclocking you can just press the OC Genie button and get an automatic overclock.  We can also see our Audio Power input and switch which as mentioned allows us to plug power right into the board allowing for the Audio Boost 2 to give us a more  dedicated and crisp sound.

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 OC buttons

Here we have our 8x SATA3 6.0Gb/s ports that support RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10, our front I/O USB3 header.

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 SATA3 

On the rear IO we have our normal array of inputs including:
1x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port
1x Clear CMOS button
1x LAN (RJ45) port
2x USB 2.0 ports
8x USB 3.0 ports
1x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector
6x OFC audio jacks
2x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096X2304@24Hz/ 2560X1600@60Hz/ 3840X2160@60Hz/1920X1200@60Hz
1x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096X2304@24Hz/ 2560X1600@60Hz/ 3840X2160@60Hz/1920X1200@60Hz

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Rear IO

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