[section_title title=”Closer Look”]Closer Look

Taking an overall look at the MSI Z97I GAMING AC, the first thing that you will notice is this board is very tiny and dinky; this is due to the M-ITX form factor. With that being said other than the size and the 2 x DDR3 DIMM slots, everything else would make you think otherwise.  It features a full 8pin 12v socket for the CPU and has a strong 4+2 power phase which is designed to deliver and regulate power to the CPU itself (specifically our test bench i7 4770k).

Another addition to the Z97 variation of the ITX gaming board is the newly designed heat sinks, which in my opinion look much better than the previous counterpart.  There is a single copper heat pipe connecting the Southbridge to the heat sink on the Northbridge which is to aid in heat dissipation.

As previously mentioned, the MSI Z97I GAMING AC only comes with 2 x DIMM slots, which being a M-ITX motherboard, is pretty standard.  This particular board supports memory up to 3200MHz with an overclock and of course only has support for DDR3 modules; simply amazing stuff.

Here we have the 4 + 2 power phase that the board is equipped with which for an ITX board, is quite impressive and especially the 8pin 12V socket; this should make for some interesting overclocking results and I hope that the board does well.

The MSI Z97I GAMING AC has 4 x SATA3 (6GB/s) ports with 2 additional eSATA ports which supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10.  This gives plenty of options for those who want the most from their storage not just for speed, but for redundancy also.

On the rear I/O, there are the following ports:

1 x Audio boost audio jacks

4 x USB 3.0 ports

6 x USB 2.0 ports

2 x HDMI ports

1 x Display Port

1 x Killer E2205 Ethernet port

1 x Gaming device port (keyboard/mouse)

2 x Wi-Fi connectors

2 x eSATA ports

1 x Clear CMOS button

So many connections all packed onto such a small board which is something I have to give MSI credit for.  Could this be the new go to M-ITX solution for high end CPU’s?  Let’s carry on…


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