When it comes to putting a mini-ITX gaming motherboard together there are definitely some things that you need to consider and MSI has done a great job adding many different features to this board that gamers and enthusiasts will appreciate. It is actually quite impressive that MSI was able to fit so much on a motherboard that only measures 6.7-inches x 6.7-inches!
MSI has outfitted this motherboard with Killer E2200 game networking. This technology uses automatic traffic prioritization, giving you the lowest latency for game data on the most controllable network hardware available. In simple terms this will give you stutter and lag-free gaming. If you wanted to go the wireless route this motherboard offers 802.11ac WiFi which is currently the fastest consumer available WiFi out there. Beyond this you have MSI’s Audio Boost 2 technology, which makes use of Creative’s Sound Blaster 2 Cinema. MSI has specified gaming device ports that are marked in red. These ports having 3x more gold than regular connectors.
Even though this is a mini-ITX motherboard MSI has brought its Military Class 4 components to the board. These include HI-C CAPs that are 93% energy efficient, Super Ferrit Core Chokes which run cooler, have a 30% higher current capacity and a 20% improvement in power efficiency and finally the Dark CAP which provides lower Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) as well as having an over-10-year lifespan. High quality components not only make up the power delivery components, but the audio components as well. MSI uses professional Nichicon Japanese capacitors, specially designed for audio purposes, delivering the highest possible audio signal filtering. Delivering high fidelity crystal clear sound with exceptional acoustics and realism. MSI also adds gold plated audio connectors on the rear I/O of the board.
MSI’s easy to use UEFI BIOS is easy to navigate and works really well. Even a beginner should easily be able to make changes. The Command Center software is great and allows you to change and view your system settings right from within Windows. The OC Genie part of the software even allows you to automatically overclock your system. Talking about overclocking we were able to achieve a 4.6 GHz overclock (from 3.5 GHz) which is pretty impressive on this small board. MSI has also thrown in a copy of XSplit Gamecaster software so you can easily show off your gaming skills.
If you are looking at building a small form factor gaming system then the MSI Z97I Gaming AC is definitely a motherboard you should consider. Right now you can pick up this board at my favorite online retailer for $199.99. Overall ThinkComputers gives the MSI Z97I Gaming AC Motherboard a 10 out of 10 score and our Recommended Award!
– Sleek design
– Killer E2200 game networking
– Military Class 4 components
– Audio Boost 2
– Solid performance and overclocking
– Easy to use BIOS and Command Center software
– 802.11ac WiFi
– None that I found