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MSI readies Intel Z97 mainboards: images and details unveiled

MicroStar International is working on a new family of mainboards based on Intel Corp.’s upcoming Z97 core-logic that will support the forthcoming microprocessors for enthusiasts code-named Devil’s Canyon as well as future chips based on the Broadwell micro-architecture. All mainboards will be aimed primarily at gamers, but who said that enthusiast-class hardware should be expensive and come in large form-factors?


MSI Z97 Gaming mainboard family will consist of five different motherboards with LGA1150 sockets based on Intel’s next-generation Z97 chipset. The platforms will provide different features and will be available at different price-points. For example, high-end MSI Z97 Gaming motherboards will feature three PCI Express x16 slots for graphics cards and high-performance PCIe solid-state drives; 12-phase CPU VRM [voltage regulator module] to ensure better overclocking; as well as eight Serial ATA ports. By contrast, more affordable mainboards will come with two PCIe x16 slots, 8-phase or 6-phase CPU VRM and six SATA ports.

MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC mainboard

While the mainboards within the MSI Z97 Gaming line will be rather different, they will have numerous similar premium components and technologies designed to ensure better gaming, higher performance and improved stability:

  • M.2 slot on all ATX mainboards for SSDs with up to 1TB/s bandwidth;
  • Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2205 Gigabit Ethernet network adapter that prioritizes video-games related network packages and thus ensures shorter latency;
  • MSI Gaming Device Ports, a PS/2 port with up to 1000Hz polling rate for advanced mice;
  • MSI Audio Boost 2 – integrated 600Ω headphone amplifier, golden audio jacks, EMI shielded audio codec, high quality audio capacitors;
  • Solid-state capacitors;

It is noteworthy that in addition to motherboards in ATX form-factor, which is preferred by enthusiasts, MSI will also offer a gaming-oriented platform in micro-ITX form-factor, which is gaining popularity these days. While the mainboard lacks M.2 SSD support, it has a built-in Wi-Fi 802.11ac module.


MSI Z97 Gaming micro-ITX mainboard

The mainboards will hit the market in mid-May.


MSI Z97 Gaming 3 mainboard

While by default Intel 9-series chipsets and Intel Core i-series “Haswell Refresh” processors can hardly ensure a significant performance increase over existing systems powered by 8-series core-logic and Core i-series “Haswell” chips, there are some benefits that the new platforms provide exclusively. Firstly, they support new Core i- and Pentium-series unlocked microprocessors code-named Devil’s Canyon with upgraded thermal interface and overclockability. Secondly, they support higher-performance SSDs in M.2 form-factor. Thirdly, they are compatible with the upcoming Broadwell microprocessors made using 14nm fabrication process.


MSI Z97 Gaming 7 mainboard

Intel and MSI did not comment on the news-story.

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KitGuru Says: MSI’s upcoming Z97 Gaming mainboards seem to be rather decent: they feature quality audio, advanced network processor as well as support for new-generation SSDs. Moreover, those motherboards will be available at different price-points and will vary only by, perhaps, overclocking capabilities. In general, a nice product family to choose from.

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