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MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon Motherboard Review

The MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon is a very good motherboard which caters for the needs of gamers wanting a mid-range offering. The feature set is strong, overclocking performance is good, and MSI’s RGB lighting implementation is bright and user-customisable.

I was very pleased to see that MSI had updated the LLC options in its UEFI. The new modes make more sense thanks to graphical interpretation of the operation and, thanks to this, overclocking is now made even more straightforward. High-speed memory support is also a positive and the 4.8GHz Game Boost preset worked well, even if it did back down to 4.4GHz under AVX workloads.

Performance from storage interfaces is solid. X-Boost didn’t seem to help SATA or M.2 but USB 3.1 Gen 2 speed was more consistent using MSI’s software. M.2 Shield is a simple solution to a very real problem. And it works well, as our thermal imaging shows. M.2 Shield is one of the star features that makes the Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon different to competing motherboards at this price point.

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I would have liked to see at least one 4K60-capable display output. Both the HDMI and DVI-D ports are unable to do 4K at a high refresh rate. An additional CPU/Pump fan header with PWM control would also have been welcomed seeing as only two of the motherboard’s six fan headers are PWM controllable. The lack of U.2 is hardly a disappointment but it must be noted that M.2 slot positioning will make the use of a M.2-to-U.2 adapter a cable management nightmare.

MSI’s inclusion of a 4-pin RGB header extension and splitter cable is smart. It allows users to place their RGB strips where desired without having to purchase added adapters. There were also no durability concerns presented during our testing which is partially a reflection of the strong Steel Armor DDR4 and PCIe slots.

UEFI implementation and OS-based software are further strengths for the Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon. Click BIOS 5 works well and is generally easy to navigate, while the sheer volume of OS-based software tools is a good thing, even if a manager application is missing.

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The MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon is available at Overclockers UK for £167.99.

If you are looking for a good quality motherboard with a solid RGB lighting implementation, support for two graphics cards alongside three PCIe SSDs, and plenty of software tools to aid your daily workload, MSI’s Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon is a solid contender for your money.

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Pros:

  • M.2 Shield is a great idea and works well.
  • Strong overclocking capacity and good LLC settings.
  • Very good physical RGB system with good software control.
  • Steel Armor and DDR4 slots may appeal aesthetically.
  • Click BIOS 5 UEFI is a good implementation.
  • Thorough OS software offering.
  • Smart PCIe lane distributions minimise component interference.

Cons:

  • No UEFI-based RGB LED control and limited ‘intelligent’ control available.
  • No onboard U.2 and an M.2-to-U.2 adapter will destroy cable management efforts.
  • Additional CPU/Pump PWM fan header would have been welcomed (for dual-fan AIOs).
  • No high-resolution 60Hz-capable display output onboard (Displayport or HDMI 2.0).

KitGuru says: A good RGB lighting implementation and smart design choices such as M.2 Shield make the MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon a compelling option.

worth-buying

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Rating: 8.5.

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