Disclosure: The review unit is provided by MSI
About the Intel Z270 Chipset
Along with the Kaby lake launch, Intel released a series of 100 series chipset for various segments. The Intel Z270 platform is the enthusiast class, while the Z250, H270, Q250 and the Q270 chipset are for the lower price segments. The MSI Z270 Gaming M5 looks to be a promising motherboard, but we’ll take a look at Intel Z270’s offerings.
The PCIe lane distribution is the same as its previous counterparts- Z170 and the Z97. It works as a 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 or 2x PCIe 3.0 x8 mode. There are 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes in total, also support for up to six SATA 6Gb/s ports, 10x USB 3.0 ports, 14, USB 2.0 ports and even supporting DDR3L, provided if any manufacturers will bother to utilize that.
There are some new features, as you would notice there are four additional PCIe 3.0 lanes, native support up to 2400MHz DDR4 memory and Device Protection Technology with Boot Guard. For some strange reason, Intel didn’t mention anything about its Optane technology, since that was meant to be one of the key highlights of this chipset.
About the MSI Z270 Gaming M5
MSI Z270 Gaming M5 seems to be taking advantage of its native features as much as possible. It also provides two M.2 mounts (With RAID) which share lanes with some of the SATA 6Gbs as many mainstream motherboard users will be aware from their past experiences. One of its own selling points are two USB ports specifically labeled ‘VR Ready’ and ‘VR Boost’. In a nutshell, it provides clean signals to avoid any latency.
I am not a fan of labeling “gaming” on PC components. Due to various brands, it either means “Too expensive” and “Too cheap in quality and price”. We’ve seen cases when even the highest selling motherboard brand use low-cost solutions with ‘gamer’ tag. It limits one person’s opinion about anything with that word is a versatile product. That might be one person’s opinion, but we’ve seen success on both sides. Such as Kingston labeling HyperX towards gaming in full force and releasing headsets in a speed that nobody would bother to keep count, while Cooler Master chopped off “CM Storm” for Master series with a limited release with a time period.
Packaging and Contents
MSI Z270 Gaming M5’s packaging is very straightforward and it shows the motherboard’s design on both sides of the packaging. It lists its specification and features on the rear. The listing of its slots, expansion opportunities and the I/O layout is very appreciated.
The motherboard is neatly packed in an anti-static bag inside a cardboard tray. Once removed, you’ll see a reasonable amount of add-ons and reading materials. SATA cables are limited to three, but you get a light kit’s extension cable. MSI provides a metal case badge and a ribbon SLI bridge, a set of stickers to label your SATA cables at both ends. As usual, you get an installation disc. Personally, I would like to see the day when all motherboard manufacturers would replace the driver disc for a flash drive.
Do you think it’s overdue at least for some mid to high-end motherboards? It’s a debatable topic as I’ve seen ZOTAC not providing installation disc with GTX 1050 Ti. The required installation folders exceed 6 GB.
|CPU||Supports 7th/6th Gen Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processors and Intel Pentium and Celeron processors for Socket LGA 1151|
|Chipset||Intel Z270 Chipset|
|Storage||Intel Z270 Chipset:
|RAID||Intel Z270 Chipset:
|LAN||1X Killer E2500 Gigabit LAN controller|
|Back Panel Connectors||
|I/O Controller||NUVOTON NCT6795 Controller Chip|
MSI’s detailed specification table nicely points out all the expansion options and features that this motherboard offers. MSI’s motherboard manual made a good impression with its X99A Gaming Pro Carbon. Not only it has all the instructions for installing even the basic hardware component, it also provides QR code linking to YouTube videos, helping people to build their first system on their own. While basic illustrations are common with almost all motherboard brands, linking YouTube video instructions shows that extra mile. The PDF copy can be downloaded from here.