We’ve had a range of MSI boards through our doors recently, all of which have proved to be superb in near every factor. MSI has certainly pulled out all the stops and is now well in command when it comes to boards for garners, enthusiasts, overclockers and even the media centre builders.
The Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard was released earlier in the year, so it’s had some time for users to familiarize themselves with its many features.
For starters, this is an ATX (305 x 244mm) board that can support fourth- and fifth-generation Intel Core i7 ,i5 and i3 processors, among others. It has four DIMM slots for up to 32GB of DDR3 3200 (overclocked) RAM, six SATA 6Gbps ports, a single M.2 port, four USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports on the rear, along with a Killer E2206 gigabit Ethernet port. Finally it has three PCIe 3.0 16x slots and four PCIe 2.0 1x slots.
It’s the well-spaced PCIe slots that make this such a well balanced and sought after board among the system building elite. You can comfortably fit three MSI GTX780 graphics cards next to each other without the feeling that you’re about to deprive the system of any much needed air cooling. In fact, with a little bit of clever cable management you can effectively have a good few millimeters free either side of the centre graphics card and thus plenty of circulation to keep everything cool. Obviously more exotic methods of cooling will require a slightly different setup, but we’re confident that with even the inclusion of water cooling there’s ample room.
Obviously, it being an MSI board means you’re not just getting the usual run-of-the-mill extras included with the package. MSI has blessed this board with heaps of wonderful technologies, including Audio Boost 2 with an isolated audio PCB and the aforementioned Killer F2200 network port that’s designed to prioritize online gaming bandwidth, chat and other such traffic. M.2 offers exceptional speed to those who have invested in the connected storage solution and, of course, as with most other MSI boards, the Z97 Gaming 5 has military class 4 components throughout.
All of this means that not only will you have an incredibly stable and lightening quick base onto which you can build your system, but there’s also plenty of room of overclocking, circuit protection and the reassurance of quality that generally comes with all MSl boards.
The list of features does go on for a fair while, and we could rave about then for a number of pages more. Suffice to say, though, in our tests we found this board to be both incredibly stable, roomy enough to work with, easy to configure and set up and ideal for almost every user — not just for those requiring the maximum number of frames per second in game.
The price isn’t too bad either. At around $140, the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 offers excellent value for the amount of technology and the sheer number of features available.