Final Words & Conclusion
Final words & conclusion
I like it, I really like the M7 as it has all variables right. The design is terrific in its black/grey/chome look (though that is a personal and thus subjective preference). Then the board performs really well and MSI has created an easy to tweak platform with their UEFI BIOS. Features wise it's as good as it is going to get in this price segment. While the board isn't cheap at ~270 USD, it does offer the three M2 slots. You do loose two SATA ports if you are using all M2 slots btw. The LED design is simple yet intricate. You can configure your preference on / off / animated and colors with the MSI software and from there on you are good to go. So yeah, it's a pretty lovely motherboard.
Performance & tweaking
The overall performance for this MSI Z270 Gaming M7 motherboard with a Core i5 7600K I'd rate as "very good" for the results as tested with a Core i5 7600K. Temps remain totally acceptable (depending on choice of cooling) and temperatures when the CPU is overclocked with added voltage definitely seem to be a notch better opposed to Haswell and Skylake. We have been able to reach 5.0 GHz stable enough on liquid cooling. At that level you are looking at up-to 1.35V needed on that CPU core. The infrastructure that MSI created is easy to use, you increase the CPU voltage and multiplier and you are good to go. We like that. You can also use the automated overclocking, but I find that to be a bit too risky with the core CPU voltages that MSI is applying.
If we step back and take the Intel reference board with a Sandy Bridge processor (2600K) without a dedicated graphics card, that platform idled at roughly 50 Watts. Once we stress the processor 100% on that platform we'd see ~120 Watts power consumption. With Kaby Lake (7600K) we noticed roughly 40 Watts in idle and 100 Watts with processor load at 100%. Things again remain relative.
The bottom line
To date we now have tested three MSI Z270 motherboards, the Titanium of course is great, but somehow I do seem to like this M7 one better. It is cheaper in that 270 USD/euro bracket (albeit a lot of money for a mobo) but seems to be feature rich. Very important these days are the actual looks, and MSI struck gold here as far as I am concerned. Z270 remains to be a tough sell, and that's not because of the motherboards. It is just that the processors have been in the same performance and tweaking bracket for years now. However, if you are in dire need of an upgrade, hey... MSI offers something pretty sweet here. You'll receive a motherboard with a nice sound solution and accompanying software suite. Love or hate the LED bling, you are going to get it in such a manner that you can disable it as well with the Mystic like software. We again however sorely miss AC WIFI and hey... why hasn't the industry moved to 10 GBit Ethernet jacks anno 2017 just yet? These two lacking features are a bit of a missed opportunity IMHO. In the grand scale of things the MSI Z270 Gaming M7 is simply a lovely product. The platform is stable, mature and comes with a very nice UEFI BIOS as well. I LOVE the PUMP FAN header btw as most people these days have some sort of liquid cooling going on. In closing, when you think your system is outdated and you would like to benefit from features such as USB 3.1, proper fast SATA3 ports, nice audio and some LEDs, hey - that's where Kaby Lake with a Z270 motherboard can make sense. Realistically, and I will keep repeating this, if you have upgraded of the past year or 2-3 already you might want to sit and wait for an actual generational improvement or perhaps something from the competition (AMD) that is launching some good stuff in Q1 2017. Whatever rocks your boat, the fantastic looking MSI Z270 Gaming M7 tocks all the right boxes and as such comes recommended.
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