Final Words & Conclusion
Final words & conclusion
Despite my view of Kaby Lake in general I do have to say that the motherboard manufacturers did a lovely job with the new ranges being released. This Gaming PRO Carbon for example remains affordable, yet manages to impress. It tweaks as good as any 400 USD motherboard (hey, we hit 5 GHz stable) and offers the very, in fact the exact, same performance.
You know I've stated in my Kaby Lake review already that Intel really isn't delivering anymore. It's the same quad-core processor series released year after year in nearly the same performance bracket. Kaby Lake is once again a quad-core processor with minor tweaks, slightly higher turbos and a processor that can tweak to the 5 GHz domain. All in all not bad but let's face it - clock for clock these processors all roughly perform the same starting at Sandy-Bridge and the Core i5 2500 / Core i7 2600 series released in January 2011 (!). It's the clock frequencies where you can find the extra performance, not the architecture, but even then... it's all very relative. As such, it is once again the motherboard manufacturers that will need to save the day.
If you have upgraded in the last year or two to a new PC, well, the upgrade remains a hard sell. This motherboard however does have aesthetic improvements as well as your platform will be upgraded towards full compatibility with USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) as well as two M.2 slots and sure, a bit of LED bling. Optane support is there, SATA Express / U2 obviously nobody cares about and thus was not implemented.
Performance & tweaking
The overall performance for this MSI Z270 Gaming PRO Carbon motherboard with a Core i5 7600K I'd rate as "good" for the results as tested with a Core i5 7600K. Temps remain very 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.
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
As stated, Z270 is going 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 2016 just yet? These two lacking features are a bit of a missed opportunity IMHO. In the grand scale of things the MSI Z270 Gaming PRO CARBON is a bit of a gem value for money wise. 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, 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 PRO Carbon definitely comes recommended.
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