Final Words & Conclusion
Final words & conclusion
Yeah, this one is nice isn't it ? The board certainly shared a lot of similarities to the Z170 model, and we thing it'll be priced the same as well at roughly 300 euro. Now then, despite my rather salted about Kaby lake in general I do have to say that the motherboard manufacturers did a astounding job with the new ranges being released. This XPOWER Gaming Titanium edition for example shines and rises into something really special, it is the most high-end ranking product in the Z270 series from MSI, and that shows. Realistically though it will tweak as good as any 150 USD motherboard (hey we hit 5 GHz stable) and offers the very, in fact exactly the same performance. The biggest factor in overclocking your processor is the actual processor and cooling, not so much the motherboard anymore.
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 roughly 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. Compared to Skylake the IPC performance increase is close to NIL. All in all not bad but let's face it - clock for clock these processors all roughly perform the same. 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 once again are 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 and SATA Express / U2 obviously nobody cares about and thus was not implemented, we love the triple M2 slots btw !
Performance & tweaking
The overall performance for this MSI Z270 XPOWER Gaming Titanium motherboard with a Core i5 7600K I'd rate as "good as any" 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 1.30 up-to 1.35V needed on that CPU core.
The OC dial work nicely, but be aware that at settings 11 (the highest mode) the CPU suddenly gets 1.5 Volts, this is highly discouraged and why we always have reservation bout automated overclocking. If you know what you are doing, hinestly .. do it manually in the BIOS.
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
We mentioned that Z270 is going to be a tough sell, and that's not because of the motherboards as for example this XPOWER Gaming Titanium is a true gem, very lovely with great features and an awesome design. It is just that the new processors (Kaby Lake) remain to be in the same performance and tweaking bracket as it has been for years now. Ever since Haswell there has been a 105 perf increase on IPS, that's just so easy to tweak yourself. However if you are in dire need of an upgrade, hey .. MSI offers something mightly impressive here. You'll retrieve a motherboard with a nice sound solution and accompanying software suite. Once again we again however sorely miss AC WIFI and for a 300+ euro/usd motherboard that just does not compute to me. Also why hasn't the industry moved to 10 GBit Ethernet jacks anno 2016 just yet?
In the grand scale of things the two misses are forgivable and surely the MSI Z270 XPOWER Gaming Titanium is a dreamy motherboard fpr many. The platform is stable, mature and comes with a very nice 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. The OC Dashboard PCB, while funny we do not see the added value in it. Just insert the functionality and buttons on the PCB we say.
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 XPOWER Gaming Titanium definitely comes recommended as a motherboard. However a platform upgrade from coming from Haswell or Skylake, well that is just hard to justify value for money wise.
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