Final Words & Conclusion
MSI went all out with the Z370 Godlike Gaming. It's a supreme and extraordinary build that will suit the Coffee Lake processors well and also often was fastest of the Z370 motherboards. In fact it might even be a bit over the top. The Triple KillerNIC implementation for example, funky sure but needed? Nope. I would have much more preferred a 5 or 10 Gbps Aquantia jack. There is no disrespect on everything KillerNIC though, but 99.99% of the end-users simply do not care about binding network interfaced, network packet prioritizing or the new switch ability. The motherboard comes with a Killer Wireless-AC 1535 Wi-Fi module, allowing the PC to act as a switch and Wi-Fi extender. But your PC obviously would need to be powered on, all the time. And that does not make any sense. Users on LAN/WAN want to plugin an Ethernet cable, and then preferably be future proof with 5G or 10G Ethernet, period. We do like the three M2 slots, but then the extra add-in board supporting another two feels a little unneeded maybe? Also there is a complication of using that many M.2 SSDs, you'll need to forfeit one x4 PCIe slot and/or SATA ports as the chipset simply will run out of PCIe lanes. Other then that, it is just a massive and great looking board with loads of features of course. Overclocking wise all board will offer roughly the same really, the denominator here is the processor and not so much the motherboard. Overclocking wise we reach roughly 5.1 GHz on all six cores 100% stable on our sample and the BIOS we had at hand, but at the time of writing this review the BIOS was already improved with even better memory and tweaking support. You'll likely see some samples hit 5.3 and others 5.0, but it is along these ranges whet Coffee Lake sits (on good cooling). The platform (Z370/Coffee Lake) also manages heat and power consumption at very acceptable levels.
Performance & Tweaking
Once tweaked we noticed that the six cores like a bit of extra voltage, we expect all-core tweaks in the 5.1~5.2 GHz marker to need 1.35~1.38 Volts on the processor. While that does increase power consumption, it wasn't something that scared me away. Some platforms will and procs will also be able to manage a lower voltage. On this board temps at such voltages / frequency ranges reached 75 Degrees C for 5.1 GHz. We did use an ES sample, perhaps the final retail product can do with a little less juice. If you plan a tweak at that 5 GHz marker then remember my remarks on cooling, you will need LCS, that or a very good heatpipe cooler. Again, we have been using an ES sample so I cannot say anything conclusive on the final retail products (these might run a tiny bit cooler). The infrastructure that Z370 offers is easy to use, you increase the CPU voltage and multiplier and you are good to go. Another plus for the Intel platform is that over the years they have been able to refine their memory controllers, pop in anything XMP 2.0 and you have a 90% change it'll work straight out of the box with very fast memories. Mind you that all our tests are performed at 3,200 MHz DDR4, similar to Ryzen and Threadripper to remain objective and for fair play on both sides.
Z370 with a six cores and twelve threaded proc equals to a 95 Watt TDP processor. With the system at idle with a GeForce GTX 1080 installed / 16 GB memory / SSD and the Z370 motherboard. Typically you will hover at roughly 58 Watts in IDLE. The Godlike is a notch higher. When we stressed the processor 100% run we reach roughly 150 Watts with the 6-core 8700K part overall, here again we noticed 30 Watts more. MSI likely uses a higher CPU Voltage offset as well as the three NICs etc require a bit of voltage as well. When we game we hover at ~250 Watts with the GeForce GTX 1080, but obviously that factor is dependent on the type of graphics card you use of course and sure, most games certainly do not utilize the six CPU cores. Overall I have no worries here.
For Coffee Lake (8th Gen Intel procs) DDR4 may be clocked a notch faster at 2,400/2,667 MHz as per Intel reference. We always say, volume matters more than frequency. A 3,200 MHz kit for example is far more expensive and does offer better bandwidth but the performance increases in real-world usage will be hard to find. Unless you transcode videos over the processor a lot. As always, my advice would be to go with lower clocked DDR4 memory with decent timings, but get more of it. Don't go for 8 GB, get four DIMMs and in total a minimum of 16 GB. The reason we test at 3,200 MHz is simple, we do the same for AMD Ryzen and want to create a fair and equal playing ground for both. We however have added a 3,866 MHz kit as a bit of extra to show how easy it is to get closer to that 4 GHz DDR4 domain (not that such a high frequency is really relevant but it is fun to see the bandwidth scores).
The Z370 Godlike gaming motherboard has got to be one of the best looking and more versitile boards out there. It is very feature rich with the many M.2 slots available, the extraordinary KillerNIC implementation as well remains to be a plus as well as the the sheer design of this beauty. The board kicks in nicely with exactly the right amount of RGB LEDs, and once activated it's just a completely different board to look at. The LEDs give the product really nice looks. All RGB configurable of course as well. I have no final confirmation on pricing, yet expect it to sit at or in the 399 USD bracket, which would be steep alright. The WiFi is nice, but the triple Gigabit jacks are a little over the top. As mentioned, I would have preferred a 5G or 10G LAN Jack personally. It really is time for the industry to pick up on that and make the move forwards. Connectivity wise in terms of your PCIe slots for your graphics subsystem you are looking at a full x16 Gen 3 lanes for one graphics cards. The second and third PCIe slot shares it's lanes with the first one, ergo you'd end up at configuration like x8/x8. The fourth x16 slot, in fact is a x4 slot which draws its lanes from the chipset and is shared with an M.2 slot. We expect Coffee lake to be able to manage the 5 GHz domain on all cores with exceptions running up towards 5.2 GHz (all-core). I base this metric on high-perf aircoolers and liquid cooling. From there on-wards you are looking at proc ASIC quality and cooling being the more important denominator. Concluding, if the price is right then this Z370 Godlike gaming motherboard hauls ass in terms of features and design. It can be an excellent partner for your Coffee Lake processor. If you are in need for that upgrade towards a new platform with all the new technologies, hey this one comes recommended by Guru3D.com
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