Do you want to buy a new PC? As avid gamers, we know how important it is for the hardware to be of high quality so that your gaming experience will be smooth and enjoyable. The MSI Z97 Gaming 5 Motherboard has some of the best specs out there! Read this blog post if you are having trouble deciding on which motherboard to purchase.
MSI is a company that has been in the computer hardware business for over 30 years. They have always had a focus on gaming computers, and their newest release of the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard shows this with its impressive specs. This post will go through all you need to know about it, from what it can support to why you might want one.
If you're a gamer, then you know the importance of having a good gaming rig. To make sure that your gaming experience is as great as possible, it's important to have a strong CPU and a powerful graphics card. Msi has been making quality components for gamers for years, and their Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard gives you everything that you could need in an affordable package. Not only does this board offer up some serious power with its Intel Core i7 4790k processor and Nvidia Geforce GTX 770 graphics card, but it also looks awesome with its black design and red accents. In addition, it comes loaded with all the features that any gamer needs to enjoy their favourite games, including DDR3 1866 memory slots, USB 3.0 ports.
Sometimes it feels odd to review the cheaper elements of the motherboard market. The more expensive models have more to play with, whereas the sub $160 market for Z97 comes down to the choice of an individual controller or two. Here is where brand loyalty and styling seem to matter more than the complete feature set. To make matters worse for MSI, one of the other manufacturers is also branding their motherboards with 'Gaming X', making it harder to forge that terminology as a brand. So today, we are looking at the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 at $160, which was sold out on Newegg at the time of writing.
The Z97 GAMING 5 ATX Gaming Motherboard from MSI supports 4th and 5th generation Intel Core processors and Intel Pentium and Celeron processors for Socket LGA1150. It is equipped with four DIMM slots, supports DDR3 3300 MHz (O.C.), and supports Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP). The motherboard is equipped with three PCIe 3.0 (support x16, x8/x8, x8/x4/x4 modes) and four PCIe 2.0 x1 slots. The motherboard is optimized for multiple graphics cards.
With Audio Boost 2 and Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2, you can enjoy crystal clear sound and music through 8-channel H.D. audio. The MSI USB Audio Power continuously delivers a stable 5V to the motherboards USB ports and serves stable 5V power and better signal transmission over USB. With XSplit Gamecaster, you can easily record your gaming moments and broadcast your live gameplay sessions to Twitch, YouTube, UStream, and more. The Gaming Device port is optimized with triple gold-plating for high polling rate gaming devices.
Featuring Advanced Stream Detect, Killer E2200 automatically detects and accelerates game traffic ahead of other network traffic for smoother, stutter-free in-game performance. Through the detection and prioritization of gaming traffic, you can fully utilize your network. This enables true multi-tasking without manually enabling or disabling applications, updates, and installations.
What is Msi Z97 Gaming 5?
One of MSI's positive points of late has been the BIOS and software combination, which for the gaming range is boosted by a six-month premium subscription to XSplit. The box also contains a door hanger to let people know you are gaming and an MSI Gaming case badge to affix to the build.
Performance at stock is a bit of a mixed bag. We get a good array of CPU results due to MSI's aggressive MultiCore Turbo, along with low idle power consumption and DPC Latency, but MSI's tri-annual USB speed bug rears its head again. POST times are also longer than expected, being north of 14 seconds in both stock and stripped mode. Despite our audio tests also performing poorly, MSI has informed us of a driver update that should improve performance.
The best point of comparison for the Gaming 5 will be the Z97 Guard-Pro at $110 we reviewed previously. Compared to the Guard Pro, the Gaming 5 gets SLI support, Killer NIC over Realtek, ALC1150 over ALC892 audio, HDMI rather than DisplayPort, support for 3 full-length PCIe devices, more rear panel USB ports, more in the package and perhaps a nicer looking product overall. This amount might be a sufficient difference to account for the $50 upgrade, although whereas the price of the Guard Pro might suit a Pentium build, the Z97 Gaming 5 really indicates a good i3 or i5 build.
The rear panel is the main focus for some of MSI's gaming features. On the far left are a combination PS/2 port and two USB 2.0 ports, with these USB 2.0 ports being part of the 'Gaming Device Port'. MSI's marketing materials say that the port is more responsive with 3x more gold in the connector and has a 10x longer lifetime. While the latter statement is most likely true, the first statement is dubious – more gold would mean less impedance for signals. However, we doubt it would do anything for responsiveness without overriding software to increase the polling rate.
Elsewhere on the rear panel, we get another two USB 2.0 ports, VGA/DVI-D/HDMI video outputs, four USB 3.0 ports, the Killer E2205 network port and audio jacks with extra gold plating.
One of the first things we noticed about the Z97 Gaming 5 is the PCB, especially in the socket area. MSI would have a knack for making a PCB look polished, especially on these lower-end models with fewer components. Like other gaming ranges, MSI uses a red on the black theme here, with the heatsinks being the main source of red on the motherboard. The slots and port connectors are all in black, and even the power delivery chokes are an off grey as to not interfere with the general look.
The power delivery heatsinks use an odd surface area design and are not conjoined by a heat pipe but feel sturdy enough for four phases each. The socket area is not outlined by the typical white box denoting the Intel minimum distances, although we had no issue fitting our CPU heatsink here. Instead, the socket area has access to four fan headers – two CPU headers to the top right, one SYS header just above the first PCIe slot and a final one below the 24-pin ATX power connector. The other fan header is at the bottom right of the motherboard.
Frequently Asked Questions About Msi Z97 Gaming 5
Experience with MSI Z97 Gaming 5
Manual overclockers should be pleased with MSI's BIOS adjustment for Z97, giving overclocking options in a nice ordered list compared to a run-on list with no order. The use of Simple/Advanced modes also helps.
No DDR4 support for Z97; just get some DDR3. We don't believe X99 offers enough to warrant a full system switch over.
MSI's Z97 Gaming 5 sits above the Gaming 3 and below the Gaming 7/9 models, and thrown into that mix is the Z97M and Z97I Gaming models, some of which also come with 802.11ac WiFi. In addition, due to MSI's layout also affords four separate PCIe 2.0 x1 slots for additional connectivity cards.
No. It does not have onboard Bluetooth, and you will need your own Bluetooth dongle.
Audio Boost 2
Audio Boost 2 delivers high audio quality using Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2, so you can enjoy crystal clear sound and music through 8-channel H.D. Audio.
Isolated Audio PCB
With traditional onboard audio, the signal is distorted by electromagnetic signals from the rest of the PCB. Audio Boost 2 acts like a dedicated soundcard by physically isolating the audio circuitry separated by a red LED path. As a result, less interference gives you a clear audio signal.
Direct Audio Power
You can enjoy heavy calibre audio with Direct Audio Power. Dedicated power input to Audio Boost 2 allows for more powerful and stable power delivery, resulting in a more explosive and pure sound experience.
Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2
Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2 enables you to hear specific sounds in gaming environments.
To shield the audio core from EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) caused by other add-in cards, the audio chip is protected by a high-grade EMI cover with backlight illumination.
Golden Audio Connectors
With golden audio connectors, you get optimal signal output with less chance of distortion. It has dedicated amplified output (red) optimized for studio-grade headgear. In addition, it provides enhanced signal conductivity and will not wear over time.
High-Quality Audio Capacitors
With the use of professional Nichicon Japanese capacitors, specially designed for audio purposes, MSI gaming motherboards provide optimal audio signal filtering. As a result, it delivers high-fidelity crystal clear sound with enhanced acoustics and realism.
Dual Headphone Amplifiers
The built-in dual headphone amplifier rewards your high-quality headphones with the optimal studio-level sound quality of up to 600Ω delivered from your gaming P.C. Also, MSI gaming motherboards are designed to be user-friendly, featuring front and rear audio outputs fueled by Audio Boost 2.
USB Audio Power
MSI USB Audio Power continuously delivers a stable 5V to the USB ports on motherboards, so you can continue to enjoy the crystal clear audio standard you expect. In addition, it enhances USB audio quality, stable 5V power and better signal transmission over USB.
Killer E2200 Game Networking
The Killer E2200 Intelligent Networking Platform is built for maximum networking performance for online games and high quality streaming media. Featuring Advanced Stream Detect, Killer E2200 automatically detects and accelerates game traffic ahead of other network traffic for smoother, stutter-free in-game performance and a competitive edge. With this automatic traffic prioritization, games and real-time chat get priority over low-level system chatter, giving you low latency for game data on the most controllable network hardware available.
M.2 and SATA Express
Enjoy a fast system boot up and loading applications and games with the next generation of high-speed storage support through M.2 and SATA Express. The M.2 and SATA Express transfer data through a PCIe 2.0 x2 interface up to 10 Gb/s, making it 67% faster than SATA 3.0 solutions. M.2 is the successor to mSATA. The M.2 is packed in a small form factor and compatible with three sizes to fit most storage solutions. All latest generation Intel-based MSI gaming motherboards feature M.2 storage.
SATA Express introduces a solution in high-speed storage through PCIe, providing more bandwidth for the latest generation SSDs. In addition, flexible solutions with an M.2 to SATA Express converter for more convenience is provided.
Live Update 6
The MSI Live Update software automatically downloads and installs the latest drivers, BIOS, and software. So rest assured while your system is always configured using the latest software, so you get the maximum performance and stability.
MSI's Command Center software is a powerful tool to push your motherboard to the max. Command Centre allows users to tune settings to increase system stability, maximize overclocking performance, and adjust cooling features with an intuitive touch-ready interface.
MSI Command Centre integrates an unlimited RAMDisk. With a RAMDisk, you can create a virtual drive from your system memory, enabling speeds 20 times faster than a modern SSD. As a result, you can speed up system performance, load complete game images, and speed up games, apps, and browsers.
Msi Z97 Gaming 5 Compatibility
The MSI Z97 GAMING 5 uses the Intel LGA 1150 CPU socket. Any compatible Intel CPU will have the same socket entry. It uses the DDR3 memory type, with maximum speeds of up to 2400 MHz and 4 DDR3 slots, allowing for a maximum total of 32 GB RAM.
Conforming to the ATX standard, the MSI Z97 GAMING 5 should fit into the majority of cases. ATX is the most common form factor. As such, it has a high degree of compatibility with other components while providing a decent number of slots to widen your expansion options.
The MSI Z97 GAMING 5 has 6 SATA 3.0 hard drive slots. These allow for theoretical data transfer speeds of up to 6GB/s instead of the 3GB/s of SATA 2.0. Generally speaking, only high-performance hard drives, specifically solid-state drives, will be able to take advantage of the bandwidth potential of SATA 3.0 ports. However, it is backwards compatible, so you do not have to take advantage.
The MSI Z97 GAMING 5 supports onboard graphics. This allows for integrated graphics when paired with a compatible CPU that supports them. Integrated graphics are a cheap alternative to using a graphics card but should be avoided when frequently using modern applications or games that require intense graphical processing. There are 2 PCIe x16 slots on this motherboard. This means it is perfectly capable of accommodating the latest graphics cards. However, it is important to try and use a graphics card with the same graphics card interface of PCIe v3.0, as anything below will not reach the motherboard's potential. Anything above will have its performance slashed to the bandwidth maximum of the MSI Z97 GAMING 5's PCIe v3.0. The MSI Z97 GAMING 5 supports up to 2 Nvidia SLI connected graphics cards or up to 3 AMD Crossfire connected graphics cards for improved overall graphical performance at the cost of multiplied graphics-based power consumption as well as the price of the cards themselves.
The MSI Z97 GAMING 5 has 6 USB 2.0 slots and 5 USB 3.0 slots. USB 3.0 slots are theoretically capable of data transfer speeds of up to 5 Gbit/s, over 10 times faster than the USB 2.0 top speed of 480 Mbit/s. Although USB 2.0 slots alone currently serve as well as ever, an upgrade would better future-proof your system as more USB 3.0 compatible peripherals emerge. USB 3.0 is also backwards compatible with USB 2.0, which means you do not even have to use the newer slot functionality if you do not wish to.
The MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard is one of the top gaming motherboards on the market. It's packed with features like M.2 support, dual graphics card compatibility, and more!
For those who are looking to upgrade or build a new P.C. for intense gaming sessions - you will want to check out all the specs on this board before making your purchase decision.