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Review: MSI Z97 Gaming 7 LGA 1150 Motherboard

Review: MSI Z97 Gaming 7 LGA 1150 Motherboard

Sam ChenFebruary 13, 2015

All Around sub-$200 Gaming Motherboard

msi-z97-gaming-7-lga-1150-motherboard-custom-pc-review-3For those who’ve been closely following the Z97 launch these past couple weeks, you’ll know that it hasn’t been anywhere near the smoothest chipset launch in Intel history. Despite Intel’s NDA set for May 11, we’ve literally known practically everything about Z97 for months and almost every motherboard maker has been either leaking their own products or breaking some sort of NDA to get their products some early media coverage.

With Intel’s NDA now expired and Z97 chipset based motherboards now rolling out at major retailers (with Intel’s new Haswell Refresh CPUs following suit), today we’ll be reviewing our first Z97 motherboard, the MSI Z97 Gaming 7.

Like MSI’s Z87 series motherboards, MSI’s strategy for the Z97 is similar in that they’ll be producing three series of motherboards – channel, gaming, and overclocking. Today we’ll be focusing on the gaming series, which as its name implies is focused towards gamers. Unlike previous generation MSI gaming motherboards, MSI is now simplifying the naming conventions on their gaming motherboards by dropping the old G43, GD55, GD65 model names for a newer, easier to understand 3, 5, 7, etc.

MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Specifications

ModelZ97 Gaming 7
ChipsetIntel Z97
Memory4x DDR3 DIMM Slots (Up to 32GB)
Dual Channel, Up to DDR3 3300 (OC)
VideoIntel HD Graphics
Discrete Graphics
AudioRealtek ALC1150 7.1 Channel Audio
2x TI OP1652 Op Amp (Headphone support up to 600 ohm)
LANKiller E2205
Slots1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot @ x16
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot @ x8
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot @ x4
4 x PCIe 2.0 1x slots
Storage6 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors (Intel Chipset)
2 x SATA 3 6.0 Gb/s connectors (ASMedia ASM1061 Chipset)
Onboard Connectors1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
1 x M.2 port
2 x USB 2.0 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
1 x USB 3.0 connector (supports additional 2 USB 3.0 ports)
2 x 4-pin CPU fan connectors
3 x 4-pin system fan connectors
1 x TPM module connector
1 x Serial port connector
1 x Front panel audio connector
1 x Direct audio power connector
2 x System panel connectors
1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
9 x V-Check connectors
1 x Power button
1 x Reset button
1 x OC Genie button
1 x Multi-BIOS switch
1 x Audio power switch
1 x 2-Digit Debug Code LED
Rear Panel I/O1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port
1 x Clear CMOS button
1 x LAN (RJ45) port
2 x USB 2.0 ports
8 x USB 3.0 ports
1 x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector
6 x OFC audio jacks
2 x HDMI port
1 x DisplayPort
Warranty3 Years
Check PricingAmazon

As we’ll be reviewing the MSI Z97 Gaming 7, it’s pretty much going to be one of MSI’s most full featured gaming motherboards with everything you’d need for gaming plus a bit more on top for the enthusiasts as well. Being an Intel 9 series LGA 1150 motherboard, the Z97 Gaming 7 will not only support current generation Haswell processors, but also upcoming Haswell Refresh, Devil’s Canyon (Haswell Refresh Overclocking SKUs), and 14nm Broadwell CPUs. MSI has also included tons of SATA and USB support, M.2 support, support for 2-way SLI or 3-way CrossFire and more!

Let’s take a closer look!

About The Author
Sam Chen
Hardware and Technology Enthusiast. SSD Evangelist. Editor-in-Chief. You can find Sam's full biography here
  • Lorenzo Pieri

    Very good review! ;)

  • kobotoz maboto

    seem poor quality weldings