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MSI Z97M Gaming LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

5 out of 5 eggs Second Time Around, Revisions! 06/09/2014

This review is from: MSI Z97M Gaming LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: There is just not enough space in these short reviews to cover everything...

So, after re-reading my review I have some additions and corrections.


1. I meant to say Digital VRM, not PWM! Doh!
2. To be more clear about the Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2 software issue....the preset profiles allow you to change how the sound is processed but any settings you make don't stick between reboots. Changes made to the Custom profile do get saved. However, there is only one Custom profile.


1. Four PWM fan headers are on board. The first two are CPU-centric (one is meant for a PWM CPU fan and the second for something along the lines of AIO water cooler pump head OR if your HSF uses two PWM fans). The second set are for case fans. All can be set to operate based upon temperature in BIOS and have the ability to run set at full blast or according to a profile, and this can be done by fan header so you have a great deal of control.

3. Killer E2200 on-board NIC did not pose any issues for me. Some people don't like them, but I don't use the packet prioritization capability of this device so I cannot speak to the more advanced capabilities of this NIC. It has not caused me unusual problems, so that is good. One thing to note is no variation of Windows will have a default driver for it. You will need to load a driver from the install CD or have the latest and greatest driver already on your own prepped-up driver CD/USB thumb drive. One final item of note here is that you cannot load "drivers only." You get the utility portion whether you like it or not.

4. This motherboard supports M.2 form factor SSDs. Yes, you can boot from them. The M.2 form factor SSD in question must support that, however. The slot is electrically wired to support either PCI-E or SATA variations. You WANT to use a M.2 SSD that has native PCI-E support otherwise you get the same speed as if you were using the traditional method of hooking up a SATA SSD via cable. SHOP CAREFULLY...if is not always apparent as to which M.2 SSD comes with a native PCi-E controller and which relies on a SATA based controller.

No, I did not test the M.2 slot. I am waiting for more options to hit the market for SSDs and I am waiting for the tech to mature first. If you do use the M.2 slot, two of the on-board SATA ports are disabled automatically. That would be SATA 5 and SATA 6.

5. Yes, the package comes with the MSI M-Connector which makes hooking up your FP leads much easier.

Cannot think of anything else at this point. Will post more if more comes up.

Cons: N/A

Other Thoughts: N/A

MSI Z97M Gaming LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

Pros: Review Preface:

Well, it seems I am first review this excellent mobo. I like that. Additionally, it seems the professional review sites have all but ignored this mATX board, which is very unfortunate. I guess I will be the one to give everybody the skinny. I waited about three weeks before I wrote this review to be sure I could give a great initial impression.

What comes in the box?

Newegg does not provide a description of exactly what comes in the box. To be fair, neither does the MSI website. So, here it is:

1. The mobo of course, well packaged.
2. 4 SATA III cables, two of which have right angled ends. The other two are straight to straight.
3. MSI Gaming door hanger, metal case badge, manual, driver disk (ignored, I know to get the latest online), and Quick Install Guide which was all but useless.
4. AND, for the big question I personally had, YES, the new MOLEX to three pin audio power cable comes with this mobo. This cable allows you to power the audio directly off of your PSU as opposed to using mobo power.

The Pros:

1. Military Class 4 technology (now called Guard Pro)...all solid high endurance caps, Super Ferrite Chokes, EMI protection, high density humidity resistant PCB, ESD protection, over heat protection, and over current protection.
2. Digital PWM.
3. Superior sound using a isolated portion of the PCB with the Realtek ALC1150 CODEC, along with dual amplifiers to the rear sound output and the FP output, so headphone gamers are not left out and not left switching their speakers for headphones constantly. MSI also used Nichicon fine gold capacitors for sound filtering and they work. I have used great sound card likes the Sound Blaster Z and the ASUS Xonar DX, and the onboard solution this mobo provides rivals them. The sound is also able to be power via your PSU direct through a MOLEX to three pin power cable which I did use and there is a on-board DIP switch that switches between PSU power and on-board power.
4. ULTRA STABLE. I put this board through many hours (20+) of Prime95 Blend and never had any issues.
5. BIOS is easy to navigate and attractive. You can save OC profiles if you wish.
6. External SATA via an ASMEDIA controller and two additional USB 3.0 port also via another ASMEDIA controller.
7. Sound Blaster Cinema 2 software running on top of the Realtek sound subsystem, which does truly enhance your sound experience in some situations but can be problematic in others (see cons).
8. Plethora of utilities provided such as MSI Fast Boot, Command Center, Game App which allows instant OC, Live Update to keep BIOS/drivers/utilities updated, and more.
9. No layout issues were encountered during my installation.
10. The board install went very smooth and I encountered no abnormalities.
11. MSI has already put out a BIOS update...version 1.1 for this board, so they are obviously committed to rectifying any issues encountered.
12. Board is striking! I love the color sche

Cons: With the mobo I did not encounter any real cons. Obviously it is mATX so be sure you don't need something bigger than that. I wanted a more compact build.

The only con I could find is that the Creative Cinema 2 software seriously over-processes the sound, especially if you have great 2.1 speakers already like I do (Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 set). The sound profiles provided, such as Music, Gaming, Chat, etc. cannot be modified and stay that way between reboots. There is one custom profile I created with NO processing of any kind for music and am really enjoying the sound that come out of this mobo. The issue is that ALL of the preset profiles provide bass enhancement and surround enhancement, plus volume limiting in the case of the Music preset. That seriously mucked with my audiophile tendencies! Now, if you have lower end speakers, then you might get more mileage out the Music preset. If you have the higher end 2.1 system and are a purist of any kind, then use the Custom profile to turn everything off for music.

Other than that, I could not find any real cons and I am very picky. I have already updated the BIOS once and that went very easily...I used the BIOS based M-Flash, although it can be done in Windows too.

Other Thoughts: Here is my RIG:

MSI Z97M Gaming, BIOS 1.1
Intel Core i7-4790 at default clocks
16 GB (2 x 8 GB) G.Skill Ares DDR3-2133, 1.5V, 11-13-13-31 using XMP Profile 1
MSI GTX770 Gaming OC video card
SanDisk Extreme II 480GB SSD as primary
Seagate 1TB SSHD, 7200RPM as mass storage
Corsair 350D mATX case
Corsair H55 AIO water cooler
Seasonic S12G 650W Gold Certified PSU
Windows 8.1 Update 1 64 bit

Also, one final note...the board by default DOES USE multi-core enhancement and pushes my i7-4790 to 3.8 GHz on all cores at 100% load. BE SURE you use a CPU cooler capable of coping or turn off the multi-core enhancement if you intend to use the Intel HSF.

Corsair Obsidian Series 350D CC-9011028-WW Black Aluminum / Steel MicroATX Case
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

4 out of 5 eggs The not ...quite... Obsidian 06/02/2014

This review is from: Corsair Obsidian Series 350D CC-9011028-WW Black Aluminum / Steel MicroATX Case

Pros: 1. Sturdy.
2. Stylish.
3. Smaller for those who prefer more petite builds.
4. Fan filters for the front case fan and PSU.
5. Excellent cable routing, with plenty of tie down points and rubber lined cable routing holes.
6. Slightly positive pressure (the intake fan brings more air in than the rear pushes out) and this helps with dust build-up.
7. Room for large AIO coolers at the top of the case.
8. 2.5" drive specific mounting brackets.
9. Anti-vibration mount sliding drive trays for 3.5" HDDs.
10. All PCI slot covers are vented and removable; none are break away. All are using thumb screws.
11. White power and HDD LEDs on the front are not too bright and classy.
12. USB 3.0 ports at the front of the case.

Cons: Price for what you get is not...quite...up to Obsidian standards or the Obsidian branding.

1. No fan filters for the top of the case, so you will need to get creative with that. Those with AIO water coolers will NEED to do this since you don't want your radiator clogging with dust too quickly. This is the biggest detractor from the case.
2. Fans supplied are strictly three pin non PWM affairs.
3. Drive mounting trays are somewhat flimsy and need to be treated with extra care.
4. The only aluminum present is the magnetic-release front cover which covers up the front fan filter. Rest is steel and plastic. Again, this is not really up to the Obsidian name branding.

Other Thoughts: To be clear, this is a very nice case and I am happy with it. Hence the four eggs. I am just a bit disappointed Corsair decided to brand it with the Obsidian name where you expect them to throw everything including the kitchen sink. With this case you really get no extras, and quite frankly for the price you are getting the level of quality present in the lower tier Graphite series and Carbide series.


Donald S.'s Profile

Display Name: Donald S.

Date Joined: 09/24/08

  • Reviews: 28
  • Helpfulness: 13
  • First Review: 10/09/13
  • Last Review: 06/09/14
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