Buying guide for the Intel 8th Generation Gaming Motherboard – MSI Z370 GAMING Series Motherboard
WRITTEN BY Tina Wei
Posted on November 09 2017
All new best companion for the Intel® Core™ i7-8700K 6 core processor
Buying guide for the Intel 8th Generation Gaming Motherboard – MSI Z370 GAMING Series Motherboard
eSports is the essential driving force behind the development of the PC industry these days. Under the booming growth of the gaming industry, motherboards that are specifically designed for gaming have become the hottest products at the moment. Needless to say, other than motherboards, CPU is also one of the most important components when it comes to building a gaming PC. The computing power of the processor will have a more crucial impact on your FPS (Frames per Second); the one thing that can really unlock its potential is none other than a gaming motherboard with comprehensive features, powerful performance, and high stability.
From the point of view of the development history of processors, there is almost always one or two new processors entering the market each year; this brings even more powerful computing performance and further boosts gaming performance for the computer users. Therefore, many gamers often upgrade their computers or build new computers when the new processor products are launched.
As for this year (2017), it could be said that this is the most lively period of time in recent years. Aside from launching the seventh generation Kaby Lake-S series processors in the beginning of year, Intel, the world-renowned processor manufacturer, has also launched the eighth generation Coffee lake-S processors, increasing the number of computing cores from 4 for the seventh generation processors (Core i7-7700K) to the 6 core design (Core i7-8700K), which greatly improved performance; it is believed that this has sparked interest from many gamers.
However, we would like to remind gamers that although the Coffee lake-S still adopts the LGA 1151 socket pin design, but under the restriction of BIOS and Intel ME, it is not compatible with motherboards that have adopted the 200 or 100 series chipset design, and is required to be matched with the all new Z370 or the 300 series chipset (to be launched later) in order to function properly. Therefore, if you are planning to build an even more powerful gaming PC, then your best choice will be having the combination of the Intel® Core™ i7-8700K 's 6 cores/ 12 threads and the Z370 motherboard.
Introducing the all new Intel mainstream high-performance 6 core product--Core i7-8700K
Of all the new eighth generation processors, Core i7-8700K is the flagship product, and also the gamers' first choice for building performance level gaming PCs. It has adopted a 14nm process design with a TDP of 95W; not only does it support up to 6 core/ 12 threads, but also up to 12MB of L3 Smart Cache, providing enhanced performance when compared to the previous generation of processors. Also, when it comes to Turbo Boost technology, even though the default frequency of Core i7-8700K is only 3.7GHz, but after going through the enhanced Turbo Boost, its frequency can be increased to 4.7GHz, which is also an improvement over the 4.5GHz of last generation's Core i7-7700K, and we believe that this will yield a better gaming performance.
hen testing the actual performance of these processors, we used the mainstream processor testing software CINEBENCH R15 and found out that the new Core i7-8700K does not simply improve the performance if single core. Since it has adopted a 6 core architecture, it not only significantly surpassed the performance of the last generation's Core i7-7700K during the multi-core testing, but also improved greatly when compared to Core i7-7800X which shares the same number of cores, due to its enhancement of architecture and frequency. From the point of view of users' budget for building computers, when paired with the newly launched Z370 series motherboards, they make a very outstanding combination when considering the price-performance ratio.
How to pick the most fitting gaming motherboard
After realizing Core i7-8700K's powerful performance, the issue at hand for gamers becomes, how to pick a motherboard that is able to fully exert its potential. Of course, other than performance, a good gaming motherboard is also required to be optimized on other elements that gamers are concerned about, for example, key points such as gaming audio effects and system stability. These are the things that make a good motherboard product.
☛ Optimized for Core i7-8700K processors
As we have mentioned earlier, the new Core i7-8700K's default performance is already outstanding, and the Z370 motherboard, which is designed based on current standards, is able to achieve a very stable performance. However, this is not the maximum performance of the processor, so we believe that many gamers will want to fully exert the potential performance of the processor and system by methods, for example, overclocking. But to carry out operations that push the hardware's limits such as overclocking, there will be even more stringent requirements on the power supply of PWM. When lacking sufficient power supply design and good component quality, then the performance achieved may be affected.
Therefore, MSI's engineers have taken these types of needs of gamers into consideration when designing the Z370 motherboard, providing up to 18-phase DrMOS power supply phase, and matched with MSI's exclusive military-grade materials, we believe that it will ensure system stability even in overclocking environments, which will fulfill gamers' needs for 24-hour non-stop gaming.
Also, since overclocking requires numerous professional techniques and complicated settings, system instability or even damage can occur by accident from negligence, therefore discouraging many gamers from doing so. In order to resolve this issue, MSI has launched a very convenient overclocking feature-- the GAME Boost. Gamers are only required to enable GAME BOOST through turning the knobs on the MSI Z370 motherboard or through BIOS, the system will automatically optimize the processor's frequency in accordance with configuration, increasing the frequency of Core i7-8700K up to 5.4GHz. Gamers won't have to worry about issues such as system instability or parts damage, and will be able to enjoy a better gaming experience with higher FPS frame rates.
☛ Multi-GPU support with Steel Armor PCI-E slots
Other than the enhancements on the processor power supply and the performance improvement technology, we believe that there are a lot of gamers who pay considerable attention to the enhancing of graphics cards since this aspect affects gaming performance greatly. As for the chipset specifications of Z370, it supports up to 2-way SLI and 3-way CrossFire; MSI's mid-range to high-end gaming motherboards fully support these features.
In addition, the large radiator and fan for high-end graphics cards are becoming heavier, and this indirectly leads to more gamers being concerned with the build quality and strengthening of PCI-Ex16 slots. After all, it is a prolonged and uninterrupted session when gamers play games, and on top of the graphics card's own weight, there is also the centrifugal pull from the fan running, and this can easily result in the damage or breaking of the PCI-Ex16 slots.
Therefore, in order to prevent such issues, MSI has already adopted the PCI-E Steel Armor slot strengthening design for a long time. On top of wrapping a layer of armor around the slots themselves, multiple solder joints are also added to improve the fit between the slots and PCB, in order to effectively avoid the risks of damaging the graphic card slots.
☛ Enhanced cooling system for M.2 devices
The read speed of games is another aspect that may affect the gamers' gaming experience. Currently, in order to improve the game's access speed, more and more gamers are adopting SSD solid state drives with the new M.2 interface.
Even though the M.2 SSD can significantly resolve the issue of slow reading speeds for games, when the M.2 device is running at a high speed while reading data, a high temperature is generated. When a M.2 device is in a state with excessively high temperatures for a prolonged period, it will lower its operating frequency in order to ensure its own service life and stability, which results in compromised performance.
In order to solve this issue, current high-end M.2 SSDs come with a set of heat sinks as a result. However, most of the products in the market today do not have this kind of feature, and this is why it is common for underclocking to lead to low performance. To prevent this issue from happening, we suggest gamers to choose products that are equipped with M.2 cooling features (such as MSI's M.2 Shield) when buying Z370 motherboard that is bundled with the Core i7-8700K processor.
☛ Audio specifically designed for gaming
The last aspect that may affect gaming experience is the audio effects of the game. After all, other than the smooth and refined visuals of game graphics, a good audio performance is sure to be a crucial finishing touch, which takes the gamers' gaming experience to a whole new level. Therefore, this is also a key point to consider when designing a great gaming motherboard.
Regarding MSI's Z370 GAMING series motherboards, Audio Boost 4 is equipped for products within mainstream price range, with its hardware adopting the Realtek ALC 1220 audio processors, matched with audio-dedicated Chemi-con capacitors, separate PCB area for audio effects, independent transport layers for left and right channels and gold-plated audio jacks, providing the most pristine audio performance. Also, as for software enhancements, MSI's exclusive Nahimic 2+ not only boosts your gaming headsets from 2.1 channel to 5.1 channel effects, but also provides numerous practical features such as Sound Tracker, which can help gamers notice the location of opponents first in FPS games, enjoying more gaming advantage.
As for gamers who have extreme requirements on gaming audio effects, MSI also provides an audio solution called the Extreme Audio DAC. On top of having a similar design with Audio Boost, it adopted two sets of Realtek ALC 1220 audio processors and is also equipped with two sets of DAC chips from ESS and the 6.35mm audio interface, taking the quality of gaming audio effects to a whole new level of perfection.
Recommendations for the best gaming motherboard
☛ Preferred flagship level gaming motherboard (LGA 1151) -- Z370 GODLIKE GAMING
With a black tone design, coupled with rich RGB lighting effects, and adopting an up to 18-phase DrMOS power supply, MSI's Z370 GODLIKE GAMING is able to realize the complete performance of Core i7-8700K; not only can it provide the ultimate gaming experience, but also maintain the stability of the product. What's more, it also comes with three sets of Killer LAN and one set of Killer WIFI and combined with Killer xTend technology, it transforms the Z370 GODLIKE GAMING into an internet control center at home.
▶ Up to 18-phase DrMOS power supply design, with military-grade materials:
On top of the all-digital PWM power supply specifically made for the Core i7-8700K 6-core processors, it also adopts a rich power supply phase and military-grade materials, in order to ensure the best stable experience and ultra high FPS.
▶ Mystic Light and Mystic Light Sync:
This is a custom RGB gaming PC, its motherboard has a built-in RGB lighting design, and comes with integrated self-customizable lighting effects; not only can gamers control the motherboard's RGB lighting effects through Mystic Light, but also control products from other brands.
▶ Three sets of Killer E2500 LAN with Killer WIFI NIC:
The Z370 GODLIKE GAMING comes with three separate Killer NIC and Killer™ Wi-Fi wireless NIC, which operate together to connect and combine different internet sources, to provide up to 3867 Mbps of ultra high bandwidth.
▶ XTREME AUDIO DAC technology with Nahimic 2+:
High quality audio components with Nahimic 2+ software, providing gamers with the most meticulous audio quality, and the most immersive sense of immediacy.
▶ Three sets of Turbo M.2 with M.2 Shield:
Built-in M.2 cooling solution; able to prevent slowdown issues caused by overheating even when PCI-E M.2 SSD operates at a high speed. What's more, it can avoid electromagnetic wave (EMI) interference, providing the cleanest signals and stability to M.2 SSD.
Comes with M.2 XPANDER-Z which supports two sets of M.2 slots, allowing your Z370 GODLIKE GAMING to support up to 5 sets of M.2 SSD.
▶ Front and rear Lightning USB 3.1 Gen2:
Lightning USB 3.1 Gen2 utilizes Asmedia 3142 control chips, providing users with faster transfer speeds, without slowdowns even when two USB 3.1 Gen2 are used concurrently.
▶ DDR4 & PCI-E Steel Armor:
The DDR4 & PCI-E Steel Armor can effectively block interference from an electromagnetic wave (EMI) through wrapping armor around slots, providing clean signals and stability. Moreover, PCI-E Steel Armor can also increase the support of the slots themselves, and reinforce the slots through adding multiple solder joints, in order to prevent overweight graphics cards from causing damage to the PCI-Ex16 slots.
☛ The most distinctive gaming motherboard (LGA 1151) -- Z370 GAMING PRO CARBON AC
On top of having powerful performance, the appearance of the motherboard is also one of the buying criteria for gamers. Especially for gamers who are willing to spend on high-end products, there are those who are in pursuit of a motherboard's high quality appearance, hoping to build a gaming PC that is out of the ordinary. MSI's Z370 GAMING PRO CARBON AC has a design concept that is inspired by sports cars, adopting a streamlined appearance made with carbon fiber, matched with the built-in rich RGB lighting, which made it even more remarkable, as if its a piece of artwork worth treasuring. We recommend it to gamers who put the same amount of emphasis on appearance and performance when building their gaming PC.
▶Mystic Light and Mystic Light Sync:
Personalize your gaming PC: the motherboard itself is equipped with 16.8 million colors and 17 effects; not only can gamers control the RGB lighting effects through Mystic Light, but also control products from other brands, such as fans and LED light strips.
▶Two sets of Turbo M.2 with M.2 Shield:
Two sets of built-in Turbo M.2, providing up to 32Gb/s of transfer speeds, and equipped with M.2 Shield cooling solution; able to prevent slowdown issues caused by overheating, and avoid electromagnetic wave (EMI) interference, providing the cleanest signals and stability to M.2 SSD.
▶Audio Boost 4 with Nahimic 2+:
High quality audio components with Nahimic 2+ software, providing gamers with the most realistic audio quality, allowing them to hear the slightest footsteps even with their eyes closed, and notice where their opponents are attacking from.
▶Front and rear Lightning USB 3.1 Gen2:
Lightning USB 3.1 Gen2 utilizes Asmedia 3142 control chip, providing users with transfer speeds that are fast as lightning, without slowdowns even when two USB 3.1 Gen2 are used concurrently.
▶PCI-E Steel Armor:
PCI-E Steel Armor can effectively block interference from an electromagnetic wave (EMI) through wrapping armor around slots, providing clean signals and stability. Moreover, PCI-E Steel Armor can also increase the support of the slots themselves, and reinforce the slots through adding multiple solder joints, in order to prevent overweight graphics cards from causing damage to the PCI-Ex16 slots.