From a gaming perspective, Kaby Lake and the Z270 chipset don't really bring anything earth-shattering to the table but a new chipset is always a great opportunity for vendors to release new boards with more features and new design elements. MSI's Z270 Gaming M7 is an absolute cracker with so much to like.
The Z270 chipset is backward compatible with Skylake CPUs but was released in conjunction with the Kaby Lake series. Intel's 7th generation Kaby Lake CPUs are built on the same architecture as the previous Skylake but include some improvements such as higher clock speeds, ability to handle 10-bit colour content, Intel Optane 'ready' and USB 3.1.
Let's take a quick look at the meaningful improvements of the Z270 chipset from Intel first.
-24x PCI-E 3.0 lanes compared to 20x in the Z170 Chipset
-Intel Optane Technology Support
Yep - that's about it at an Intel chipset level. The extra 4 PCI-E lanes will give manufacturers the flexibility to implement more M.2 slots without compromising on other connectivity due to bandwidth constraints. The end result will give system builders more options for their SSD configuration. A system with more M.2 drives and less 2.5" SSDs will need less cables and would benefit from higher data transfer speeds (depending on the M.2 device selected).
Intel Optane technology is a high speed non-volatile memory solution. This is new tech and not currently available for consumer products but it's expected to be released in 16 and 32GB capacities to act as a cache for the Kaby Lake CPUs (not previous generations.) Unlike a RAMDISK cache, Optane is non-volatile so it will retain data through a power cycle.
Whilst these features are useful and will provide benefit, the chipset update isn't really reason enough to buy a new board. Luckily for enthusiast consumers, Z270 is simply the base platform and there are a lot of other manufacturer-specific features that have evolved since the last release of Z170 motherboards. MSI looks to have taken this opportunity with both hands, so to speak, and the Z270 Gaming M7 is a board that I'd love to call my own. Once you read through the features and testing, the reasons will become very clear.