If you are looking for a decent gaming motherboard, in an M-ATX form factor and you like dragons then this is the board for you. MSI has released the Z87M Gaming motherboard that boasts features you would expect from a standard ATX gaming or enthusiast grade board but in the more 'LAN Friendly" micro-ATX size.
MSI is known as a manufacturer of motherboards, graphics cards, notebooks, all in one and barebones PCs, and tablets. Having followed their enthusiast and gaming oriented products for years, I welcomed the opportunity to review the MSI Z87M Gaming micro-ATX motherboard.
Despite it's size, the Z87M Gaming still packs a hefty punch with high end network adaptor, sound chipset, dual graphics card capability and it's no slouch when overclocking - so where is the compromise? Let's take a moment to compare it with a full sized version, the MSI Z87-G45 Gaming motherboard. The main points of difference between the Z87M micro-ATX board and the Z87-G45 ATX board are that the Z87M Gaming has:
- 1 less PCI-Ex16 (4x)
- 2 less PCI-Ex1
- no mSATA
- 2 less rear USB 3.0 ports
- No VGA or DVI ports on the back plate
When it comes to gaming, none of the above omissions are going to hurt you in terms of gaming performance. Surprisingly, there are a few things that the smaller Z87M Gaming has on the rear IO Panel that it's big brother doesn't, such as:
- 2 HDMI ports instead of 1
- 1 Display port
- 2 eSATA ports
The MSI Z87M Gaming has an audio solution including MSI's "Audio Boost" with SoundBlaster Cinema implemented, a Killer E2200 Ethernet port, Gaming device connector (PS/2 ), and support for both NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire. Other features like Total Fan control, fast boot, OC Genie and support for DDR3-3000 memory are also present and expected on an enthusiast level gaming board. The designers at MSI have included onboard power, reset and OC Genie buttons as well as the 2 digit Debug LED. Although the design team has trimmed some features to meet the M-ATX form factor, they managed to leave the things that count on the board.