24 January 2014
For a gamer, performance comes first. You’re looking for that peak frame-rate as you enter battle – and a system with stability that’s not going to crash to the ground when the action picks up. In the past the mantra has usually been the ‘bigger is better’ approach in hardware. But what happens if you attend regular LAN’s with your team and friends? Having to chug a monster of a system around isn’t always fun – and certainly isn’t great if you’re tight on space. Enter the MSI Z87M GAMING motherboard, a tiny, micro ATX motherboard that on-paper doesn’t seem to cut down on features. So how does it stack up? Have the folks over at MSI finally broken the mould that bigger isn’t always better?
Design and hardware:
Lifting the MSI Z87M GAMING out of its box is a stunning moment. You get to marvel at the ferocious red and black design work that MSI crafts into their GAMING Series of hardware, and revel in the fact that this little tiger is going to pack a punch. The first thing your eyes will fall upon is the dragon face heatspreads – simply put, they look awesome. Across from which is the encircled Intel LGA 1150 CPU socket. The heatspreads lay low – what’s smart about this is the intelligent and calculated spacing for almost any moderate to large aftermarket CPU cooler. Moving further over are four RAM slots - they’re single clip in design which saves space and helps reduce potentially finicky installations. Unless you’re rough and careless with your hardware you shouldn’t be running into any troubles with the single sided clips. A small thing to note is that the slots aren’t colour coded - however I particularly like this as it fits in with the jet black finish of the board. Moving southerly on the board we have the expansion slots – due to the smaller size it’s only a given that you’re not going to find an insane number of PCI-Express 3.0 slots. In saying this, however, the Z87M GAMING manages to fit in two of them – a rather incredible accomplishment, enabling multi-GPU setups to become a reality on a board of this minute size. Just because the board is physically small, doesn’t mean MSI’s engineers and design team have gotten lazy – in-fact it seems to have motivated them to rise to the new challenge. Gold plated audio jacks, and even a PS/2 keyboard and mouse port for zero input latency and n-key rollover – this attention to detail is the stuff you’d expect on a top of the range motherboard but it’s here in full force on the Z87M GAMING. This is a beautifully nifty package – all tied together in one small form factor.