MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC Visual Inspection

We know being a Mini-ITX sized board there really isn't a lot of room to doll up the motherboard and make it look pretty. But many who are using this size motherboard are using it in a small case and perhaps tucked away. That isn't to say they need to be hidden away but room for creativity is trumped by the need to add more functionality. The Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC packs a lot of features on it including a single M.2 slot, four SATA ports, and the latest Realtek audio among other things.

There are no designs on the board, though we are able to see the traces running around the socket providing a cool if mechanical type aesthetic to the black PCB. Cooling the power delivery area(s) are two heat sinks that have what look to be a carbon fiber-like pattern on them. The PCH heatsink below the socket contains the MSI name as well as the same carbon fiber like patterns. Both the DRAM slots and PCIe slot are reinforced giving additional support for the items installed. The Gaming Pro Carbon AC has its share of RGB LEDs, eight to be exact, running the length of the right side of board on the underside which gives it a nice glow when powered on.

The board includes two fan headers to support cooling needs. Both headers are hybrid and offer users control via PWM and voltage. The manual does not note if the headers are high-output so assume a typical 1A/12W capabilities. The fans are controlled through the BIOS as well as through Windows via the Command Center software.

Typically, the back of the board is shown to show the electrical connections of multiple PCIe slots. In the case of Mini-ITX boards, there is only one and it is, as expected, wired as an x16 slot. The real reason for this image is to show the location of the M.2 slot on the board which is just above the solder points of the PCIe slot and below the socket backing. This location frees up a bit of space on the front and allows for up to a 2280 size M.2 module to fit in the provided space.

Power delivery on the Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC is a total of eight phases in a 6+2 configuration (CPU and iGPU). Managing this power is a uBIQ Semiconductor uP9508Q multi-phase controller listed as 3/2/1+2 controller. Handling the phase doubling duties are uP1061S phase doublers located on the back behind the VRMs. The board uses uBIQ Semiconductor QM3816 MOSFETs which should be able to handle our i7-8700K with little fanfare.

The right side of the tiny motherboard has a lot going on including two DRAM slots capable of supporting DDR4-4600 Memory in its reinforced slots. We are also able to see the four SATA ports flanking the memory slots. Other more easily visible connectors include a front USB 2.0 port on the left, the System fan and front panel headers in the middle, along with the 24-pin ATX 12V connector on the right. Sitting just above the bottom two SATA ports is MSI's debug LEDs which light up during boot time and stay lit if there is an issue. The four LEDs cover issues with Boot, VGA, DRAM, and the CPU. Since there isn't any room for a 2-digit LED, this is a welcome addition for troubleshooting boot issues.

Above we are able to see a closer shot of the four SATA ports. All four ports will be available even when the M.2 slot is populated with a PCIe NVMe or SATA based M.2 module since there are enough PCIe lanes available from the PCH.

The board's back panel IO is pretty well populated with ports and buttons, with about every port that that is found on a full-size board including dual video outputs, USB ports (2.0-3.1), LAN, keyboard/mouse, and audio. Peeking out behind the audio stack we are able to see the Chemi-Con capacitors used with the Realtek ALC1220 codecs for sound.

  • PS/2 Port
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • DisplayPort (1.2)
  • HDMI (1.4)
  • USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports
  • CMOS Reset button
  • Intel LAN
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Intel 8265 Wi-Fi
  • Audio stack w/SPDIF

In the Box

The MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC includes the basics to get the system up and running and feels appropriate for its price point.

  • Quick Installation Guide / User Guide / Labels
  • Driver Disk
  • Back IO Plate
  • Wi-Fi Antennae
  • 2 x SATA cables
  • RGB LED extension cables

MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC Overview BIOS and Software
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  • StraightPipe - Thursday, August 23, 2018 - link

    There are some boards that do have addressable audio ports so you can assign 2 ports to be audio out, but that's not very common. The simplest solution is to use a a splitter... $0.41 on
  • vivekvs1992 - Thursday, August 23, 2018 - link

    Its possible to to use the microphone jack as the headphones jack.. If u use realtek audio controller software.. Not sure if it can actually work.. But i have successfully done it with my laptop also.. Drawback is the any other port will have a little tinny sound
  • PeachNCream - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    That motherboard box has the weirdest looking car on it. Don't those flat bench things on posts go on the back of a car and not the front and the headlights are really close together. Its almost like a flying motorcycle, but it has too many wheels for that.
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    I think that is supposed to be the back end of a car with a pair of rocket engines. Still utterly ridiculous though.
  • PeachNCream - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    Oh, I see what you mean. I should have looked closer at it. And yeah, it does still look ridiculous even if that is the back of a car.
  • Gothmoth - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    z390 version incoming....
  • MadAd - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    > "Sadly, I was unable to get the included disk to launch to its loading screen on any PC in my house. [.....]For the record, this isn't the first time we I have run across the phenomenon, but do believe it was another board partner who's disk wouldn't work properly."

    Sadly this happened with my Z270 Mortar from MSI too. The disk simply didnt run in any configuration other than accessing the raw files from explorer. Seemed to be problem with their on disk cd drivers but I didnt test that for validity.
  • cemllyrios - Thursday, January 17, 2019 - link

    ITX cases have been around in no bigger than the mobo size cases from the beginning. The trend there's actually the other direction.

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