Board Features

When picking out the feature set for a $120 Z170 motherboard, there isn’t going to be much on the list beyond the standard Intel specifications. There are things that can be done fairly cheaply, such as M.2 support, although M.2 SATA is easier than M.2 PCIe. At this price point, it might also be a cost down measure, skimming a few cents here and there on the codec or network controller, but we don’t get that here.

MSI Z170A SLI PLUS
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Link
Price Amazon US
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA1151
Chipset Intel Z170
Memory Slots (DDR4) Four DDR4
Supporting 64GB
Dual Channel
Up to 3600 MHz
Memory Slots (DDR3L) None
Video Outputs HDMI at 4096x2160 @ 24 Hz
DVI-D at 1920x1200 @ 60 Hz
VGA at 2048x1280 @ 60 Hz
Network Connectivity Intel I219-V
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC1150
PCIe Slots for Graphics (from CPU) 2 x PCIe 3.0 (x16, x8/x8)
PCIe Slots for Other (from PCH) 1 x PCIe 3.0 x4
3 x PCIe 3.0 x1
Onboard SATA Six, RAID 0/1/5/10
Onboard SATA Express Two, RAID
Onboard M.2 1x PCIe 3.0 x4, RAID 0/1, NVMe via Turbo U.2 (not included)
Onboard U.2 None
USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) 1 x Type-C
ASMedia ASM1142 Controller
USB 3.0 (5 Gbps) 2 x Rear Panel
4 via headers
USB 2.0 2 x Rear Panel
4 via headers
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX
1 x 8-pin CPU
Fan Headers 2 x CPU (4-pin)
3 x CHA/SYS (4-pin)
IO Panel 1 x Mouse PS/2
1 x Keyboard PS/2
1 x USB 3.1 Type-C
2 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Network RJ-45 (Intel I219-V)
HDMI / DVI-D / VGA
Audio Jacks
Other Features TPM Header
COM Port Header
LPT Port Header
Clear CMOS Header
Front Panel Header
Front Audio Header

There’s a single USB 3.1 Type-C port, which is more than I would expect, along with support for SLI and a full complement of DDR4 slots. There are only four USB Type-A ports on the rear which might be a little lower than I would like, and there’s no power/reset switches and a two-digit debug that I would want as well, but there are PCIe guards (MSI’s ‘Steel Armor’) on the main slots, a Realtek ALC1150 codec enhanced by PCB separation and filter caps, and an Intel I219-V network controller. Perhaps it’s a bit of give and take, but the 10-phase power delivery is also a factor in this.

In The Box

We get the following:

Driver DVD
User Manual
Rear IO Shield
Four SATA Cables
Flexi SLI Bridge

As one might expect in a low-cost box, normally the minimum is added to satisfy most users. I somehow suspected there might only be two SATA cables, but MSI adds in another couple here, giving four in total.

Overview and Feature Comparison Visual Inspection and Test Setup
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62 Comments

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  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - link

    The value for price proposition of MSI's offering makes motherboards like the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme look like even more of an impractical absurdity when the performance offered by the added $370 in purchase price is so insignificant that it's utterly meaningless. Reply
  • close - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - link

    The very top of the high end will always be absurdly expensive and with a terrible price/performance ratio. But that's how the high end works. Above a point every extra dollar invested brings in diminished returns. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - link

    The problem with that other motherboard is that it's not the very top of the high end. Realistically, it only manages to come up to a rough parity with something quite a bit less expensive. Sure there's a widget here and a goo gaw there that's not included at a lower price point, but the point I'm making is that, despite the difference, its only basically equal which doesn't make that other motherboard high end at all, but overpriced mid range. Reply
  • bigboxes - Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - link

    Thanks for your input, random comment man. Reply
  • BurntMyBacon - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - link

    @BrokenCrayons: "The value for price proposition of MSI's offering makes motherboards like the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme look like even more of an impractical absurdity ..."

    Not sure, but I don't think value or practicality has anything to do with the decision to buy an ASUS ROG board. ; ' )
    Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - link

    Yeah, that's a completely valid point. Not everyone cares about getting a return on their purchase that's meaningfully higher on a set of benchmarks. If that's their thing, then sure, have at it. Reply
  • Ethos Evoss - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - link

    Really DON'T understand WHY MB manufs. still implementing ancient ps/2 connectors are they stupid or somethin' /??!?! who uses it nowadays ?? Reply
  • Major_Kusanagi - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - link

    There are a couple of different scenarios which still require PS/2:
    1) As a systems admin I've run into systems that won't allow me access to BIOS menus using USB keyboards/mice
    2) My 30 year old IBM Model M keyboard is still rock solid, and I'll only part with it when I leave this mortal coil.
    Reply
  • random2 - Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - link

    Then there are the systems where a USB keyboard/mouse will not function at all until you are able to access the BIOS and adjust the USB legacy settings. No I have no idea why this is still happening. I too have a very old PS2 keyboard I will not let out of my home...ever. Reply
  • skrewler2 - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    since when has it been about performance? the high end motherboards have more features than budget ones.

    they may overclock better or have some higher end components that purport to offer better stability, but again, features. nothing is directly "faster" or "slower" from motherboard to motherboard.
    Reply

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